Together: Taking Action Toward Innovation and Entrepreneurship...

Posted By: Dr. Caron Sada NACCE Blog,

Together: Taking action toward innovation and entrepreneurship in the Maricopa Center for Learning and Innovation

By Dr. Caron Sada and Dr. Rob Morales

The Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction became the Maricopa Center for Learning and Innovation (MCLI) in 2018. While the newly-hired District Director of MCLI, Dr. Steven Crawford, could not have predicted that COVID-19 was ahead, the purposeful work already in place transitioning to a center for innovation was timely. When more than 23 programs and events needed to quickly become virtual, the team was able to collaborate with District Instructional Technology Services to integrate a delivery platform for the 10 college-district, expand engagement in MCLI’s programming, decrease costs by over $100,000, and support others throughout the District in their transitions to virtual programs and classes, too.

Some key learning and action that powered the MCLI team’s ability to respond to changed circumstances and solve problems together include:

  • The MCLI team slowed down and put time into team learning by exploring different personality traits, design tools, and approaches to project management. They use common language around futurist thinking to keep them looking ahead together. 
  • The MCLI team overcame silos and further developed their team strengths through regularly scheduled huddles. The brief, inclusive conversations allow them to leverage multiple perspectives into improved prototypes each time a program or event is completed as preparation to be better next time.
  • Because the MCLI team has formed close working relationships with each other, dissenting voices are invited to speak up, fueling their culture of continuous improvement. It’s not just safe to speak up, everyone is invited and expected to speak up.

As MCLI continues to integrate their efforts into even more sustainable and scalable programming,  Dr. Steven Crawford summarized,

“We are a District Office department that has purposefully been developing our identity as being more innovative and entrepreneurial, and the investments we’ve made in each other are allowing us to improve quality, expand our reach and feel supported in our everyday work together.”

The MCLI team is excited to be partnering with NACCE on the upcoming webinar featuring Dr. Rebecca Corbin, Professor Beth Kerly, and Dr. Andy Gold titled, Roadmap to the Future: Launching National Entrepreneurship Week 2021. Everyone is invited!  


February 11, 2021 at 4pm EST

Maricopa Community Colleges includes 10 individually accredited colleges that serve more than 160,000 students. The Maricopa Center for Learning and Innovation (MCLI), formerly the Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction, collaborates with faculty, staff, and external stakeholders to provide high-impact and high-quality district-wide professional development and strategies facilitating student success. 

Dr. Caron Sada serves as Residential Psychology Faculty at Paradise Valley Community College and is a new team member at MCLI. Caron volunteers as the contact for the NACCE Center of Practice for Student Engagement featuring Paradise Valley Community College and the Maricopa Community College District.  

Dr. Rob Morales serves as an Instructional Designer for the Maricopa Center for Learning and Innovation. His work includes the design and implementation of integrative, integrated, sustainable, scalable districtwide Innovation and Entrepreneurial programming.