Testimony from Graduates

With testimony from numerous graduates and employers, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) has proven itself to be a program that supports nonprofit human service professionals setting out on their journeys to achieve executive-level leadership.

It also makes succession planning decidedly easier for nonprofit human service organizations by offering a concrete, affordable tool.

“The networking with others is fabulous, and the connections you make at ELI will last well into the future.”

Oriana Carey, CEO of Alliance member Coalition for Children, Youth & Families in Milwaukee

  • 2014 ELI graduate

“My ELI experience will be a lasting piece of my ongoing professional development. I often reflect upon the information I learned during my two years in the program.”


“The Executive Leadership Institute connected me to the most innovative leaders in our field—not only through the amazing workshop sessions but through the collaborative relationships that were developed between my peers.”

Michelle Pendzimas, vice president of clinical services at Spofford, an agency of Alliance member Cornerstones of Care

  • 2014 ELI graduate

“I learned so much and I cannot wait to see what I am capable of achieving.”


ELI was a powerful leadership encounter, equipping us with knowledge, challenging us with innovations and driving us into self-reflection."

Ruth Wiseman, president & CEO of Chileda Institute in La Crosse, Wisconsin

  • 2014 ELI graduate


“I loved every moment of the ELI experience. The opportunity to meet with other nonprofit leaders and share and exchange ideas and solutions was priceless.”

Wendy McKinney, development director at Alliance member Neighborhood House Association in San Diego, California

  • 2013 ELI graduate

“The curriculum was substantive, timely, and immediately useful. The location was stimulating and motivating on one of America’s most beautiful and historical campuses. Most of all, the faculty (including guest speakers) was knowledgeable, organized, well-informed, creative, and impressive to say the least.”


“ELI was a life enriching experience, both personally and professionally.”

John Horgan, campus director at Alliance member George Junior Republic in Grove City, Pennsylvania

  • 2012 ELI graduate

“The career-oriented curriculum encompassed all of the areas necessary for administrators in the human service field. The networking opportunities with some of the brightest leaders from across the country were a bonus.”


“ELI significantly supported my own professional growth and ability to perform more effectively in my new role as CEO.”

Jenni Frumer, CEO of Alliance member Alpert Jewish Family & Children's Service in West Palm Beach, Florida

  • 2010 ELI graduate

“ELI offers a unique opportunity to learn with peers, and the rich sharing of current management and leadership knowledge in our field—by participants and faculty—far exceeded my expectations.


“Even after 20 years in the field and years of prior business and management experience and degrees, ELI brought new perspective to my leadership approach.”

Joy Ryan, executive vice president of operations at Alliance member The Village Family Service Center in Fargo, North Dakota

  • 2011 ELI graduate

“After my completion of the program, our agency made a commitment to send all our emerging leaders through the program. It has created common language and connection within our most critical leadership staff.”


"Where else would you get this level of supportive education?"

Bill Sabado, president & CEO of Seamen’s Society for Children and Families in Staten Island, New York

  • 2009 ELI graduate
  • Promoted to deputy executive director of Alliance member St. Vincent's Services in Brooklyn, N.Y. after graduating from ELI
  • Appointed President & CEO of St. Vincent's Services in 2012

“(ELI) provided training on how to be a leader and a manager in these tough economic times, which was obviously very relevant. The leadership development and management skills they are teaching right now are timeless.”

“ELI does fortify a sense of network; that we aren’t in it alone. We realize we are all facing the same struggles and our frustrations on the programming level are the same or similar to the operations level and executive level. But we are just looking at it in different ways.”


"I have been able to broaden my horizons in what it takes to be a leader and a CEO."

Marcel Lue, former director of residential services at Alliance member Boysville in Converse, Texas

  • 2009 ELI graduate

“I would tell anyone who is going to attend to go in prepared to work. This is not a standard ‘conference.’ This training involves going in from the first minute and the learning begins.”


"(My organization) gains because I am more vision-focused."

Marissa Espinoza, Wraparound program manager at Alliance member Casa Pacifica, Camarillo, Calif.

  • 2009 ELI graduate

“Casa Pacifica gains because I am more vision-focused now. I am a middle manager right now and I have learned what a person striving to become an executive leader has to have. I can now say I have many of those qualities. Having that type of perspective in someone who is involved in the day-to-day operations can help support the mission of the organization.”

“What has helped me a lot was organizational change management, being aware of the impact of changes on staff. I learned ways to maintain staff morale, encourage motivation, and make sure staff members are involved in the process.”

Direct questions to the Alliance Center on Leadership.

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