HIGHER Ground Leadership Development Program

Group of women posing out of the Grace E. Harris Hall

About | Program Objectives Program Highlights FAQs Alumni


The HIGHER Ground Leadership Development Program is a leadership development experience that is designed for current and emerging women leaders and other supporters of women's leadership who are committed to investing in themselves and their organizations. The program is designed to foster the advancement of women at all career levels in public, private, nonprofit, and entrepreneurial positions. Training opportunities promote personal and professional growth through leadership development, education, coaching, and networking. By engaging in intellectual and experiential workshops, participants learn key principles aimed at enhancing their leadership styles to help them successfully leverage opportunities for advancement.

The Higher Ground Leadership Development Program does not restrict eligibility for or participation in the program based on sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.  All individuals who support the professional growth and leadership development of women are welcome to participate in Higher Ground programs and events.

This highly-rated program received initial funding support from the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund.

Apply Schedule

Applications are due November 15th, 2024. 

Program Objectives

The HIGHER Ground Leadership Development Program content includes lectures, workshops, and experiential learning designed to:

  • Develop the skills and methods for engaging in and understanding leadership through practice-in-action and reflective inquiry
  • Broaden the capacity to model and emulate leadership behaviors and practices designed to strengthen collaboration and transformation
  • Strengthen the performance capacities of participants as agents of change to help them confidently achieve meaningful, action-oriented results

Program Highlights

The HIGHER Ground Leadership Development Program features several key components, including:

  • Leadership assessments
  • Building teams: collaboration, coordination, and cooperation
  • Authentic leadership
  • Gender, voice, authority, and power
  • Communicating across cultures
  • Managing chaos and conflict
  • Courage and confidence in leading
  • Reflective practice and inquiry

Frequently Asked Questions

Who may participate in the HIGHER Ground Leadership Development Program?
All are eligible to apply. The program is designed to meet the needs of current and emerging leaders at all levels of their career. Most participants are college graduates; however, there is no educational requirement for participation. The level of employment ranges from entry level to senior level.  

What is the application process?
To apply, participants need to submit a completed application sheet along with a resume, personal statement, bio-sketch, and 1 nomination form. Applications are due November 15 each year. Applications can be found on our website or obtained by emailing: gehli@vcu.edu.  

How many sessions are offered and when are they scheduled? 
HIGHER Ground Leadership Development Program is a five month program starting in February and ending in June. Participants meet for two consecutive sessions (Thursday and Friday) once a month. Typically, each session starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. 

What is the cost of the program and what is included?
The program fee is $2,250 (which includes the $50 application fee). This fee covers all program costs including program materials, intensive leadership assessments, an overnight retreat, registration for the Annual HIGHER Ground Leadership Conference, and meals on program days. Payments can be made by sponsoring organizations or by individuals. Participants are responsible for securing their own transportation. 

Does The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute offer scholarships to cover the progrwomeam fee?
Currently, the Institute does not provide individual financial support. We encourage participants to seek sponsorship of their employer or community organization. 

Does the applicant have to be nominated by associates to apply?
Although one recommendation is required in the application process, the applicant does not need to be nominated. 

Do participants receive credits that they can later transfer to a post-secondary institution?
No, we do not offer academic credit for participating in the HIGHER Ground Leadership Development Program. However, we offer 8 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for full program participation. 

Do participants receive continuing education credit?
Yes, participants can earn up to 8 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for full program participation.