The Emerging Leaders Network ended in 2011. These pages are no longer updated, but are online for archival purposes.

ELN Key Findings: A Track Record of Impact

Jump To: Findings | Diversity | Faculty | Voices | Goals | Impacts | Developing Leaders | Achievements

A total of 77 emerging leaders have participated in the ELN program since it started in 2003. Most alumni are interviewed 6, 12 and 18 months after graduating from the program, and many alumni supervisors have been interviewed.

Key Findings

Alumni consistently report that ELN is a powerful and motivating force; many call it a life-changing event. The high success rates suggest that the ELN is building a network of confident leaders committed to utilizing collaborative leadership skills, to coaching others, and positively affecting their communities. Nearly all alumni report that they enjoy a broader network, more successful partnerships, a greater capacity to assess environments for collaboration, and an increased commitment to empower others. They spend more time on self-reflection and report a greater willingness to share power.


ELN Class of 2008Participants are primarily women (81%) and most often work in governmental public health when they enter the program (59%). While most of our participants have been Caucasian, nearly 40% have been African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, and of multi-racial backgrounds. Many are immigrants or refugees. Participants range in age from 20s to 50s, are in all stages of their career, and come from a variety of health sectors and areas of expertise.


Faculty and guest speakers are current leaders who exhibit a deep understanding of community-building and leadership development. We recruit experts in group facilitation and experiential teaching, with a capacity to engage participants in ways that touch their minds, hearts, and spirits, and who understand our diverse demographic.

"What the ELN brings to the field of leadership development is a unique perspective on collaboration among communities — public, private and nonprofit communities. ELN participants bring an array of diverse experiences and perspectives to this collaborative effort, which increases their potential to effect real and meaningful change, both for themselves as individuals and for the communities and health concerns they represent and serve." (Pamela J. Belknap, M.S., M.Ed. ELN Instructor)

"It is clear to me that we cannot succeed in giving a leadership course to someone and make them a leader, anymore than we can give an art course to someone and make them an artist. We can, however, provide a sanctuary for motivated learners to draw out of one another the capacities and qualities each will need to successfully lead in complex situations." (Ryan Church ELN Faculty)

Voices of Change

Here is what some alumni had to say in anonymous program evaluations:

"The ELN helped me be bold."

"Because of the ELN experience, I joined the Minnesota Public Health Association and accepted a place on the governing council. The ELN connected me to the entire public health system in a new way. I now know that together we can take on tomorrow's challenges."

"I'm so much more confident about pitching ideas and working with others to get changes in the way we do things. I would say the ELN really increased my confidence as a leader."

"The ELN is action oriented, the network acts as a support system coaching and challenging."

"As a result of ELN, I've explored my values and dreams, and now have a clear direction of where I want to go and the goals that I want to accomplish."

"This program provided me with the tools I needed to practice collaborative leadership right here, right now."

Program Goals

  • Increase diversity among Minnesota's public health leaders.
  • Build collaborative leadership networks across public, private and nonprofit sectors that advance public health.
  • Enhance skills and build confidence of potential public health leaders in collaborative leadership.

Types of Impact

A comprehensive evaluation suggested strong agreement that a diverse network is important to achieve professional goals. In fact, networking and relationship building was identified by most alumni as the program feature that had the most impact on them. Alumni say that the experience has substantially strengthened knowledge, intentions and actions related to collaborative leadership. Because alumni represent individuals from the community health field, these results affect a spectrum of industry sectors.

Leadership Development Plan

Over a year after completing the program, two-thirds of the alumni are still using their leadership development plan as a framework to pursue or evaluate opportunities. Within fifteen months of graduation, almost 1 in 5 had enrolled in a Masters of Public Health program.

Leadership Achievements

Evaluation is an important component of the ELN program. To date:

  • Seventy-five percent indicated that the ELN influenced new leadership opportunities through increased confidence. Some suggested that without the ELN, they never would have sought or considered the opportunity.
  • Many alumni say they now take deliberate action to engage their community earlier, more intensively, and more honestly. They report that they feel encouraged to take new risks.
  • Initial achievements after leaving the program are most often related to community mobilization, increased participation, and satisfaction at alumni-organized events. Many alumni link these successes to ELN participation.
  • New emerging leaders quickly apply the principles of collaborative leadership, enjoy success as a result, and, due to the influence of the ELN, readily identify and pursue desirable outcomes.