Designing Leadership

Designing Leadership is Philadelphia’s premier professional development program designed for nonprofit professionals in the arts and culture sector and creative business professionals in leadership roles. Participants build their skills in key areas such as strategy, communication, power and bias, and management. With renowned local faculty who have a pulse on Philadelphia’s happenings and dozens of participants in each year’s cohort, Designing Leadership also provides an unparalleled opportunity to connect and network with a wide range of professionals across disciplines and backgrounds in the area.

Applications are currently closed. Please contact Liz Thompson at [email protected] for more information and to be notified of the 2022 season.



Reimagine your defining qualities, challenge imposter and survivor syndrome, and apply new approaches to project management.


Explore the effects balanced approaches can have on your leadership style, as well as your organization or business. Build resiliency, embrace change, and support emotional work through individual and collective wellness.


Discover how perceptions and assumptions impact day-to-day interactions, projects, and decisions. Learn tools and practices to anticipate bias and promote inclusive thinking individually and among teams.


Practice inclusive accountability, conflict management, and decision-making when (not) in power. Explore the differences between mentorship, coaching, and management.


Feel connected with what you do and continue to build community with others remotely. Lead in a crisis by balancing damage control with longer term strategy.


Dare to dream – find the inspiration and vision to creatively and positively effect change. Dig deeper into topics from the program with different specialists.


“Designing Leadership revealed a number of common thread lines from my personal history that are directly related to my professional attitude and accomplishments. By taking the time to look inward and backward, we are better able to assess our place in the present and our potential future. I also gained a new perspective on my personal journey towards self-actualization. The work that I am doing both personally and professionally is combining my idealized success with real-world business success; these two lives are not mutually exclusive, but may in fact be one in the same.

A major takeaway from the program was the idea of positive conflict. In a wonderful exchange with another cohort member, I asked the question, “Isn’t all conflict negative?” I was met with an enthusiastic response outlining all the ways in which conflict can in fact be positive (constructive criticism, disagreement without losing one’s cool, personality vs. performance).

It was heartening to discover through the program, particularly amongst cohort members who were a similar age to me, that we are all experiencing together the same feelings, doubts, achievements, conflicts and struggles about our leadership journey.”

Alex Styer, Bellevue Communications Group, Class of ’21
Bellevue Communications Group, Class of ’21

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