Community Leadership Program

The Community Leadership Program prepares leaders from across Central Iowa to be effective stewards for our community's future. The nine-month curriculum offers a view of Greater Des Moines from different vantage points, heightens participant awareness of current community conditions and issues, enhances individual and group leadership skills, and helps class members see themselves as partners for change. 

Nomination and Application Schedule 

  • February 2 - March 4: Nominations for the Class of 2023 are now closed.
  • February 17, 4:30 - 6:00: CLP Informational Session: here is the recorded session, in case you missed it.
  • Mid-March - April: Invitations to apply extended (all who are nominated are invited to apply).
  • June: Class selection and invitations to participate in the class extended.
  • August - May: Program takes place.

Participants and Selection

Each year, leaders from the private, public and non-profit sectors of the community are selected to participate in this transformational program. Ideal candidates have demonstrated some level of community leadership experience and are committed to community engagement.

All nominated candidates will be invited to apply. When completing the application, careful, thorough responses are encouraged in order to ensure the Selection Committee has enough information on which to judge fit for the program and dedication to community leadership development. The long-standing Community Leadership Program is highly competitive and many candidates apply more than once. 



The curriculum includes leadership development training and exposure to community issues through experiential learning, expert presentations, and class discussions. The three pillars of the Community Leadership Program include:

  • Issue and Opportunity Awareness: The Capital Crossroads Vision Plan serves as a foundation for exposure to critical issues within our community. Each session delves into one of 10 areas of focus for the next five years in Central Iowa.
  • Leadership Development: Championing community change requires a deep understanding of oneself and the skills needed to help others achieve extraordinary things. Participants learn the five practices of exemplary leadership, which is based on 35+ years of research presented from The Leadership Challenge.  
  • Creativity for Change: Class members learn and apply design thinking as they work on class projects that center on a community issue. Our concentration on leadership development encourages class members to intentionally focus on group dynamics and creative problem solving.

    Participant Expectations

    Active class member participation ensures a rich experience for the individual as well as for the group. For that reason, participants are held to a strict attendance policy. A program schedule will be provided to those who are nominated for the program, so they may ensure they are able to participate. To receive the most benefit from the class experience and to fully complete program expectations, participants should expect a significant time commitment over the nine-month program. Class members will participate in*:

    • 10 partial-day classes held every two to three weeks.
    • 1 one-and-a-half-day opening retreat and 1 one-day mid-year retreat.
    • Preparation between sessions. 
    • Class project work includes meetings (often weekly) outside of regular sessions plus additional meetings and tasks to accomplish project goals outside of class. This time may be significant, so please consider that before applying.
    • Full-day commencement.

    *Subject to change.

    Schedule for Class of 2023


    The cost to participate in the Community Leadership Program is $2,250. It is important that cost not be a barrier to any qualified candidate's participation. Those accepted into the program will have an opportunity to apply for financial assistance, including full and partial scholarships.


    Watch this video highlighting the Community Leadership Program experience.


    The Community Leadership Program is generously supported by:


    I'm not quite sure the words to use to describe my experience with the Community Leadership Program. It was long, difficult, and at times exhausting but I know I grew as a person, and as a leader in this community. And for that, I'd do it all over again. I'm better informed and feel more confident than I ever have to play an effective role in my community. The information and conservations challenged me. I learned a great deal in 9 months and my classmates helped change me.

     Phonsavanh Sullins (CLP '20), 

    The Community Leadership Program gave me the chance to see how interconnected everything in our community truly is. I recommend the Institute and this program to anyone who is searching for a deeper understanding of how business, government, and nonprofit players are coming together to advance progress in our community, while wishing to develop and practice their own leadership skills. The Program's emphasis on both education and action makes the experience especially engaging!

     Amanda Shetler (CLP '20), 
    By Degrees Foundation

    The program was one of the best experiences of my life. It takes wild promise and channels it where it can make a difference!

     Bo James (CLP '18), Hip-Hope, Inc.

    The Community Leadership Program was an exhilarating and transformational experience for me. My biggest takeaway was being exposed to and being given the opportunity to work on common goals with high-performing individuals of various professions and industries I otherwise would not work with. Doing so allowed me to think more out-of-the-box, and become much more inclusive and open to other perspectives and approaches to achieve a common goal. I would highly recommend the Community Leadership Program to anyone interested in furthering their leadership development and making their community a better place.

     Kale Halder (CLP '18), Principal


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