Inaugural ELP Book Club Holds First Sessions

Seeking to continue promoting reading and in-depth discussion even after graduation from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, the first-ever Executive Leaders Program Alumni Book Club has been launched. 

The optional book club held two inaugural sessions via Zoom on May 7 and May 9 with invited alumni from cohorts 2102, 2201, 2202, and 2301, as well as ELP faculty and staff. 

Sara Kay, Director of the Executive Leaders Program, moderated the sessions and explained the motivation for the Book Club’s creation.

“We’ve had a few students recently say they would never have read the books we assigned but they really enjoyed reading them,” she said. “We always have students who say they will miss the depth of conversations they had with their cohorts after graduation. So we thought an optional book club for recent alumni would scratch both itches.”

I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times by Mónica Guzmán, the first ELP Book Club read

Kay said the current plan is to offer the Book Club sessions twice a year to the four most recently graduated ELP cohorts, “but that may change in the future if it goes well and there is interest.”

Kay said she chose the book I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times by Mónica Guzmán for the inaugural sessions because it’s relatively new, having been published within the last year, so she knew most students wouldn’t have read it and because “it’s a topic that students are very interested in (overcoming charged discourse and disagreements).”

While Kay said the book was provided to the Cohort 2301 students as a “takeaway” book on their last day of ELP, Book Club participants from the other invited alumni cohorts had to purchase the book themselves.

During the first two sessions, more than a dozen ELP alums participated, discussing their general impressions of the book and what they learned from it, as well as key concepts and what lessons they might incorporate into their work.

One participant mentioned “nuggets of wisdom” in the book and the need to “stay curious.” Another participant talked about how the book underscored the need to be more “open-minded” and another noted the book’s encouragement to pursue “deeper conversations.” Kay suggested the author seemed to be promoting the creation of a “safe space for dissent.”

Before concluding the sessions, Kay asked for feedback on the Book Club and requested participants fill out a survey to help inform future sessions. ELP alumni interested in participating should reach out to any member of the staff or faculty or email

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment |, 831-402-4672 (PST)

Scroll to Top