The Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Program is a comprehensive leadership program that emphasizes the importance of reflection and focuses on:

  1. Personal Responsibility and Development (Tier 1)

  2. Group Application and Community Connections (Tier 2)

  3. Engagement and Transitions (Tier 3)

Through participation in the LEAD Program students will be exposed to a number of applied learning experiences such as interactive workshops and service opportunities. Students will also be encouraged to think critically, examine their definition and style of leadership, and reflect on their personal development, community impact, and ability to lead with authenticity.


In an effort to collaborate and begin identifying the needs and interests of our student body, a leadership education survey was distributed to organization presidents and a number of first-year students during the summer of 2012. The survey not only inquired about leadership confidence and topic popularity, but also allowed for students to express interest in participating and/or nominating their peers to participate in a pilot program for the 2012-13 academic year.

Fall Term 2012: Forty-four students opted into a workshop-based pilot program. Topics included: leadership styles, communication, leadership language (resumes & interviews), building trust and motivation, dealing with conflict, transition, and group process. The final workshop was to be based on ethics and leadership.

Winter Term 2013: Students in the pilot program provided positive feedback about the workshop material; however, there was little to no consistency amongst student participation. With the onset of a new term, the pilot program was discontinued and roundtable discussions were scheduled. A select group of students, with an interest in developing a comprehensive leadership program, began to explore:

  • how Washington and Lee students define leadership.

  • the student perception of 'leadership development' (ie: is this innate or should there be a learned experience in place).

  • elements of leadership education vs. development, experiences, etc.

  • reasonable resources and program expectations.

Summer and Fall Term 2013: The evaluation of leadership education continued and a tiered programmatic approach was outlined. The Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Program was ready for further review.

Winter Term 2014: Two students (David Heinen '16 and AnnMarie Wakely '15) presented the existing concepts for the new LEAD Program to approximately 40 first-year and sophomore students, and then ran an application process to select a LEAD Team of eight (including themselves).

Spring Term 2014: The LEAD Team was created and they committed to spend one full academic year crafting the remaining elements of the program, as well as a marketing plan/ The team went on an overnight retreat to begin the process of developing a shared base knowledge of leadership.

Summer 2014: The LEAD Team spent the summer exploring leadership through text (True North by Bill George and other articles) and video (TED talks). Each team member wrote a memo and later participated in a group discussion about the summer reading.

Fall Term 2014 - Winter Term 2015: The LEAD Team met on a weekly basis to continue creating a homegrown, comprehensive and intentional leadership program that:

  • is founded on the idea that leadership can be learned.

  • facilitates the development of a personal leadership philosophy.

  • aids students in identifying and developing leadership potential, emphasizing self-awareness and values.

  • challenges students to incorporate theory and principles into organizational practice.