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The Civic Leadership Academy (CLA) is an interdisciplinary leadership development program for emerging and high-potential leaders in nonprofit organizations and local government agencies within the City of Chicago and Cook County.

Launched jointly by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and Office of Civic Engagement, in partnership with LISC Chicago and the Civic Consulting Alliance, the program is designed to develop a pipeline of talented leaders to help non-profits and government agencies thrive.

The application for CLA 2021 is now closed.

Civic Leadership Academy fellows—an annual cohort of 30 high-potential leaders of nonprofit organizations and government agencies that serve residents and communities across the city of Chicago—engage in a six-month interdisciplinary leadership development curriculum that includes lectures, case studies, workshops, conversations with civic leaders throughout Chicago, as well as a week-long global practicum abroad.

How will the Civic Leadership Academy benefit you?

Faculty from all five UChicago professional schools and the College, representing a variety of disciplines, teach in the program alongside civic practitioners.

What makes the Civic Leadership Academy distinctive?


Meet the Civic Leadership Academy faculty and the graduates who are working together to improve the quality of life for the residents of Chicago.

Get Involved

The application for CLA 2021 is now closed.

The Civic Leadership Academy conducts an annual application process. Successful fellows are intellectually curious, reflective, ambitious, innovative, collaborative, and committed to positive change.

Job titles for nonprofit candidates could include chief executive officer, chief operating officer, executive director, deputy director, senior program manager, and regional director.

Job titles for government candidates could include deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner, director, budget director, and chief of staff.

Classes are on Fridays from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm every other week for 6 months from January - June, with a weeklong global practicum taking place in early March.

Candidates should:

  • Be a full-time employee of a Chicago nonprofit organization, the City of Chicago, Cook County, or local government agencies

  • Demonstrate a strong track record of leadership, innovation, and high performance

  • Have a minimum of five years of work experience in the civic sector

  • Be nominated by a supervisor and provide one additional letter of recommendation

To apply:

  • Complete the online application

  • Submit one letter of recommendation

  • Provide a nomination from your supervisor

Applications were due by October 1, 2020.