Designing Leadership

Designing Leadership is a professional development program designed for nonprofit professionals in the arts + culture sector and creative business professionals in leadership roles from the Greater Philadelphia area. Participants build their skills in key leadership areas with notable local facilitators who have a pulse on the area’s creative community. With dozens of participants each season, the program provides an unparalleled opportunity to connect and network with a wide range of professionals across disciplines and backgrounds.


AccountabilityHolistic PracticesNegotiation
CoachingImplicit BiasPower and Influence
CommunicationImposter SyndromeProject Management
Conflict ManagementInclusivitySelf/Collective Care
Decision-MakingLeadership StylesSetting Boundaries
Giving/Receiving FeedbackMentorshipStrengths/Weaknesses
Future Thinking

This year’s program is taking a new direction

Unlike previous seasons, the 2022 program will examine a theme: authenticity. There is an ever-increasing call for authenticity from leaders at all levels amidst a volatile and uncertain world. The intensive program unpacks the joys, myths, and realities of authentic leadership and provides tools, activities, and strategies to become a more authentic and mindful leader. Participants will be able to understand and articulate their authentic selves and identify practical ways to lead genuinely in today’s climate.

Key Takeaways

• Identify your values, beliefs, and behaviors, and understand how they influence your leadership.
• Locate your True North and use it as a guide for your current and future leadership decisions.
• Learn frameworks, tools, and strategies to step into your true power as a leader and inspire it in others.
• Practice how to manage situations and environments when authenticity is infeasible.

The 2022 Designing Leadership application is now OPEN and applications are accepted on a rolling basis until full.


The curriculum will be conducted virtually over 5 weeks in March and April 2022. The bi-weekly format includes two 2-hour participatory sessions. Participants should plan to be fully present for the entire program, including attending all sessions in full, completing prework assignments, and actively engaging with facilitators and the cohort during the sessions.

Week 1

Find a True North: The series kicks off with a program and cohort introduction before tracing your leadership path. Uncover how your background has shaped your values, beliefs, and purpose.

March 8, 9:00AM – 11:00AM
March 10, 3:00PM – 5:00PM


Actualize Authenticity: Activate your strengths and fuel work conditions and relationships that amplify them. Learn strategies on management and feedback to draw authenticity out in others.

March 15, 9:00AM – 11:00AM
March 17, 3:00PM – 5:00PM


Integrity in Conflict: Identify approaches and tools to navigate disagreements and work environments where authenticity is infeasible. Dig deeper into the impact of code switching and how to begin effecting change.

March 22, 9:00AM – 11:00AM
March 24, 3:00PM – 5:00PM


Channels of Support: Maintain a strong sense of character and worthiness despite obstacles; set and communicate boundaries. Maximize networks to examine your growth and hold you accountable to change.

March 29, 9:00AM – 11:00AM
March 31, 3:00PM – 5:00PM


The True North Compass: Use your values and beliefs to guide intentional decision-making. Lay the tangible groundwork to follow your True North.

April 5, 9:00AM – 11:00AM
April 7, 3:00PM – 5:00PM


“The Designing Leadership program was truly an Aha! moment for me, which is surprising after more than 20 years of leadership within nonprofits and government. I credit this program with illuminating my perspective and offering tools for examining the “why” guiding the work I have been dedicated to professionally. I took so much away from my participation—most importantly the time to think critically about my next act was incredibly valuable.

Three tangible takeaways and unexpected learning moments I retained from the program are:

Setting a boundary around shrinking myself into places that I have outgrown. I was able to be honest with myself about the healthiness of my relationship with comfort and loyalty and how playing small can hinder how I am being poured into and what I have to pour into others.

I learned that Imposter Syndrome is real and challenges many of us. The program helped me identify and relieve the shame of it by taking away the stigma and recognizing how I can embrace it, which is a concept I had not considered.

The New Golden Rule! I was taught to treat people the way you want to be treated. One of the facilitators presented the idea of “The New Golden Rule” for our consideration, which is to treat people how THEY want to be treated. I have since incorporated this into my day-to-day interactions. It reminds me to interact with others guided by a curiosity to learn about their unique perspectives relieved of bias.

I could, most certainly, share more evidence of how wonderfully the Arts & Business Council curated this program. However, I will conclude with acknowledging that this was about more than the professional spaces I occupy. With the support of a cohort of other leaders I was able to dig deep in a supportive community. I encourage anyone, who not only wants to develop their professional will, but also take an intimate look at the root of their leadership philosophies, to attend this program.”

Ivory Allison, American Liver Foundation, Class of ’21

“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

Spring 2021 Faculty

This program is designed and led by the Arts + Business Council’s Program Manager, Creative Community Leadership Development Elizabeth (Liz) Thompson. Please visit the About section of the Arts + Business Council’s website to learn more about her background.

Presenting Partners

Dina Wind Art Foundation

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