Leadership Fairfax has been developing community leaders since 1988.  Our graduates, numbering over 1,400, connect the Fairfax community across all sectors – public, private and non-profit.  Our vision is to create community trustees, who are individually and collectively responsible for the strength of the county. 

Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI)

The Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) is a 10-month program that brings together approximately 35-40 motivated and energetic young professionals from the business, nonprofit, and government sectors throughout Northern Virginia.  ELI participants receive specialized leadership training to enhance their skills in project management, conflict resolution and negotiation, communication and presentation skills, community leadership and more.  Participants will also receive individual mentoring or coaching support, and participate in community service projects that enhance their personal and professional resumes.  ELI develops leadership skills and competencies that accelerate the process of becoming a leader at work and in the community.  This transformative learning opportunity takes an individual’s potential and turns it into a powerful performance.

Who Should Apply?

ELI is for the high potential employees who are ready to focus on core leadership skills and are poised to move up in their organizations. 

Goals of the Emerging Leaders Institute:

  • Skill Building: Sharpen your critical skills essential for effective organizational and community leadership. Enhance your public speaking, conflict resolution, communication, negotiation skills and more. Learn what it means and what it takes to be a results-oriented leader.

  • Mentoring/coaching: Be paired with a personal LFI mentor or ICF coach for substantive and regular contact, focusing on real-world leadership techniques and challenges.

  • Community Service Projects: Work in teams on short-term community service projects. Build relationships, learn from your peers and experience first-hand the opportunities to make a difference in your community. Each year, in the summer, proposals for community service projects are requested for selection by the incoming class.

  • Community, Board and Committee Service: As an ELI graduate you will be better prepared for greater responsibility within your sponsor's organization. In addition, you can exercise your newly developed leadership skills by serving in a Northern Virginia nonprofit or community organization.

Benefits to Participants:

  • Intensive skill building taught by diverse and expert faculty.
  • Peer mentoring from experience leaders in the community or professional coaching.
  • Networking within the ELI class with a diverse and upwardly mobile group of future executives.
  • Networking with LFI alumni who represent more than 400 of the top companies in the area.
  • Education about the extensive challenges, resources and opportunities available in Fairfax County.
  • Access to over 1600 Alumni Leaders in Northern VA

Program Commitment:

The ELI program is launched in September with an opening reception and dinner, followed by an opening program day. From there on, class participants will typically meet on the second Tuesday each month, September through June, from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm including social networking time to finish up the day at various locations in the county.  Outside speakers, seminars and hands-on exercises allow for active engagement at each class day.  Time outside of regular class days is required for participation in project team’s community service project and for a mentoring or coaching relationship.


Individuals who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership, a record of community service and a willingness to commit time to the ELI program are invited to apply.

Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • have been formally or informally recognized for emerging leadership in your organization or in the community.
  • be willing to commit the required time to the Emerging Leaders program
  • be committed to utilizing leadership skills and knowledge for the long-term benefit of the community.
  • attend the opening dinner and opening day in September


Tuition for the Emerging Leaders Program is $3,000. If accepted and enrolled into the program, you and/or your organization will be obligated for the full tuition fee of $3,000 payable by September 1st.

Tuition covers all program costs, plus:

  • The opening dinner for the ELI program
  • Complimentary invitation to the annual alumni reception 
  • Member pricing on Leadership Fairfax events including the NVLA luncheon and Board of Supervisors Breakfast
  • Two tickets to Commencement (one ticket for graduate, one ticket for guest)

Expectations for the ELI Program:

As a participant in the ELI program you will be expected to attend each program day and in addition take on an active role outside of the program days as a team member in planning and executing a community service project as well as being engaged in a mentoring or coaching relationship.


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