2019 Leadership Institute

Applications for the 2019 Leadership Institute are now CLOSED!
Final deadline: October 23, 2018


If you are looking for how to apply to be a Member of Advancing Leadership, please go here.

Who Should Apply?

The 2019 Leadership Institute seeks emerging leaders with disabilities who want to serve in leadership positions in the Chicago region.


  • Self identifies as a person with a disability
  • Is a resident of the Chicago region including the seven counties: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, McHenry, Will, and Lake.
  • Committed to:
    • Seeking participation and/or strengthening current or leadership experience in public, private, or non-profit sectors
    • Deepening cross-disability identity, culture, and knowledge
    • Has at least 5 years of leadership experience in any context (can be professional, community or volunteer)

    Eligible candidates commit to the full 12 months of this leadership program. This includes:

    • 2018
      • End of year graduation and announcement event, early December, 2018 4-7pm
    • 2019
      • A 2-3 hour early evening orientation session February 5, 2019
      • Two Leadership Institute retreat sessions (5 full days). Session One runs February 27 - March 1st; Session Two runs April 11-12th
      • Participation in On The Table in May (1-3 hour mealtime conversations)
      • Summer event near July 26th (ADA anniversary) (2-3 hour evening social event)
      • Annual Symposium, Mid-September (date announced soon), half day Saturday convening
      • Mentoring throughout the year, including at least 4 meetings with an assigned mentor
      • BoardLead: Premium value board service program. Fellows have the opportunity to apply and get matched to a local non-profit board opportunity. Boardlead has a high success rate of applicants appointed to boards of directors. Applications are in April, and decisions made in September when board training begins. For those appointed, board service terms begin in January.

      There will be additional opportunities in 2019 and more details are available by contacting staff, but a basic commitment to this timeline is essential to eligibility.

2019 Leadership Institute Tuition

  • $3,000: Corporate
  • $1,500: Non-profit, Government, Small business or Self-employed

Tuition represents a small fraction of the costs associated with this year long program. Employer sponsorship is strongly encouraged. Financial resources should not be a barrier to participation, and scholarship options may be discussed upon acceptance.

Deadlines & Forms

Only completed applications are considered. A complete application includes these three steps:

  • Profile Form
  • Essay Question/Resume Form
  • Two Nominator Forms

For assistance with any of the steps, contact Robin Burnett, rburnett@cct.org.


  • Early bird deadline, guarantees interview: Friday, September 28, 2018 5:00PM CST
  • Final deadline: Tuesday, October 23, 2018 5:00PM CST

Application: Guide & Overview

The 2019 Leadership Institute application has three steps:

  1. 1. Profile Form
  2. 2. Essay/Resume Question
  3. 3. Two Nominator Forms

Profile Form

To complete the first step:

  • Unless your Nominator approached you, notify your Nominators that you will be submitting an application.
  • Complete the Profile Form and click the submit button.
  • When the Profile Form is submitted Nominators receive an email informing them they have been identified as a Nominator with a link to the form they need to complete, and deadline.
  • A complete profile also triggers an email to the applicant confirming receipt and containing the link to the next step (Essay Question/Resume Form).

Essay Question/Resume Form

To complete the second step:

  • First, to preview the essay questions, applicants may go here: [link]. Once you begin this form you can save as you work, applicants are encouraged to save work as a separate document, in case of the experience of technical difficulties.
  • Complete all fields and upload resume.
  • Click submit.
  • Applicants will receive an email confirmation from program staff within 1-2 business days that this step is complete.

Nominator Form

To complete this third and final step:

  • Nominators whose names and emails are included in the Profile form receive a Nominator form as a link included in an automatic email sent by the application system.
  • Two Nominators are required for consideration. One must be a professional context, either an employer or supervisor.
  • Completed Nominator forms must be received by your indicated application deadline or your application will be considered incomplete.
  • The completed form triggers an automatic confirmation email to the Nominator. If all three steps are complete, applicant and nominators receive emails notifying them the process is complete. The applicant email will include details regarding next steps.

Alternate Formats

All three steps of this application are available as Word document downloads on this site. For preparation purposes, you may access the Essay Question/Resume form here. If using this format for your final submission, return by one of the two following methods:

Email: Complete, scan, and email each section to
Robin Burnett, rburnett@cct.org,

Subject heading: 2019 Leadership Institute Application

Email may be time stamped no later than 5PM CST by your indicated deadline. If mailing via USPS, all forms must be postmarked by your stated deadline for consideration.

  • Early bird deadline (guaranteed interview for completed applications) is: September 23rd 2018 5:00PM CST
  • Final Deadline is October 28th 2018 5:00PM CST

USPS: Complete (use word processing program do not complete by hand) and mail completed forms to:

Robin Burnett, Program Manager
c/o Chicago Community Trust
225 N. Michigan Avenue, 2200
Chicago, IL 60601
ATTN: 2019 Leadership Institute Application

2019 Application Alternate Forms


Word Forms:
Application Form
Nominator Form

For questions or technical assistance with links contact Robin Burnett, Program Manager, rburnett@cct.org

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an emerging leader?

  • Experience may include both professional and/or community-based volunteer leadership experiences such as founding or leading an organization, serving on a board or committee, or other ways of demonstrating leadership.
  • Personal leadership characteristics may include:
    • Comfortable engaging with people across cultures and across disabilities
    • Has a vision for long term leadership and change in the Chicago region
    • Willingness to learn and lead in an intensive group setting
    • Strategic thinking
    • Gets results
    • Brings different groups together with a commitment to collaboration
    • Can listen and learn from others

    Who should apply?

    • Applicants who identify as having a disability and are passionate about civic engagement, are strongly encouraged to apply.

    How do you define disability?

    • ADA 25 Advancing Leadership uses the same definition as the ADA does of disability, which is a person who identifies as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.
    • For example, some, but not all, fellows accepted into this program self-identify as: blind, Deaf, low vision, Autistic, Deafblind, hard of hearing, having a physical or mobility, mental health or learning disability.

    What information will help strengthen my application?

    • Appropriate answers include information and specific examples that illustrates how participating in this program at this time will help with identified goals.

    Who is a Nominator?

    • A Nominator should be someone familiar with your talent, experience and passion for civic engagement, and who can speak to that.
    • Nominators may be supervisors, managers, or a leader of a volunteer position to which you devote a significant degree of your time and talent. We do require at least one nominator be from a professional context.

    Who should I ask to nominate me?

    • See answer above!

    How will this time commitment impact my work days (M-F 9am - 5pm) - how much will I need to request from my employer?

    • 5 Full work days over two sessions of the leadership institute retreat (February and April)
    • Plus approximately 5-7 late afternoon or early evening events and 1-2 possible morning or lunch events (lunch events run approximately11:30am - 1:30pm, and evening events usually begin at 4 or 5pm)
    • One half-day Saturday in September (this would not impact a typical work week)

    Will there be an orientation or information session prior to application deadline where I can learn more?

    • Thanks for your interest! To learn more contact Risa Rifkind, rrifkind@cct.org, or Robin Burnett, rburnett@cct.org. No informational sessions are scheduled for 2018.