Conferences + Intensives

Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leaders is an interactive and innovative program that prepares younger professionals from across all sectors to serve as nonprofit board members, committee members, and/or skilled volunteers.

Program Goals

  • Create a network of skilled, resourceful young leaders. Participants establish strong and lasting relationships that are personally and professionally beneficial and founded on a shared commitment to the common good.
  • Prepare young professionals for board, committee and skilled volunteer positions with local nonprofit organizations. Research shows that younger leaders are underrepresented on nonprofit boards, and boards report challenges in identifying and attracting young leaders. Over the past nine years the program has matched more than 200 young professionals with more than 100 community organizations!
  • Develop young professionals’ sustained commitment to their communities. Studies also show that young leaders who are actively involved in their communities are two to three times more likely to stay and contribute to the economy and well-being of our state.
“Regardless of whether you were familiar with the nonprofit sector or had served on a board, it was an empowering experience that made me (and everyone else I spoke with) feel prepared to serve in a board capacity. Beyond that, the opportunity to meet and collaborate with such an impressive group of peers was amazing and filled me with optimism for the future of local nonprofits and our community.”
-Emerging Leaders Graduate, 2016

Program Format

Each year approximately 25 applicants are accepted to complete the program, which takes place between September and December and includes a combination of hands-on and classroom learning. Led by skilled facilitators, guest experts, and leaders in the nonprofit field, the curriculum weaves together leadership skill development, training on board roles and responsibilities, and (optional) matching to boards and committees.

The program has been designed with special sensitivity to the schedules of its participants, who are often juggling many personal and professional commitments. The majority of the sessions are designed so that employees do not miss a lot of time on the job. All meetings take place in the Greater Portland area.

For more information, download our Emerging Leaders 2020 Program Overview which includes the tentative schedule. Note that the 2020 program is slated to start in September and, considering current COVID19 forecasts, we think that will be possible. As we move forward, program components and schedules may be modified to reflect updated public health guidance. The health and safety of participants will remain our top priority.

“The Emerging Leaders program reshaped the way I contribute to my community and to my workplace. The program not only showed me how I could make a difference as a board member of a nonprofit organization, but it also connected me with a network of inspiring, civic-minded peers. I am so grateful for the knowledge I gained, the leadership skills I built, and the friends I made during this program.”  ~Emerging Leaders Graduate, 2019

Nominate or Apply to Participate

Our goal is to accept a diverse class, representative of our community. We are looking for applicants who are motivated to grow as leaders, who desire to deepen their community engagement, and who are reflective about how this program supports their aspirations.

  • Before completing the application, please ensure you have read our Emerging Leaders 2020 Program Overview.
  • Apply via our online application by July 2nd. Prepare in advance by reading the application questions. While the original deadline for applications was May 31st, we recognize that much of our and your attention has been focused on keeping families and communities safe. In light of these extenuating circumstances, we will continue to accept applications until July 2. If you need more time, please do let us know if we should be expecting your application.
  • If you have any questions or would prefer to complete the application through a spoken interview, rather than in writing, please contact Molly O’Connell by email or by phone at 207-871-1885.
  • To nominate someone else for the 2020 Emerging Leaders class, please complete our online nomination form. While a nomination is not required in order for someone to apply, nominations help us identify a diverse pool of candidates who would benefit from–and contribute to!–this learning community.

Be a Nonprofit Match

By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be Millennials. Younger nonprofit board and committee members add vital diversity to nonprofit boards. They bring different perspectives, ask fresh questions, and can provide new skill sets. Yet, according to BoardSource, younger leaders are often underrepresented on nonprofit boards. Emerging Leaders is focused on reversing that trend.

Each year a pool of nonprofit organizations is selected through an application process to serve as potential board/committee matches for the class participants. To apply:


Thank you to our 2020 program sponsor!

Wright-Ryan Construction Logo

Sponsorship of the Emerging Leaders Program is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to community engagement while increasing your brand’s visibility among rising leaders. Contact Kelly McCormack for details on sponsorship opportunities!

Program History

Emerging Leaders launched in 2010 as Young Emerging Leaders and was seed-funded by Norton Insurance and Financial with WEX sponsorship. The Emerging Leaders program has now matched more than 200 young professionals with more than 100 community organizations in Maine. After eight years with Lift360, the Emerging Leaders Program moved to MANP beginning in 2018. Current partners include Rippleffect and Portland Symphony Orchestra.