A Professional Development Program for Senior-Level Public Servants

About ELI

The Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) was established in 1987 as a program dedicated to grooming African American managers for the rigors of executive positions in public service organizations. As cities, counties, and states face an enormous array of critical problems – including escalating crime rates, growing demands for social services, rapidly deteriorating infrastructures, and diminishing Federal aid to localities – the need for talented, energetic, creative, resourceful, and capable executives from diverse backgrounds is increasingly present. ELI was established to sharpen the skills and capabilities of an elite core of managers and administrators who have already demonstrated superior achievement as assistant city managers, department heads, bureau chiefs, and the like.

This program is one of the few training Institutes in the United States that offers a curriculum mixed with both academic based theory and practitioner based experience through partnerships with universities and cities throughout the country. The ability to compare and contrast the impacts of urban renewal, transportation policy, economic development strategies, leadership, and other public policies, in seven cities over an eight-month period, is unique to participants of the Executive Leadership Institute. ELI candidates also have the exceptional opportunity to interface with elected and appointed administrators who grapple with public policy decisions daily, citizens who live in these communities and universities that study and analyze public management application and theory.

The Executive Leadership Institute has been developed to meet the needs of experienced managers and administrators. This program is designed for leaders – assistants or deputy/city managers and department directors – upon whom the chief executive officer relies to carry out policies, implement programs, and solve problems. We are particularly interested in admitting those persons intent on securing the position of city/county manager or agency chief within the next 2 to 5 years. In addition to aspiring to achieve an executive position, applicants should possess strong academic training, including a bachelor’s degree (required) and a master’s degree (preferred). Persons who fulfill these minimum requirements, demonstrate leadership skills, and a commitment to social responsibility will be considered. If you are selected as a candidate, you will be expected to become an active member of NFBPA, as well.


The curriculum for the Executive Leadership Institute was developed with the advice and counsel of current and former city managers, and faculty at the nation’s most prestigious schools of public administration. The program is divided into major and minor curriculum topics. Major topics are those in which the candidates spend eight or more hours of classroom instruction and discussion. Some of the major ELI curriculum topic areas are listed below:

  • Strategic Visioning for Public Organizations
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making and Communication
  • Policy Development/Analysis
  • Modeling/Organizational Theory
  • Partnership Building (Public Public/Public Private)
  • Resource Development and Allocation
  • Local Government Management

Minor curriculum topics are usually covered in one or two classroom seminars and include the following:

  • Community/Economic Development
  • Globalization/Multiculturalism
  • Intergovernmental Relationships
  • Time Management
  • Labor Negotiations/Collective Bargaining
  • Environmental Management
  • Change Management
  • Community Building/Citizen Engagement

In addition to regularly scheduled seminars and workshops, ELI provides candidates with an opportunity to interact with prominent individuals from the private and public sectors. Past executive roundtable leaders include Mayors, City and County Managers, Public Administration faculty, NFBPA Board members and past presidents; and other highly respected and prominent Black public, corporate, and civic leaders.

The application for participation in the Executive Leadership Institute must be received by July 30. Applicants will be evaluated in the following areas: education, professional experience, leadership experience, social responsibility and commitment, and writing/analytical ability. Participants in the Executive Leadership Institute attend training sessions scheduled over an eight-month period, starting in September of each year and typically ending in April. Candidates in ELI remain on their jobs during the course of the program, and spend approximately 15 to 18 workdays away from the office. Successful completion of the Institute curriculum requires attendance at every training session. The typical schedule for the Institute is as follows: candidates arrive at the training site on Wednesday evening; training sessions are held on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; Sunday is a travel day.

The tuition for participation in the Executive Leadership Institute is $6200. This fee covers the cost for instruction, venues, accommodations, breakfast and lunch during sessions, and registration fees for NFBPA’s annual conference – FORUM. The total transportation cost for all program sessions and the annual conference are an additional $4000. Participants can pay NFBPA directly, or they can choose to make their own travel arrangements provided they agree to adhere to the travel schedules set by NFBPA. Lodging costs associated with the annual FORUM conference are not included in the above fees. Various strategies for securing sponsorship have been employed by members of past ELI classes. The overwhelming majority of participants are sponsored by their local and state government employers. Others have successfully supported their participation in the Institute through a combination of corporate, foundation and personal funds. NFBPA staff are available to provide advice on strategies for securing sponsorship to candidates who are accepted into the program.


Sessions for the Executive Leadership Institute have been conducted at the following host universities:



cau clevelandstate Duke_logo FIULogo_H_CMYK Harvard Howard_university_wordmark Kansas Lousiville Minnesota Penn sjsu_horiz Syracuse-LogoTexas


Executive Leadership Institute – Program Schedule:

  • March – July 15 Recruitment Period
  • July 30 Application Deadline
  • August Selection/Notification
  • September Opening Ceremony/First Week of Training Begins
  • October – March Training (Wed.-Sun.)
  • April Graduation Ceremony during FORUM