New scholarship honors EMPA alumna Theresa Flynn

Theresa FlynnA new scholarship fund, benefiting professional master’s students interested in organizational change and development, has been created to honor Theresa A. "Terry" Flynn, whose many connections to the Maxwell School included earning an Executive MPA in 2012. Flynn died in 2018 following a protracted battle with ALS.

The Theresa A. Flynn Endowed Graduate Scholarship will be awarded to students in the MPA or EMPA degree program who demonstrate organizational development interests comparable to those of the honoree. The first Flynn Scholar will be an exemplary student entering Maxwell for the 2020-21 academic year.

The new scholarship fund was established by Flynn’s husband, Kenneth L. Wagner, who holds a 1990 JD from the SU College of Law; and her parents, Michael J. and Patricia Flynn, who are the lead donors.  Michael Flynn, professor emeritus at Stanford University, received an MS in electrical engineering from Syracuse University in 1960.  Additional gifts to the fund have been made through a community memorial fund established in Terry Flynn's name.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology (University of California, Santa Cruz) and a master’s degree in industrial and labor relations (Cornell University), Flynn orchestrated a 25-year career, centered upon helping organizations change their cultures, improve work systems, and solve problems from within. She created Odyssey Consulting Group, which for 15 years provided her expertise in organizational design and development to businesses and their bargaining-partner unions in a variety of industries. Flynn coached labor-management teams that tackled a range of production, process, and performance problems, facilitated labor contract negotiations using innovative approaches, and advised senior management and union leadership alike on a range of strategic and tactical issues. She also coached and trained hundreds of supervisors, managers, and engineers, for both large corporations and federal, state, and local governmental organizations. 

In 2004, Flynn joined Sensis Corporation, where she spent five years as the chief learning officer and a member of the senior management team, addressing corporate cultural transformation and related matters.  Flynn then returned to consulting, shifting her focus to the nonprofit sector, working to transform struggling agencies into vibrant and innovative organizations.  During this period, Flynn returned to Maxwell— where she had previously taught as an adjunct and collaborated with several faculty members on consulting projects — to obtain her EMPA, pursuing a specific interest in poverty, public health, and education. As an EMPA student, she worked to develop leadership teams for the nonprofit and public sectors.

"Terry was a truly remarkable person," says Wagner, "who directed her considerable talents toward learning how the organization at hand functioned and, more importantly, how it could change for the better. She was unceasingly creative and her perspectives were often unique. A scholarship that helps others further that endeavor is a most appropriate way to honor her memory. And, she would have loved it!"

"Terry Flynn was a student in my EMPA capstone course, where I came to quickly and deeply appreciate the impressive career she had achieved," says David M. Van Slyke, dean of the Maxwell School. "Her concern for others was evident in all that she did, as were her commitment to values of integrity and organizational citizenship, and her desire to help organizations and those who benefit from their work achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. We are honored to host a scholarship that will advance her passionate interests by supporting like-minded students in similar fields."

04/10/20