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Neighborhood Leadership Institute

Each neighborhood has people with the gifts and talents needed 
to provide for our prosperity and peace of mind.
                                       ~Block and McKnight, The Abundant Community

NLI is a free and in-depth ten-month leadership development program for leaders engaged – or planning to engage – in the community. Participants enter the NLI program in teams of two people living, working or volunteering in the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Healthy Neighborhoods, Zilber Neighborhood Initiative neighborhoods, LISC Sustainable Communities, the neighborhoods served by United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee member organizations, and the Amani and Metcalfe Park neighborhoods.

These neighborhoods are: Amani, Capitol Heights, Century City, Clarke Square, Concordia, Harambee, Havenwoods, Johnsons Park, Layton Boulevard West (Burnham Park, Layton Park, Silver City), Lindsay Heights, Martin Drive, Metcalfe Park, Muskego Way, Pulaski Park, Riverwest, Sherman Park, Silver Spring, Thurston Woods, Dunbar Oaks and Tower Hill - Waukesha, Washington Park and Woodlands.

Teams consist of a staff member from one of the lead and/or partner agencies and a resident. Participants span a wide range of ages, cultural backgrounds, and levels of experience.

NLI is a partnership among Cardinal Stritch University, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, the Zilber Family Foundation, LISC-Milwaukee, and United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee.

NLI 2014-2015 graduates and partners

2014-2015 Neighborhood Leadership Institute Program participants and partners

Coaching Sessions

During the ten-month program, participants receive individual coaching sessions designed to identify personal values, strengths, weaknesses, and leadership styles. Building on their individual skills and talents, they discover how to effectively contribute to the community. Participants develop their leadership abilities by working directly with people from different backgrounds. Training topics include communication techniques, conflict resolution, and meeting facilitation.

One of the goals of the NLI program is to facilitate the sharing of experiences and best practices. NLI invites accomplished community leaders who share their stories of success and instances where they learned from their mistakes. NLI also helps broaden community networks by bringing together participants and key decision-makers including city and county government leadership.

At the end of the program, participants receive a Certificate of Completion from Cardinal Stritch University’s Leadership Center.

The Neighborhood Leadership Institute held its first session in 2012-2013. Participants spoke of the Program’s success:

The NLI program created a space of collaboration where neighborhood leaders shared their experiences and learned from each other, thereby building trust and common understanding. By making connections among leaders, organizations and communities, NLI works toward a collective impact that extends beyond individual neighborhoods.

~Dr. Jeanette Mitchell, Cardinal Stritch University’s Program Director-Leadership Center

The Neighborhood Leadership Institute has had a positive impact on my life both personally and professionally. As a resident I've learned to serve my community more effectively. Through community engagement we have increased dialogue, resident participation, volunteerism, and leadership in our community. I hope NLI continues the great work. I intend to share what I've learned with others and look forward to collaborations. Special thanks to everyone!

~Jeanette Wright-Claus

The Neighborhood Leadership Institute was more than a training program – it was a life-changing experience. It not only helped me grow as a leader in my community but as a person in the world. We were taught not just how to lead but how to teach others to lead. 

~Bregetta Wilson, Children's Hospital Community Health Navigator in Metcalfe Park

This program helped me work with new people more easily. I always wanted to develop as a leader but didn’t have confidence. Sometimes you just don’t know your abilities until someone tells you.

~Maria Miramontes, Layton Boulevard West


Dawn Hutchison-Weiss
Senior Program Officer
(414) 273-1815 Ext. 1760
Direct: (414) 930-1760