Apply Now | Emerging Leaders Program 2020

Apply Now | Emerging Leaders Program 2020

Arts administrators from all disciplines within commuting distance to New York City are encouraged to apply by February 3, 2020.

Through the support of American Express, New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) is pleased to announce the sixth session of its Emerging Leaders Program, a free initiative that provides leadership training for arts administrators over nine months. NYFA believes an investment in the cultural infrastructure will benefit the entire field, building stronger links and shared knowledge between artists and arts administrators.

More than 125 arts administrators have participated in the program since its inception. They come from a diverse range of arts and cultural organizations, and serve a wide variety of disciplines and constituents. Visit the following links to view our alumni from the inaugural cohort and 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2019 programs; all affiliations listed are from the time that they took part in the program.

NYFA is seeking applicants who are committed to the arts with clear long-term leadership goals that are willing to engage in self-reflection and step outside of their comfort zone to learn new skills. We integrate creativity into the program with a flexible and adaptive approach that adjusts to the needs of the cohort throughout.

Our core objective is to help arts administrators discover, identify, and develop their personal motivation and individual competencies as leaders while exploring the attributes and themes of arts leadership through an examination of traditional and contemporary leadership models. Arts administrators of diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. 

Selected participants will benefit from:

  • An exploration of your individual leadership attributes through concepts such as world view, emotional intelligence, vision, mission, and values.
  • Individual and group activities that focus on discovering and better understanding your individual strengths and challenges in a leadership context.
  • Exploration of leadership in multiple settings with the goal of identifying the elements of success that are unique to arts leadership. 
  • Development of an individual learning plan for each participant that addresses at least one critical leadership challenge you currently face.
  • A cohort-learning model that relies on shared experiences to explore and develop a greater awareness of your personal leadership style.
  • Access to alumni network and dedicated alumni advisors for individual guidance and support.
  • A peer cohort of 24 arts administrators.
  • Case studies, guest speakers, panel discussions, and group exercises that focus on purpose-centered leadership, including diversity, equity, and inclusion; negotiation skills; and decision-making frameworks.
  • Group and individual exercises that challenge and track individual progress and understanding of your actual and/or desired leadership attributes and roles.
  • Technical workshops and panels related to management, strategic planning, fundraising, and board development.
  • Exposure to key influencers within the arts and cultural communities.

The 2020 program will be facilitated by nonprofit trainer and consultant Gilles Mesrobian. Mesrobian is on the faculty of Bard College’s MBA in Sustainability, where he teaches Personal Leadership Development. His credentials include over 30 years of senior management experience in the non-profit arena, with over 20 years as an Executive Director. His consulting experience covers a broad range of organizational work in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, including governance training, organizational assessment, leadership development, executive leadership transition, executive search, strategic planning, retreats, and trainings.

The program structure includes a five-day intensive with a rigorous blend of presentations, formal lectures, and break-out groups. Additionally, it includes half-day check-ins, an alumni mixer, final sessions, and a follow-up reunion event.

Application Deadline: 

Monday, February 3, 2020, 11:59 PM (EST) 


  • Mid and senior level administrators in full-time employment by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations with budgets over $250,000.
  • Executive Directors from non-profit arts and cultural organizations with budgets under $250,000.
  • Commitment to mandatory attendance to all sessions.
  • Open to participants from the five boroughs of New York City and Metropolitan area within commuting distance of New York City. 

Program Schedule:

All sessions are mandatory and will take place at New York Foundation for the Arts at 20 Jay Street, Suite 740, Brooklyn, NY 11201, unless otherwise noted. Please check your calendar before applying.

Thursday, March 12, 2020
Intro Meeting: 10:00 AM -12:30 PM

Monday, March 23 – Friday, March 27, 2020
Five day intensive: Monday and Friday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday – Thursday, 10:00 AM – 1:30 PM

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Check-in: 10:00 AM – 1:30 PM

Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Check-in: 10:00 AM – 1:30 PM

Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Alumni mixer: 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Wednesday, Sep 16, 2020
Check-in: 10:00 AM – 1:30 PM

Tuesday, November 10 and Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Final sessions: 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Reunion: 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Application Guidelines:

For the application, we ask you to provide:

  • Organization information.
  • Why you are interested in applying to this program and a list of goals relative to your leadership career path within the next 2-5 years.
  • Your current role and responsibilities.
  • A particular challenge in your current organization that participating in this program could help you address.
  • A narrative bio of your professional career.
  • Contact details of your supervisor and confirmed permission to participate.

How to Apply:

Applicants can apply via Submittable. First-time users will need to register with Submittable to access the application portal.

Applications are reviewed by alumni of the program and outside executive professionals.


Applicants will be notified on or before February 19, 2020.


Contact the NYFA Learning team at [email protected] with “Emerging Leaders Program” in the subject line. We understand that arts organizations can be structured in a variety of ways, so please contact us for eligibility clarifications.


The Emerging Leadership program is a growing network of peers and colleagues that encourages me to grow. Connecting to folks in dance, museums, and theatre creates more solidarity with issues that we share – both positive and negative. We are able to advise each other and engage with an elder generation of leaders. Thank you! – Eva Mayhabal Davis, Independent Curator, Eva Mayha Projects

This program provided a strong leadership development framework that prompted much self-reflection and a resulting increase in confidence to initiate and build change. Learnings from workshops validated my previous experiences and incited a call to action in my life. ‘Operational Excellence’ is a theme that really stood out to me and is what I aim to implement in all of the spaces in which I perform. – Sade Falebita, Associate Director of Youth Programs, Downtown Community Television Center

NYFA’s Emerging Leaders Program is made possible with the generous support of American Express.

Image: Alumni Mixer, Emerging Leaders Boot Camp, July 2019, Photo Credit: NYFA Learning

Amy Aronoff
Posted on:
Post author