The Emerging Leaders Program is designed exclusively for the next generation of leaders in our state legislatures. The program is held every July on the campus of  the University of Virginia in partnership with the distinguished Darden School of Business. 

Up to 50 of the best and brightest state legislators from across the nation take part in 4 days of challenging classroom discussions led by Professor Ed Freeman and his colleagues at the Darden School. Since 2005, over 500 legislators have benefited from their experience at the ELP, and a significant number have continued their careers in public service, many rising to positions of leadership in their states.

Through this unique program, SLLF and Darden seek to broaden the perspectives of these men and women, instilling in them a clear understanding of their responsibilities as custodians of the public’s trust. We seek to inspire them to meet the challenges of the future with confidence and vigor.  

Janssen Quote

The Process

To identify the best candidates, the SLLF relies on the judgment and recommendations of the current leadership in each state legislature. Every House Speaker, Senate President, and House and Senate Minority Leader is invited to nominate first or second term legislators to apply to this program.  

Each year SLLF receives more than 200 nominations for 50 seats at Darden. Nominees are asked to complete a detailed questionnaire designed to give the Selection Committee a clearer sense of their dedication to public service and what contributions they feel they could make to the program.

Several months in advance, participants are sent a packet of books and essays that will form the basis for their Socratic discussions in the classroom. The “students” quickly become immersed in the Jeffersonian-inspired teaching methods which involve case studies, problem-solving exercises, small group discussions, and an abundance of camaraderie, good food, and cheer!

Graduates of the Emerging Leaders Program will carry with them the memories and friendships they formed during their time on Mr. Jefferson’s campus. But what is perhaps a more enduring legacy of their experience will be the fact that they learned to work together with a politically, socially and culturally diverse group of men and women. For their time at Darden, partisanship and ideology are replaced with open-mindedness and mutual respect for people who do not always think as they do. In this age of harsh partisanship, injecting a bit of civility into the debate will serve these men and women—and our country—well. 

For more information, contact Papalinka Paradise at: or 508-771-3821.

2017 Emerging Leaders Program Events

July 10 – 13
Emerging Leaders Program
UVA/Darden School of Business – Charlottesville, Virginia

2016 Emerging Leaders Program Events

July 11 – 14
Emerging Leaders Program
UVA/Darden School of Business – Charlottesville, Virginia

Click here for 2016 Participant List

Click here for 2015 Participant List