The Emerging Leaders Program is designed specifically 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 this program, and a significant number have continued their careers in public service. Many have achieved 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.  

The Process

To identify the best candidates, 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 could make to the program.

Several months in advance, participants are sent a packet of books and essays that will form the basis for Socratic discussions in the classroom. Participants quickly become immersed in the Jefferson-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 memories and friendships they formed during their time on Mr. Jefferson’s campus.

But perhaps the most enduring legacy of their experience will be having worked with a politically, socially, and culturally diverse group of peers. While at Darden, open-mindedness is emphasized, and respect for others who may think differently. In a time of harsh partisanship in our country’s politics, an extended experience of civility could be important for all.

The nomination process for this program begins every year at the end of February.

For more information, contact Papalinka Paradise at: pparadise@sllf.org or 508-771-3821.

Click here for 2017 Participant List

Click here for 2016 Participant List

Click here for 2015 Participant List