Women's Leadership Institute

About the 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.

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 which encourages self-reflection, peer-coaching and networking. Following a September full-day retreat, the cohort comes together for nine monthly sessions. 

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 upon request.


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.”


The Women's Leadership Institute (WLI) is only offered every other year, and will be offered again during the 2022-2023 academic year. Applications for that cohort will open in March/April 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.