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

The 2022 season of Designing Leadership has now ended.

Unlike previous seasons, the 2022 program examined 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 applications are now CLOSED.


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 2022 Faculty

Matthew Armstead Headshot

Matthew Armstead

Trainer & Facilitator 

Matthew Armstead has recently trained Black Lives Matter activists, B Lab executives, Amnesty International USA staff, Canadian Labor Council organizers, Unitarian Universalist ministers, United Nations advocates from the Sexual Rights Initiative, among other grassroots and grasstop groups.

Matthew has organized for environmental justice, racial justice, LGBTQ liberation, and accountability among masculine-identified people. They serve as a core trainer with Training for Change – a training and capacity-building organization for activists and organizers.

Matthew facilitation style weaves in their theatre practice to create opportunities for people to lean into play and embody the futures they strive to create. In their theatre performances, audiences are engaged as active participants to co-create and play. Matthew has an M.F.A. with Pig Iron Theatre Company and University of the Arts, and has a B.A. in Theater and Women’s Studies from Swarthmore College.

Headshot of Peter Mostachetti

A 24-year IBM veteran, Peter Mostachetti started out as a storage specialist, and eventually followed his passion to Leadership Development, and Talent Transformation. With experience engaging audiences in the U.S., South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, Peter specializes in engagement, feedback, managing dilemmas, fostering collaboration, transformational leadership, and using Agile techniques to drive cultural transformation. Peter is an accomplished actor having performed in and around the Hudson Valley and Off-Broadway. He is a sought-after speaker at both national and international conferences, and a four-time speaker at the United Nations. As a NYS Licensed Master Social Worker, he has always been committed to mentoring, coaching, leading teams; helping people to find their hidden strengths and values with a mind toward moving forward. In his spare time, he’s an executive coach, and works with local area schools through the Gay, Lesbian, Education Network (GLSEN) to develop students and educators, making schools safer for all.

Dr. Noel Ramirez Headshot

Dr. Noel B. Ramirez


Dr. Noel B. Ramirez is a Filipinx-American mental health provider, clinical social worker, and community advocate based in the Philadelphia area. He received his Doctorate Degree from Arizona State University in Behavioral Health and his graduate degrees in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and Public Health from Drexel University. During the day and evening hours, Dr. Ramirez cultivates programming and experiences that create a sense of home and access to wellness. As the founder and director of Mango Tree Counseling & Consulting, Noel along with his team provides mental health care to AAPI communities. He is also a professor of Social Work at Columbia and West Chester University’s graduate social work programs, and provides behavioral health consultation to a local federally-qualified health center in the Philadelphia area.

Jenn Richards headshot

Jenn Richards is a nonprofit consultant with over fifteen years of experience in fundraising, strategic communications, project management, and program design. She has worked with nonprofit organizations including Teach for America, the Association for Public Art, and the Girl Scouts. In 2018, Jenn founded High Gear Consulting Group to provide leadership and integrated strategic support to nonprofit leaders and boards during times of change or growth. She frequently serves as Interim Executive Director for organizations undergoing leadership transitions.

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
High Gear Consulting Group

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