Leadership Institute


The program is designed to engage, educate, prepare, and inspire you as a community leader so that together we can build a better community. We hope to inspire you to share your expertise, talent, and passion as a senior leader with your nonprofit organization.

This program builds better leaders through:

  • Personal and Professional Development
  • Add or expand your critical thinking and communications skills
  • Grow your knowledge of all aspects of nonprofit operations
  • Improve your ability to work collaboratively and problem-solve within a team
  • Enrich your career through this professional development program

The Leadership Institute is a year-long series of educational modules designed to strengthen participants’ confidence and capability on critical leadership, management, technical and governance topics. Modules are led by experts in their particular competencies and enhanced with peer-facilitated discussion groups. The class size is limited to 20 participants to encourage classroom engagement and to foster building connections between peers. Graduates can apply to earn credit toward a Nonprofit Management Certificate from Fox Valley Technical College.

Because of the cohort-based learning design of the Institute, ATTENDANCE AT ALL SESSIONS IS MANDATORY. Those who fail to attend may be asked to withdraw, with the potential of partial or no refund.


Both an online application from the candidate and a recommendation from a board representative or immediate supervisor must be submitted for consideration.  

Step 1: Candidate Application 



The deadline to apply is January 26, 2024.

Participants are listed with the organizations they represented while they were in the program.


  • Claudia Damiani
    Atlas Science Center
  • Trevor Fenrich
    Solutions Recovery Inc.
  • Alicia Gehrig
    Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Inc.
  • Nikki Gerhard
    LEAVEN, Inc.
  • Kristen Gondek
    People of Progression
  • Jenn Harper
    Jake’s Network of Hope
  • Emma Kane
    Community Action for Healthy Living
  • Lori Kaufman
    Appleton Education Foundation
  • Josh Kilgas
    United Way Fox Cities
  • Maria Mason
    Multicultural Coalition Inc.
  • Lisa McCallister
    SOAR Fox Cities Inc.
  • Laurie Munson
    CARES of the Fox Cities
  • Katie Olson
  • Andrea Peterson
    Community Clothes Closet
  • Gina Roberts
    Multicultural Coalition, Inc.
  • Valerie Simonsen
  • Cindy Sommer
    Catalpa Health
  • Rovell Stewart
    People Of Progression
  • Oladimeji Tomori
    Pointters Community Initiatives

Graduate Testimonials

Past Graduates by Year

Past Graduates by Organization

Because of NPLI’s generous donors, we are able to subsidize the cost of this $6,250/participant program so participants within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region service area pay $1,500.

If you are a nonprofit with an IRS mailing address outside of our service area, the participant payment is considerably higher, and acceptance is contingent upon available space as our region’s nonprofits have priority.

Have Any Questions?

“The Leadership Institute has been invaluable to me as a new manager. Every module had me thinking about how I could apply it in my agency. After every class I left invigorated with a list of items I wanted to complete.”

Lori Jensen
Family Services Parent Connection
“This is one of the best investments into professional development that I have ever had in regards to both time and money. I was continuously challenged to learn and given many opportunites to grow.”

Jonathan Pylypiv
Fox Valley Veterans Council
“The deeper understanding of how a nonprofit should be run helped me gain confidence as a leader. Plus, knowing there are close to 100 people who have gone through this class, and who are ready to give advice or lend a helping hand is very encouraging. ”

Carol Couillard
Atlas Science Center
“From the 1st class of Personal Leadership to the last class of Ethical and Legal, I feel I have grown as a leader from each course. ”

Kari Kuiper
Outagamie County Housing Authority


The Leadership Institute program focuses on the following 10 leadership and skill-development topics.


Hone and grow your leadership skills. Leadership profiles will be completed as part of a pre-module assignment. The profile will be assessed on day one with the instructor and small group activities. This module will focus on effective approaches to leading a team of people to accomplish shared goals and discover creative ways to achieve positive outcomes.

Laura Balliet, Leadership and Organizational Development Manager, Community First Credit Union, in collaboration with Nancy Heykes, MBA, JD, Leadership Institute Coordinator & OnPoint Consulting, leads this module to help participants grow the following competencies:

  • building high-trust relationships and managing conflict effectively
  • understanding leadership principles and how to apply to lead employees/volunteers
  • using tools to evaluate risk and opportunities
  • developing a process for leading change

Explore reasons why boards exist, and examine the roles, responsibilities and relationship to staff. Gain tools for enhancing board effectiveness, including recruitment and development, board engagement, board structure, meeting management, and board self-assessment.

Dennis Johnson, Sort Sol Group, will lead this module covering:

  • 10 responsibilities of a board and 10 responsibilities of a non-profit CEO
  • how to lead the board through self-assessment and prioritize needs
  • negotiating your role as CEO with your board based on the life cycle of the organization
  • best practices and tools for effective recruitment and retention of board members
  • how to effectively connect the board to the mission

Analyze the principles of financial management for nonprofits. Learn to apply the fundamentals of accounting, cash flow analysis, expenditure control, and audits. Study budgeting and planning, tax issues, and internal/external reporting requirements for solid fiscal management.

Steve Zimmerman, Principal, Spectrum Nonprofit Services, will lead this module covering:

  • revenue-based budgeting
  • identifying financial vulnerabilities in your organization
  • how to assess the short and long-term financial health of the organization
  • using the budget as a tool to make data-driven decisions
  • visual mapping of programs to support decisions on growth and sustainability

Learn the basic types of revenue available to nonprofits, and how to connect fundraising to your organization’s mission. Zero in on principles of ethical fundraising, learn to manage the philanthropic process and develop plans that will enhance the effectiveness of staff and volunteers.

Courtney Weiland, Senior Consultant, DBD Group, leads this module covering:

  • the structure of an effective development team, whatever the size of your organization
  • how to set fundraising goals and accountability practices
  • creating the annual development plan and enlisting support
  • how to develop a compelling case for support to engage volunteers, staff, and donors

Design programs that achieve your organization’s mission. Develop plans based on process thinking. Be proactive in identifying, analyzing and improving upon existing business processes within your organization to optimize your impact.

Jason Schulist, President of the Generative Local Community Institute (GLCI), leads this module covering:

  • develop a skill of scientific thinking to apply within your organization
  • practice with the four steps of the KATA Process Improvement approach through a simulation
  • understand capability models for operationally excellent organizations when working with staff that are stuck in the same old process

Discuss critical human resource management issues for both employees and volunteers. Increase your awareness of best practices in performance management systems, personnel policies, and job designs.

Tricia Perkins, Senior Strategic HR Advisor, and Jane Clark, CEO & Managing Partner, Lake Effect HR & Law LLC, will lead this module covering:

  • relevant aspects of human resources law
  • talent acquisition steps and processes
  • effective performance management systems (objective setting, coaching, disciplinary procedures) and relevant job descriptions
  • potential employee ‘total rewards’ packages for retention and recruitment for small to medium-sized nonprofits
  • policies and procedures in a nonprofit environment

Explore a systematic framework for developing a comprehensive marketing and communication plan, whatever the size of your organization. Identify the most effective approaches to communication with your donors, volunteers, and the community. 

Lisa Piikkila, Coalesce Marketing, leads this module. She will guide the participants through the following:

  • brand identification to understand how to best promote your organization’s mission
  • creating compelling messages with clear calls to action for target audiences
  • identifying the best modes of communication for maximum results for fundraising
  • roles and responsibilities for communication-based on best practices

Small group project work will take place as participants present an issue they have identified in their own organization that they would like to review and improve. The simulation involves the participant presenting to classmates as a mock presentation to their board.


Explore key moral issues of, and managerial approaches to, promoting ethical conduct in the organization. Learn how to promote proper conduct, how to manage ethically, and how to handle potential problems in enforcing standards.  Learn how to build a culture that prevents ethical and compliance problems.

Nancy Heykes, JD, OnPoint Consulting and Leadership Institute Coordinator, will lead this module covering:

  • identifying situations in the organization vulnerable to ethical challenges,
  • defining processes to resolve ethical issues related to stakeholders (clients, employees, volunteers, donors, board, community),
  • tools to build a culture to prevent ethical and compliance problems, and much more!

Wrap Up: Day 1

The Leadership Institute program is designed to increase nonprofit leaders’ effectiveness and skills in understanding and managing today’s nonprofit organizations.

In this last session, Laura  Balliet, Leadership and Organizational Development Manager, Community First Credit Union, in collaboration with Nancy Heykes, JD, Leadership Institute Coordinator& OnPoint Consulting, will help participants review the principles and practices of running an organization that measures success through service. Participants will review their personal leadership strengths and weaknesses and develop ways in which they will adapt to build a strong foundation for leadership based on what was learned in the Institute.

Graduation: Day 2

A short presentation will be required to reflect on an area of improvement or growth gained through the Institute modules. The Leadership Institute Coordinator will work with participants to develop the topics.

A graduation ceremony will take place on the last day with an invitation to all board members chairs, program funders, NPLI committee members and past graduates of the program.