Sarah Cleveland Frost (LAS MS ’14) helps DePaul employees learn the ropes and climb higher
By Craig Keller
When she was volunteering at and working for nonprofits in her native Asheville, N.C., and in Chicago, Sarah Cleveland Frost (LAS MS ’14) often found herself onboarding and training new volunteers and staff members.
“I’d always get asked to do it because I liked it,” says Cleveland Frost of her experiences over the years at AmeriCorps, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and other nonprofits. “But I didn’t know it was a real job.”
In 2012, she learned that staff training was indeed a career while she was earning her master’s in public service management at DePaul. While checking the university’s student job board, she saw a posting for an internship in the training department of DePaul’s Department of Human Resources.
“I thought, ‘Oh my god, it’s fate,’” recalls Cleveland Frost, who got the job and worked her way to her current role as DePaul’s director of workplace learning and performance. In that position, she oversees new employee orientations, annual performance appraisals and management training courses.
Cleveland Frost’s enthusiasm for guiding careers brings a fresh perspective to even mandatory human resources training. Her approach to training is to meet employees at their skill and interest level and treat them with respect and kindness. Her ultimate goal is to help build teams that feel empowered and that can empower others.
“Sometimes managers and employees are so focused on their day-to-day work that they forget to prioritize their own professional development,” says Cleveland Frost. “It’s so important that we take the time to keep learning with, and from, each other.”
“It’s so important that we take the time to keep learning with, and from, each other,” says Sarah Cleveland Frost, DePaul’s director of workplace learning and performance.
Cleveland Frost says that when she conducts training sessions for a group of managers, it’s imperative to first establish mutual support and a space where no question is considered irrelevant. Cleveland Frost often role-plays the part of an employee to help participants learn skills like giving and receiving feedback, setting goals, working through difficult interpersonal situations and collaborating on strategic planning.
Helping employees discover a sense of purpose that motivates them every day is challenging but easy in one respect at DePaul, she says. “We’re providing access to education for students who are going out there to change the world. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
Cleveland Frost often taps DePaul students in The Theatre School and the School of Cinematic Arts to act in and produce training videos. “The quality of these videos is incredible, and the students get to use them in their reels and for classes,” says Cleveland Frost, who writes scripts for the videos and sometimes provides voiceover narration.
One such video, “Manage Like Vincent,” follows a new manager who gains confidence through team-focused training. Cleveland Frost’s script considers employees through a Vincentian lens, comparing assets like recognizing the dignity of every person to the managerial skills of St. Vincent de Paul.
“As we find ourselves taking on the role of management in the modern day, we use his lessons to guide us through challenges,” narrates Cleveland Frost. “Just like Vincent, we’re not perfect. We’ll have good days and bad, but through it all we strive to offer our good will and best effort.”