Inspiration & Strategies for Nonprofit Management

March 19–24, 2017

NELI 2017 is currently at capacity. Please complete an application form if you would like to be added to the wait list

The Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute (NELI/the Institute) is a 6-day residential program designed to enhance the strategic and visionary thinking of experienced nonprofit executives. Nonprofit leaders operate in a climate of continual change, with new opportunities and challenges surfacing on a daily basis. Successful nonprofit executives assess and capitalize on these internal and external forces while simultaneously enhancing the effectiveness, stability, and vitality of their organizations.

Participants will engage in an examination of their own leadership and management effectiveness and the deeper meaning of their work. The regional nature of the Institute will enable participants to build and sustain relationships with peers and instructors that will support them and their work in the years to come. Attention will be paid to renewing excitement and passion for work in the nonprofit sector.

A combination of academic faculty and seasoned practitioners will lead the program sessions. Instructors will facilitate intellectually provocative sessions that expose participants to new insights and tools. The use of case studies, peer consulting teams, 360-degree evaluations, group exercises, journaling, and participant presentations will create a highly participatory and multidimensional learning experience.


Learning Objectives

The Institute is designed to encourage participants to engage in deeper and higher-level thinking on the purpose and practice of their roles as organizational and community leaders. Participants will engage in a critical assessment of leadership challenges as well as their own leadership style and effectiveness. This high-level perspective will help build skills, confidence, and a commitment to strategic leadership.

Leadership will be taught in the context of the following key competencies:

  • Thinking strategically
  • Inspiring others to perform
  • Understanding adaptive challenges
  • Engaging stakeholders
  • Creating a culture of accountability
  • Enabling and securing support for change
  • Building a viable financial model
  • Enabling the work of the board of directors
  • Enhancing self-knowledge

Participants who complete the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute will receive a Certificate of Completion.


Logistics, Preparation, and Schedule

Institute Format and Lodging

  • Given the immersive and retreat setting of the institute, it is a residential format. Class sessions will be held in Parrington Hall on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Washington.
  • Reservations for single occupancy rooms will be made for all participants at a nearby hotel, and lodging is included in tuition.
  • Since the design of the Institute is in-residence and intensive, all participants, including those within reasonable commuting distance, are expected to stay in residence throughout the Institute.
  • Participants who have a hardship that makes them unable to stay in residence for the entire course week should contact Cascade staff at Every participant is expected to attend all Institute sessions, and participate with unscheduled group project time and personal application/reflection time in the evenings and early mornings throughout the course week.
  • Most meals are included in tuition: morning refreshments, full lunch, and afternoon snack are provided each day of the course; dinners are provided on Sunday and Tuesday, and heavy appetizers provided at the Thursday evening reception. The caterer can accommodate most dietary restrictions.

Institute Preparation

Potential NELI applicants should take into account the preparation required in the weeks leading up to the Institute. 

  • Application: The priority application deadline is Monday, February 1 (online application). Prospective participants are encouraged to apply by this priority deadline for a better chance of securing a space in the course. Application review will be completed after the February 1st priority application deadline. Applications received after February 1 will be considered on a space-available basis. Time required: 30–45 minutes
  • 360 Leadership Assessment: Each participant will complete an online self-assessment as well as solicit assessments from at least seven of their supervisors, direct reports, and other colleagues. Time required: 2–4 hours 
  • Leadership Challenge Exercise: Each participant will articulate a leadership/management challenge they would like to focus on throughout the course. These challenges are submitted in writing to the Lead Instructor before the Institute. Time required: 1–2 hours
  • Organizational Capacity Assessment (optional) – Each participant is invited to complete an assessment of their current organization to reference throughout the Institute. Time required: 45–60 minutes
  • Pre-reading: The course binder (which is mailed to participants in late February/early March) contains case studies and articles that participants are expected to read prior to attending the Institute. Time required: 8–14 hours depending on reading speed

NELI 2017 Participant Preparation


For more information about the Institute, contact us at or 206.685.0523.