Applications for the Emerging Leaders Program are now closed. Please check back for our participant announcement.

Previous participants say:

“I will use what I’ve been taught for the rest of my professional life.”

“I am not sure I would have had the confidence to take an executive director role without having gone through this program.”

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

The League of American Orchestras Emerging Leaders Program increases the leadership capabilities of high-potential orchestra professionals. Designed to cultivate effective and adaptive leaders in all parts of an orchestral organization, the Emerging Leaders Program invites applications from new or recent executive directors, orchestra musicians in principal positions as well as section members, current and aspiring music directors, department heads, or other members of an orchestra’s staff that represent the diversity of experiences, talents, and skills in the field.

This 10-month program provides one-on-one coaching, mentoring by top leaders in the field, in-depth seminars led by leadership experts, visits with leaders and institutions from outside the orchestra field for broader learning, and the opportunity to develop and present a capstone project at the League’s National Conference on a key leadership issue affecting the field.

Twelve individuals will be selected for the 2018-19 season through a competitive application process. The League strongly believes in developing and investing in future leaders for our field, and heavily subsidizes the program costs to help reduce financial barriers to participation. Participants pay just $750, and their orchestras make a matching payment between $1,100 to $2,750 depending on member group size.

The application deadline is August 10, 2018. Find details about eligibility, the application requirements, program schedule, and more in the Program Overview.


Emerging Leaders Program 2017-2018 cohort


Guided by a faculty of leadership experts and active leaders from in and outside the field, the program’s curriculum addresses:

  • Fostering a Vibrant Orchestra - Understanding and assessing organizational culture and developing the foundational knowledge to be able to build a thriving and effective organization with a healthy, diverse, and inclusive culture.
  • Challenging the Status Quo - Discovering new practices, solutions and ideas, both inside and beyond the orchestra field and applying them in ways that achieve greater relevance and increased impact
  • Taking Responsibility for Self-Leadership - Building reflective practice as a means of increasing self awareness and self management, in ways that sustain a career of increasing responsibility, influence, and professional growth in the orchestra field.
  • Forging a Unified Vision - Developing a unifying strategic direction, working across traditional boundaries to bring people together in support of shared purpose

Program Components

Components of the Emerging Leaders Program include:

  • Feedback: A 360° review for each participant that will collect opinions about his or her performance from a range of individuals within and outside their organization.
  • Coaching: Six one-on-one sessions with an executive coach.
  • Convenings: Three in-person, immersive seminars with field trips to meet with leaders in institutions outside the orchestra field. Plus three virtual convenings.
  • Mentoring: Four one-hour mentoring sessions with the participant’s executive director over the course of the program. Musician or conductor participants may identify another mentor in consultation with the League and the orchestra’s executive director. If the participant is in an executive director role, mentoring sessions may be provided by the board chair or one of his or her trustees. 
  • Capstone Project: The opportunity to collaborate with other ELP participants design and develop a capstone project that will culminate at the League’s 2019 Conference.


The Emerging Leaders Program is guided by renowned leadership expert John McCann as the lead faculty and facilitator. Mary Parish is ELP’s leadership coach, providing one-on-one coaching for each participant throughout the course of the program. Additional faculty, including Ama Codjoe, arts and social justice educator, and other guest speakers from in and outside the orchestra field, provide ELP participants with diverse perspectives and multifaceted learning experience.

Read a full description of the Emerging Leaders Program including eligibility requirements, application timeline, and 2018-19 course schedule.


Participants from the Emerging Leaders Program,
2017-18 cohort enjoy a private tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Application due date: August 10, 2018

Applications require a non-refundable $60 application fee, payable through the online application form.

The application guidelines are available with the online application at https://app.getacceptd.com/americanorchestras

From the drop-down boxes in the Start an Application section:

  • under Program Group, select Emerging Leaders Program
  • under Program, select 2018-19 Emerging Leaders Program

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

Please direct questions about Emerging Leaders Program to Nick Pozek, Manager, Learning and Leadership Programs, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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