Ease your student supervision speed bumps.

Digital Leadership in Higher Education has finally arrived

Finally. It’s finally here! My book is finally, officially, published. 🎉

Digital Leadership in Higher Education: Purposeful Social Media in a Connected World has been a labor of love since 2016. I am thrilled – and so humbled – to be a published author.

In this post I’m sharing about the text, events for the book launch, some folks featured AND some very important thank yous. Think of this post as a personalized press announcement that I would LOVE for you to share widely.

First of course is … go get the book! Amazon + Kindle or through Stylus publishing directly. Bonus purchasing through Stylus is this fabulous coupon code (DLHE30) for 30% off (expires 12/31/20) = DLHE30 

AND when you purchase and get reading – I’d love to know about it! Tag me @josieahlquist or use the hashtag #DigLead

So what the heck is the book about? Well here’s what’s on the back cover 😉 

In this groundbreaking book, Josie Ahlquist provides readers with the tools they need to take a strong, values-based approach to leadership in the various digital spaces vital to the world of higher education today. Filled with real-world examples and tools to negotiate this ever-changing digital landscape, the book fills an important niche in the literature: A user manual for your digital leadership journey.

Each chapter includes tools and tactics, as well as stories that bridge the gap between technology and connection with the community. This book doesn’t have a recipe for cooking up the next viral video, it offers lots of ways to stay true to individual and organizational values while engaging online. Whether a college president, dean of students, associate professor, or a program coordinator, there is a need for leaders who aren’t just early adopters and social media enthusiasts, but authentic individuals who back up their technology use with a purposeful philosophy and a values-based approach to their role.

Make sure to check out the book’s website – where you can learn even more about the book like the table of contents, meet the features, explore resources, and much more.

Book Launch Events

We have a lot of celebrating to do! I’d love to have you join any of these events.

Book Launch Kickoff!

Tuesday, September 15th, 1-2:30 pm PT 

RSVP here and how to watch live or the recording

  • Co-hosted with Ed Cabellon
  • A sneak peek inside the book
  • Tour the book website and see who is included
  • Announcement of a new book club series

Book Launch Party

Thursday, September 17th, 4-5:30 pm PT

RSVP here and how to watch live or the recording

  • Selfie competition
  • Book Give-Away
  • An un-boring book reading
  • Champagne Toasts
  • AMA with the author
  • Shoutouts and I.O.U.’s (ie see Josie cry)
  • And some special guests!

And what would be a party, without a Spotify playlist?! 🎵 🎧 🎶

Early Book Buzz

Before pre-sales boosted my book to Amazon’s #1 New Release in College & University Student Life category (#humblebrag), I invited some trusted colleagues to read an advance manuscript. Here’s what they had to say.  

Walter M. Kimbrough, President, Dillard University

Josie Ahlquist breaks new ground with the text, Digital Leadership In Higher Education. The text provides practical examples, leadership theory, and most importantly, exercises and activities that professionals can use to strengthen their digital leadership. The book has a wide range of ideas that meets the reader wherever they are in their digital leadership journey. 

Brandon Busteed President, University Partners, Kaplan, Inc.

Josie has made a compelling case that we must ‘put purpose in our platforms’ when it comes to social media. Effective leadership means we must bring our values and mission – not just soundbites – to our activity in the digital sphere. And it’s not as hard as you may think thanks to the very practical examples and exercises Josie has given us in this book.

Susan Komives, Professor Emerita, University of Maryland

Josie Ahlquist brings her superb expertise in digital technology and leadership theory to empower readers to develop an open, tech mindset through lively examples, engaging writing, grounded in scholarship presented with a personal and conversational tone. This book is practical and accessible. Her positive and purposeful philosophy is embodied in every chapter particularly through the experiences of her brilliant digital role models. Her work supports building, engaging, and nurturing digital communities and networks that are purposeful. This book is a marvelous contribution to leaders in all contexts who need this support to envision how they can indeed nurture their communities through digital and social media reflecting their personal mission. Through reflective activities, she encourages the reader to find their ‘heartware’- the combination of one’s core values, life mission, and leadership capacity and enactment. That ‘heartware’ becomes the WHY of digital leadership. Josie has accomplished her purpose and so will every reader, indeed, “Lead with purpose. Your life, your legacy.

Jason B. Pina, Vice President for Student Affairs, Ohio University

Josie has gone and done it! Digital Leadership combines the best of leadership thought, with higher ed leaders and in-depth direction on why we SHOULD and how we CAN embrace social media.

Melissa Farmer Richards, Vice President for Communications and Marketing, Hamilton College

I recommend this book for every higher education leader whether you have one hundred or one hundred thousand followers. Even the most experienced social media guru can benefit from a regular self-audit of her digital leadership presence. Reading it not only inspired me to review my own strategies and tactics, it also gave me purposeful questions as a chief marketing officer to put forward to our institution’s social media managers.

What is your why for leading online?

Throughout the text, you’ll dive into research, practical examples, and active reflection to develop your digital leadership strategy. My goal is that you will be able to confidently and courageously answer, “What is your why for leading online?”

Here are a few examples from the wonderful people featured in the book.

“Leading online allows us as educators to uplift the sacred stories of our students—helping them align their hopes and dreams with the opportunities to achieve those dreams.”

Mamta Accapadi, Vice Provost for University Life, University of Pennsylvania

“It’s hugely important that students see themselves reflected online and know that people can be warm, funny, and flawed while still being successful leaders.”

Martha Compton, Dean of Students, Concordia University Texas

To continually be better at our commitment to loving students to success by accessing them where they live.

Russell Lowery-Hart, President, Amarillo College

What is your answer, what is your why for leading online? I would love to hear it – tweet it out with the hashtag #DigLead. Learn more and connect with all the book features here.

Who actually reads the dedication or acknowledgments sections in a book? Well I’m gonna make sure as many people know the story behind this book – and that includes some pretty special people. 

Book Dedication

I’ve saved the very very best for last. Let’s first start with who I dedicated this book to:

For my late Grandpa, Straitor Clark, who, despite receiving only a middle school education, insisted upon higher education for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. “Get your education, kid. . . . Nobody can ever take that away from you!”

For my sidekick, business partner, best friend, and husband, Lloyd Ahlquist, who cultivated and encouraged a life of creating.

And for my parents, Mike and Janet Hutchinson, who would never ask for recognition but deserve to be honored with a world record standing ovation. 


And now for the acknowledgments – because y’all I am not the sole architect of this book. And yes, I’m listing the ENTIRE thing. There aren’t enough words to share my appreciation and adoration, but I sure can share them in as many places as I can. Because the years and years of researching, writing, and editing were built and carried through community. 

The journey began as early as 2013. I approached Edlyn Peña, my adviser and dissertation chair at California Lutheran University, about a new research idea that would be in addition to my dissertation. Her confidence in me and willingness to guide a pilot study resulted in the initial drafting of the digital leadership guiding principles that make up this text. 

In the spring of 2015, George McClellan, assistant professor at the University of Mississippi, strongly encouraged me to write a book of my own and further supported the initial book proposal to Stylus Publishing—including introducing me to my now editor, David Brightman, whose belief in this emerging topic and me as a first-time solo author must be acknowledged. I need to recognize numerous supporters and editors were part of my proposal acceptance, including Ed Cabellon, Liz Gross, and Amma Marfo. 

During this time I collaborated with Brian Bourke, associate professor at Murray State University, on further research featured in the text called #HigherEd DigitalLife. Thank you, Brian, for your collaborative spirit and appreciation for technology in higher ed. 

From my years of speaking, podcasting, and blogging about social media and leadership, I have learned that storytelling and stats are required to make an impact on audiences, readers, and listeners. So, of course, the heartbeat of the book would be a chamber of voices throughout higher ed. Although this roster is extensive, each should be acknowledged for significant contributions to the features, quotes, and examples throughout. Thank you, Kristen Abell, Mamta Accapadi, Christine Adam, Ai Addyson-Zhang, Angela E. Batista, Michael Benson, Brian Bourke, Mary K. Boyd, Mordecai Ian Brownlee, Brandon Busteed, Ashley Budd, Ed Cabellon, Adam Castro, Sue Caulfield, Thom D. Chesney, Tim Cigelske, Martha Compton, Christopher Conzen, Paulette M. Dalpes, Thomas Dickson, Tony Doody, Tony Dobies, Karen Freberg, Jonathan Gabriel, Julia R. Golden, Liz Gross, Jenny Hall-Jones, Brian D. Hercliff-Proffer, Levester Johnson, Shamika N. Karikari, Walter Kimbrough, Ann Marie Klotz, Peter Konwerski, Katie Linder, Russell Lowery-Hart, Amma Marfo, Gail Martineau, Cynthia T. Matson, Jeremy McMillen, Tim Miller, Ajay Nair, Laura Pasquini, Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, Pearson, Sumun L. Pendakur, Patty Perillo, M. L. Cissy Petty, La’Tonya Rease Miles, Matthew Reed, Terisa Riley, Steve Robinson, Penny Rue, Joe Sabado, Kirk Schulz, Frederick Smith, Jon-Stephen Stansel, Jennielle Strother, Erin Supinka, Brock Thompson, Vinicius V. Vargas, Marci Walton, Daria J. Willis, and Melissa Woo. 

Early in the writing process, I quickly discovered that I would need to build a team around me, formally and informally. Thank you to my primary copy editor, Jennifer Keplinger, for the thousands of messages and drafts, as well as introducing me to my now favorite project management tool, Asana. In the last leg, where major edits were required, I called upon a wonder woman of an editor, writer, and friend, Kristen Abell, for whom my gratitude has not enough words.

In the final year of the journey, I called upon a crew of colleagues I warmly referred to as #TeamJosie that eventually became a GroupMe digital community. I give all the thankful GIFs available on the internet to Kristen Abell, Ed Cabellon, Keith Edwards, Alexandra Froehlich, Meghan Grace, Liz Gross, Kathy Guthrie, Ann Marie Klotz, Amma Marfo, Laura Pasquini, James Robilotta, Katie Ross, and Ana Rossetti-Sloan. Thank you for seeing me through the realness.

Another team I’d like to recognize are actually members of my business team who, throughout the years, supported various elements of my business and this book: Julia Bates, Erika Boltz, Melissa Gloudeman, McKenzie Magnus, Lynn Meadors, Mallie Rust, Tyler Thomas, and Shakivla Charmaine Todd.

The final section of acknowledgments are to furballs, friends, and family. To my fur family, who kept me company or forced me to take a break, Parker; Luna; Izzy; and, gone much too soon, Dakota. My friends both in Los Angeles and around the globe were instrumental, and I would like to honor a few who have not already been listed, including Maisha Beasley, Kristen Cruise, Jill Goslicky-Krebs, Ashley Hall, Joy Hoffman, Lea Jarnagin, Aaron Krebs, Lacy Schneider, Peter Shukoff, Erika Stoeser, and Shannon Taylor-Ashkin.

To my family, starting with my nieces and nephew, Madeline, Roxanne, Ryken, and Satori—one FaceTime session hearing your giggles and seeing your playful joy fueled my writing for days. To my sisters Suzi and Tiffany, while formal by marriage, I hold our relationships and your support very sacred. Thank you to the entire Ahlquist clan, Kirk, Travis, and Papa Bruce, who serve as a resilient tribe providing care, curiosity, and challenge. For my late mother-in-law Rosemary, gone from this world but very much part of my life, your spirit is woven into all my work.

My grandparents, Straitor and Elaine Clark, both in this world and beyond, passed on a tireless work ethic and the importance of higher ed. I want to thank my brother, Cody Hutchinson, my very first classmate and now trusted adviser and best friend, and my parents, Mike and Janet Hutchinson. Thank you to my dad for laughing, crying, and praying with me, especially while I was creating this book. I was also blessed to be raised by a kindergarten teacher. My mother’s unconditional belief in me outshined the shadow cast by other school teachers who shed doubt on my writing as a child.

And to my husband, Lloyd Ahlquist, who may have more YouTube subscribers and social media followers than most—but who is really a creative medium. Lloyd discovers powers and possibilities in people and projects before anyone else and brings them to life. My doctorate, my business, and this book were all forecasts behind which he was a force. My love, thank you. 

And to you dear reader, thank you.

Josie Ahlquist | Digital Identity and Leadership National Speaker

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Rebekah Tilley

Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

Previously she was the director of strategic communication for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and the director of communication for the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a Kentucky native and a proud alum of the University of Kentucky.

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