2020 LEA - Rian Satterwhite

What's New in ILA's 2020 Leadership Education Academy

By Rian Satterwhite

Rian Satterwhite Rian Satterwhite, M.A., M.Ed., serves as Director of the Office of Service Learning and Leadership at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where they offer academic and co-curricular programs that help students develop critical leadership practices grounded in community, systems thinking, and the pursuit of social justice. He has served as Chair of Leadership Education and Convener of the Sustainability Leadership Group within the International Leadership Association, and co-chair of the 2018 & 2019 National Leadership Symposiums.

In late 2012 something special was brewing as Dan Jenkins and Corey Seemiller met over a meal while attending a leadership conference. In my experience, these are always the most fruitful settings for brainstorming and ideation. Together, they outlined a professional development experience for leadership educators that looked a bit different than anything else out there; something that didn’t exist yet, that they felt the field was needing. What took shape over the next few years under their leadership — together with a cadre of passionate colleagues — was the International Leadership Association’s Leadership Education Academy (LEA).

First offered in 2015, those of us involved back then had no real idea if the LEA concept would take hold and prove itself a useful and lasting offering. Now we are preparing to offer the fourth iteration of LEA in July 2020 and are excited to be moving to an annual cycle for the first time, a decision driven by 2019 having a long waiting list of interested participants. We believe LEA is addressing an unmet need in our community of practice and look forward to expanding the number of opportunities to participate by both frequency and volume.

Between 2015 and 2020, 22 exceptional professionals will have served as LEA facilitators. Each year, we strive to assemble a mix of returning and new colleagues representative of different sectors and functional areas. For 2020, the word must be out… we received a truly overwhelming number of applications for facilitator roles. The scope and scale of experience represented in that pool were truly humbling. After a grueling decision-making process, we have six returning facilitators and four new folks that I am very excited about working with and learning from. In the next few months, each of our four new facilitators will have an opportunity to introduce themselves to the ILA community and offer thoughts about what they will bring to the LEA experience.

But for now, I have been asked to start us off because I am new as well. Not in terms of involvement, but in terms of my role —. starting this year I’ll be serving a two-year term as LEA co-chair.

For seven years now, Dan and Corey have spent countless hours shepherding this vision and crafting something that has received consistent and remarkably positive feedback from three cohorts of participants. They have dedicated themselves to building an immersive, cohort-based experience that centers experiential learning, reflection, feedback, and mentoring. But a hallmark of the process from the beginning has been that this is a team effort that requires the uniqueness of each facilitator to rise to the fore. As much as they could have, neither Dan nor Corey have ever made it about themselves. So, when Corey announced that 2019 would be her last year serving as co-chair, it was consistent with everything that has come before. My term as co-chair will kick off a regular cycle of staggered two-year terms for co-chairs, hopefully ensuring a blend of consistency and continual evolution of the program.

Being an active facilitator in past LEA , has exposed me to how much work is needed to effectively coordinate this initiative. I had serious reservations about applying to serve as the first new co-chair in the program’s history. But I came to realize that I also had much to offer in this capacity after having helped deliver the first three iterations. In particular, I’m excited to help represent the scholar/practitioner community of Student Affairs leadership development. So, here’s a preview of a few evolutions that are planned for LEA .

1. More Participants

In 2019 we had a full attendance of 72 participants, with many folks on a waiting list. While we’re adamant about managing the total group size to ensure that each person has the experience we want, we are increasing our enrollment cap to 80 participants for 2020 and look forward to having an even richer, collective experience in the room. Registration is now open!  Register now to make sure you're not on the waitlist this year. 

2. More Facilitators

In 2019 we experimented with having eight facilitators (fewer than in 2017). While it was manageable, the move to 80 participants this year has led us to return to 10 facilitators. And trust me, the 10 facilitators assembled this year are amazing individuals with rich and diverse sets of lenses and experiences.

3. Expanded Coaching Opportunities

One of the unique aspects of the LEA design is the opportunity to get 1:1 coaching from a facilitator. These opportunities could be about anything — program design, career advancement, literature or research discussions, etc. These coaching sessions have consistently been one of the most highly rated elements of the LEA experience and this year we’ve reworked the curriculum to create additional consultation times to ensure you’re able to connect with exactly who is going to be the best fit.

4. Increased Focus on Criticality

For several years now, LEA has incorporated a brief exploration of how critical theory has begun to influence leadership education theory and praxis. It has been a well-received aspect of the experience, but it has also been challenging because we’ve been forced to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time and it is many folks’ first exposure to this content. This year we are excited to have dedicated additional time for this important discussion.

Ok, I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for LEA ! I look forward to seeing many of you in Silver Spring, Maryland (just outside of Washington, D.C.) July 26-20, 2020! 


Rian Satterwhite
Director, Office of Service Learning and Leadership
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Leadership Education Academy co-chair, 2020 & 2021