Leadership Institute


The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) of Chicago Leadership Institute focuses on developing future leaders for the Chicago nonprofit and public service sectors by providing training, networking, coaching, mentoring, and roundtable discussions with executive directors for early career professionals and managers.

The daily commotion of putting out fires, keeping on top of communications with stakeholders, and furthering an organization’s mission, make it difficult to find the time to sit down and reflect on yourself and the person you want to be. Am I growing as a leader? Is my job keeping me on the right career path? Do I even know where I want to be in ten years?? The Leadership Institute forces you to ask yourself those questions and, more importantly, gives you the space to contemplate your answers.

-Brooke Fallon, Community Relations, IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School and 2015 Leadership Institute Participant

“Through the Institute, I have connected with an ambitious and talented group of my peers, industry leaders, and a seasoned mentor to help me develop problem-solving and leadership strategies. Together, were growing and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of nonprofit funding, management, and programming.”

-Karen Reyes, Executive Director, ArtReach at Lillstreet and 2015 Leadership Institute Participant

Begun in 2009 through a partnership between YNPN Chicago and the Executive Service Corps of Chicago (ESC), the Leadership Institute selects a cohort of up to 15 participants through a competitive application process. To date, six cohorts of over 85 participants have graduated from the Institute. Five alumni have gone on to become Executive Directors and many more have taken on enhanced leadership roles within their organizations.

Program Model

The Leadership Institute is a 10-month intensive cohort program that will run from January through October. It begins with an orientation and concludes with a final capstone project. Features of the program include:

  • Eight monthly three-hour sessions with guided peer learning and activities that allow participants to apply what they have learned in the session
  • Guest presentations from local nonprofit leaders
  • Monthly one-on-one meetings with a mentor
  • Access to materials that enhance awareness of best practices and current trends in the nonprofit sector

Program Goals

Participants will graduate having skills and awareness that enable them to successfully lead teams, oversee projects, and contribute to overall organizational growth. The curriculum has two distinct focuses: The first is self-reflection that enhances one’s ability to understand his or her own strengths and weaknesses, build more effective communication skills, and develop one’s own leadership style.

The second portion focuses on skill building related to nonprofit operations. This includes (but is not limited to) exercises to develop strategic planning skills, budget and finance best practices, and people management skills.


Marcia Lipetz and Lauren King will co-facilitate the 2017 Leadership Institute.


Marcia Lipetz has spent 35 years in Chicago’s nonprofit, philanthropic, and academic communities and is currently working as an independent consultant. She is skilled in organizational and program development and has nurtured emerging and mature organizations through various stages of organizational development. Marcia is a qualitative researcher and uses those skills in interviews related to strategic planning and executive search. She has expertise in leadership development and mentoring young nonprofit leaders. In the past few years, Marcia has worked with Chicago Community Trust’s LGBT Community Fund, Community Memorial Foundation, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, Chicago Dance Crash, archi-treasures, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Center on Halsted, the Heartland Alliance, and other organizations as a consultant.

Marcia has a Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University. Prior to returning to her practice as an independent consultant, she was a Senior Consultant with Millennia Consulting. Marcia was President & CEO of Executive Service Corps of Chicago. She was the first Executive Director of the WPWR-TV Channel 50 Foundation (now known as the Alphawood Foundation) and the first full time Executive Director of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. She was a founding board member of Center on Halsted and is a former board chair of the Donors Forum (now Forefront), and of TASC. She served on United Way of Chicago’s Chicago Council where she chaired the Membership Committee for several years. She was on the faculty of the Center for Educational Development at University of Illinois of Chicago and has been an adjunct faculty member at Spertus College and at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has taught and presented workshops on Fund Development, Program Evaluation, and general nonprofit management.

KingLauren King has worked in the nonprofit sector for over eight years and is currently the Research Administrator at Children’s Research Triangle. Previously she taught Diversity and Community Engagement to graduate students at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where she earned her MA in Forensic Psychology. She earned her BA in psychology and criminal justice from Bradley University. Lauren served on the YNPN Chicago Executive Board for three years and was a graduate of the 2012 Class of the YNPN Chicago Leadership Institute. She was also the Co-Founder for the Children’s Research Triangle Associate Board, served on the steering committee for the launch year of the Chicago Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and is a co-founding executive board member for All A-Board Alliance.

Ideal Participants

This program targets mid-level professionals (5-7 years experience) who currently have responsibilities that include managing people and a variety of projects. To be successful, participants should have the support of their current employers, which includes having time off to attend monthly sessions and having the opportunity to apply new skills in the workplace. The program is open to all YNPN Chicago members who currently work in the nonprofit/social sector.

Participant Expectations

Participants are expected to attend all sessions and actively engage in group conversations, complete course assignments, and meet with their mentors on a monthly basis. Further, all participants are expected to contribute to the capstone project. This will entail working as a group to develop solutions for a local nonprofit organization who is experiencing challenges related to strategic growth and presenting those solutions at the final monthly session.

Interested in Applying?

Applications for the 2017 Leadership Institute are now closed. Applications for 2018 will open in the fall.
All applicants are required to submit an application, resume, and letter of reference/support.

What does it cost?

The 2017 Leadership Institute costs $350, which covers the administrative expenses associated with the Institute.

Still Have Questions?

Please send any questions to leadershipinstitute@ynpnchicago.org.

Our Supporters

The Chicago Community Trust and Forefront helped to make the 2017 Leadership Institute possible. We are thankful to both organizations for partnering with us!