Program Overview


Lighthouse Lead for the Common Good


Curriculum Overview


The outline below summarizes learning objectives for the Great Lakes Leadership Academy, Leadership Advancement Program. Over the course of 8 sessions, LAP participants will learn from knowledgeable practitioners, and professional instructors for advancing their understanding of leadership concepts and in-depth perspectives for Michigan’s communities and economic sectors. Concepts related to “leadership for the common good” will be taught and exercised in modules, group discussions and applied principles.


Personal/Professional Development - Objectives include strengthening self-awareness, communication and understanding of the importance of interactions with others. Techniques will include approaches to collaboration, building trust and mutual respect.  Each participant will voluntarily commit to the ground rules and program expectations that foster mutual respect between the cohort, program staff and instructors. Participants will share their personal story, vision for growth, and aspirations as leaders for the common good.


Participants will increase competencies in the following areas:

  • Deepening awareness of individual core strengths
  • Group problem-solving and collaboration
  • Emotional resilience and psychological flexibility
  • Trust and vulnerability
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Developing and leading with values
  • Leading across differences, and dealing with conflict and complexity
  • Effective communication, listening and understanding.
  • Developing a personal/professional growth plan
  • Effective meeting management
  • Professional coaching and mentoring
  • Systems thinking and complex (wicked) problems.
  • Managing meetings and participatory decision making


Leadership in Conservation, Natural Resource, and Environment - Michigan’s water and land resources are essential to the health and viability of the State. A key objective is to strengthen awareness to the vitally important conversations that are taking place concerning conservation, natural resources, and environment. This area of focus will help to foster a stronger network among leaders who can work together in protecting our State’s valuable assets.  Study objectives include:


  • Create a wilderness experience in the outdoors, setting the context for understanding key issues affecting natural resource assets such as forestry, water, land, and the environment.
  • Gain a greater understanding of how geography and the environment affects the economy and quality of life in Michigan and the Great Lakes region
  • Provide a demographic overview of the trends that are vital to Michigan’s immediate and long-term future.
  • Consider the opinions of current leaders on the political, social, cultural, and economic factors that affect Michigan’s natural resources.
  • Build awareness and understanding of the role of research, technology, history, and culture in the Great Lakes.
  • Develop skills for having successful conversations around complex issues.
  • Gain awareness of models and strategies for engaging diverse stakeholders and community members in meaningful dialogue.


Leadership in Agriculture and Food Systems - Understanding the agricultural economy and the complex systems that affect food production and distribution is vital to leadership at the local, state, and national level. Michigan’s agricultural economy has a tremendous impact on communities throughout the state. This area focus will provide leaders with a pathway for better understanding the concerns, needs and challenges related to agriculture, agribusinesses, and regional food systems. Participants will learn through various experiences and by engaging with innovative leaders in the sector. Study objectives include:


  • Capture positive leadership stories from community agriculture leaders.
  • Understand the interfaces between rural and urban Michigan and how statewide policies impact agriculture and agri-business.
  • Understand farming in the past and present and opportunities for the future.
  • Learn about the impacts of farm stress and leadership in creating solutions.
  • Explore technology in farming, food production, and food safety.
  • Understand and appreciate the diversity of Michigan agriculture.
  • Understand the impact of agriculture and agri-business on Michigan’s economy.
  • Learn how leaders work to increase food security at the state, local and national level through advocacy, resource management, and collaboration among stakeholders.
  • Understand emerging trends in agriculture and food systems from both rural and urban perspectives.
  • Learn about the role of regional food systems within the state.


Leadership in Building Healthy and Sustainable Communities - Community strengthening requires leaders who are skilled at bringing people together for establishing pathways towards collective goals. Whether an individual is working in business, nonprofit or in education, it is vitally important for leaders to understand their connection to community development. This focus area will introduce strategies that can help participants better understand the social, economic, and physical dynamics in communities. Study objectives include:


  • Experiential learning within communities to explore history, culture, industries, and major economic drivers.
  • Build an awareness and understanding of the role of diversity, ethnicity, and multiculturalism.
  • Consider the opinions of current leaders on critical issues facing Michigan’s communities.
  • Gain awareness of models and strategies for engaging community members in meaningful dialogue
  • Learn about trends in entrepreneurship, economic development, and regional growth to support industries and local impact.
  • Learn about techniques and resources in both urban and rural communities for building capacity, growth, sustainability, and revitalization.


DC Legislative Experience – The Washington, DC study trip will provide participants with an opportunity to learn about good governance, public policy making and management. Participants will meet government leaders to hear about their approaches to leadership and vision.  The study focus will include an examination of issues and concerns that are of importance to Michigan’s leaders and the fundamental skills they use to move their communities forward. Study objectives include:


  • Learn about collaboration in governance, public policy making and management.
  • Build awareness and understanding of the policymaking process.


Collaborative Team Presentations - Participants will work together to plan and implement one 3-day learning session for the entire cohort. The participants will be grouped into three teams with each choosing an issue topic related an area of concentration (i.e., communities, food systems, agriculture, natural resource, conservation, and environment). Each of the three teams will be responsible for coordinating a specific segment of the session, and will plan and prepare presentations, guests and speakers associated with their topic.   Study objectives include:


  • A learning opportunity for participants to apply their skills while working together and collaborating as teams.
  • Participants will explore critical issues related to communities, food systems, agriculture, natural resource, and the environment.
  • Developing “systems thinking” approaches and appreciation for gathering broader perspectives
  • Participants can learn how their issue topics are interrelated.
  • Opportunity for the cohort to apply concepts of leadership and engagement.
  • Create opportunities for the cohort to consider a plan for affecting social change associated with these issues.


Capstone Travel Experience - The capstone travel experience is an opportunity for participants to explore various issues outside of the State of Michigan and gain perspectives from diverse leaders in other parts of the world. The 2021-22 capstone will take place in international destination and programming will place emphasis on the various issues selected by the teams, and feedback from the entire cohort. An intensive agenda and itinerary will feature opportunities to (1) explore various issues from an international perspective, (2) meet with leaders and examine leadership in context of the cultural and social challenges, (3) provide a unique networking opportunity with participants from other leadership programs. Study objectives include:


  • Explore and learn about community, food systems and agriculture, forestry, natural resources, conservation, environmental, and quality of life issues from an international context.
  • Create opportunities for developing a broader view of various economic, political, cultural, and social systems.
  • Examine leadership in the context of differing political, cultural, economic, and social systems.


Graduation - The final activity of LAP is the graduation event designed to celebrate completion of the program.  Participants will reflect on their experience, growth, and progression as leaders for the common good.


  • Provide reflections on the program as a cohort.
  • Celebrate personal and cohort growth.
  • Deliver five-minute “stand and deliver” presentations.
  • Meet with alumni and stakeholders in GLLA’s network.