Stritch’s African American Leadership Program (AALP) recently
celebrated its five-year anniversary.
Jeanette Mitchell, Ed.D., '01, program director for the
Leadership Center, developed the program and has received great joy in seeing
In 2005, Mitchell partnered with Enrique Figueroa, Ph.D.,
from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee to establish the Latino Nonprofit
Leadership Program (LNLP). She credits this program with inspiring the AALP.
The LNLP’s format and delivery were successful in
strengthening connections and leadership development within the Latino
“Yet, there was a void to fill within Milwaukee’s African
American community,” said Mitchell.
In 2008, Stritch launched the African American Leadership
Program; a nine-month program that provides African American professionals the
resources and training to strengthen their leadership.
One key difference between the LNLP and the AALP; however,
is the cross-sector model incorporated by the latter. The AALP accepts
applicants from business, nonprofit, education, and entrepreneurial
“The [AALP] encourages
the development of African American leaders across all sectors who can impact individual lives, as well as the greater
community,” said Mitchell.
According to Margaret Arney, Leadership Center program
coordinator and an AALP alumna, the “leadership pool” in the Milwaukee area has
historically not been very diverse.
“We consider our program to be the pipeline for the next
generation of leaders,” Mitchell explained.
By creating a network of leaders (through current
participants, as well as alumni) that spans generations, life experiences, and
work sectors, the program accomplishes exactly that.
The curriculum includes active learning, executive coaching,
and professional networking. Participants engage with prominent leaders in the
Milwaukee area; connect their learning to a broader issue through community
leadership projects; and give and receive “360 degree feedback” to identify
strengths and opportunities for growth.
Over the course of the program, participants develop a
mission statement to represent their values and objectives.
“Our alumni most often cite the 360 degree feedback and
development of their mission statements as the most valuable experiences,”
Interest in the AALP has increased steadily in its first
five years. Many organizations even pay the full fee for their employees to
complete the program.
Northwestern Mutual, Johnson Controls Inc., and The Boys and
Girls Club, for example, have been strong advocates for the AALP and support
employees through the program each year.
In fact, Northwestern Mutual recently hosted an event for
all program facilitators and alumni to reconnect and celebrate the AALP’s five
years of leadership in Milwaukee.
Mitchell explained that the program’s benefits are not
limited to the individual participants, but are also extended to their
employers and, ultimately, the community.
“Leadership is directly applied to their jobs,” said
Mitchell. “Our alumni understand their strengths, opportunities, mission,
passion, and values. We are all more powerful when our work aligns with our mission.”
After a successful and inspiring first five years, the
program’s facilitators are looking to further enhance its offerings.
Mitchell and Arney agree that the AALP’s next step is to
further develop connections with its alumni base in the form of an alumni
association. The group is engaged and
seeking additional opportunities to connect and support each other; a
representation of the program’s impact on their lives.
Learn more about the African
American Leadership Program online.