2021 Leadership Institute

ADA 25 Advancing Leadership is seeking emerging leaders with disabilities to join our Network! Join ADA 25 Advancing Leadership to access exclusive leadership opportunities and an empowering network of leaders. Apply today to be a 2021 Fellow!

If you submit your application before September 25th, you are guaranteed an interview. The final deadline is October 16th.


For questions regarding technical issues when submitting your application, contact application@ada25advancingleadership.org.

APPLICATION LINK

Lead with power and influence

Are you an energetic, aspiring leader with a disability who is passionate about making change in your community? Our Fellows range from community activists and artists to entrepreneurs and corporate employees in the Chicago region who are eager to explore their disability identity and how to lead with power and influence.

Fellows are positive disrupters who are exploring their disability identity and leadership skills to shape a more inclusive, just, and equitable society.

Who Should Apply?

Do you see yourself as a change-maker in your community? Do you want to connect with others who share that drive? Are you a person with a disability? If yes, you are perfect for the Leadership Institute!

The Leadership Institute seeks emerging leaders with disabilities who want to serve in leadership positions in the Chicago region. Some Fellows are just starting out while others are recognized leaders seeking to understand their disability identities and diverse perspectives. Fellows want to make a difference in our communities and the Chicago region.

Criteria

The ideal candidate:

  • Self-identifies as a person with a disability
  • Is committed to:
    • Seeking voluntary participation on a board, commission, or other leadership position in public, private, or non-profit sectors
    • Strengthening cross-disability identity and knowledge
    • Expanding leadership skills and self-awareness
  • Has at least 5 years of leadership experience
  • Is a resident of the Chicago region
  • Has personal leadership characteristics that allows them to:
    • Be a visible and vulnerable learner/leader in an intensive group learning setting
    • Have a vision for long term leadership in the Chicago region
    • Be comfortable engaging with people across cultures and across disabilities
    • Apply strategic thinking
    • Get results
    • Bring different groups together and have a commitment to collaboration
    • Want to listen to and learn from others

Curriculum

The health and safety of Fellows is of utmost importance. Considering the COVD-19 pandemic, we are committed to effectively and safely delivering the curriculum in a productive format that readies emerging leaders for Chicago’s civic boards. The 2021 Leadership Institute may feature a hybrid approach of virtual and in person programs should we be able to gather safely. Further decisions will be made in the coming months.

Dates will be released closer to the start of the Fellows year, but for now, a basic commitment to the general program below is essential. Curriculum elements will include:

  • Approximately 3-4 intensive half days during the week
  • Weekday evening programs about once a month throughout the calendar year
  • At least 3 meetings with a mentor

To learn more about how we’ve adapted the 2020 Leadership Institute to a virtual retreat, check out our blog post.

Tuition

There is no cost to apply to be a Fellow. Should you be chosen as a Fellow, we highly encourage employer sponsorship as this is a professional development opportunity.

  • Non-profit, government, small business, self-employed:
    $1500
  • Corporate:
    $3000

We ask all participants to pay an amount that both recognizes the value of participating in this program and one that is reasonable with regard to personal finances. ADA 25 Advancing Leadership believes that financial hardship should not be a barrier to an applicant accepted into the program. Financial assistance will be determined following acceptance into the program.

Process and Deadlines

To be considered for the 2021 Leadership Institute:

  1. Submit your application by your preferred deadline. There are two deadline options:
    • Option One—Early Bird Deadline:
      Friday, September 25th 5:00PM CST
    • Option Two—Final Deadline:
      Friday, October 16th 5:00PM CST
  2. Participate in an interview if selected
  3. Join the 2021 Fellows Class!

Application Guide and Overview

Step One

Step one should be completed as soon as possible. This is a short form that requires you to:

  1. Identify and notify your two Nominators that you are submitting an application. They will receive an email notifying them that they have been identified as your Nominator with a link to the Form they will need to complete by your selected deadline.
  2. Complete your profile information which includes your contact information.

Once you submit step one, you will receive an email with the link to step two!


Step Two

To complete the second step:

  1. Answer three short essay questions. Preview the short answer questions here. We encourage you to save your answers as a separate document for your files should there be any technology issues and we are unable to retrieve your work. The application system does allow you to “save and continue” or “save and return” later to complete the application.
  2. Upload your most recent resume.

You will receive a confirmation email once you submit step two.


Step Three

Two Nominators are required for consideration. One must be from an employer or supervisor. To complete your application:

  1. Your two Nominators must complete their forms. They will each receive a nominator form via a link in an email sent by the application system from step one.
  2. Nominator forms must be received by the applicant’s desired deadline.

Nominators will receive a confirmation email once the form is successfully submitted.


Once all three steps are complete, the applicant will be notified regarding next steps.


Alternate Formats

We are committed to making our application an accessible experience. Alternate formats are available upon request, including in Spanish. Please email Risa Jaz Rifkind at rrifkind@ada25advancingleadership.org to request an alternate format.

Application FAQ

HOW DO YOU DEFINE DISABILITY?

Disability is a natural part of the human experience and can be visible, invisible, or acquired. ADA 25 Advancing Leadership uses the broad definition 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.


WHO IS AN EMERGING LEADER?

Some of our Fellows are just starting out while others are recognized leaders seeking to understand our disability identities and diverse perspectives. 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 and initiative.


WHO SHOULD APPLY?

Fellows are passionate about growing as leaders and becoming part of Chicago’s civic landscape. Energetic, aspiring leaders with disabilities who are passionate about making change in their communities. Our Fellows range from community activists and artists to entrepreneurs and corporate employees in the Chicago region.


HOW DO I KNOW IF THIS IS THE RIGHT FIT?

The Leadership Institute is an immersive year-long learning experience that prepares Fellows to collaborate, influence, and lead. While there are many definitions and attributes of leadership, our program is guided by the following framework:

Vision, Passion and Collective Action

We seek leaders who articulate and excite people to act around a shared vision of a more just and equitable future; and have the resilience to engage in the lengthy and complex process of realizing their vision.

Self and Social Awareness

Effective leaders recognize that making a difference rests on awareness of who you are, how you engage with others, and how social systems impact personal and collective experience. They facilitate trust and partnership by listening attentively, communicating clearly, and following through.

Disability Leadership

Our program encourages leaders to embrace disability identity as part of a larger community, inclusive of intersectional connections, to effect change with power and influence.


WHAT WILL I GET OUT OF THIS EXPERIENCE?

Together, Fellows learn about both disability rights and leadership to become more prepared for civic and professional leadership roles. Our Fellows advance with a sense of empowerment that comes from gaining leadership skills and a network of influential leaders.


WHAT INFORMATION WILL HELP STRENGTHEN MY APPLICATION?

Tell us your story. We know that everyone is in a different place in their leadership journey. Appropriate answers include specific examples that help illustrate how participating in this program at this time will help your identified goals.


WHO/WHAT IS A “NOMINATOR”?

Nominators help us get to know you better. A “Nominator” should be someone familiar with your talent, experience and passion for civic engagement, and who can speak to your strengths. 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 know family may be our biggest fans, however strong applications include Nominators who are not family relatives. Additionally, you may not serve as your own Nominator.


HOW MANY NOMINATORS DO I NEED? AND HOW WILL THEY BE NOTIFIED?

Advancing Leadership requires 2 Nominators to apply. We require at least one Nominator be from a professional context. Once you submit your Nominator information in Step One, an email is sent to that individual containing a notification and link to the Nominator form. It is the applicant’s responsibility to communicate stated deadlines to Nominators.


HOW AND WHEN WILL I BE NOTIFIED?

You will receive an automatic email confirmation upon completion of each step of the application. Following the deadline, staff will reach out regarding next steps.


CAN I SAVE AND RETURN TO MY APPLICATION?

You can save and return to your application for Step One and Step Two by accessing your unique link that is emailed directly to you. You are encouraged to save work as a separate Word document in case you experience technical difficulties.


Why does the application include questions about gender, sexual orientation, disability, race and ethnicity, and veteran status?

ADA 25 Advancing Leadership seeks to collect a variety of demographic information about our applicants. Your response will not influence a decision regarding acceptance and will only be used to help measure our success in attracting a diverse applicant pool. Please note that you are only required to indicate your self-identified disability, all other information is voluntary.

While we annually review and revise this section based on user feedback with the intention of including diverse response options, we would like to acknowledge that this system is imperfect. We recognize the limitations of the response options provided and value the opportunity for all applicants to self-identify. We encourage the utilization of the “Other” response option as a way to self-identify beyond the categories provided.

Additionally, we have created a resource to further explain the various category options. We encourage applicants to educate themselves on the variety of ways that individuals self-identify in order to promote learning and inclusive interactions. Click here for this resource.

If you have any feedback, we welcome you to reach out to Risa Rifkind at rrifkind@ada25advancingleadership.org.


WHAT IS AN ACCOMMODATION AND WHAT ACCOMMODATIONS ARE PROVIDED?

Advancing Leadership is committed to a high standard of accessibility and creating a fully accessible experience. Accommodations are your right as a person with a disability. In an employment setting, “reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications that enable people with disabilities to perform the essential functions of a job efficiently and productively.” (See  Ask EARN).

For Advancing Leadership, reasonable accommodations pertain to all of our activities and programs including the Leadership Institute. To date and as an example, Advancing Leadership has provided the following accommodations on request: communication access real-time translation (CART) (on-site and remote), American Sign Language (ASL) translation, Cued speech transliteration, screen reader tagging of PDF/Word documents for JAWS, wheelchair accessible venues with accessible bathrooms and entry points, adjusted/added break time, preferential seating, and scent-free environments. Participants have also brought their personal assistants, service dogs, and support personnel as needed for a participant to participate fully. We also ask for dietary preferences for all meals provided throughout the program. For additional examples of accommodations, please see  Ask JAN.

Accommodations, program activities, and requirements are discussed as one on one conversations upon acceptance into the program or prior to interviews as needed.


HOW WILL THIS TIME COMMITMENT IMPACT MY WORK DAYS (M-F 9AM - 5PM)—HOW MUCH TIME WILL I NEED TO REQUEST OFF FROM MY EMPLOYER?

The health and safety of Fellows is of utmost importance. Considering the COVD-19 pandemic, we are committed to effectively and safely delivering the curriculum in a productive format that readies emerging leaders for Chicago’s civic boards. The 2021 Leadership Institute may feature a hybrid approach of virtual and in person programs should we be able to gather safely. Further decisions will be made in the coming months.

Dates will be released closer to the start of the Fellows year, but for now, a basic commitment to the general program below is essential. Curriculum elements will include:

  • Approximately 3-4 intensive half days during the week
  • Weekday evening programs about once a month throughout the calendar year
  • At least 3 meetings with a mentor

WILL THERE BE AN ORIENTATION OR INFORMATION SESSION PRIOR TO THE APPLICATION DEADLINE WHERE I CAN LEARN MORE?

Thanks for your interest! At the moment, no informational sessions are scheduled, however, we are happy to connect with you to share more information. Please reach out to application@ada25advancingleadership.org.


I’VE BEEN SELECTED FOR AN INTERVIEW. HOW SHOULD I PREPARE?

Congrats! The interview portion of the application process is for our selection team to get to know you better as an applicant. We want to hear from you about how the Leadership Institute will help prepare you to achieve your leadership goals. Once your interview is scheduled, you will receive an email from our staff with interviewer names and titles and sample questions. If you are looking to do hands-on prep beforehand, we can put you in touch with an interview ambassador from a past Fellow cohort to share their interview experience. Please arrive a few minutes early to account for finding and entering the building. The attire is business casual. Additional requests for accommodations, arrival, parking, etc. should be sent to staff prior to interview.


IS THERE A WAY I CAN CONNECT WITH PAST FELLOWS TO LEARN MORE?

Yes absolutely! If you’d like to learn more for a Fellow themselves, please contact us at application@ada25advancingleadership.org. Stories from our Members are also shared on our blog. Feel free to browse our Members page to see the diverse backgrounds, interest areas, and expertise our Fellows bring to the table.


I’M INTERESTED IN SUPPORTING THE LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE. HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?

Thanks for your intended support! The Leadership Institute is supported by generous donors like yourself. For ways to get involved by donating, contact Alex Perez Garcia at aperezgarcia@ada25advancingleadership.org or 312-994-4216.


WHY SHOULD I BE INTERESTED IN CIVIC ENGAGEMENT?

More than 10% of Chicagoans have a disability, yet only 1% of nonprofit board seats in the region are filled by individuals with disabilities1. A critical voice is missing—your voice.

Public and private boards and commissions in the Chicago region need more leaders with disabilities—leaders like you.


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS APPLICATION AND THE APPLICATION TO JOIN THE MEMBERS NETWORK?

The Leadership Institute is a year-long program for emerging leaders with disabilities. Fellows participate in intensive retreat sessions, year-long mentoring, and additional networking events to grow leadership skills and disability identity.

The Members Network is for established leaders with disabilities who have a track record of demonstrated leadership. Additionally, new Members may have a further understanding of their disability identity. New Members will participate in a number of events and program offerings throughout the year, but will not be required to attend an intensive retreat session.


WHO DO I CONTACT FOR ASSISTANCE WITH MY APPLICATION?

For more information about the Leadership Institute and all technical assistance, please contact application@ada25advancingleadership.org .