LDI program graphic

WLA Leadership Development Institute 

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The 2023 cohort has been selected and the application process is now closed.  Congratulations to our 43 participants who represent a wide variety of libraries and roles within libraries.  We look forward to working with you!  View the 2023 roster.

Details about future Leadership Development Institutes will be available in the fall of 2023.  


The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) aims to develop goal-oriented and agile library leaders who are creative problem solvers able to navigate uncertainty, rapidly changing technology, and shrinking resources. The 2023 Leadership Development Institute is a highly immersive training program designed specifically for our profession. Based on several overarching leadership competencies, participants will interact in cohort groups throughout the six-month program. Each module includes the introduction of problem-solving skills and real-life applications. Instructors represent a wide range of disciplines both within the library community as well as outside of our profession.

Based on feedback from past Institute participants and our current membership and including recommendations from UW-Madison Extension instructors, the 2023 LDI program curriculum has been refreshed with updated content and a new format designed to make the program more inclusive. We strive to have a mix of emerging and experienced leaders representing a variety of roles and library types participate in the program.

Who is encouraged to apply?

  • People from various departments in library organizations, including youth services, outreach, adult services, marketing, technical services, etc. 

  • People across the organizational hierarchy: frontline staff, administration, directors, emerging and incumbent leaders, etc. 

  • People from all backgrounds and identities, including those who identify as BIPOC, neurodivergent, disabled, or LGBTQ+. 

LDI 2023 will kick off as a one-day in-person pre-conference workshop at WAPL on April 26 and wrap up in person at the WLA Fall Conference on October 24. Participants will also attend 10 virtual modules May through September.  


 The LDI tuition is $475 for WLA members and $550 for non-WLA members.  Tuition includes: 

  • Thirteen distinct educational programs developed and delivered by highly skilled experts from both in and outside the library sector.  This includes access to a virtual advocacy series offered through the UW-Madison iSchool Continuing Education Department at a reduced rate.

  • Leadership assessments and related curriculum materials.

  • Live and online virtual community for networking and opportunities to build community among participants.

  • Lunch and refreshments for in-person sessions. Note:  Tuition does not include lodging for in-person sessions. 

Note: Some library systems are offering scholarship support to attend LDI.   Contact your system office for more information. 

Program Partners and Sponsors

This program was developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension.  It was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction 

UW Madison Extension Logo             Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction logo               Institute of Museum and Library Services


Many thanks to the LDI planning committee:  Sherry Machones (Chair), Mark Jochem, Meredith Lowe, Ashley McHose, and Jeni Schomber.  


Program at a Glance
(Order of virtual sessions, dates, and times subject to change)

April 26, 2023, 8:30am – 3:00pm (in person - Oshkosh)

  • Real Colors Workshop (3 hours)
  • Emotional Intelligence: Enhancing Your Effectiveness as a Leader (90 minutes – 2 hours)

May 10, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30pm (virtual)

  • Understanding Trust (90 minutes)

May 24, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30pm (virtual) 

  • What is Leadership? (90 minutes)

June 14, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30pm (virtual)

  • Ethical & Informed Decision-Making (90 minutes)
    Facilitated by Kathy Pletcher, Library Consultant

June 28, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30pm (virtual) 

  • Courageous Connections (90 minutes)

July 12, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30pm (virtual)

  • Broaden Your Community Network (90 minutes)
    Facilitated by Cindy Fesemyer, Fesemyer Consulting

July 26, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30pm (virtual)

  • Humble Inquiry: How to Create a Culture and Leadership Style that Encourages Asking Questions & Learning (90 minutes)

August 9, 2023, 2:00 - 3;30pm (virtual)

  • Project Management Basics for Library Leaders (90 minutes)
    Facilitated by Emily Clasper, MLIS, PMP, Director, Service Strategies, University of Rochester River Campus Libraries
During the month of August, participants will have also access to a virtual advocacy series offered by UW-Madison iSchool.  One session in this series is included in the LDI tuition cost.  Date is TBA. 


September 13, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30pm (virtual) 

  • Simplified Planning: Moving Your Organization to Action (90 minutes)
September 27, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30pm (virtual) 
  • Communicating Your Message Effectively (90 minutes) 
October 24, 2023 (in person - Middleton)
    • Build Your Own Adaptability Quotient 
    • Your Leadership Legacy
    • Program reflections
    • Recognition




Application Process & Instructions

Step 1: Review the participant expectations.

To establish expectations and commitment levels needed for success, the LDI Planning Committee has developed a list of expectations for those selected to participate in the 2023 Leadership Development Institute.  LDI is about your professional development, so it is necessary and expected that all those who are selected fully participate, so it is important to understand the time commitment and rigor of the program. 

Below is an outline of the expectations and commitment levels needed for a truly rewarding LDI experience!

 LDI Participant Expectations 

 Step 2: Talk to your supervisor! 

Interested in applying for the WLA Leadership Institute?  Now is the time to convince your supervisor to provide professional and financial support.  Participants are selected through a competitive application process - be sure you can say yes if you are selected! In this time of tight budgets and lean staffing levels, making the case to participate is even more important.  You must understand the potential benefits to you and your library/institution - and be able to communicate those benefits effectively.  Use the following information to help make your case.

 Step 3:  Update your resume and write your responses to the application essay questions. 

Review the pdf file of the application first and draft your replies to the list of essay questions in advance so you can easily upload them with your application. 
Step 3: Fill out the online application (see link below) 
  • You will need to establish a username and password to access the online application, if you don’t already have an account. 
  • Be sure to hit "submit" on the application form when completed.  You will receive a confirmation email stating that your application has been received.  If you do not receive a confirmation email, please email [email protected]

 Applications are due by midnight on March 6, 2023 March 13, 2023!

Submit Your Application!

Participants will be selected through a competitive application process led by the LDI Planning Committee and will be notified of their status by March 17, 2023.  




How do I apply? When are applications due?
To apply, fill out the online application.  Note: You will need to establish a username and password to access the online application, if you don’t already have an account. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the pdf file of the application first and draft their replies to the list of essay questions in advance of starting the online application process.

Applications are due by midnight on March 6, 2023  March 13, 2023!

Will I get CE credit for participating in LDI?

Yes, participants will be able to receive CE credit for participating in LDI.  The full Institute counts for 30 CE credits. See your systems’ CE coordinator for more information. 

When will I know if I have been accepted to the LDI program?

Those selected for the 2023 LDI will be notified by March 17, 2023. 

The in-person sessions take place at the WAPL conference this spring and the WLA annual conference in the fall.  Do I have to attend both of those conferences?

No, you do not need to attend those conferences to participate in LDI, although you are welcome to do so!  We are co-locating the two in-person sessions during those conferences simply because it is more cost-effective to offer these sessions at locations where we already have meeting spaces reserved.   

What are the dates and times for the virtual sessions?

While the final schedule is subject to change, the virtual sessions are planned for May - September on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month from 2 - 3:30 p.m.

Who are the presenters? Where can I find more information about them and their sessions?

LDI sessions will be led by a diverse mix of experienced and highly trained facilitators from the UW-Madison Division of Extension and national library consultants.  More details about the presenters and their session will be provided to participants in advance of the kick-off session. 

How do I access slides and recordings of the sessions if I miss any of them? How long will they be available?

LDI is designed to meet the needs of busy library professionals.  While we encourage participants to attend the live virtual sessions, we understand this may not always be possible.  Each virtual session will be recorded and made available via the LDI Slack channel.  Participants who missed the live session will have two weeks to view the session recording and place comments in the Slack discussion thread.  

Will there be networking opportunities at the in-person sessions?

Yes, the in-person sessions will offer you the opportunity network with other participants in the cohort.  In addition, past LDI graduates will be invited to attend a post-session reception on April 26.  

How will I communicate with the LDI cohort?

The LDI cohort will have access to a Slack channel to post discussion questions, share ideas, and build community with other participants.