Preston’s father was a self-made entrepreneur. Leadership (or the impact of leadership) was a frequent topic of conversation in the Yarborough household. It is reasonable to say Preston was an informal student of leadership well before his formal studies ever began! After graduating college and working for Michelin North America, Preston joined his father’s business. He spent 10 years in sales, with responsibilities ranging from territory management to serving as Vice President of a national sales force responsible for $30 million in annual revenue. In time, he learned developing people was preferable to chasing sales goals. With his father’s blessing, Preston left the family business to pursue a PhD in Counseling and Educational Development, with a focus on leadership development.
While completing his dissertation, Preston joined UNCG’s staff as the Assistant Director of Leadership in the Office of Leadership and Service-Learning (OLSL). He taught classes, designed programs, supervised leadership coaches, and provided internal and external consulting services to the University. Preston witnessed experiential learning’s impact on student development. He and his colleagues built an experience-based leadership program that has grown from 30 students to more than 800 over the past seven years. Preston also interned three years at Kaplan DeVries under the tutelage of Rob Kaiser. Kaiser and colleagues helped him recognize that experiential learning was equally powerful for adults.
Preston has continued to explore how to leverage leadership assessment, challenging experiences, and developmental support to maximize learning. Though he has developed specialized expertise with collegiate populations, Preston relishes the opportunity to work with a wide range of people. He has designed and delivered programs for K-12 audiences, early professionals, and specialty fields such as engineering and science.
Preston is the Senior Project Director for university-focused initiatives in Leadership Beyond Boundaries. He current work focuses on integrating leadership development into the engineering education curriculum. He collaborates with university professors on course design, instructional practices, tool development, and course evaluation to help them leverage experiential methods more effectively.
Preston earned his Doctorate in Counseling and Educational Development from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2011. His doctoral research focused on the development and validation of a 360 instrument for college campus-based populations. Preston received his undergraduate degree, in English, from Davidson College in 1993.