Phoenix Leaders Program: A jump start to your leadership journey

Elon students invest in their leadership journey by joining the Phoenix Leaders Program hosted by the Center for Leadership.

The Center for Leadership kicked off its fall Phoenix Leaders Program (PLP) in October with 27 first- and second-year participants.

Now in its sixth year, this cohort-based program focuses on community building and developing leadership skills in students who are looking to make an impact on campus. Spread over seven weeks, participants attend leadership development workshops and an off-campus weekend retreat at YMCA Camp Hanes in King, North Carolina. Session topics include the CliftonStrengths inventory, identity and its intersection with your leadership journey, inclusive leadership, emotional intelligence, and aligning your values with your campus involvements and personal actions.

The fall 2023 cohort has participated in a variety of team-building and problem-solving activities with the support and guidance of a peer mentor.  Through these activities, students strengthen their understanding of relationship building in groups.

“This group of students has been passionately engaged in their experience in the PLP program and I’m so pleased to say it’s resulted in strong bonds amongst the group.  I’ve really enjoyed seeing their friendships and connections being made,” said Olivia Brown, assistant director for the Center for Leadership.

Megan Papadopolo ’26 serves as one of five PLP peer mentors this year.  When asked about her role, she shared, “Being a mentor allowed me to connect with students who I would not have gotten to normally! I got to not only help them develop their leadership, but also learn from their experiences and expand upon my own leadership.”

A significant component of the Phoenix Leaders Program is the off-campus retreat. Being able to take students on a trip where distractions are removed allows them to focus on their development and increases their self-awareness as a leader. The Phoenix Leaders program asks students to step out of their comfort zone and activities like true talk and zip-lining will do that!

“Phoenix Leaders has broadened my perspective on leadership by introducing new strategies of engagement, enhancing my understanding of how various leadership styles impact those being led, and providing unique insights into how identities and connectedness help build team moral,” said Oliver Keicher ’27. “Elon students will have the opportunity to learn all of these skills through interactive games, retreat activities, and self-reflections.”

Tierza Watts, director of the Center for Leadership, believes that the Phoenix Leaders Program is an excellent experiential learning opportunity. She hopes that more students take advantage of this great experiential learning opportunity.

“As an undergraduate student, I too had the opportunity to join a program like this. It gave me the opportunity to make friends, set goals for involvement, and navigate my concerns about balancing classwork and all the clubs I wanted to join.”

The Center for Leadership will host the next session of the Phoenix Leaders Program in the spring of 2024 on Friday afternoons. The program will run from Feb. 16 – April 5, 2024.  Faculty and staff are invited to nominate a student for this program by emailing Olivia Brown (  Students can apply for the spring session by Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.