The Future of Leadership Wisconsin Looks Bright!

“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.” — Pauline R. Kezer

After months of exploration, consideration and planning, the Leadership Wisconsin Board of Directors is pleased to share good news about the future of the premier, statewide leadership development organization. With the exciting changes on the horizon, there will be more opportunities for individuals and organizations to engage in dynamic, timely leadership training experiences that will prepare them to meet the ever-evolving needs of communities across the state, the country and the world.

To better understand what changes will be occurring, it is important to start with what will not be changing. First, Leadership Wisconsin will continue its commitment to the mission of developing Wisconsin leaders. Secondly, we remain committed to providing that leadership in a mutually beneficial collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension. Finally, we will continue to cultivate leadership skills that are uniquely tailored to meet the evolving needs of the public, private and non-profit sectors in Wisconsin. Those elements have comprised the foundation upon which Leadership Wisconsin was built in 1983, and will remain intact as the organization grows and evolves.

What’s new?
What will change, however, is how that commitment will be delivered. The new approach will utilize innovative means of expanding the state’s leadership capacity by exploring, developing and implementing a multi-program leadership development model on a statewide basis. Using a multi-program approach, we can deliver valuable leadership programming in unique and targeted ways for a variety of audiences. This will not only allow us to be more nimble in meeting Wisconsin leaders’ needs, it will also allow us to greatly expand the number of Wisconsin leaders served each year, from every part of the state.

In addition, this adaptive, flexible programming model will allow us to more easily and efficiently customize approaches to respond to the needs of local communities.

Examples could include: a multi-generational leadership program that builds on the unique experiences and skills of various age groups to tackle the challenges faced by Wisconsin’s rural communities; or, an emerging leaders programs to serve those ready to step up to new leadership positions; or, programs designed to bring leaders from all parts of the state together to explore common challenges and brainstorm solutions to common needs across communities of all kinds.

How is the Board changing?
Ensuring the success of this new, adaptive programming model will require a core set of internal organizational changes that the Board has adopted. Primarily, this will mean changes to how staff positions are managed, and changes around how certain elements of the Board’s administrative functions are carried out. This includes the creation of a new standing committee system, and the addition of new Board positions.

While some of this restructuring came in response to new University “best practices” guidelines for managing its relationships with partner nonprofit organizations, the Leadership Wisconsin Board has taken this opportunity to re-align its internal governance functions in ways that will help ensure a sustainable operation over the long term. The new internal operating model is also now in alignment with the vision of a relevant, timely and adaptive multi-program model.

Want to get involved?
These changes not only mean new leadership development opportunities are coming, it means more opportunities for engagement with Leadership Wisconsin “management” from program alum, supporters, friends and others. We need new Board members and new standing committee members; we’ll need everyone’s voice to help spread the word about new programming; and, we will be asking everyone to become more involved in development and fundraising support.

You can learn more about board structure and learn about open positions on the Board, or to explore opportunities to serve on the new standing committees, at the close of this story.

We’d also like to hear your feedback, questions and ideas right now! Click here to send us your thoughts, to ask questions, to nominate someone as a Board member or standing committee member, or to put forward your own name for consideration!

About change …
Change is inevitable, and in today’s world it seems that change is happening faster and deeper than ever before. One thing is for sure: Change leads to a bright future when those changes are based on a solid foundation grounded in the core mission and prior successes, while at the same time embracing new strategies and responding to new challenges. When we do this, the branches of an organization can stretch, grow and reach new heights.

Leadership Wisconsin’s future is one of growth … in fact, the future’s so bright, you better wear shades!

The new Leadership Wisconsin Board structure


The new Board standing committees

The Board Development Committee. The Board Development Committee is charged with maintaining a robust leadership pipeline that represents the varying constituencies served by Leadership Wisconsin, provides the skills needed on the Board, and is representative of the people of Wisconsin. The Board Development Committee also develops plans for new Board member orientation and onboarding, and ongoing training for all Board Members; and, is responsible for maintaining best practices for Board operations and for non-profit organizational governance.

The Communications Committee. Effective communication with stakeholders, partners, donors, funders, and the general public is crucial to the success of all non-profits. The Communications Committee, in coordination with the Executive Committee, is charged with developing and executing a communications strategy that supports the organization’s established goals and strategies.

The Development & Fundraising Committee. Donor relationship development, fundraising, and public events are crucial to the success of all non-profits. The Development & Fundraising Committee is charged with developing and executing a development and fundraising strategy that supports the organization’s established goals and long-term vision.

The Program Committee. The Program Committee is the communications link between the Corporation and its programming partners. The Committee discusses and develops strategy for programming that is in alignment with established agreements between the organization and its programming partners. This Committee is empowered to discuss and make decisions on programming so long as those decisions are in alignment with strategies and goals established by the full Board. The Committee is authorized to respond quickly to time-sensitive opportunities presented by partners (e.g., grant funding opportunities, feedback to partners on possible hires). The committee will also study and make recommendations to the full Board on programming and use of the “Leadership Wisconsin” brand when there are significant questions regarding alignment with the organization’s mission.

The Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is a roundtable designed to maintain the connection between Leadership Wisconsin’s Board and the organization’s alumni, partners, stakeholders, and community members. Committee members provide “on the ground” perspectives and updates to the Board, and generate ideas to be explored by other committees or the Board.

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