Targeting Talent

Nurturing Homegrown Changemakers
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The Venture Leader Academy and Fellowship will serve as a pathway for organizations to realize effective and diverse change champions.

The nonprofit sector lacks experienced “executive generalists,” or those who are knowledgeable in all aspects of an organization. All too often, leaders hire specialists and hope that their competent performance in each workstream will advance the mission. However, effective, efficient, and enduring change requires strategic alignment of every nonprofit domain, and every domain must reflect the organization’s strategy in its operation. A leader who lacks confidence or expertise in any workstream—program, development, finance, or others—will find it difficult to move their organization’s mission forward. Yet time and again, bandwidth constrained nonprofits leave high-potential talent to cobble together their own self-directed learning. As a result, many struggle to advance their skills and career trajectory. Moreover, people of color in particular tend to face tough obstacles when seeking executive positions, resulting in a lack of diversity and bench strength in the highest levels of leadership. Thus, our sector is filled with “homegrown” high-performing nonprofit professionals, who have endless potential but limited experience with which they can rise to the next executive level and/or feel equipped to perform once they have arrived.

Coming Soon...

VLC's Professional Development Learning Community

In 2024, VLC is launching a membership-based program led by expert practitioners who envision a nonprofit sector in which leaders are equipped to solve the crises of our time for a more just and equitable world. This virtual space offers nonprofit leaders the opportunity to gain professional development, share expertise, and access curated resources for organizational effectiveness.

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The Academy

Change Champions + Strong Nonprofit Solutions = Equity And Justice

Strong change champions need only galvanize and inspire their teams to implement meaningful change. The Venture Leader Academy is based on a framework that incorporates the “being” and “doing” of change agency, both at individual and organizational levels.

The Venture Leader Academy (VLA) will be offered as a 3-month virtual course, with 16 asynchronous video lessons, 6 live sessions (three hours each), and up to 5 optional personal and/or professional coaching sessions tailored to individual needs. Each VLA participant will receive a comprehensive workbook and access to a library of practical resources, tools, and templates to advance their leadership skill and the mission of their organization. Should they choose to, participants may engage in a practicum project to apply their learning in real time. Practicum projects could be as simple as something already on a participant’s work plate (i.e. a new policy, training, workflow, implementation, etc.) or as expansive as a full assessment of the organization.

The Academy

The Fellowship

Hone Expertise and Gain Valuable Experience

Venture Leader Fellows will practice knowledge gained in the Venture Leader Academy through paid practicum of nonprofit consulting. Fellows will receive coaching from expert VLC staff mentors and work on a team where appropriate. In this program, Fellows will hone their expertise in addition to gaining valuable experience with which they can prove their readiness to perform at the executive level. Dedicated weekly 2-hour sessions will support continued learning and client performance.

In addition to client work, Fellows will demonstrate mastery of Executive Change Champion competencies through publishing written work to elevate change championship in the sector and/or share their own expertise; and completing a final Competency Review, including feedback from clients, VLC mentor, and self-assessment.

The Fellowship


Something short and snappy

The short-term outcomes for Academy cohort members:

  • Academy members demonstrate mastery of content by successfully conducting an organizational assessment.
  • Academy members sustain an ongoing awareness of their personal alignments to the work and use that to build and strengthen their networks in the sector, as measured by regular self-report.

The intermediate outcomes, to be achieved by Fellows by the end of their practicum:

  • Fellows write and publish a piece conveying important lessons learned or experience gained around impact-based change within the sector.
  • Fellows strengthen their aptitudes as change champions by demonstrating progress on the Executive Change Champion Competencies, as seen on 360 feedback from clients and VLC staff and on competency-based self-assessments.
  • Fellows actively work as change champions in their issue area, as demonstrated by annual surveys of Fellowship alumni.

As more change champions pursue impactful change work, the sector as a whole will benefit from the following long-term outcomes:

  • The sector recognizes the core competencies of an executive change champion, articulates the necessity of these competencies, and trains and/ or hires specifically for those competencies.
  • The sector is infused with change champions who are closing gaps of inequity and injustice.

Take a Deeper Dive into VLA

Take a Deeper Dive into VLA