Meeting the needs of Adult Learners: Denise Ford Saxon
For a large part of its history, Lourdes University primarily served adult learners – those seeking a college degree who were already working or looking to return to the workforce. In the 21st century, this important group of college students known as post-traditional learners are approximately 80 million strong.
Prior to accepting her leadership role at Lourdes, Dr. Mary Ann Gawelek had worked extensively and successfully with post-traditional and traditional undergraduate students. Under her leadership, she seeks to reinvigorate the Lourdes learning environment and better meet the needs of adult learners.
In celebration of the many successful post-secondary Lourdes alumni and current students, we put the spotlight on the following high-achieving individuals.
Denise Ford Saxon, ‘16, ‘13
Assistant Director of Human Resources
Having served more than two decades in administrative management positions at Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO), Denise began pursuing her college degree as a part-time student while continuing to work full time. In 2013, she achieved an associate’s degree in business and last year, a bachelor’s degree in human resource management. She graduated summa cum laude and is a member of Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society for Business, Management and Administration.
Denise reaped the rewards of her studies when she joined LAWO’s partner firm ABLE as the Assistant Director of Human Resources. In that position, she coordinates all recruitment activities for both law firms, performs other essential duties, chairs the Wellness Program and Emergency Response committees and is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee.
Her role affords the opportunity to work with the next generation of attorneys. “As a recruitment coordinator for the firms, I work with colleges and high school career services to secure student internships. Working with referred students and the firm’s attorneys and paralegals, I arrange for a match that fits the students’ primary law interest.”
“My work is rewarding as it aligns with my life’s mission. It allows me to help others and to develop their critical decision-making skills by advising them to view their situation from a variety of perspectives. In addition, because I work in a legal environment, I am very comfortable with employment law which is beneficial to ensuring that the firms are in compliance,” she adds.
Always looking to improve upon her knowledge and skills, Denise plans to obtain Senior Certified Professional (SCP) certification from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to help the law firms develop recruitment and retention strategies for high performing employees. Her long-term goal involves HR consulting in recruitment, training and development.
A member of the missions department at her church, Denise enjoys reading the Bible and other materials that help her develop her relationship with God and grow as a professional. She credits her success to past and current supervisors, coworkers and her parents, siblings and children “who always gave me encouraging words and knew that I could do whatever I put my mind to doing.”
Her most dedicated fan though is her husband Donald Saxon. “He was there with me during the late night studies and the reams and reams of paper I would go through while writing the many assignments that all Lourdes students do. He is the main reason that I pushed to not only graduate but to graduate with honors. I am thankful that he was by my side every step of the way and continues to support my dreams.”