FAQ: CLC programs and the application process

Applying to a Cleveland Leadership Center program can be daunting. Which program is best for me? How do I craft the best application? Here are a few tips to make sure you choose the right program and submit your strongest application.

Selecting the right program

LEADERSHIP CLEVELAND (LC)
LC is for those in high-level executive positions. Qualified LC candidates have proven involvement in the community, as well as access to resources and networks they can leverage to effect positive change. The Leadership Cleveland experience is a deep dive into issues and challenges in the areas of education, government, human services, neighborhood development, quality of life, and economic development. There is a strong focus on collaborative leadership and relationship building. LC is a 10-month program that runs September through June. To learn more, visit LC online or contact Marianne Crosley (216-592-2298) with questions.

CLEVELAND BRIDGE BUILDERS (CBB)
CBB is for mid-career and mid-level professionals. Qualified CBB candidates will have a grasp on the issues and causes that matter most to them and a strong desire to contribute positively to their community. The CBB experience is centered on strengthening individual leadership skills, learning to work collaboratively in teams, understanding the nuances of community leadership, and defining and acting on their own civic vision. CBB is a 10-month program that runs September through June. To learn more, visit CBB online or contact Jody Bonhard (216-453-1521) with questions.

ONBOARD CLEVELAND (OBC)
OBC is for early-career professionals, typically those in the first five-seven years of their career. Qualified OBC candidates will have aspirations of being community change agents and an eagerness to embark on a journey of leadership self-discovery as they explore our community. The OBC experience focuses on self-reflection, discovery, and leadership skill development. Participants also gain an overview of the local civic landscape. OBC is a 7-month program that runs September through March. To learn more, visit OBC online or contact Rachel Ciomcia (216-592-2280) with questions.

ADVANCED LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE (ALI)
ALI is an intergenerational experience during which Senior Fellows (experienced and influential civic leaders) mentor and work alongside the Stokes Fellows (mid-career leaders) and Junior Fellows (Tri-C Mandel Scholars Academy students or alumni) to learn about complex issues and work to facilitate change. Qualified ALI Stokes Fellows are professionals with considerable leadership experience and responsibility within their organization along with a strong interest in learning more about our community’s challenges. The curriculum focuses on five core topic areas: education, health, housing, public safety, and workforce development. ALI is a 10-month program that runs September through June. The ALI experience includes elements of collaborative leadership skill building and relationship building. To learn more, visit ALI online or contact Lenora Brown (216-456-8004) with questions.

CIVIC LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE (CLI)
CLI is for anyone who wants to learn about (or wants updates on) Northeast Ohio’s civic landscape. CLI covers the issues, challenges, and triumphs in areas such as the economy, education, arts & culture, and more, and introduces participants to organizations and leaders who are making change happen across the region. Participants walk away with a broad base of knowledge and actionable ways to get involved. CLI is a six-week survey course offered three times per year each fall, winter, and spring. Registrations are accepted throughout the year. To learn more, visit CLI online or contact Andrew Singer (216-456-8005) with questions.

Best practices and application advice

START EARLY!
A quality application takes time to thoroughly and thoughtfully complete and you’ll want to give your references plenty of time to craft a glowing recommendation.

BE AUTHENTIC.
This application is an opportunity to share your story, through your own lens. Don’t just cut and paste from your work bio or other profiles. You are selling yourself, your accomplishments, and your passion — let yourself shine!

FOCUS ON QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
Your answers should be thoughtful and reflective, not just words to fill the required limits.

SHARE YOUR FULL EXPERIENCE.
These programs are not just for those with life experience in Cleveland. Share your entire journey in your application, including engagement from other communities. Also, don’t leave anything out. If you have gaps in your employment and community engagement, explain why.

INCLUDE WHAT YOU BRING TO THE TABLE.
The relationships and the learning that happens within the cohorts are just as powerful as the program experience itself. What you can bring to the program is an important piece of your application.

IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN EXPERIENCE. 
CBB, OBC, and ALI selection committees are less focused on finding those who have extensive civic engagement resumes and more focused on finding people who are passionate about the community and will leverage their program experience to elevate their community involvement.

For Leadership Cleveland, you must show a high level of active involvement. Think broadly about your civic engagement — it all matters.

RECOMMENDATION LETTERS MATTER.
The recommendation letters are a considerable factor in the selection process. For CBB, OBC, and ALI, the recommenders must answer specific questions on the application. Find someone who can tell your story and speak to your strengths, and be sure they will follow through!

LC recommendation letters must come from LC alumni. It is highly beneficial for your recommender to be someone who can tell your story in a way that you didn’t already capture in your application. LC also requires a nomination letter unless you are the business owner. Nominations letters are from the immediate supervisor or, if you are the chief executive, from the board chair. If the nominator happens to be an LC graduate, the letter may also serve as one of the recommendation letters.


All aspects of the application help the selection committees understand you as a person, as a professional, and as a community member. The more complete the picture you present, the better your chance of being accepted. Reach out to the director of your chosen program (listed above) with any questions, requests for advice, and to stay updated throughout the application and selection processes.

You can also view the recording of the virtual open house for additional information.