University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Women's Leadership Institute

Women’s Leadership Institute

The Women’s Leadership Institute, founded in 1997, is designed for women staff and faculty who aspire to develop and hone outstanding leadership skills. The institute features a research-based curriculum and pedagogy focused on developing inclusive, participatory, strategic, articulate, reflective leaders – in sum, to “accelerate women leaders who make a difference in the world.” After the kick-off retreat, 25 participants meet monthly for ten sessions to learn from award-winning speakers/researchers/leaders -- and each other. In the final session, participants present the personal leadership projects they have designed and engaged in throughout the year. Feedback about WLI has been wildly enthusiastic. Many participants tell us they use the information often, and that they continue to gain from the connections they made long after the institute is over.

Program dates:

A biennial program, the next WLI cohort will take place during the 2018-2019 academic year.


Please complete the application for the 2018-2019 cohort online. [PLEASE NOTE UPDATED DUE DATE OF JULY 20, 2018.]

For potential applicants' planning purposes only, the application requires one letter of recommendation from a supervisor or colleague, and a brief application responding to the following questions: 1) How would participation in WLI benefit you? Please list and explain 2-3 of your learning goals for the year; 2) Describe a leadership role you play in your current professional position; 3) What qualities/background/knowledge would you bring to this diverse cohort of learners?; 4) Describe how your participation would benefit the University of Minnesota, or if you are a community member - your organization or business.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will be able to:

  1. Identify leadership models of inclusive, participatory leaders
  2. Define their own leadership vision and values
  3. Name strategies toward diversity and organizational transformation
  4. Facilitate different viewpoints
  5. Reduce the confidence gap
  6. Increase leadership presence via expanded communication and negotiation skills
  7. List 3 ways to energize self and others
  8. Articulate their leadership plan.

Program Topics include:

  • Leadership, social justice and privilege
  • Vision and Values
  • Gendered communication
  • Negotiating salary
  • How to be outrageous
  • Work/life balance and self-care
  • Career mapping
  • Techniques for effective, positive supervision
  • Paradoxes
  • Influencing organizational impact

What participants have to say:

“Thanks so much! I kept all of my materials and have discovered myself referring to them often.”

“I have referenced WLI materials and workshop content when talking with friends, family, and coworkers. I hope to continue these conversations throughout the years to come.”“I have already begun leading a department committee and the meetings we have. I am also heading a major change initiative. Thank you!”

“THANK YOU! WLI was wonderful and I really appreciated this opportunity. The facilitators were dedicated, knowledgeable, fun, and wise!”

“I plan to review the strategies we discussed to think about how I can continue to develop more holistically as a leader. For example, I have already employed some of the strategies around public speaking and salary negotiation, as well as self-care, to continue my own growth."

“I really learned so much -- it was powerful.”

Selection Process

An advisory committee of past WLI participants and professionals from the Women's Center will review applications and notify applicants of their decision by late July 2018 for the WLI program beginning in September 2018.