Skip to Content

Emerging Leaders Academy

2015 - 2016 Overview and Guidelines

What is the National Education Association Higher Ed Emerging Leaders Academy?

The NEA Higher Education Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA) is a three session training program over a nine month period that is open to NEA dues paying higher education members from all categories of higher education who meet the program’s eligibility requirements. Candidates can apply for the program directly but must be endorsed by their state association or higher education affiliate.

Why ELA?

The purpose of ELA is to provide hands-on training for new and future leaders of higher education affiliates to strengthen the long-term viability and effectiveness of these locals and their state associations. ELA will also provide emerging leaders an opportunity to become part of a national network of former ELA participants and graduates. Finally, to create a set of new leaders who will be committed to help move the agenda of the member organization and become new activists and potential organizers for their local and state affiliates.

What will I learn?

The ELA coursework focuses on four major areas:

  • The principles of unionism with an emphasis on effective collective action in states with and without collective bargaining;*
  • How to use the structure, resources, culture, and work of NEA effectively as a local leader;
  • Skill building in areas such as issue organizing, member recruitment and mobilization, and communication and message development to help strengthen local unions/associations;
  • Self-reflection and group work in leadership and group dynamics.

*ELA is not intended to be a training institute for collective bargaining or grievance processing.

What kind of time commitment does the ELA require?

There are three training sessions over a nine-month period.

The training schedule for the three sessions is as follows:

  • Session #1: July 22-26, 2015—5 training days (DC Metro Area)
  • Session #2: November 9-13, 2015—4 training days (Site TBD)
  • Session #3: March 8-13, 2016—2 training days plus attendance at the NEA National Higher Education Conference – 3 days (Site TBD)

*Please note that session dates are subject to change.

NEA covers all expenses allowable under its travel guideline for all training activities, including attendance at the Higher Education Conference.

Who is eligible to apply?

All categories of NEA higher education members; full-or part-time/contingent faculty, Education Support Professionals (ESPs), academic (non/instructional) professionals, and graduate assistants as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • Candidates should have an interest in becoming activists through demonstrated leadership potential and a commitment to building a strong local union/association.
  • Candidates must be open to new experiences, be committed to being respectful of their classmates and trainers, participate in the sessions in good faith and complete all ELA assignments during and between scheduled sessions.
  • Candidates must embrace ELA’s philosophy of inclusivity and understand that they will be working with classmates from all sectors of higher education membership.
  • Candidates must be actively involved in their state and local associations, understand the importance of collective action, and the right of employees to organize and participate in unions. We are looking for energetic candidates who will most likely contribute to the long-term growth and development of their unions/associations.
  • Candidates must commit to attend and participate in all of the sessions and all of the segments of each session of ELA.
  • Candidates must identify a local or state mentor/coach prior to the first training session that will support them throughout the year-long program. Please note that the NEA will assist you in identifying a mentor/coach if needed.

What happens if I cannot attend all three sessions?

We understand that personal and professional emergencies can arise, but participants must make every effort to attend all three sessions. Nominees who are selected must complete the entire first session in order to attend the two subsequent sessions. If an emergency arises, ELA participants commit to notifying the NEA Higher Education Program as soon as possible. Missing of sessions may result in not successfully completing this program.

What happens after the ELA sessions are completed?

ELA graduates must apply academy learnings and skills to the work of their local unions/associations by working on committees, running for association offices, and demonstrate activism by contributing to the long-term growth and development of their unions/associations.

How do I apply? I am interested.

Download the Application


Applications must be received by Wednesday, April 1, 2015.

Once you complete the application packet, submit it to Cara A. Elmore, ELA coordinator, via e-mail at You will receive a confirmation email from Cara once your application is received.

Application submission guidelines require you to have the endorsement of your state association or NEA Higher Ed local affiliate in order to be considered. Please be sure to review all of the application guidelines and complete all of the requirements of the application process prior to submitting your packet to NEA.

Once we receive your application packet, you will be notified if you are selected for an interview. Members selected for the program will be contacted in late May. All interviews will be conducted virtually.

Note: If you are accepted into the program, you will be required to share lodging with other members of the program. If you opt not to share a room, you will be required to pay the difference in the cost of lodging alone.


  • Higher Ed 2016 Emerging Leaders App
  • ELA 2016 Overview & Guidelines
  • ELA Flyer
  • ELA Brochure
  • ELA Bookmark

Higher Ed eAdvocate

Stay up-to-date with the Higher Education eAdvocate — a monthly email newsletter featuring news and updates from NEA's Office of Higher Education.

Email Address

First Name

Last Name




College Affordability

Urge Congress to make college more affordable.