History of the Center for Leadership

Isabella Cannon founded the Leadership Fellows Program in 1989 and the first cohort of Fellows graduated in 1993. In an effort to make leadership education accessible to all Elon students, the Isabella Cannon Leadership Program (ICLP) was created in 1992. While the Fellows program is a smaller cohort of students selected while in high school, ICLP was a large, open program available to all Elon students.

Born of the same vision that generated the concept of the Elon Experiences and generously supported by the late Isabella Cannon, Fellows and ICLP provided a positive co-curricular learning environment for more than 1,000 students over the past 30 years.  The Leadership Fellows Program and ICLP were the main focus of the Center for Leadership for many years. As the Center for Leadership grew, so did Elon’s commitment to preparing students to be global citizens and informed leaders motivated by concern for the common good. The Center for Leadership’s program and offerings continued to grow.

In 2006, the Leadership Studies minor was launched. In 2013, Leadership Fellows deepened their leadership journey by requiring the Leadership Studies minor as part of their Fellows experiences.

In 2011, the Center for Leadership and the Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity Education (previously the Multicultural Center) took two independent conferences and collaboratively created a new learning opportunity for students. The previous conferences, the Leadership Development Institute and the Diversity Leadership Conference, existed separately but highlighted many of the same themes. As a result of true collaboration, the Intersect: Diversity and Leadership Conference was created, a literal intersection of diversity and leadership. Today the Intersect Conference continues to grow with nearly 250 participants coming from over a dozen colleges and universities both in North Carolina and beyond.

In 2013, the Center for Leadership, in partnership with Residence Life, created the Leaders in a Global World Living Learning Community, an opportunity for first- and second-year students to live together and engage in conversations in their residential space about leadership. For the first 5 years, LGW resided within the Global Neighborhood; now LGW residents live in the East Neighborhood.

In 2014, ICLP was replaced with the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Program. All students in the LEAD Program engaged in service, mentorship, and reflection. In 2018, the LEAD Program was made even more accessible to students by the Center for Leadership by creating Leadershops, or interactive leadership workshops.

The work of the Center for Leadership continues. The Center for Leadership is committed to helping students graduate with a greater leadership self-efficacy, the desire and ability to work collaboratively within diverse communities of people, as well as have the confidence and competence to put innovative ideas into action for positive change.

Additional programs that continue to grow and change including the Leadership ELR, the Leadership Prize, and Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society.

Recognizing that leadership happens in many contexts, the Center for Leadership collaborates with colleagues and departments all over campus to ensure students’ leadership development is infused where they find meaning and purpose in their passions.

And, to think – it all started with an Elon alum deemed in N.C. as a “little old lady in tennis shoes.”