Women's Leadership Institute

About the Women's Leadership Institute

The Women’s Leadership Institute, founded in 1997, is designed for 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. After the kick-off retreat, 25 participants meet monthly for ten sessions to learn from dynamic thought leaders from a wide range of backgrounds — 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.

The Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) offers participants a year-long opportunity to: 

  • articulate the kind of leader they are;
  • learn about effective, equitable and participatory leadership; 
  • define their own leadership vision and values; 
  • explore and demonstrate their sense of leadership self-efficacy; 
  • complete an individual leadership development project; and 
  • expand their personal and organizational impact.  

Participants are selected from all levels throughout the University, to create a unique learning community grounded in principles of intersectionality gender equity which encourages self-reflection, peer-coaching and networking. 

The registration fee is $250 for U of M employees, which helps cover the cost of some of the program materials. (Note: the registration fee may be adjusted if the program is delivered in a virtual or hybrid model.) A limited number of scholarships are available through the Women's Center; you can apply for a scholarship at z.umn.edu/wlischolarship.


What Participants Have To Say

“The module on pay equity and salary negotiation was extremely valuable. This content and framework represents a significant (and largely unmet) need for professionals, particularly women and people with other marginalized identities, in the professional sphere."

“Leadership is much more than the dominant models we often see presented - it can be compassionate, people-centered, and empowering. It should be grounded in community and reflection.”

“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!”



The Women's Leadership Institute (WLI) is offered every other year. Applications for the 2022-2023 cohort are due on Monday, July 11, 2022.

Questions can be directed to the Women's Center at women@umn.edu


The Women's Leadership Institute is sponsored by the Women's Center and the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education.