Ryan Holmes, who also serves as Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, was selected as one of 90 Impact Fellows by the Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating new, high-quality leadership opportunities for young people.



The Aspen Index Impact Fellowship, currently one of the most innovative and influential for advancing leadership development among today’s youth, was recently awarded to a role model at the University of Miami.

Ryan Holmes, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, has worked at the University since 2017. He oversees various areas of student life, including social work and case management, campus chaplains, Greek life , crisis management, student conduct, academic integrity, and general student-community relations. His leadership has even supported the Sandler Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education and includes published works on social justice and racial and gender bias.

Showcasing a long list of accomplishments, Holmes was selected to be an Impact Fellow on behalf of the Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit organization interested in developing new leadership initiatives and programs. Holmes said he believed he would only be involved at the grassroots level.

“I just casually told them if there was any way you could help, let me know, thinking about the Miami aspect of what they were trying to do,” Holmes said. “They asked me if I would mind being one of the entertainers for Miami, thinking that was where it was going to end. But surprisingly, I got another call saying they would really like to work with me at the national level, and then the invitation came, and I was floored and excited.

The Aspen Institute’s Leadership Development Index, more simply called the Aspen Index, is a digital tool created to measure basic leadership skills for personal and professional growth. It uses a combination of self-assessments, team asset mapping, and research to determine how the Aspen Institute can create more meaningful leadership opportunities, especially for youth and families from socio-economic backgrounds. economically disadvantaged.

“I am thrilled that Dean Holmes has been named an Aspen Impact Fellow,” said Patricia A. Whitely, senior vice president of student affairs. “This group of education leaders will play an important role in reframing and improving youth leadership programs across the country. The nomination of Dean Holmes is a testament to his work nationally and at UM.

The organization’s Impact Fellowship is awarded to 90 community leaders to support their efforts to expose young people to higher quality leadership skills, opportunities and programs.

According to John Dugan, founder of Aspen Index, there is a strong need for a generation of young, values-driven, community-driven leaders. “We can no longer take leadership development for granted. We must offer young people the opportunity to cultivate their talent for solving growing political, social and scientific problems, not in the distant future, but today.

The institute also reports that less than 32% of young people under the age of 25 in the United States experience any kind of leadership growth. In cases where they interact with this type of development, many are not exposed to the quality programs they need to become successful leaders in the future. In an effort to reduce barriers, the scholarship is one of many ways the institute is pushing that number beyond 50% for exposure to high-quality youth programs.

Prior to his time at University, Holmes also recalled when he was unsure of receiving the opportunities he now has today.

“Once I realized what they were trying to do and the types of college age people they were trying to impact, it really reminded me of where I came from, not knowing if leadership opportunities would come to me when I was younger,” Holmes said.

“I really want to make sure that the index we’re working on is not only valuable, but stands the test of time,” he said. “As for the six areas of leadership identified, we can focus on them and provide opportunities for young people of school age who otherwise would not necessarily have access to these leadership experiences.”

Now, Holmes finally hopes to continue giving back to students at the University of Miami, but this time with more resources and support through help from the Aspen Institute.

“Leadership is learning and experiencing everything you can in order to be effective for someone else,” Holmes said. “I don’t believe you can have leadership without service. And I think it was one of those times when I was asked to serve in a different way. So that’s what I’m looking forward to: showing leadership in every way possible.