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A community of visionary change-makers, committed to protecting, promoting, and strengthening the nonprofit sector.

The Essential Leadership Lab provides senior leaders in the nonprofit sector an opportunity to convene in virtual cohorts of sector peers, develop knowledge and skills, explore critical issues, and cultivate an unparalleled network of leaders.

The Lab entered its 4th year in January 2024. We kicked off with some changes to offer more topic variety and greater flexibility for busy schedules – to rave reviews. We hope you will join this vibrant cohort!

Join us for the Essential Leadership Lab

  • 12 monthly virtual sessions focusing on critical topics facing leaders in the nonprofit sector
  • Participants enroll for 12 months and choose to participate in 9 of the 12 sessions
  • The sessions include a mix of expert insights, participants sharing their own experiences, and elevation of the expertise in the room.
  • Rolling enrollment opens 3 times per year for start times in February, June, and October when new participants join an orientation and kick-off. Register now for a June start date.
  • Bonus! Lab participants are eligible for early registration to TNPA Leadership Summits – registration for Leadership Summit 2024 will open in early-to-mid-May.

Schedule of Lab Topics

Participants choose 9 of the 12 during their 12-month registration year (register now for June 2024 through May 2025):

June 2024 | Curiosity
Curiosity is getting a lot of attention in the business world right now. What does it mean for leading teams and creating effective business models? How can we cultivate it in ourselves and our staff? What would it look like to nurture a Culture of Curiosity?

July 2024 | Facilitation
As leaders, we facilitate large meetings, small group brainstorms, and one-on-one conversations. What are the structures and skills that will ensure everyone participates and we are getting the best ideas from our people? Join this session to learn key concepts of alternative meeting facilitation structures and practice a few of them together.

August 2024 | HOT TOPIC
What is the most perplexing, vexing, or critical topic you must grapple with right now? Lab participants have input and one HOT TOPIC will be selected for the focus for August.

September 2024 | Embracing Difficult Conversations / Breaking Down Silos
Bring a “plus one” from your organization, department, or another vertical. Let’s break out of the silos and develop a new language for a business challenge you are facing.

October 2024 | Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Share experiences and receive ideas and guidance specific to your situation. As a sector, where are we now? Where do we need to go? What can we do next?

November 2024 | Risk & Reward
The nonprofit sector has a reputation as being risk-averse. Join us to explore your tolerance for risk-taking, learn how to assess risk and work with risky situations, and increase your skills and strategies for encouraging innovative behavior in your team and organization.

December 2024 | HOT TOPIC – OR – Personality Profiles
Personality Profiles like Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, Personality Index, DiSC, and more have become standard tools in our team management. After a brief overview of the various models, join with colleagues to share your own experiences about which you have used, how you have implemented them, and where you have found them effective.

January 2025 | Essential Leadership Lab Reunion
All past, current, and registered-for-the-future Lab participants are INVITED and WELCOME! The Lab Reunion will be a time to learn, network, and celebrate the leaders of our sector.

February 2025 | Leading in a Polarized World
Our world feels more polarized every day. As leaders, we need to be able to navigate this reality to ensure that our teams work together respectfully, regardless of personal opinions. We are responsible for maintaining the integrity of our missions, for ourselves and for our many constituencies. When do we open discussions, when do we set them aside, and how do we guide ourselves, our teams, and our organizations through these polarized times?

March 2025 | Women in Leadership (Not Just for Women!)
Studies show that women often do not feel supported in the workplace. Although nonprofit staffing is more than 75% female, fewer than half of the C-level leadership positions are held by women in nonprofits. Together, we will explore how that lack of support manifests in our teams and organizations, what better support and development could look like, and what we can do it about – both as women and as allies.

April 2025 | HOT TOPIC
What is the most perplexing, vexing, or critical topic you must grapple with right now? Lab participants have input and one HOT TOPIC will be selected for the focus for April.

May 2025 | Creating Culture in a Remote World: What have we learned?
We will be 5 years away from the start of the pandemic and hybrid and remote work have become the norm. This session will be a chance to step back, assess best practices, and consider how our colleagues have tackled some of the challenges.

June 2025 | Ethical Storytelling
Telling the story of missions has evolved radically over the past few years, impacted by the pandemic, the rising awareness of ongoing inequities in our society, and the role that storytelling can play furthering our organizations’ missions and creating a more responsible world. Join us to learn the most up-to-date state of ethical storytelling, including the ethical use of A.I. in generating those stories.

July 2025 | Motivating a Workforce
We have got our eyes on the prize, stretching to meet our goals. We expect a lot from our staff, and we cannot do it without each of them. How can you motivate a diverse team of individuals to keep them productive, efficient, and committed to the work? This session will explore current shifts in workforce motivation theory, with real-world discussion of what other organizations and agencies find effective.

August 2025 | HOT TOPIC
What is the most perplexing, vexing, or critical topic you must grapple with right now? Lab participants have input and one HOT TOPIC will be selected for the focus for August.

September 2025 | Navigating Change
Do you feel like the rate of new approaches to our work has accelerated? Are you facing a shift in your personal work or in the structure of your team or organization? Change is inevitable, but how you manage that change will determine your (and your team’s or organization’s) future success. Learn cutting-edge concepts of change management and how to guide teams through change. Work with your Lab cohort to determine how these ideas apply to your current work.

October 2025 | Leadership Pipeline and the Next Generation of Leaders
As leaders, it is our job to regularly step back from the day-to-day and to envision our work – and our teams – in the future. Are you identifying your next generation of leaders? What can we do now to ensure there are top-notch people ready to lead our organizations five, ten, even twenty years from now?

November 2025 | Breaking Down Silos
We all know how successful a campaign can be when it has buy-in from more than one department. And our own team’s work can be stronger with the support from other teams. In this session, we will explore success stories of work “across silos,” the factors that made it possible, and the results. We will identify places in our own work that would benefit from the input or support of someone outside our department, and steps to overcome the perceived barriers.

December 2025 | Providing Challenging Feedback
It’s only human to avoid giving difficult feedback. Yet, it is crucial to deliver that feedback to help your staff grow, deliver, and be the best contributors they can be. In this session, we will consider recent research on best practices in giving feedback, and each develop our own style for giving feedback that feels authentic – and do-able.

Register Now to Start in June.

Thank you! TNPA Leadership Programming Sponsors 2024

There is still time to sponsor TNPA’s Leadership Programming.  View the Sponsorship Prospectus and reach out to Abby Graf, Vice President Programs, at with any questions.

Platinum Sponsors

RKD Group

Gold Sponsors

Logo For Adstra.
Logo For Mission Wired.
Logo For Moore.
Updated Logo For Production Solutions.

Silver Sponsors

Logo For NewportOne.
Path 2 Response
Logo For ROI Solutions.
Logo For The PMG Family.

Bronze Sponsors

Logo For Allegiance + Pursuant.
Logo For Avalon.
Logo For Concord Direct.
Logo For DickersonBakker.
Logo For Epsilon.
Logo For Grantmail DM.
Logo For Lautman Maska Neill & Co. New. 2024.
Logo For NNE Marketing.
Synergy Direct Marketing Solutions

Register Now to Start in June.

Participation in TNPA’s Essential Leadership Lab is open to TNPA members only.

Nonprofit Members: $549
Commercial Members: $749

Enrollment includes 12 months of Lab participation, starting in either February, June, or October.

Questions? Reach out to Abby Graf at

Who are Lab participants?

Essential Leadership Lab is a program for members of TNPA. Click here to learn about membership.

Lab participants are leaders from nonprofit organizations and commercial partners with proven experience and a passion for collaboration, innovation, and organizational health. Is this you? We invite you to join the Lab!

Thank you Platinum Sponsors!

RKD Group

and additional sponsors below

If you are interested in sponsoring TNPA’s Leadership Programming, please see the prospectus here, and reach out to Abby Graf, Vice President of Programming.

20% Off Educational Package now available for Member Nonprofits

Member Nonprofit Organizations receive 20% off. Register for the three programs through the TNPA Educational Package. Then, over the year, sign up a staff person for each one. The TNPA Educational Package is only $999 and includes:

– one (1) registration to Leadership Summit (September 9-12, 2024)

– one (1) registration to Rising Leaders Summit (October 17, 2024)

– one (1) registration to Essential Leadership Lab (virtual 12-month program starting in February, June, or October)

For more info or to register: Abby Graf, Vice President of Programs,

TNPA Leadership Steering Committee

Hannibal Brumskine, II, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC)

Nick Ellinger, Moore

Kelly England, Multiply Strategies

Steve Froehlich, ALSAC / St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

Jennifer Ingram, Wiland

Alicia LiFrak, Pursuant

Linda Platt

Allison Porter, Avalon Consulting Group

Kyla Shawyer, Philanthropy & Fundraising North America

John Thompson, TrueSense Marketing

Debbie Weir

Register Now to Start in June.

Enrollment transfer and cancellation policies: Enrollment in the Essential Leadership Lab constitutes intent to participate for at least one year and is a commitment to the Lab experience for fellow members.  Enrollment is non-transferrable as of the last date of the current enrollment registration.  Lab membership remains with the individual, such that if a Lab member changes jobs or employers, the individual remains a member of the Essential Leadership Lab for the remainder of the pre-paid one-year term.  No refunds will be issued after the final date of the current enrollment registration period.

TNPA DEI Accountabilities: As part of our organizational commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, TNPA strives to hold ourselves accountable for putting our principles into practice.  We apply this same accountability to those who create and/or present content on our behalf:

  • Be inclusive.  Create content that can resonate with an array of listeners and readers.
  • Speak to diversity. Recognize that members of an audience or cohort have various lived experiences.
  • Recognize that systemic inequities and discrimination exist.  Do your best to acknowledge how we can mitigate against them.
  • Be mindful of explicit and implicit bias.  Review content through the lens of varied identities.

TNPA Code of Conduct: The Nonprofit Alliance exists to foster the development and growth of nonprofit organizations and to protect the donors, members, partners, and volunteers that support them.  At all educational offerings and conferences, we commit to fostering an environment free from physical, emotional, and psychological harm. We will not tolerate harassment, discrimination, and intimidation of any form. All individuals must exhibit professionalism, must demonstrate respect for others, must act with civility, and must refrain from inappropriate and unwelcomed physical contact, sexual references and aggressive advances. Anyone who experiences or witnesses a violation to these standards, should immediately contact TNPA CEO Shannon McCracken.  Anyone found in violation of the TNPA Code of Conduct by any means may receive a warning, have membership suspended, registration forfeited, or experience escalation to legal authorities.

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