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 Development 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

Program Overview

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 earn a Nonprofit Management Certificate.

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.


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.

Course Overview

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

Personal Leadership

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.

Kristy Hesse, Chief Human Resources Officer, 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
Board Orientation & Governance

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,  Principal, Vista Global Coaching & Consulting, 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
Finances & Financial Management

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
Fundraising & Resourcing the Mission

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
Operational Excellence

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
Human Resources

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, 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
Marketing & Communications

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 best modes of communication for maximum results for fundraising
  • roles and responsibilities for communication based on best practices
Project Simulation

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.

Ethical & Legal

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, 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!
Capstone & Graduation

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, Kristy Hesse, Chief Human Resources Officer, 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.


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

The 2023-24 cohort is full. Application  for the 2024-24 cohort will be available in fall 2023.

Questions email [email protected].

Thank you to Image Studios for their gift-in-kind donation toward many of the photos included in the above graduate testimonials. 

Program Participants

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

Current Participants

  • Sarah Bassing-Sutton N.E.W. Mental Health Connection
  • Carol Couillard Atlas Science Center
  • Kathy Dean Pillars, Inc.
  • Tracy Guiou Catalpa Health, Inc.
  • Michael Hall Foundations for Living
  • Kari Kuiper Outagamie Housing Authority
  • Peter Lee Us 2 Behavioral Health Care
  • Alli Oravec The Salvation Army
  • Courtney Osenroth Thompson Center on Lourdes
  • Scott Radtke Catalpa Health, Inc.
  • Adam Sutter Junior Achievement of Wisconsin
  • Beth Vanderloop Building for Kids Children’s Museum
  • Trisha Witt Catalpa Health, Inc.
  • Liz Wollenberg Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin
  • Sarah Wylie Future Neenah, Inc.

2021-22 Graduates

  • Jen Ainsworth Wild Ones Natural Landscapers
  • Meherrnaz Balaporia IndUS of Fox Valley
  • Brad Creighton Volunteer Fox Cities
  • Cindy Flauger Neenah Animal Shelter
  • Ernesto Gonzalez Jr Casa Hispana, Inc.
  • Marci Hoffman Trout Museum of Art
  • Laura Jones African Heritage, Inc.
  • Megan Koehler Thern Farm/New London Heritage Historical Society
  • Wendy Krueger Be Well Fox Valley/United Way Fox Cities
  • Emily Lewis Fox Cities Victim Crisis Response Team
  • Barb Mendoza The FRESH Project
  • Harper Smith Fox Valley Memory Project
  • John Timmer BergstromMahler Museum of Glass
  • Kristen Trimberger Reach Counseling
  • Leah Wojnowiak The Compassionate Connections Center

2020-21 Graduates

  • Trina Doxtator Catalpa Health
  • Ashley Gustafson SOAR Fox Cities
  • Heather Hope One Love: Harmonizing Mind, Body and Spirit
  • Lori Jensen Family Services of NEW-Parent Connection
  • Zay Lenaburg Appleton Boy Choir
  • Brian Leone Tracy Fox Valley Literacy
  • Annette Look Nonprofit Leadership Initiative
  • Vicki Prey Fox Valley Humane Association, Outagamie County
  • Brittany Rewolinski Covey
  • Lyssa Schmidt Positive Every Day Cancer Foundation, Inc.
  • Kim Stevens Dyslexia Reading Connection, Inc.
  • Leah Thibodeau CASA of the Fox Cities
  • Todd Vander Galien Unity Recovery Services

2019-20 Graduates

  • Jenny Anger Thompson Center on Lourdes
  • Kelli Clussman Heart of the Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Julie Filapek Goodwill NCW/Neighborhood Partners
  • Nikki Hessel Future Neenah, Inc.
  • Elaine Krizenesky Wild Ones Natural Landscapers, Ltd.
  • Jen Parsons Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley
  • Jonathan Pylypiv Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2278 Council
  • Hope Schaefer Girls on the Run of Northeast Wisconsin
  • Erin Schultz-Wege SOAR Fox Cities
  • Randy Tuma Fox Cities Environmental Learning Campus at Bubolz Nature Preserve
  • Christina Turner The Trout Museum of Art & Fox Cities Building for the Arts

2018-19 Graduates

  • Stephanie Bowers Jake’s Diapers
  • Brett Devine Seed, Inc.
  • Jessica Fleek Habitat for Humanity
  • Mike Goodwin Memorial Presbyterian Church, Common Ground
  • Jill Grambow Fox Valley Memory Project
  • Katy Hopp Makaroff Youth Ballet
  • Lisa Jones Community Clothes Closet
  • Jaime Kriewaldt Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin
  • Anne Muller Pillars, Inc.
  • Ryan Roth Habitat for Humanity
  • Luke Schiller Heckrodt Wetland Reserve
  • Susan Vanden Heuvel Volunteer Fox Cities
  • Jolie VerVoort Apricity
  • Rachel Youngquist Pillars, Inc.

2017-18 Graduates

  • Sri Buddi IndUS of Fox Valley
  • Maria Costello Paper Discovery Center/Paper Industry International Hall of Fame
  • Kathy Fehl Weyauwega Arts
  • Lindsay Fenlon Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin
  • Dan Haak Apricity
  • Diane MacDonald Community Clothes Closet
  • Vicki McAuliffe Valley VNA Senior Services, Inc.
  • Debbie Nowak Friends of 1000 Islands Environmental Center
  • Nik Shier Fox Valley Literacy Council
  • Lisa Strandberg Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley
  • Rhonda Strebel Rural Health Initiative
  • David Weiss Boys’ & Girls’ Brigade
  • Alice Zarda Youth Go
  • Oliver Zornow Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra

    2016-17 Graduates

    • Hilary Armstrong Appleton Boy Choir
    • Rosangela Berbert Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley
    • Jarrad Bittner Building for Kids Children’s Museum
    • Michael Green COTS
    • Denise Martinez Financial & Information Services (FISC)
    • Jennie Moore Goodwill NCW
    • Kelly Nutty Riverview Gardens
    • Maren Peterson NAMI Fox Valley
    • JJ Schauske Tri County Dental Clinic
    • Kristopher Ulrich newVoices
    • Bee Yang Hmong American Partnership Fox Valley

    Organization Participant(s) (year graduated)

    • 1000 Islands Environmental Center Debbie Nowak (’18)
    • African Heritage Inc. Laura Jones (’22)
    • Appleton Boy Choir Hillary Armstrong (’17), Zay Lenaburg (’21)
    • Apricity Dan Haak (’18), Jolie VerVoort (’19)
    • Atlas Science Center Maria Costello (’18), Carol Couillard (’23)
    • Be Well Fox Valley Wendy Krueger (’22)
    • Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass John Timmer (’22)
    • Best Friends Neenah Menasha Jaime Kriewaldt (’19)
    • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin Lindsay Fenlon (’18)
    • Boys & Girls Brigade David Weiss (’18)
    • Bubolz Nature Preserve Randy Tuma (’20)
    • Building for Kids Jarrad Bittner (’17), Beth Vanderloop (’23)
    • Casa Hispana Inc Ernesto Gonzalez Jr. (’22)
    • Catalpa Health Trina Doxtator (’21), Tracy Guiou (’23), Scott Radtke (’23), Trisha Witt (’23)
    • Common Ground/Memorial Presbyterian Church Mike Goodwin (’19)
    • Community Clothes Closet Diane MacDonald (’18), Lisa Jones (’19)
    • Compassionate Connections Center Leah Wojnowiak (’22)
    • COTS Michael Green (’17)
    • Covey Brittany Rewolinski (’21)
    • Dyslexia Reading Connection Kimberly Stevens (’21)
    • Family Services of NEW-Parent Connection Lori Jensen (’21)
    • Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin Liz Wollenberg (’23)
    • FISC (Financial Information Services) Denise Martinez (’17)
    • Fox Cities Victim Crisis Response Emily Lewis (’22)
    • Fox Valley Humane Association Vicki Prey (’21)
    • Fox Valley Literacy Council Nik Shier (’18), Brian Leone Tracy (’21)
    • Fox Valley Memory Project Jill Grambow (’19), Harper Smith (’22)
    • Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra Oliver Zornow (’18)
    • Foundations for Living Michael Hall (’23)
    • Future Neenah Nikki Hessel (’20), Sarah Wylie (’23)
    • Girls on the Run of NE Wisconsin Hope Schaefer (’20)
    • Goodwill NCW Jennie Moore (’17)
    • Goodwill NCW/Neighborhood Partners Julie Filapek (’20)
    • Habitat for Humanity Jessica Fleek (’19), Ryan Roth (’19)
    • Heckrodt Wetland Reserve Luke Schiller (’19)
    • Hmong American Partnership Fox Valley Bee Yang (’17)
    • IndUS of Fox Valley Sri Buddi (’18), Meharrnez Balaporia (’22)
    • Jake’s Diapers Stephanie Bowers (’19)
    • Junior Achievement of Wisconsin Adam Sutter (’23)
    • Makaroff Youth Ballet Katy Hopp (’19)
    • NAMI Fox Valley Maren Peterson (’17)
    • Neenah Animal Shelter Cindy Flauger (’22)
    • N.E.W. Mental Health Connection Sarah Bassing-Sutton (’23)
    • newVoices Kristopher Ulrich (’17)
    • Nonprofit Leadership Initiative Annette Look (’21)
    • One Love Wellness Center Heather Hope (’21)
    • Outagamie Housing Authority Kari Kuiper (’23)
    • Pillars Inc. Anne Muller (’19), Rachel Youngquist (’19), Kathy Dean (’23)
    • Positive Everyday Cancer Foundation Lyssa Schmidt (’21)
    • Reach Counseling Kristen Trimberger (’22)
    • Riverview Gardens Kelly Nutty (’17)
    • Rural Health Initiative Rhonda Strebel (’18)
    • Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley Rosangela Berbert (’17), Lisa Strandberg (’18), Jen Parsons (’20)
    • Seed Inc. Brett Devine (’19)
    • SOAR Fox Cities Erin Schultz (’20), Ashley Gustafson (’21)
    • St. Joseph Food Program Leah Thibodeau (’21)
    • The FRESH Project Barb Mendoza (’22)
    • The Salvation Army Alli Oravec (’23)
    • The Trout Museum of Art & Fox Cities Building for the Arts Christina Turner (’20), Marci Hoffman (’22)
    • Thern Farm/New London Heritage Historical Society Megan Koehler (’22)
    • Thompson Center on Lourdes Jenny Anger (’20), Courtney Osenroth (’23)
    • Tri County Dental Clinic JJ Schauske (’17)
    • Unity Recovery Services Todd Vander Galien (’21)
    • Us 2 Behavioral Health Care Peter Lee (’23)
    • Valley VNA Senior Care Vicki McAuliffe (’18)
    • Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2278 Jonathan Pylypiv (’20)
    • Volunteer Fox Cities Susan Vanden Heuvel (’19), Brad Creighton (’22)
    • Weyauwega Arts Kathy Fehl (’18)
    • Wild Ones Natural Landscapers Elaine Krizenesky (’20), Jen Ainsworth (’22)
    • Wisconsin Veterans Village John Maino (’23)
    • Youth Go Alice Zarda (’18)