New scholarship honors EMPA alumna Theresa Flynn
A 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
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
"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."