U-Lead Advisory Academy
The U-Lead Advisory Academy (ULAA), was about inspiring leadership in individuals to transform the issues and communities they care about.
"My ULAA peers have become valuable sounding boards and resources…I now have a statewide network of people to help me explore, reflect, improve and evaluate my leadership."
— Mary Kay D., ULAA 4 participant and MARL Class IX
Participants expanded their leadership skills through discussions, site visits, speakers, active lessons, application of learning and reflection – all built on a foundation of Core Leadership Competencies™ and positive psychology practices. There were opportunities to explore current leadership efforts and Extension's innovative programs and partners.
ULAA Cohort Phases
The ULAA program was a leadership development cohort created and led by expert facilitators from the UMN Extension Center for Community Vitality.
Engaging in this cohort allowed you to learn from, and with, your fellow participants in an intentional extended learning experience. These crucial connections helped you strengthen your leadership confidence and knowledge.
ULAA was organized into the following four dynamic phases:
Phase 1: EXPERIENCE in-depth leadership education
Phase 1 focused on building your leadership knowledge and skills, on a foundation of well-being. Your learning was enhanced through numerous community site visits and speakers highlighting Extension's research, programs and partnerships. You engaged with national thought leaders during the study tour to D.C., expanded upon your learning, and made connections at a national level.
Using Community Vitality's leadership model as a guide, you discovered the competencies leaders need to tackle today's complex community issues. You explored areas such as
- powerful communication
- building effective teams
- individual strengths
- engaging others
- navigating conflict
- growing compassion in our communities
Phase 2: APPLY new concepts and ideas
Phase 2 offered time to apply what you learned and gathered in a current or new project or effort. It was an opportunity to put your learning on the ground, tap your new networks, test out ideas, and take strategic action.
During this phase there were informal learning sessions where participants gained powerful insights from one another through group coaching and peer learning opportunities. Several webinars provided information, connections and resources.
"The action phase helped me to focus and really think about which leadership tools to use and different people's strengths…"
—ULAA 7 participant
Phase 4: Commencement and RENEW with the ULAA Community of Practice
In Phase 4, you joined the ULAA Community of Practice. It began with the commencement from your cohort year. You then joined an alumni retreat that introduced you to ULAA alumni leaders and innovators. Connecting with this community allowed you to continue to build your competence, confidence and connections through workshops and networking opportunities.
Every third year an international study experience was offered to ULAA alumni. Cultural competency was named one of the most crucial skills for leaders of today. Traveling with fellow participants helped you gain valuable experiences and practice leadership skills in a global context.
"Embracing strengths allows me to communicate what I bring to the table in a more effective manner."
— Kelly C., Former Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership Board Member, ULAA 6 alum
"Good leaders don't do the same thing forever; they mentor and bring on others. We need to ask people to get involved. Then, ask them what you can do for them and support them."
— Frank J., County Commissioner, ULAA 4
"The cohort changed how I perceive myself as a leader. I've learned you don't need a positional leadership role to be a leader. You can be a leader right where you are and make a difference with those around you."
— Elyse P., ULAA 7 alum
"I was continuously impressed with the presentation skills and knowledge of Denise and Lori. That was probably one of the most valuable parts of the program…"
— ULAA 7 participant
This cohort was led by experienced leadership educators Denise Stromme and Lori Rothstein. They were both born and raised in rural Minnesota before working and living in a combined thirteen countries spanning five continents. Their experience guides the work they now do in Minnesota with leaders and rural communities.
International study: View Ecuador 2017 study tour highlights on Facebook
Stay connected: Join the ULAA Alumni Facebook group
Integral leadership approach — University of Minnesota Extension's leadership model.
Leadership and civic engagement alumni page — A resource designed to support alumni.
Leadership and civic engagement — Resources to help you develop a program in your community.