groom and bride at a wedding
student experience


A very Carey love story

Why it matters:

Students on the CIL’s Leadership Development Expeditions are sure to have an unforgettable experience. For two LDE alumni, the student experience turned into a happily ever after.

The Center for Innovative Leadership exists to support and accelerate the production of new research on leadership in today’s dynamic, complex organizations and bring research to life through engaging student experiences and powerful industry partnerships.


You never know when Cupid’s arrow will strike. It’s even been known to happen here at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. And this particular love story is one of adventure, chivalry, and challenge. 

Branden Anderson (MBA ’19) was a student in the part-time Flexible MBA program, taking evening classes at Carey’s Harbor East location. As soon as he heard about Leadership Development Expeditions—a unique opportunity run by the Center for Innovative Leadership for Carey students to refine their leadership abilities through physically challenging adventures—he knew he wanted to be part of one.  Branden went to Belize with his LDE, where his team navigated mission challenges, contaminated drinking water, and even a tsunami warning. 

At about the same time, Stacey Martin (MBA ’19) was taking classes online with Carey Business School. She also jumped on the chance to join an LDE after hearing from some other participants. Stacey’s trip was to Norway. 

“The course was both physically and mentally challenging, so needless to say, effective teaming took on a whole new dimension in the wilderness!” she recalled. 

Despite going on separate LDEs and attending classes in different formats, Branden and Stacey met briefly at Carey’s graduation, introduced by Center for Innovative Leadership Executive Director Mike Doyle. 

“Mike said something along the lines of, ‘Hey, you two should know each other,’” said Anderson. 

But it wasn’t until they got involved with the very active LDE alumni group that Cupid’s arrow found its target. 

The LDE alumni group, which is entirely student-run, develops community among its members through trips, treks, happy hours, a book club, and a newsletter. Not long after Anderson and Martin graduated, the group went to Shenandoah National Park to hike Old Rag Mountain. 

"I slipped during the rock scramble and slammed my shin on a rock,” Stacey said. “Super painful. Branden was ahead of me, looked back to ask if I was okay, and gave me a hand to help me up. Insert ‘awwws’ here. Instant connection.” 

Branden felt the connection too, but wasn’t sure how it would play out since he and Stacey lived in different states at the time. But as they continued to cross paths through the LDE alumni community, they realized there was something special between them. 

“We decided to explore that feeling, and a year later I moved to Ohio,” Anderson said. “Another year later, we were married.” 

So while the stars in Stacey’s eyes may have started as shin pain, they turned into wedding bells. And Mike Doyle officiated the wedding. 

The couple lives in Ohio, where he is the director of Organizational Development and Planning for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and she is the service line director for Surgery and Trauma at OhioHealth. Both of their positions require high-level leadership, which they attribute in part to what they learned on their LDEs. Through the Center for Innovative Leadership’s LDE courses, students serve as leaders during an adventure expedition to develop their leadership capacity and learn about their strengths and contributions as leaders in high-performing teams. These courses build leadership skills through academic inquiry, honest self-assessment and reflection, and hands-on experiences in challenging environments. “That experience taught me a lot about myself as a leader, as well as how to engage a team of people who are experiencing something new together,” said Martin. 

For Anderson, LDE was a step beyond what he learned in the military. 

 “I have done a lot of reflection over the years about that course,” he said. “I spent 20 years in the U.S. Army and was trained to lead in very specific ways. The difference between that type of learning and the type of learning that I experienced in LDE is that LDE provided all of the space in the world—or at least in the coastal waters of Belize—to experiment, fail, learn from the failure, and make real-time adjustments based on that learning.” 

The newlyweds’ happily-ever-after still sees them involved with Carey, organizing LDE alumni events, making connections that have led to sponsorships of Innovation Field Project teams, and even partnering professionally with Executive Education to present a design challenge for the Advanced Design Thinking course. 

The Center for Innovative Leadership (CIL) at the Carey Business School aims to advance knowledge and build capacity for innovative leadership in modern organizations. The CIL is a hub for new ideas and insights on leadership, combining faculty-led research, student-facing programming, and community-focused impact.

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