Our Mission

To promote servant leadership through an awareness program combining key community issues and enhanced leadership skill development to advance community stewardship.


To coordinate curriculum for each monthly session so graduates of the Leadership Academy will develop:
  • Increased understanding of the essential leadership skills necessary to be an advocate for change with a focus on leadership self-awareness and communication.
  • Heightened awareness concerning the community, its needs and issues
  • Enhanced desire to become community stewards
  • Personal networks that can be utilized to address community problems

Join Us!

Council Meeting Time:
4th Tuesday 4 pm

Council Co-Chairs:
Natalie Bickel, Elkhart Community Schools
Emily Toledo, CAPS – Child And Parent Services

Board Liaisons:
Melissa Ramey, Godfrey Marine
Ahmanda Smith, South Bend Orthopaedics
Megan Mars, Navarre Hospitality

Staff Liaisons:
Merritt Dilts and Ginger Lyons

What we do together

Develop Tomorrow’s Leaders at the Elkhart Leadership Academy

Application for 2024-25 Class



How is the Elkhart Leadership Academy different from other leadership training programs? It’s our focus. The purpose of the Academy is to provide a venue for in-depth understanding of community issues and awareness. Critical leadership skills are presented and then experienced.


Many of Elkhart County’s most visible leaders are graduates of the Elkhart Leadership Academy. Past graduates have excelled in their respective business and community leadership roles. Most cite their participation in this program as having had a significant impact on their ability to grow as individuals and enhance their commitment to bettering the community in which they live and work.


  • Two day (overnight) retreat
  • Study of behavioral styles
  • Quality of life issues, both personal and professional
  • Introduction to local arts and culture
  • A look at government, entrepreneurship and the local economy
  • An overview of the local educational system
  • Ethical decision making/diversity experiences
  • Conflict resolution
  • Project experiences and overview of the year
  • Graduation and alumni luncheon
  • Includes Everything DiSC Catalyst workplace assessment


The Elkhart Leadership Academy requires a full nine-month commitment, September through May. Attendance at the overnight retreat and eight subsequent sessions is mandatory in order to graduate. Sessions are from 7:45 am to 5:00 pm one day each month, generally on the second Wednesday. A complete schedule will be given to all participants at the retreat. Participants are expected to spend  time working on an outside group project and serve a one-year Board Internship.


To ensure the best experience possible for our group, participation is limited to 30 individuals. Recruitment begins in March of each year for the program starting in September. If you think the Elkhart Leadership Academy is right for you or someone in your organization, fill out the Leadership Application and Employers Agreement.  The new application will be posted in March.

The cost to attend the Academy is $1,500 for Chamber members.



“If you have an opportunity to be in the Academy I would highly recommend it. You not only learn about the community but you will be a different person when it is over. You will see Leadership differently through Servant Leadership eyes, and knowing it is not about you, it is about the community and how you can help make a difference. You also learn a lot about collaboration.”
Monica Abair, Goodwill Industries of Michiana, Inc.

“The Leadership Academy helped me appreciate the different organizations that work on behalf of Elkhart citizens both to enhance our business environment and to enhance our community. It also helped instill in me the need to be involved in the community and give back to the community that has given so much to me and my family.”
Brian Clark, Sanders Pianowski LLP

“The Academy had me digging deep, rethinking what I thought I knew and having me look at things in a way that I never would have before. I have learned how to better use my strengths and improve my weaknesses. If you want to meet and learn from our communities’ leaders, work with the next generation of upcoming, emerging leaders…all while having a chance to learn what kind of leader you are…then the Elkhart Leadership Academy is for you!”
Adam M Bujalski, Interra Credit Union

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