Discover the transformative power of UMBC's Community Leadership Graduate Program in this insightful interview with recent graduate Emmanuel Pyano-Frias, M.P.S. '23, Community Leadership. Join us as we delve into the inspiring journey of Emmanuel, who shares his experiences and insights gained from the program. Learn how this comprehensive program equips individuals with the tools to lead, create positive change, and build stronger communities. Whether you're interested in community development, education, healthcare, or any other field, this program offers a versatile skill set to make a lasting impact. Explore how UMBC's Community Leadership Program empowers individuals to become influential leaders and change-makers.
Learn about UMBC's Community Leadership Graduate Program here!
Dennise Cardona 0:00
Welcome to this episode of UMBC Mic'd up podcast. My name is Dennise Cardona from the Office of Professional Programs. Today we are joined by a recent graduate of our community leadership graduate program. Emmanuel Pyano-Frias. I hope you enjoy this episode. Hey, welcome to the UMBC Mic'd Up podcast. It's so great to have you here today.
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 0:22
Thank you. It's good to be here with you.
Dennise Cardona 0:23
Yes. And Emanuel, you just graduated in May 2023. And well, I know that because I did too. And we ran into each other after the ceremony, right there in a beautiful sunny sky. It was so fantastic to see you that day.
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 0:40
It was absolutely awesome. Yes.
Dennise Cardona 0:43
Congratulations. I'm really happy for you,
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 0:45
Same. Thank you. Yeah.
Dennise Cardona 0:49
So we're going to be here today talking about your experience with UMBC. And with the community leadership graduate program, and I'd love for you to share with listeners and viewers of this video, a little bit about yourself and the path that you took to get to the community leadership graduate program.
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 1:08
Wow. Well, that's a book all by itself, to be very honest with you. So I'll scale it back and just give you the highlight.
Dennise Cardona 1:15
Perfect highlights we love.
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 1:18
So I came to the Community Leadership Program of first and then came to Baltimore, I guess, would be because I'm actually a transplant here. So for the last 25 years, I've actually done entrepreneurship. So I've owned and operated of a couple of different types of businesses in the South, as well as in the north. So my business, my business acumen comes from Philadelphia, I guess you could say, and spans down to the eastern shore of Maryland, as well as the eastern shore of Virginia, and into the Hampton Roads area. So prior to starting this graduate program, I was in the funeral business on the eastern shore of Maryland. And during the time of COVID, I was identifying with there being so much death and so much grief. What does a legacy look like? What does my legacy look like? What does my daily legacy that I live, and the one that I will leave post my time on this earth look like? And I decided that community and economic development was an area where I did not have a lot of knowledge, a lot of knowledge or strengths. And so I started looking at programs at various universities that offered graduate programs and community and economic development. And after meeting with Dr. Scott, she sold me I was actually not going to be in Maryland. But that just got a courage to me. Through our conversation, I felt that this would be the best fit for me. So
Dennise Cardona 2:56
Excellent. And for those listening who don't know who Dr. Sally J. Scott is she is our program, graduate program director, and an amazing individual, and is just so immersed in the community, and so dedicated and committed to this program and her students that she is an inspiration. And I can see how that could have happened, how she could have caused you to pause and say, Okay, I'm coming to Maryland. And that's all there is to it.
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 3:24
She's definitely very dedicated, I'm an honest truth. I was actually looking at real estate, and attending another graduate going to be attending another graduate program in the fall. I met with her in the June in June, prior to actually entering that institution. And it was through a WebEx meeting, that we had my interview for the program, that everything has turned around completely. And what what I learned from her through that interview has been all true. Plus, I made her dedication to each and every one of us in my cohort, the cohort before me, of her constant care and concern for the student, making sure that we matriculate well through the program and that we're getting what we need in order to do the work in the field. I mean, it's phenomenal, something that you would not normally expect from someone who has to balance the administration with the teaching, and oftentimes the actual care and making sure that the student gets a holistic education and preparation for the workforce. You know, some of those elements are lost, but in this program under Dr. Scott, none of those things are lost. In fact, they're actually enhanced.
Dennise Cardona 4:47
That's fantastic to hear. Now, how would you describe your overall experience in the program? What were some of the highlights for you?
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 4:58
Well as CLDR, 601 and 603, which is actually the beginning and the foundation that is laid as you enter into the program, 601 is that foundation of and where you actually began to learn the skills and tools that you need to be an effective worker in the field, and how to really lead people from the ground up. Because we are all workers together. And so leadership looks more like capacity of in this program, it's not the traditional definition of what a leader is, because a leader is not defined by Webster, it's really defined by the individual. So you learn how to take inventory of self have in 601, the first course, you learn about engagement skills, and how to really build your tool chests, so that you are able to effectively go out and be a true and authentic part of the community that you're working in. And I think that we become better, just better citizens, because of that learning, and because of the skills that we pick up. And that first 601 is actually the beginning of the hands on. Also, we have that hands on partnership, where we go into the community, and we partner with an organization. So we get actual skills. And we are walked through that process. And again, it just builds that tool chest that we're going to need as we go out to do not only this work, but just to live in this life, and to live with other people and know that all things our community and our community actually started in the classroom.
Dennise Cardona 6:53
Huh, that's powerful. Yeah, and having that toolbox. I love that analogy. Because it's really, no matter what field you're in that toolbox is so important. Whether you're redoing your house, whether you're going back to graduate school into and taking a technical or humanities type of program, that toolbox is what is going to give you the things that you're going to need one day, when you get out there into the real world, rolling up your sleeves, doing the hard work, it's being able to know not necessarily having all the answers, but knowing where to go to find that. And I think that's what a toolbox. When I think of a toolbox, I think of that, I think, okay, that's the place I go to when I don't have the answers. And that's my resource.
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 7:38
Certainly is. But you know, we build this toolbox, we also build assets, and we learn about what assets are, and they're not just the physical things, they are actually the people, the entities, they're all the nouns that you can think of plus some. And then we learn the verbs about how to put them in action, when to employ them, of when to access them, you know, and how to build the network, you know, so that we don't get overweighted. And we begin to share responsibility, and we share in a very respectful manner. So again, that all leads back to that engagement. And for me, and I believe many of my cohort members that started directly in the 601 classroom, first community was built there. And it's evident because of where we stand now, as alumni. And as people who are still connected, and still there supporting each other, and continuing to develop and grow our community, and our capacity individually. And as a collective body.
Dennise Cardona 8:45
Boy, I've got chills. Gosh, she just so eloquently stated all of that all the amazing benefits of being part of a really rich community of learners and doers.
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 8:59
It's a special group. It's a special group of individuals. And it didn't take special people. It just took people who were truly interested, and self development, and then development as a whole, and being able to see it from the micro and grow it into the macro. And so I've actually had an opportunity to witness community development as it developed through this program for me, and for those who are around me.
Dennise Cardona 9:30
Can you talk a little bit about what you're doing currently a current role or the work that you're involved in? And how do you feel that your master's degree has prepared you for this role?
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 9:42
So currently, I will I'm looking at signing on with the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, specifically their Baltimore Bunting Neighborhood Leadership Program. BNLP program, which is one of many programs under the Urban Health Institute at Johns Hopkins, and I'll be working in the capacity as a project administrator. And 50% of that job will require me to manage grants. Those grants actually touch community, Baltimore community. So I'll be involved with the process from beginning to end. That means that I will be part of the application process and processing those documents, as well as reviewing those documents and making sure that the research search is approved, and then making sure that that research is done and carried out, and that they're the follow up part of that. The awarding part, of course, and between that, but as we follow up on that making sure that those research instruments are valid, and that those, sorry, and that those research instruments are of use to the community, how is that done by making sure that they're, that they are published, and that they get into the right hands so that they are able to go out and that information can be disseminated out and help with assessments and analysis in the community, which will bring resources that communities need when it comes down to health equity, educational equity, all those things are very important to me. And they are the matrix of community. Because when you don't have a community that has education, better yet, let me say it this way, the root of any problem in society is based on not knowing not having the knowledge or the education. And this is why educational equity is so important within community. And then to further that cause, we also need to make sure that there's health equity, so that people know the importance of what they need in order to stay healthy and viably physically and mentally, and that these things work together in order to have a balanced and an equitable community. So going to the Urban Health Institute, and the capacity that I won't be and I will be there in order to make sure that things are working smoothly, embracing the Baltimore City people, embracing the Johns Hopkins people and all of those organizations and lives that we will touch I as an individual's reaching out, and then the networks that I will work with and within the institution. So I'm really looking forward to my new role. And I do understand the importance of it, and the commitment and dedication that I have to bring to that role. I have been well prepared by my graduate program at UMBC. I don't think that I could have been better prepared, I certainly have the tools and the knowledge to be able to move forward from Microsoft Community Leadership Program, tools, the knowledge that I didn't have before. Surely I have common sense. But oftentimes you need to understand why we do what we do, and why things need to be done a certain way. And making sure that as we go into any work, whether it be community leadership, community development, economic development, education, that we do that honoring and respecting people that we are invited in for a seat at the table, that we don't just walk through the door, and think we have all the answers. And Bogart and tell people what we want from them. We need them to tell us how we can be of assistance to them, and then be invited in to bring our skills, talents, crafts, to assist them and get into where they need to be.
Dennise Cardona 13:41
That, yes, gosh, Alright, so first of all, Johns Hopkins is so lucky to have you you have such spirit and intellect and creativity, you can just hear it, it's bouncing off of you. And so they are so lucky to have you and I'm so happy that you landed that position, you, gosh, you deserved it. And it's going to be a win win for everybody involved. So congratulations on that. Really great, really great accomplishment. Now, I'd like to segue into talking a little bit about your capstone project. What was it? Can you briefly explain what it was and how it relates to your studies in the community leadership graduate program?
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 14:25
Sure, can I think that I just want to pause for a moment and just make sure that we are thankful for all the Baltimore communities and that we do wish them all well and that we want to be a positive part of bringing some peace and some healing to these Baltimore communities, especially those that are very blight and have the hardship of constant violence, gun violence specifically. So I'll pause and say that and then I will tell you that my capstone project was done in South Baltimore, with the Greater Bay Park Alliance. One which serves the Brooklyn and hurts Bay Areas. So as I'm sure you know, there were recently problems over in the Brooklyn area during the Brooklyn Day festivities. And we certainly lift them in every way and send them much of our positive energy. So my capstone project was specifically through that organization to design a intake process for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, set it. And selected projects normally look like things that change the environment. And by changing the environment, you help to change the attitude of those living in the environment. More specifically, that might be a vacant lot that you turn into a garden space, it might be a blight property, that you assist the property owner and rehabbing and making aesthetically correct on the outside and certainly habitable on the inside. And may also look like murals that you place on the wall, providing artwork and culture to the community. Things that are that visibly change the physical attributes of the community, in hopes that when you change the environment, you change the thought processes of the people that dwell in that environment. And you encourage that through this process. So I've created a process to aid of in, first of all, identifying areas where crime exist, and then how to move through that process of identifying the area to target area, and then identify projects that would be worthy of the resources that were available to the agency. And going from application to a warning to then actually follow up on that project. So one of the actual test projects that I did, was with a home owner who owned a blank piece of property, she was an absentee land owner. And we were able to get her property from a blight boarded up piece of property to something that is actually ready to receive tenants, and not be a nuisance to the neighborhood really longer. And that was really amazing to me, was to be able to provide them with that service. So some of my background as an entrepreneur, was in real estate development, acquisition, development. And I did do traditional rentals. And prior to the funeral home, I also own quite a bit of property. But I also worked in commercial and residential rehab of property as well as capital improvements.
Dennise Cardona 17:59
So it sounds like this is a perfect blend,
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 18:02
Very perfect for me, because it requires in order to do the process, in community, when it comes down to Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, it takes being able to network with the government, local, state and federal government agencies in order to bring about the changes that need to be done. Because certainly the government is involved in all aspects of property issues, nuisance properties, drugs, gun violence in general crime just in general. So it was a very big project, to be able to create this process, decide on projects and actually execute and complete a project in a three month period of time. But that was a worthwhile project. And I'm really glad that I had the experience that not only the experience, but I was given the tools through this program to be able to successfully complete this capstone for that agency for the greater Baybrook. Alliance, which is a good agency that's there to do the work that in that community. They don't have a lot of funding, but they certainly have a lot of impact, and their outcomes are playing.
Dennise Cardona 19:19
Yeah, that sounds great. Sounds like you were definitely helped lead to a helping hand, and really helped them to forge a really great pathway forward into the future. And it sounds like you really you were challenged by some things, and then you overcame those challenges. And you were able to really succeed and be able to take away some really great lessons from that in three months. That's amazing.
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 19:46
And a lot of that actually comes from this program. So though I only though I mentioned that we have the beginning course which is the foundation of course CLDR 601. And then we have The capstone course CLDR 603. And we have CLDR 602, which is law and ethics, we have several skills courses. And we learn about them in brief, and I still do our courses. However, we have restorative practices as a five week skills course that hones in on how to go about doing risk restoration of individuals who are in conflict. So we have that we have ABCD, Asset Based Community Development, another skills course, that actually helps you to identify and understand what assets are within a community. And then you've got grassroots organization, which is one of those courses that takes you through the rigors of understanding what's out there. How do you begin to make change? How do you start an organization that begins the process of addressing an issue that is not then that is not being addressed, and that community currently, and just to name those three, specifically, when you have courses like that they are really building you, for the Capstone, for the work after graduation, because these are the extra tools and skills that you need to really engage holistically. So I may not be an X expert in any one field. But I have the beginnings of what I need. It's like having a drill, and then you've got the bits. But sometimes you need an extension on that. Because again, you don't have the extension. So then you reach out to your partner. And you say, You know what, I need an extension, because I gotta get that screw in that hole that's deep inside wall. But we are prepared and ready in this CLDR program for that. We have a network, as well.
Dennise Cardona 22:14
Absolutely reminds me of a scaffolding, it's a scaffolding in education in skill building and being able to take, you start at one level, and then you scaffold your way to finally by the capstone experience, you've been able to accumulate this wealth of resources, peers that you can talk with community leaders that you can learn from. And it all just blends together and creates this really dynamic Dojo to be able to learn everything you need to do and then go apply it in the real world.
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 22:47
Exactly. Very true. Because I'm extremely confident about the positions that I will take on and where I know that I fit and what capacity I have, and where I can build capacity, and how to build capacity, more importantly, how to build that capacity. Because this program, goes through those pieces, make sure that even through reflective thought, which is a constant part of this process, over the two year period of this graduate program, being able to be reflective and to be honest with self, so that you begin to grow and build self. So that when you were actually put in the world to do the work, you know that you can do it. And you're confident about it?
Dennise Cardona 23:31
I was gonna ask about now there are people who may be listening to this or viewing this on YouTube who have never even considered maybe never heard of a community leadership graduate program. And now you've piqued their interest. What would you say to them to somebody who is considering this? What would you say to them about why they should pursue a career as a community leader?
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 23:58
I think that my most immediate answer to them would be because everything that we do for our profession is based on community. So it applies across all different professions. So this is not a degree that is specific for working with homelessness or substance abuse, or mortality rates. This is something that you can use in a law office. This is something that you can use at the hospital. This is something that you can use when you're working at in retail because everything begins with the community. And we are all leaders if we are nothing but leaders of our lives of our homes of our families, and the skills that you can gain through this program and enable you to become better at leading your own life. And not only do we lead our own As because we're not in silos, we actually have to connect outward. So this program could enhance any particular profession that you may be in. So that would be the reason why I think that this would be a good fit for anyone who's looking to grow their skills and capacity, as far as connecting in this world, in their professional world and their personal life, because this is both personally and professionally.
Dennise Cardona 25:36
Well stated, Emmanuel, thank you so much for sharing your insights with us today. It's really been a thought provoking conversation that I've thoroughly enjoyed. And I learned so much from you, you're so eloquent in how you show up in the world, and it's really inspiring. So thank you so much for sharing that with us.
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 25:54
Well, I'm thankful to have been here with you today. And I'm very thankful to Sally to Joby and to the UMBC community, not only to be a part of it, but to have been welcomed in and to have been cared for during these two years and knowing that of that here will continue because I am now part of this community. And I have permanency here because I'm an alum. So I'm thankful to be here with you today. And thankful to talk about our program anytime.
Dennise Cardona 26:31
Emmanuel Pyano-Frias 26:32
Yes. Go Retrievers. You got it.
Dennise Cardona 26:39
Thanks for listening to this episode of UMBC Mic'd Up podcast. I hope you enjoyed it. If you'd like to learn more about our offerings, do a search for Community Leadership graduate programs at UMBC or simply click the link in the description.