Avila Now

January 4, 2022

Q&A: Breann Branch, MSOD, Ph.D.

Avila MSOD alumna Breann Branch, Ph.D.
Breann Branch PhD.

Now the Director of Research and Organizational Change at Culture Journey — Critical Social Change Project, Breann Branch, MSOD, Ph.D. is a 2014 graduate of Avila University’s Institute for Professional Studies. Branch works with government, corporate, education, and community organizations to provide evidence-based, transformative change solutions relating to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Branch came to Avila after graduating from Howard University and working in a job “I did not like.”

“This program (Avila’s MSOD) gave me something to look forward to,” said Branch. “I appreciated the personal care and attention I got as a new graduate student.”

“I was encouraged to push all my fears aside and go for what I wanted to do.”

As the Director, Branch leads a research team and assists organizations with professional development coaching and capacity building. “I have a background in qualitative research in education research,” said Branch. “But I was specifically hired to do the OD work on this part of the team.”

How did you get involved with Organizational Development work? 

Basically, I had no idea what I was going to do with my degree. I got into this degree program as an exit to get out of something else. What I fell into was a whole world of opportunities.

What did you learn in Avila’s OD program that left a lasting impact on your personal and professional life? 

It helped me gain the org development background, change theory, and introduced me to diversity in the workplace. I’m a black person. I’m a black woman. But I never learned about diversity. We did the privilege walk exercise in one of my OD classes, and it was just eye-opening. I was like, “what?” It just made everything so clear about racial disparities and gender disparities. That privilege walk exercise was literally a match to my entire personal growth and professional growth in diversity work.

This is what I do now, and it’s just full circle that I am the one now in the master seat and doing the things that we did in class. I’m eternally grateful for that experience.

Any advice for people considering OD?

 It’s really about mastering the knowledge and practicing it where you are.

People will look at you as the expert and then you have to own it. You learn all you can then you’ll be tapped at some point or there’ll be an opportunity at some point where you can show all your expertise and all your skills and all your knowledge. This program is super, super important in helping you adjust your language to say, “I do have this.”

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