This season of The Defectors is sponsored by The Defector Academy Suite, a series of coaching activities designed to help you discern your path. If you’re even thinking about a life beyond campus, explore the trio of options available to you to work through these thoughts and ideas with me as your co-pilot! Don’t want in, but still love the series?Consider donating to keep it going!

wooden post fence, surrounded by flowering trees, with "The Defectors: Women at Work" overlaid in white text

Today’s Defector Woman at Work is Liza Talusan. I first met Liza almost ten years ago, as a graduate student. Today, our work paths are a little closer in appearance, as she just celebrated her one-year anniversary as an independent practitioner and consultant. As soon as she made the leap, I knew I’d want to include her in a Defectors series- and as you’ll see and hear, our time together did not disappoint.

Below, you’ll see and hear our conversation about navigating the field as a woman of color, the (seemingly) unmistakeable signs she needed to make a change, the challenges she runs into in her new capacity, and what leadership needs to do (and be) to keep good people. What’s more, she turned the proverbial mic and asked me a few questions- leading me to reveal things I hadn’t previously gotten to share in much detail. All told, a great conversation that I’m so happy to have gotten to have.

(Captions available; Get a transcript of our conversation here)

I loved talking with Liza, and I think you’ll love talking to her as well. Please take her up on her offer to connect via Facebook or Twitter, and check out her website for details on her work – and how to work with her yourself!

Dr. Liza Talusan is an educator, speaker, leader, runner, writer, life/leadership coach and parent. With over 22 years of experience in PreK-20 education, Liza is an engaging facilitator in conversations about diversity, racism, bias, privilege and power and creates environments that allow for people to discuss these difficult topics openly. Through her direct work with leaders, Liza empowers individuals to create a more inclusive organization, environment, community and team.

Takeaways from Liza’s Journey

  • Defection doesn’t have to be a radical departure from the work you’ve been doing; it can be the choice to do it a different way or with a different group
  • Moreover, as Liza’s “dipping in and out” demonstrates, it’s not a one-time, definitive decision. So long as you stay connected to the field and its people, moving back and forth is possible.
  • Liza worried not only about the value of her work, but about the toll her work was taking on her health. Concerns about how physical or mental health are impacted by your work are wholly valuable reasons to reconsider where you are.
  • Talking about defection isn’t just valuable to those pondering the choice. Managers and leaders who are concerned about a seeming exodus, can and should look within to see how their leadership style and motivation contributes to the work environment.