Welcome to the Center for Positive Organizations video


  • Mary Ceccanese with Joel Slemrod

  • Karen Dickinson. "Her spirit lives on every time I have the opportunity to share Jane Dutton's work."

  • A Friday afternoon snowball fight. From left: Sara LaLumia, associate professor, Williams College; Sherry Li, associate professor, University of Texas, Dallas; Estelle Dauchy, associate director, International Research at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Mary Ceccanese, and Joel Slemrod.
1951-1980  |  1981-2000  |  2001-present  |  Date Range  |  Gallery  |  Generosity/Compassion  |  Leadership by Example  |  Longevity  |  Staff Stories  |  Topic

Little did I know when I attended Girls’ State in 1967 and stayed in Mary Markley Hall that I would be working at the University of Michigan 21 years later!

Today, after 28 years of working here, one of my favorite passions is focusing on gratitude.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with Joel Slemrod, professor and director of the Office of Tax Policy Research. We have worked as a team for almost three decades. That partnership is reflected in a great atmosphere, collaborative ventures, and joint desire to forge ahead with new adventures both domestically and internationally.

Many people believe that we must be incredibly serious people to work in a field such as tax policy, but then they haven’t seen us having a snowball fight on a Friday afternoon with our PhD students from around the world or watch our alumni play get-to-know-you Bingo at a recent conference.

I’m also grateful for the privilege of being part of Voices of the Staff, an initiative started over ten years ago by Laurita Thomas, associate vice president of Human Resources here at Michigan. During the time I was on Voices, I served on a team with Professor Jane Dutton, co-founder of the Center for Positive Organizations at the Ross School of Business on faculty/staff communications. The experience was life changing.

My dear friend and colleague, Karen Dickinson, and I believed that Jane Dutton’s research on high-quality connections was information vital to creating and sustaining a positive workforce. This seed of an idea grew to Professor Dutton giving us permission to disseminate her research on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses and Michigan Medicine and the greater southeast Michigan area.

Karen died in 2012, but her spirit lives on every time I have the opportunity to share Jane’s work.

That opportunity has become my calling and passion.

When I can touch one person in a presentation and receive comments like ‘I feel empowered to be a more thankful and gracious person – leading to a happier life.’ then I know that the power of the Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) research works in every department, every walk of life, and in every workplace.

I am incredibly grateful to Jane, Professors Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn and and the other amazing faculty at the Center for Positive Organizations for their support, encouragement, enthusiasm, and willingness to share their research so that a wider audience can experience the life-changing impact of Positive Organizational Scholarship.

Contributed by Mary Ceccanese, Coordinator, Office of Tax Policy Research and Executive Education Affiliate, Center for Positive Organizations, Ross School of Business

  • Mary Ceccanese (center) with Ross School of Business faculty members Robert Quinn, Jane Dutton, Kim Cameron and Wayne Baker