General Program Information 

Why me? It’s all about you, well us. As a woman-identified individual, this is the ideal time to lead or show interest in leading. As we ensure the health and safety of our families and colleagues, we are also witnessing bold leadership across higher education. If you started an application for the HERS Leadership Institute weeks, months, or years ago, you are ready to lead. Or, at least, you have been prepared for some time to begin leading. The pandemic has changed the way we work, but it doesn’t mean you have to wait to lead. Let’s put your great ideas to work right now.

Why HERS? For five decades, we have been thinking about, improving, and delivering what women leaders need to advance in higher education. There is nothing better than something designed with you in mind. We know the unique challenges faced by women. There are three things every leader needs to be successful: know your organization, identify the resources available to you, and know yourself. At every HERS program, and specifically the HERS Leadership Institute, we create opportunities for you to expand your knowledge of your institution and other higher education institutions. We primarily leverage the collective expertise of the HERS network, over 6,000 women leaders, to accomplish this. We help you build your network before, during, and after your Leadership Institute experience.

  • Have a challenge? Contact your HERS network!
  • Have an idea? Contact your HERS network!
  • Have something to celebrate? Contact your HERS network!

You will leave the HERS Leadership Institute knowing more about higher education and more about yourself as a leader. You will have clarity on how you’ll implement strategies and new tools as a campus leader. You will also have a national network of HERS alums to champion your next leadership goals.  

Why now? Yes now! We have no hesitation when we say yes now.  Now, when there are challenges to face and opportunities to leverage, is a great time to step into leadership. Everyone is looking for innovative ideas, and we know you have great ideas. You won’t have to wait to lead in today’s environment. You’ll have a chance to try out your ideas right away. You can build strategies for tackling today’s thorniest issues within a community of leaders. There is no reason we can’t catapult together, as women, to a brighter future.

Today is the best time. In 6-12 months, the issues we need to solve won’t get simpler or easier. But with the skills and knowledge you acquire through the HERS Leadership Institute, you will be ready to lead the search for solutions.

What will I learn?
The core curriculum of the Leadership Institute covers three areas of focus: Institutional Awareness, Networking, and Self-Knowledge. The program culminates with a self-designed capstone project, wherein participants apply the knowledge they’ve gained to a case study that they can immediately apply or implement within their current role to positively impact their respective institutions.

There are five modules that build off of one another and support your leadership project development. We start with either innovation and change or inclusive leadership. We then move to communicating change and follow that with self and institutional awareness. We conclude with team (re)building.

The Leadership Institute is about you and how you lead at your institution. You will grow to learn more about the responsibilities of higher education leadership, your institution, how your institution solves challenging problems, and who is tasked with developing solutions. You’ll spend some time increasing your knowledge of your personal leadership identity, and you’ll be challenged to develop the skills necessary to actualize your professional vision.

Who is the Leadership Institute designed for?
The HERS Leadership Institute is designed for women-identified (faculty, staff, and admins) who generally hold mid-to-senior level positions in higher education and have a desire to emerge as more dynamic leaders for themselves and their institutions. This means that everyone can learn from one another, and gain insight into the unique perspectives of each role. This setting replicates what could happen on campus if faculty, staff, and admins were all working together. If you don’t have your career path defined yet and you want to learn more about the roles and responsibilities of your cohort peers, the Leadership Institute is a great space for that.

Additionally, the Leadership Institute welcomes all participants who identify as women. The HERS Network is representative of a diverse range of racial and ethnic groups, nationalities, veteran and disability statuses, religious affiliations, ages, and years of experience in higher education. We are committed to delivering a diverse and inclusive leadership space, thereby broadening the range of perspectives and insights enriching each session.

Where and how is the HERS Leadership Institute delivered? The HERS Leadership Institute is currently delivered in three formats: virtual (completed within 12 weekly sessions over the span of 4 months), an intensive and immersive setting (completed within 9 days), and our staggered weekend format (completed in 4 weekends over the span of 6 months). Traditionally, the in-person offerings of the HERS Leadership Institute have been in Boston, MA; Denver, CO; and Philadelphia, PA metro areas. We know that women leaders all over the United States and around the world would love for us to deliver programs in other places, and we are looking to expand our programs into other cities as we continue growing. If you are looking for a HERS Leadership Institute in your local area, check for more information.

Is there networking? Yes, always! Our cohort-based approach is supplemented by dividing the cohort into teams. Your teams are assigned based upon what you tell us about you, your institution, and your work. Through your teams, you have access to advice, peer mentoring, and growth.

How will I be able to connect with the HERS alum network at large? We have historically helped coordinate one annual alumnae event that aligns with the timing of the AAC&U conference because a large percentage of our alumnae are already traveling to attend that event in-person. When it is safe to travel and be together at a restaurant indoors, we plan on hosting this post-conference reception again in the near future. 

Is the in-person or online format better? The answer to this really comes down to your personal preference and capacity for each format. The rigorous curriculum, learning outcomes, pricing, and transformative quality of the experience are the same from format to format – only the mode of delivery is different. Each mode of delivery may have pros and cons that may outweigh one another based off what will work best for YOU.

Is there training (or events) specific to women within the BIPOC community, or other intersectional topics? We were in the process of developing a new program for women of color as COVID-19 continued to impact the country. Please stay in communication with us. The HLI does offer vibrant discussions of inclusive leadership and makes space for Black women and other affinity and identity groups to meet and discuss issues unique to their lived experience within higher education. 

Will how to negotiate salary as an experienced manager or educator be covered? No, we won’t talk about negotiating salary. If negotiating salary is of interest to you. We suggest Unleash Your Career or Next Stages Next Steps depending on where you are in your job search process 

I’m interested in updating my CV to look for my next role. Is this the program for me? At one time, the HERS Leadership Institute included a secondary focus on career development curriculum. Now, HERS has programs dedicated entirely to career development needs, allowing the HERS Leadership Institute to put a greater focus on developing critical leadership and management skills. To view our other programs—like Next Stages Next Steps—visit We’d also love to talk to you about our programs. Call us at 303-871-6866 or email us at [email protected].

Application & Deadline Requirements  

How do I apply? Go to In the top right-hand corner of the page, you will see a button labeled APPLY. Click that button to start the application process. The application requires you to talk about your leadership: your current strengths and accomplishments, your vision of leadership within higher education, and your desired future in higher education. We also ask that you include an organizational chart and secure a letter of recommendation from one senior leader on your campus. There are additional instructions within the application, and we are available to assist you with completing your application. Call us at 303-871-6866 or email [email protected].

Who should I contact at my institution to secure a letter of recommendation and discuss the potential of sponsorship to cover my program fee?  You should reach out to one of the following individuals at your institution to secure a recommendation and sponsorship to cover the cost of your attendance: 

  • President/Chancellor
  • Provost/Vice-President Academic Affairs
  • Chief Student Affairs Officer
  • Chief Financial/Budget Officer
  • Chief Diversity Officer
  • Chief Advancement/Development Officer
  • Chief Information Technology Officer
  • Chief Human Resources/Talent Management Officer
  • Chief Enrollment/Admissions Officer

These are the individuals that you’ll want to have invested in your development and supportive of your growth, both during and after the program. If you’ve never met the senior staff officers in your unit, this application provides a great opportunity to introduce yourself or ask your manager to help make the introduction. You’ll want someone at the top advocating on your behalf to ensure you’re granted the time and resources needed to participate.

We will accept a letter of recommendation from your direct manager but a letter from senior leadership will strengthen your candidacy. We’ve included this as an application requirement because we want you to think across the institution and beyond your role. Additionally, we encourage you to discuss the availability of funding for your attendance at the time you request your recommendation. These senior officers typically approve the release of additional professional development funding.

Even if you don’t think funding will be available, we encourage you to still make the ask. No matter what, it will increase your visibility — and you may be surprised by the response. 

How much is the HERS Leadership Institute program fee, and when is it due? The 2022-2023 program is $8499 for both the in-person and virtual program delivery. This price will increase to $8999 for programs delivered in 2024. The costs associated with in-person and virtual delivery are very comparable for the Leadership Institute—e.g. reserving a physical classroom versus the time and resources required for building out a virtual classroom for every cohort with an online orientation and additional staff needed for technology implementation, support, and training—so we have consequently assigned the same program fee for both. Please note: the curriculum, learning outcomes, and quality of the experience are the same – it is just the mode of delivery that is different.

Payment of the program fee is typically due at least 6 weeks before the program start date. This allows participants to receive their pre-institute readings and assignments with enough time to orient themselves to the curriculum and its expectations. This is essential if participants hope to yield the learning outcomes outlined.

Other costs to keep in mind are the residential fees for the summer intensive and weekend format. This cost is not included in the program fee and can be an additional $1,000 – $2,000 depending on whether you’ll be attending the intensive 9-day intensive residential or the weekend format that requires at least 12 nights of lodging. Please email [email protected] to confirm the expected residential cost for each cohort location. 

Is financial assistance available? Yes. We have limited assistance funds available for each cohort, that are first come first serve, and granted based on individual and institutional need. Our funds are primarily reserved for under-resourced and underrepresented institutions such as HBCUs, Tribal Colleges, and Community Colleges to foster cohorts that are as diverse and equitable as possible. 

To be considered for financial support, please follow these steps:

  1. Submit your application for the Leadership Institute by the deadline. 
  2. After you submit your application, contact [email protected] to request our application form for financial support. 
  3. After you submit your application and the request for financial support, our team will notify you if you meet our criteria and if funds are still available.   

I heard that my institution or organization is a HERS partner. How do I apply for the HERS Leadership Institute? First, congratulations for working at a place that values and supports women’s leadership. Most likely your employer has an internal selection process running through the women’s center, human resources, academic affairs, or the president or chancellor’s office. Please contact us at [email protected] or by calling 303-871-6866 to confirm your school’s status and learn who your campus contact is.

If You Are Attending in-Person 

How long are the days? If you are in person, our days start around 7:00 am with breakfast and end around 5:00 pm. There is lunch around noon. We do not cover all meals, so there are times when lunch or dinner is not provided. We will tell you prior to the HERS Leadership Institute which meals will be served. From 8:00 am – 8:30 am we run through the day’s sessions and activities. You will have a session in the morning from 8:30 am – 11:45 am and again after lunch from 1:45 pm – 5 pm.

What days should I plan on traveling? For the intensive and weekend cohorts, you should plan on traveling the day before the program start date, and any time after 1:00 pm on the final day.

How large are HERS Leadership Institute cohorts? The cohort size is dependent on location and delivery modality. If you are attending in-person, the cohort size ranges from 55 – 70. We divide you into several teams based upon the information your share with us during the application process and in your pre-Institute assignments. We take the time to develop your team assignments to help maximize your networking and growth.

Our in-person cohorts starting in 2021 will be smaller than normal, and closer to around 45 participants to ensure we can meet safely and adhere to the appropriate social distance guidelines.

If You Are Attending Virtually  

Will the virtual sessions be a full day each day? No. We value your time and want you to maximize your learning and growth. You will have time to do other things because we know colleges and universities are under immense pressure to continue delivering the same exceptional academic programs for their students.

Unlike remote learning, we are asking you to complete assignments and watch lectures before we hold required synchronous or live sessions. We will hold optional or drop-in office hours where you can ask questions about synchronous and asynchronous content. We also integrate less formal networking time into the schedule, which is also optional.

Essentials: If you complete the essentials, plan to spend 3 – 4 hours per day at the Leadership Institute. This includes the one hour per day for each live or synchronous session.

Full Experience: To take part in all office hours and optional sessions, add 2 – 4 hours each day. The more you put in, the more you will get out of the HERS Leadership Institute.

How large are HERS Leadership Institute cohorts when the delivery is fully virtual? The cohort size is dependent on location and delivery modality. If you are attending an all-virtual delivery of the Leadership Institute, the cohort size ranges from 20 – 25. We divide you into several teams based upon the information you share with us during the application process and in your pre-Institute assignments. We take the time to develop your team assignments to help maximize your networking and growth.

Will there be a way to network with other cohort members who are doing the virtual session? Yes. Networking is the best part of the HERS Leadership Institute and will happen regardless of whether you participate in the optional networking sessions. We assign you to teams based upon your needs and experience that you can access for advice, peer mentoring, and growth.

Will it be a similar curriculum short of the physical meeting portions? The curriculum is the same, except for the mode of delivery. We will still cover our three primary areas: institutional awareness, networking, and self-knowledge. You will have the same great facilitators, content, and support for you because your advancement is one of our main goals. You will explore the same five modules that occur during the in-person sessions.

Is there any downside to virtual learning as opposed to the traditional model? We believe both are fabulous. The core curriculum provided is the same, but the interaction is dependent on you. We include meaningful activities to assist you with networking. If you lean towards extroversion, you will want to go beyond what we suggest. If you lean towards introversion, you will want to stretch yourself to complete the essentials plus a little more. These interactions are critical to learning more about yourself and honing your ability to connect with, persuade, and influence others.