Alumni - Wherry Empowers Others with Lessons in Leadership

photo of Heather Wherry"Anyone can capitalize on leadership, you don't have to hold a leader's title to serve in a leadership capacity," Dr. Heather (Stewart) Wherry, Leadership and Professional Development Consultant at Lincoln Financial Group said.

Wherry is passionate about helping others enhance their career by providing practical leadership and professional development programs to empower others to take on leadership roles in their organization or community. She has expertise coaching, training, mentoring and educating others, as well as developing change management strategies for employees.

Wherry is a member of the Learning and Development team at Lincoln Financial Group's Group Protection business in Omaha, Nebraska. She works with Group Protection business leaders, front-line employees, as well as technical learning specialists, across the enterprise. Her team is called the "Learning Hub" and consists of three Leadership and Professional Development Consultants, one Learning Technology Consultant, and one Learning Lead.

Wherry creates, implements/facilitates and then measures training programs that assist in the development of leadership and professional skills for all levels of employees in Group Protection. Wherry has the potential to influence over 2,000 employees with her programs.

"We consult with our internal departments to determine what they need from a leadership and professional skills perspective," Wherry said. "I work with our technical learning specialists in the organization to deliver courses such as effective communication, conflict resolution, and empathy, to our front line. To our mid-level and senior leadership, I partner with my colleagues to facilitate change leadership, management classes, and other business-related learning."

Wherry graduated with a BS in Elementary Education (1998), a MS in Leadership Education (2000) and Ph.D. in Human Sciences and Leadership Studies (2012), all from UNL. She served as a graduate research assistant with ALEC while earning her master's degree; and as a graduate teaching assistant while earning her doctorate.

Wherry uses her knowledge from her masters and doctorate programs with ALEC in her position at Lincoln Financial Group every day. "The education in ALEC makes you a really well rounded individual," Wherry said. "I enjoyed the exposure to research, the body of knowledge and the people during both my master's and doctoral program."

Wherry also draws upon the discipline she gained from working on her dissertation, Authentic leadership, leader member exchange, and organizational citizenship behavior: A multilevel analysis.

"You learn a considerable amount of discipline during the process of researching, writing, and defending your dissertation. With the discipline and knowledge I gained, I am able to help our leaders come up with solid business solutions. I can take complex theory, put it in laymen's terms and then apply it to the business." Wherry said. "I get most satisfaction when I witness ‘light bulb moments' – the moment when what I am facilitating just clicks with my learners. It is at that moment I know the leadership concepts my participants learned will filter down throughout the organization."

Wherry is originally from Denton, Nebraska and grew up on a farm where she helped raise cattle. She enjoys riding horses and was involved in the UNL rodeo team during her undergraduate years as a breakaway calf roper.