Learning it All in 2022
Originally published on LinkedIn on December 18, 2022
I am wrapping up another busy year of learning and if there is one thing that becomes more apparent as each year passes by: the more I learn, the less I know! There's so much more to learn out there and I've only scratched the surface in a lot of areas - being able to recognize that is part of the process. #growthmindset
Behold, I present to you my year end review of learning across six main areas: (1) academia, (2) amateur radio, (3) disaster relief, (4) diversity, equity & inclusion, (5) technical skilling, and (6) other professional skilling that helped me grow even more this year. Hopefully, you'll learn a few things in here, too.
Johns Hopkins: Government Analytics & Intelligence
While I wrapped up my Master's degree coursework in Government Analytics & Intelligence at Johns Hopkins a year ago, it wasn't until graduation this past May that I found out my capstone project won an award from the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies for the Best Capstone in Data Analytics & Policy! If you haven't seen it yet, it's called "Count MENA: Clarifying the Impact of U.S. Hate Crimes on the Middle Eastern & North African Community," and available through the JHU Sheridan Libraries JScholarship site. Thanks to my professors and Program Director, Dr. Jennifer Bachner, for the support and recognition of my work in this area. #CountMENA
I learned a lot during the course of this program I've been able to apply in various situations with customers and other community engagement efforts. There is no doubt reliable analytics will be key for informed decision making in the future, and being able provide not just the data, but the insights and caveats that should go along with them are crucial. I'm glad I had the chance to learn from the fantastic faculty at JHU along with some great classmates who made the course discussions and group projects all the more interesting.
Stetson University College of Law: Elder Law
And right when you think it's time for me to take a break from school, I go and get myself admitted to another Master's program! I had the opportunity to start working towards an LL.M. in Elder Law this past spring at my hometown law school, Stetson, beginning with Ethics in the Practice of Elder Law with Prof. Roberta K. Flowers, who literally wrote the book on the subject. This fall, I just completed courses on Aging & the Law and Special Topics in Elder Law, which included attending the annual Special Needs Trust Conference at the Vinoy in St. Pete, and post-conference seminar on the gorgeous Stetson Gulfport campus.
Although I just finished another Masters program at JHU last year, being back in law school still took some adjustments for various reasons, but I am really enjoying the engagement with phenomenal faculty and fellow students so far. Elder Law is such a broad practice area, and it covers a lot of things it would be wise to be aware of for long-term planning beyond wills & trusts, including retirement planning, long-term care, guardianships & alternatives, taxation, Veterans benefits, and other government & private health benefits, like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
It is too easy to underestimate everything that should be taken into consideration for comprehensive planning, esp. with complicated family situations and special needs cases. I am grateful to be able to learn from some of the top leaders in this practice area at a pace that works for me given all my other commitments at this point.
This year, I wanted to upgrade my Amateur (Ham) radio license to General class, and thought it would be a stretch going to Extra, but I managed to find the time over the summer to focus on knocking them both out right around Field Day!
Although I could do a lot with a Technician's license already, upgrading to Extra opens up more bands and privileges across the spectrum. It also allows me to serve as a Volunteer Examiner for more Extra class candidates.
I'm hoping Santa will reward me with more gear for the holidays to make more progress learning FT8 and contributing to the digital ham community.
Dealing with hurricane season from June to November each year is part of life in Florida, but some seasons cause more disruption than others and this was one of those years. Hurricane Ian caused a lot of damage in southwest and central Florida and some of that was aggravated by Hurricane Nicole just a month later.
As a volunteer with the Florida Bar Young Lawyer's Division Disaster Legal Services Hotline, in partnership with the ABA's Young Lawyers Division, I learned a lot about the recovery and relief efforts across the state that helped me provide assistance to callers inquiring about a wide variety of matters, including SBA and FEMA disaster relief programs, additional state-led programs, and more.
And it's no coincidence the topic of disaster planning came up in our Elder Law discussions at Stetson. If you have family in elder care facilities in Florida, it's important to be familiar with their evacuation procedures before the need arises. Things can change quickly based on forecast updates, and being prepared to deal with sudden changes can make the experience less stressful for everyone involved.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
Related to my JHU research on hate crimes targeting racial/ethnic and religious groups, I've been spending more time learning about DEI programs that can help raise awareness and mitigate bias based on these and other, often less visible dimensions of diversity. Many people are familiar with Employee Resource Groups, and it's great to see the progress many companies have been making in forming and establishing Interfaith ERGs.
I learned more about this from the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) "Dare to Overcome" National Faith@Work ERG Conference, held earlier this year in Washington, DC. I talked about this some in August, and although I could not attend in person, many of the sessions were recorded and available on demand, including a keynote from EEOC Commissioner Andrea Lucas, and session on establishing a successful faith-based ERG. Additional resources shared include the Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index, that measures a company’s commitment to including religion as part of its overall diversity initiatives.
One shouldn't underestimate how much work goes into leading DEI initiatives properly and effectively while accounting for all the nuances and inherent tension that may exist with diverse religious perspectives. It's great to be able to learn from others who have navigated this area successfully, leading the way on meaningfully practicing religious inclusion in their organizations.
And on this topic, I would be remiss if I did not mention the impact Dr. Michael Palmer had on my perspective here. While at Regent University, I was fortunate to have a course with Dr. Palmer on World Religions several years ago. His insights and practical guidance during the course were invaluable. He will be missed.
Azure Data Explorer a/k/a Kusto
If you would have asked me a year ago where I thought most of my technical badges would come from in 2022, the Kusto Detective Agency would not have been on my list. But what a nice surprise it has been the last couple months as I worked through the cases in this big data contest using Azure Data Explorer! Using a free ADX cluster, you get to work through 5 progressively more challenging big data cases, collecting a badge for onboarding, solving, and finally completing all 5 cases. That's 7 badges!
Who needs that many badges? This lady learn-it-all, that's who! And to top it off, I got this lovely Certificate of Gratitude from the Mayor of Digitown.
Kudos to the Kusto team for putting together such a fun training experience that helped me learn more about KQL and ADX! #KQLFTW #RespectElPuente #iykyk
Biz Apps: RPA Developer and Customer Data Platform Specialty
Now let me tell you about the badges I was expecting to get this year! I did not get a chance to participate in the beta for the new Power Automate RPA Developer (PL-500) exam before it became generally available this summer, but as soon as it went GA, I signed up for it (and I may have also been persuaded by the fact there was a Yeti involved).
Let me tell you something: studying for this exam was probably one of the most helpful learning paths I've gone through this year, not only to pass the exam, but also to come up with more ways to automate so many routine tasks during the day that I save a pretty significant amount of time. People ask me how I find time to learn it all and here's the secret: automation. I have a bot army working for me and you can, too, if you learn more about Power Automate and its RPA capabilities! I wrote about this some more in September, ahead of the Microsoft Power Platform Conference, where the Automation COE kit was made generally available. Hyperautomation is coming up more often for good reason, and this is an area I'm eager to continue to learn more about as we head into 2023.
Another new certification I earned this year was for the Customer Data Platform Specialist (MB-260) exam. This exam focuses on using Dynamics 365 Customer Insights with other Power Platform and Data & AI services to design CI solutions. This is a really powerful solution for managing customer data, along with incorporating AI predictions and more advanced analytics.
Now that I've racked up a few more technical certs this year, the renewal notifications are already coming in for some of last year's additions, so I will likely be focusing on those renewals over the next 6 months before looking at more new certs in H2 CY24.
Other Professional Skilling
I started out this year in a great course about Influence in Action, based on Jon Levy's book, You're Invited. I wrote about this more back in March when we wrapped up the session, but I was glad to be able to integrate some of that with our Customer Facing Skills Initiative training on influence that I helped deliver soon afterwards. The "flipped classroom" approach helped apply some of those concepts to realistic scenarios many of us encounter regularly in our roles.
Finally, as I mentioned last month, I am still working on my social transition to Post and Mastodon, and have since locked my Twitter account and disconnected most of my remaining linked services. It's unfortunate, but not unforeseeable, that a lot of other people have been doing the same recently. 
And this still doesn't cover everything I learned this year, but I'm enjoying applying all the other lessons I've learned across multiple disciplines to better serve customers, clients, and community members in achieving their goals.
Here's to learning even more in 2023!
Johns Hopkins University Government Studies: https://landing.advanced.jhu.edu/government/
Stetson University College of Law Special Needs Trust Conference: https://www.stetson.edu/law/conferences/snt/
American Radio Relay League, Licensing Education and Training: https://www.arrl.org/licensing-education-training
ARRL Field Day: https://www.arrl.org/field-day
ABA Disaster Recovery Resource Center: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/committees/disaster/
FEMA Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole assistance: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4673 and https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4680
National Disaster Legal Aid for Hurricane Ian: https://www.disasterlegalaid.org/floridahurricaneian2022/
SBA Disaster Loan Assistance: https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/
Unite Florida Hurricane Ian Recovery Portal: https://ianrecovery.fl.gov/unite
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
2022 Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index: https://religiousfreedomandbusiness.org/redi-index-2022
2022 "Dare to Overcome" National Faith@Work Conference: https://religiousfreedomandbusiness.org/dare-to-overcome-2022
Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) Global Forums and National Conferences: https://religiousfreedomandbusiness.org/global-forums
Kusto Detective Agency: https://detective.kusto.io/
Microsoft Learn Certifications: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/certifications/
Other Professional Skilling
Jon Levy, "You're Invited": https://www.jonlevytlb.com/you-re-invited
Microsoft Customer Facing Skills Initiative (badge descriptions): https://www.credly.com/organizations/microsoft-customer-facing-skills-initiative/badges