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Leading with Empathy, Trust, and Service: Robin Sansing (ALP ‘24)


January 22, 2024 | Laney

Robin SansingWhether it’s in her work as a social worker or as co-founder of Mindful UNC, Robin Sansing is committed to supporting others in their development and growth. The relationships built among a group are essential for collaboration and support that enhances the group’s work.  

It’s one reason that attracted her to the IAH’s Academic Leadership Program, where she joins as a Fellow for the 2023-2024 academic year. She was inspired by the positive experiences shared by colleagues who participated in the past, highlighting the valuable leadership lessons and cross-campus relationships forged through the program.  

“I am so grateful to be part of ALP at this point in my career. It is the perfect time to build a network of colleagues across the University to gain perspectives on teaching, research, and leadership,” said Sansing. 

As a Clinical Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work, Sansing is no stranger to leadership roles, as she also serves as the school’s inaugural Director of Wellness. With a commitment to leadership, collaboration and well-being, Sansing co-founded Mindful UNC, which caters to the mental and emotional health of UNC-affiliated groups and individuals through contemplative practices.  

As the Director of Wellness, Sansing recognized the growing leadership opportunities in her role and saw the ALP fellowship as the ideal platform to deepen her engagement in leadership work.  

“The ALP truly feels like a unique opportunity to grow more into who I can be and then to actually live it every day,” said Sansing.  

For Sansing, leadership is deeply rooted in the theories of servant and relational leadership. She strives to be a leader who serves others, incorporating empathy, trust, and collaboration into her approach. Sansing’s work is built on partnerships and collaborations, breaking down silos at UNC to create a stronger and more interconnected community. She firmly believes that collective efforts result in a more robust and effective outcome, emphasizing the importance of unity in achieving shared goals.  

“We change the game when we invite others to join in. And in that joining, there is an opportunity for me to lift up the folks I work with,” she said. “I truly believe that we are better together.”  

She envisions the ALP fellowship as a crucial catalyst for building a diverse network of colleagues across the university.  

Through the program, Sansing aims to gain insights into teaching, research, and leadership, fostering a collaborative environment. By learning from her peers, she seeks to enhance her ability to engage students effectively, cultivate a culture of wellness in the School of Social Work, and establish partnerships to promote mindfulness and well-being across campus.  

While initially drawn to the mission of the UNC School of Social Work when she joined the school in 2015, Sansing found joy in working with passionate and engaged students. Their dedication to social work and innovative problem-solving reinvigorated her enthusiasm for her role. The energy and inspiration derived from working with students has been an unexpected and rewarding aspect of her career.  

Sansing’s work involves responding to crises on both campus and a broader scale. Addressing tragedy and conflict requires creating supportive spaces, engaging individuals at their own pace, and facilitating interventions to aid recovery. Despite the difficulties, she finds this role to be immensely rewarding, emphasizing the importance of continued care during challenging times.  

“I am grateful that I can jump in and help create interventions to make things better for the people in my community,” said Sansing.  

Her own daily practices for mental well-being include solo and group walks and runs in nature, a meditation routine to alleviate stress, and the Loving Kindness Meditation, which comes from a Buddhist tradition, to foster compassion. Spending time with loved ones is an essential aspect of her well-being, reminding her of the beauty in the world even during difficult times. 

 

 

By Laney Crawley ’26


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