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Opus College of Business

Institute for Executive Director Leadership

Institute for Executive Director Leadership: IEDL
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The Institute for Executive Director Leadership at the University of St. Thomas is a place for leaders and those interested in nonprofit and social sector leadership to gain knowledge, tools, and a community of support to move their careers and organizations forward.

"My experience with the Institute for Executive Director Leadership quite literally changed my professional life. The Institute gave me the skills and confidence to address difficult issues and realities pertaining to the leadership within my organization.”
Joyce Holl Executive Director, National Orientation Directors Association

This executive leadership development program helps you recognize and achieve your organization’s full potential through the implementation of cutting edge nonprofit management and effective leadership practices learned in a dynamic, supportive, and relaxed learning environment.

During the program, executive directors will:

  • Experience a learning community that promotes openness, safety and support to dig into the sometimes tough realities in leading social impact organizations in today’s rapidly changing world
  • Examine real-world nonprofit issues in a spirit of confidentiality and engagement with colleagues who face similar challenges
  • Explore, develop, and implement personal, professional and organization goals
  • Learn, practice, and apply leadership development tools that are based on researched theory and real-world practice
  • Learn how to build trust, focus and engagement within their organizations in order to create and communicate vision, design and prototype new programs, and, create and launch major transformational initiatives This is a 10-month cohort program that begins every spring and consists of ten full days of learning and fun. Our schedule has two full days on the St. Thomas campus and four, two-day interactive learning retreats


Discover a dynamic curriculum for nonprofit developed over the past 15 years

For over 15 years, St. Thomas’ Institute for Executive Director Leadership has guided participants in their personal and professional growth while inspiring them to lead change within their organizations and communities. By networking with peers and educational thought leaders, attendees learn from one another, refine their nonprofit leadership skills and practices and prepare and implement proven change strategies in their organizations.

Specific tools utilized over the 10-month program include:

  • Explore, practice and implement organizational lifecycle assessment tools to focus development on the strategically vulnerable programs and systems in your organization
  • Learn, practice and implement the stages of moving nonprofits Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • Learn, practice and lead with Authentic Leadership Action tools originated from Dr. Robert Terry
  • Discover, understand, and engage your strengths and those of your leadership team, staff, and board by using Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
  • Find new avenues for innovation and growth by learning Blue Ocean Strategy facilitated by Dr. John McVea, University of St. Thomas
  • Learn and practice design thinking and methodologies to develop and enhance new programs and services
  • Explore and practice creating mutually respectful, high performing relationships between the board and executive staff

Participants will earn 8.6 Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) and a certificate of completion based on comprehensive leadership and organizational assessments, interactive learning activities, readings and year-end presentations. Participants may earn up to 0.6 additional CEU’s by attending up to two modules of the Mini MBA for Nonprofit Organizations free of charge.

Who should attend

The Institute for Executive Director Leadership program is for non-profit leaders and those pursuing leadership roles in social enterprises. Our participants come with a strong desire to learn, and a readiness to engage with peers. Because participants bring their real-world organizational challenges and opportunities, we are able to explore nonprofit management and leadership practices that they can learn and implement in their organizations.

The most successful participants in the program come ready to explore the personal, professional and organizational challenges and opportunities of leading social enterprises. They are seeking guidance to learn, act and fulfill individual and organizational goals and aspire to lead their organizations and communities authentically.


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