The League of American Orchestras’ Emerging Leaders Program

An unparalleled opportunity to learn and grow–without leaving your orchestra

Thank you for your interest! Applications for the 2016-17 Emerging Leaders Program are now closed. Applicants will be notified by the end of July.

Participating in ELP has been a highlight of my professional career thus far. It is not something that I could have replicated through a master’s degree in Arts Administration, for example. It is something that I could have only been provided through my orchestra and the work of the League. I know that I will use what I have been taught through ELP for the rest of my professional life. It could not have been a more wonderful, valuable experience.
–2016 Graduate

Perhaps the best endorsement I can give of the Emerging Leaders Program is that it helped me unlock and believe in the leader that I knew I was capable of being. I am not sure I would have had the confidence to take an Executive Director role without having gone through this program. –2016 Graduate

The League of American Orchestras' Emerging Leaders Program increases the leadership capabilities of high-potential, early-career orchestra executives, benefiting individuals and orchestras alike. The participants—new or recent executive directors, department heads, managers, or other members of an orchestra's staff, with between three and seven years' experience—demonstrate the potential to make significant contributions to their orchestra and to the field as a whole.

This 10-month program provides one-on-one coaching, mentoring by top leaders in the field, in-depth seminars led by leadership experts, field trips to world-renowned institutions, and the opportunity to develop and present a workshop at the League's Conference on a key leadership issue affecting the field.

Up to eight participants, chosen through a competitive application process, will be selected for the 2016-17 season. The application deadline is June 23. Find details about eligibility requirements, the application process (which includes a letter of recommendation), costs (this is heavily subsidized, and financial aid is available), and more by downloading the program packet here.

Learn about a special applicant orientation session, June 10 at Conference, here.


Guided by a faculty of leadership experts and top orchestra executives, the program’s curriculum addresses:

  • Fundamentals of managing other people—how to engage, influence, and mobilize others in support of shared purpose.
  • Dimensions of organizational culture—how to understand and assess organizational culture, and how to build a healthier and more effective culture
  • Elements of organizational strategy—how to develop, implement, and measure the impact of a unifying strategic direction
  • Characteristics of innovation and change management—how to challenge the status quo and develop prototypes and new approaches that increase impact
  • Responsibilities of self-leadership—how to build reflective practice into a career of ever increasing influence on the field

Renowned leadership development expert John McCann is the program's lead faculty and facilitator.

Program Components

Components of the Emerging Leaders Program include:

  • A 360-degree assessment for each participant that will collect opinions about his or her performance from a range of individuals within and outside their organization
  • Six one-on-one sessions with an executive coach
  • Three in-person seminar and three virtual convenings between September 2016 and June 2017
  • The joint design, development, and presentation, with other program participants, of a 75-minute elective session on a compelling leadership issue at the League’s 2017 Conference
  • Four one-hour mentoring sessions with the participant’s executive director over the course of the program. If the participant is an executive director, mentoring sessions will be provided by one of his or her trustees
  • Field trips to meet with highly-placed representatives of leading institutions. Past examples include executives with Amazon, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Hall, and the National Football League

Do you know an emerging leader who would be a candidate for this program? Please send them a link to this page!


The Emerging Leaders Program is made possible by generous grants from American Express Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Hearst Foundation, Inc., and the National Endowment for the Arts.