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Division of Student Affairs introduces new Director of Student Leadership Development position

November 3, 2023

Courtesy of Sara Binkhorst
FOLLOW THE LEADER: Sara Binkhorst '15 smiles for the camera. Binkhorst began her position as director of student leadership development on November 1.

The Division of Student Affairs recently welcomed Bowdoin alumna Sara Binkhorst ’15 as the College’s first director of student leadership development. Binkhorst started her role on Wednesday and is responsible for establishing a framework of what student leadership looks like at the College and how to unify all existing leadership initiatives.

The position was created and posted in May and “drew in a record applicant pool,” according to Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Dean of Student Engagement & Leadership Katie Toro-Ferrari.

The creation of this position aims to develop this new framework and approach to leadership that will empower students and attempt to create certain experiences that will allow students to grow in their leadership skills.

“[Binkhorst] will be responsible for establishing a student leadership framework grounded in the premise that leadership is a practical skill, necessary and critical to effecting change and making a difference and to living an intentional and fulfilling life,” Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs Janet Lohman wrote in an email to the student body. “She will play a critical role in helping us align design and implementation of existing and new student leadership programs, with an eye toward supporting Bowdoin students in becoming more effective leaders here and after they graduate.”

While there are many individuals within the Division of Student Affairs responsible for different components of student leadership and involvement, Binkhorst holds the first position that has full responsibility over the creation of educational leadership experiences that will prepare students for their years at Bowdoin and beyond.

“[The purpose of creating a new role is to] provide conceptual design for a leadership program as a whole and to oversee and coordinate the varied leadership offerings in Student Affairs … because we believe that leadership is a practical skill, necessary and critical to effecting change and making a difference, and to living an intentional and fulfilling life,” Toro-Ferrari wrote in an email to the Orient.

While Binkhorst has had experience working with students, most recently through her job as head coach of women’s basketball at Wheaton College, she is excited to take on a role that works with a broader population of students.

“I’ve always loved working with students and developing astute leadership capabilities. It’s always been something that I’ve really enjoyed. For the past eight years, I’ve done it through the lens of athletics, which I loved. In some ways, it’s a very micro-level involvement where you’re working with the players on your team and improving their leadership capabilities,” Binkhorst said. “I was really excited when the position became open that it was the opportunity to work more on a macro-level, impact and work with students across campus. Not just within athletics, but within a host of different areas…in student life.”

Binkhorst ultimately wants to remind students that being a leader is not synonymous with having an official title, but involves becoming the best version of yourself and utilizing that to empower your peers.

“It’s really just tapping into every individual’s strengths as it comes to their different leadership capabilities … mak[ing students] feel most confident in leading others and empowering others. … This idea that leadership can be contagious amongst the student body is something that I’m really excited about,” Binkhorst said.


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