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Leaders Lab of Greater Charlottesville Invites Applicants for 2023-24 Cohort

The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce invites current and emerging leaders to apply now for the Leaders Lab of Greater Charlottesville, a 9-month program to build leadership skills and practice collaborative community problem-solving.

Local leaders at all levels can join the Leaders Lab to learn deeply about our community, add new skills and perspectives to their leadership toolkit, and develop lasting relationships with a diverse and energetic cohort.

As our region addresses complex community challenges like affordable housing, climate resilience and healthcare access, cross-sector collaboration is increasingly crucial.

The Leaders Lab trains local leaders in the tools and techniques of successful collaboration. Participants can put these skills to work immediately in their professional roles, and they are also prepared to seek out and build collaborative community partnerships.

Leaders Lab participants will meet monthly from September 2023 through May 2024. Each full-day session includes three primary program elements:

Leadership Development – Assessing and building competencies in self-awareness, conflict management, collaboration, cultural competence and adaptability

Community Knowledge-Building – Case studies on local work in areas such as homelessness, food and health access, racial equity, education and entrepreneurship

Community Problem-Solving – Studying and practicing leadership skills such as equitable collaboration, consensus building, ethical decision making, community engagement, group facilitation, principled negotiation, conflict resolution and asset based community development

Throughout each session, participants are encouraged to examine the themes of equity, entrepreneurship, collaboration and leadership.

Leaders Lab Class of 2023 – graduation photo by Franklin Knox Photography

The Leaders Lab completed its pilot year in May 2023. Participants said they found many aspects of the program valuable:

“I found the breadth of exemplified facilitation skills presented and modeled were really helpful to add into my tool belt.”

“I appreciated learning new ways to think through problems with a community mindset.”

“Having the sessions in spaces with history, and then having representatives from local organizations tell their stories was powerful.”

“The practice and role play opportunities ... I will approach contentious topics differently.”

“Getting a diverse perspective on ideas and strategies on how to become an effective leader”

“The connections made with colleagues from different backgrounds and professions”

“Learning how to better design and structure meetings”

“Collaboration and community engagement”

“Negotiation, cultural competency, adaptability”

Four partner organizations designed the Leaders Lab curriculum – the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Institute for Engagement and Negotiation at UVA. The Chamber oversees program operations, and each partner will maintain a strategic and advisory role as the program continues to grow.

“Leaders Lab of Greater Charlottesville is grounded in the belief that all of us are and can be leaders - wherever we sit professionally or in our communities,” said Cristine Nardi, Executive Director of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence.

“If you're hoping to grow your own leadership skills, gain a deeper understanding of regional issues, develop the tools to be an agent of community change, and meet others seeking the same, this program is for you,” Nardi said.

Program tuition is $2,900. To ensure that qualified applicants are never turned away for lack of funds, the Leaders Lab provides a need-based sliding scale for all selected applicants who cannot pay the full tuition.

The first program session for 2023-24 will be held on September 8, 2023. Applications will be accepted through July 1, and applicants will be notified in late July.