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Essential Leadership Lab logo

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

The Essential Leadership Lab is a sustained, virtual program that runs in four-month cycles across the year.  Both in the larger Lab Forum and in smaller Lab Cohorts, members engage in real-time thinking and discussions about the topics, issues, and opportunities that impact the health of nonprofits in today’s social, economic, and political climate.

Cultivate Your Essential Leadership Skills

As a member of this community of visionary change-makers, you will:

  • Connect!  Join a cohort of diverse, innovative peers who can become your new go-to group for insights and inspiration.
  • Explore new approaches to the current challenges and opportunities facing the nonprofit sector. 
  • Learn from each other, this incredible cohort of nonprofit professionals as we share our experiences and use peer feedback to help navigate our current challenges.
  • Bonus! Lab participants are eligible for early registration to TNPA Leadership Summits.

Lab Forums

Three times a year, you will convene with all of the Lab members to launch the new Lab Cycle with a new theme and share insights and outcomes from past themes.  Expert guest speakers will introduce new ideas and challenge you to see possibilities beyond the current status quo.

Lab Cohorts

In the three months following each Lab Forum, you will meet in small groups with other nonprofit industry executives who share your drive and understand your challenges to discuss the theme topics and other timely, relevant areas of interest.  Active participation in your Cohort meetings is expected!

Between scheduled meetings, you will have access to the Essential Leadership Lab Linkedin group to share resources and keep your conversations moving forward.

2023 Cycles

Essential Leadership Lab runs in 4-month cycles, with each cycle focusing on a particular topic or theme.  New members are inducted every 4 months with the launch of the new cycle.

Winter 2023 | Beginning January 11 | Risk & Reward

Summer 2023 | Beginning May 17 | Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Fall 2023 | Beginning September 13 | Exploring A.I.: Opportunities, Responsibilities, and Ethics

2023 Leadership Programming Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors

RKD Group

Gold Sponsors

Arjuna Solutions
Logo For Moore.
Updated Logo For Production Solutions.

Silver Sponsors

Logo For Adstra.
Lautman Maska Neill And Company
Logo For Newport One.
Logo For ROI Solutions.

Bronze Sponsors

Logo For Pursuant & Allegiance Group.
Avalon, Celebrating 25 Years
Logo For Concord Direct.
Logo For Data Axle.
Logo For Epsilon.
Logo For NNE Marketing.
Path 2 Response
Logo For Westfall Gold.

Nonprofit Members: $549
Commercial Members: $749

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

Enrollment includes 12 months of Lab participation (September 2023 – August 2024), including 3 cycles with 3 different themes.

Questions? Reach out to Abby Graf at

Who are Lab members?

Essential Leadership Lab is a special program for members of TNPA. (Not a member? Join today!) We welcome all leaders from nonprofit organizations and commercial partners with proven experience and a passion for collaboration, innovation, and organizational health.

Members of the Lab believe that:

  • A thriving nonprofit sector can meaningfully change the world.
  • Nonprofit leaders have a shared responsibility to protect, promote, and strengthen our sector.
  • The ability to effect change in an organization isn’t defined by a job title.  
  • Learning and testing environments like the Lab can uncover both predictable and unpredictable results.  
  • We are stronger when we collaborate.

TNPA Leadership Steering Committee

Nick Ellinger, Moore

Kelly England, Multiply Strategies

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

Jennifer Ingram, Wiland

Rich Kostro, Share Our Strength

Linda Platt, Mikva Challenge

Allison Porter, Avalon Consulting Group

Kyla Shawyer, Philanthropy & Fundraising North America

John Thompson, TrueSense Marketing

Debbie Weir, Cancer Support Community

Enrollment transfer and cancellation policies: Enrollment in the Essential Leadership Lab constitutes intent to participate for at least one year (three cycles) 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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