On Leadership: Q&A with New Executive Director Lara Tiedens 

December 18, 2020

This month we sat down with incoming Executive Director Lara Tiedens.

Dr. Tiedens currently serves as President of Scripps College, an elite women’s liberal arts college in the world-renowned Claremont College Consortium. While at Scripps, she created the Centennial Plan for Scripps College, a strategic blueprint for the institution’s future; completed the largest capital campaign in the college’s history; and launched ambitious STEM and computational science education initiatives. She also promoted and increased financial aid for students, oversaw the transformation of the campus by opening the first LEED certified residential hall and initiated construction of a state-of-the-art science facility.

In her new position, Dr. Tiedens will play a key management role and oversee many elements of the program and its administration.

Tell us a bit about your background. What are a few facts everyone should know about you? 

I have a PhD in Psychology with a specialization in Social Psychology. As a social psychologist, my research focused on how and why people create and navigate social hierarchies and on the role of emotion in decision making. I was also a faculty member and administrator at the Stanford Graduate School of Business for 18 years. I have spent the last five years as the President of Scripps College, a small liberal arts college in Southern California.  

What about Schwarzman Scholars most excites you? 

Understanding China is crucial for anyone who wants to be a leader in today’s world. Joining Schwarzman Scholars represents an exciting opportunity to expand my own leadership skills by learning more about China’s critically important role on the global stage. I’m also excited to watch Scholars translate the knowledge they gain in the program to produce greater international cooperation and collaboration.  

Why is the mission of Schwarzman Scholars more important now than ever before?  

In the last few years we have seen increasing geopolitical tensions around the world while at the same time being confronted with palpable reminders of the many ways in which countries are globally intertwined. It has never been more pressing to reduce tensions, increase understanding, build cross-cultural relationships and find solutions to today’s global challenges. 

What do you want prospective applicants to know about Schwarzman Scholars?   

Your time as a Scholar will be a year like no other. Though you likely won’t know what the most important lessons are or how Schwarzman Scholars is shaping your future as it is happening, for the rest of your life you will notice the opportunities and learning that were made possible from this one single year.  

What do you enjoy doing for fun?  

Hanging out with my kids, walks, reading, baking, peloton 

Where did you grow up? 

Minnesota (if you listen closely, you can still hear the accent especially if I’m tired or stressed). 

Can you tell us about your family? 

I’m married and have two children and one cat. 

What’s one fact about you nobody would know from reading your resume? 

I make great pies! 

Name three things you’re looking forward to in moving to NYC? 

The food, going to the ballet and other dance venues, and not driving.