A testament to an inspiring and inclusive leadership

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

There has never been a more critical time to express kindness than now. It is needed in the world – workplace included.

For two years and nine months, Dr. Evelie P. Serrano served as Head of the Knowledge Management Office (KMO) of CPAf. During her leadership, even before the pandemic, she demonstrated kindness and compassion consistently. With these characteristics, no wonder that she has a strong commitment to service, which strengthened KMO’s support services. Working at KMO under her supervision, I had also experienced and learned from her persistent drive for excellence.

Appointed on August 1, 2018 as KMO Head, Ma’am Evelie, as we address her, led several support services for the College and its various stakeholders. Among the major activities of KMO during her term were the learning events in partnership with the UPLB Gender Center, UPLB Graduate School, CPAf Alumni Association (AA), and Philippine Association of Agri-vironment Educators and Entrepreneurs, Inc. These activities were participated by CPAf staff, selected UPLB staff, and representatives of various state universities and colleges in the country. It was through the learning events that we, in KMO, realized that there is more to knowledge management than what we thought we knew.

“Ma’am Evelie provided us opportunities to serve more people through the collaborative activities she led,” Rueth T. Cabral, a colleague at KMO, shared. These activities also allowed us to work as a team, and more importantly, be part of CPAf’s mission in building “human and institutional capacities.”

“These learning events reignited my passion to serve the people. By organizing these learning events, we were able to extend meaningful learning beyond the four corners of the classroom. I believe it added value to our small office. It made us even more relevant,” Ma’am Evelie remarked.

As KMO Head and then President of CPAf AA, Dr. Serrano also started in 2018 the annual Forum on Education, Governance, and Development to provide an avenue for the recipients of the CPAf and UPLB Outstanding Alumni Awards to share their work experiences and how their graduate education at CPAf influenced their career. The forum is now a collaborative activity of CPAf and CPAf AA.

“I have always believed in the saying that ‘Together Everyone Achieves More.’ By partnering with other organizations, we were able to maximize our available resources and deliver better quality learning events for the CPAf extended family,” Ma’am Evelie said.

Under her leadership, KMO also enhanced the online visibility of the College through the creation and management of the CPAf YouTube and Instagram accounts, Facebook Page of the International Conference on Governance and Development, and the Journal of Public Affairs and Development website. Ma’am Evelie worked closely with KMO staff to ensure that CPAf shares correct, updated, and relevant information.

Moreover, KMO also continued to serve CPAf students through its College Library. Ma’am Evelie has always been supportive of the library programs and has provided encouragement and significant inputs for the enhancement of our library services,” Mary Ruth O. Rasco, college librarian, said.

The orientation on library services was also conducted at the start of each semester. In 2020, KMO also hosted a webinar on mental health, a pressing concern of many, not only of CPAf students. On top of these, KMO conducted studies on the remote learning experiences of CPAf students and faculty, mainly, to provide valuable information to the College to help improve its delivery of remote learning.

Furthermore, KMO continued the publication of the college newsletter, peer-reviewed journal, and magazine through the support of the different units of CPAf. With her background and expertise in communication, Ma’am Evelie diligently edited all these publications.

“Managing the different KMO publications could have been really tough given the many other tasks and activities of our small office,” Ma’am Evelie shared. “However, I have been blessed with a hardworking and cooperative team that helped make my job less difficult. It was a joy working with Team KMO even amidst the challenges of the pandemic,” she added.

Indeed, challenges are sometimes unavoidable, and oftentimes, necessary. But this heartfelt message from a KMO colleague perfectly expressed how Ma’am Evelie handled the challenges we encountered. “Tough times may come, but thank you for making us feel that we are a team, and for giving us opportunities to be better,” Stoix Nebin S. Pascua said.

Learning with us and not just leading us, treating us as partners and not as subordinates – these are just some of our common impressions about her. For Sandralyn V. Tan, another KMO colleague, “Ma’am Evelie’s humility is truly admirable.”

In one of her posts on Facebook, Ma’am Evelie quoted former UPLB Chancellor Ruben Villareal who said, “You may fail as an administrator, but never fail as a human being.”

As a leader and as a person, Ma’am Evelie’s character has a lasting mark on us. She showed us how to be firm but fair, how to be assertive but courteous, how to be confident but modest, and how to be professional but humane. With that, we are sincerely grateful.

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University Researcher at CPAf