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NEA Professional Learning

Apply for the NEA ESP Leadership Institute

Grow and enhance your knowledge and skills as a leader of your schools, associations, and communities.
ESP members of the 2023 ESP Leadership Institute Cohort smiling at their graduation ceremony
Published: 06/2023
This resource originally appeared on

At a Glance

The NEA ESP Leadership Institute (ESPLI) is a powerful leadership development program grounded in diversity, equity, and cultural competence and offered exclusively to NEA ESP members nationwide. The program brings together the overarching NEA Leadership Competencies to train NEA ESP members to be influential and effective leaders in their schools, associations, and communities.


  • Adult Learning
  • ESP Professional Growth Continuum
  • Peer Mentoring & Collaboration
  • Professional Leadership


  • Develop skills in advocacy, communication, leadership, organizing, SEL, and more
  • Connect with a cohort of ESP leaders from across the country
  • Grow as influential leaders of your schools, associations, and communities


Audience Role

  • Education Support Professional

Session Length

Approximately 1+ year

Session Format

Virtual, In-Person, or Blended

Additional Considerations

ESPLI has been designed by ESP members for ESP members. The program requires in-person trainings, virtual meetings, and webinars, as well as outside readings and homework. To graduate from the program, participants must also identify, implement, and present a capstone project that reflects their growth as an ESP leader and puts into practice at least one skill or content area they have learned from ESPLI.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be an active NEA ESP member in good standing.
  • Must have been an NEA member in good standing for at least the last two years.
  • Must commit to participating fully in all in-person and virtual sessions and activities, including completing and presenting a capstone project.
  • Must commit to utilizing the skills learned to further association goals and priorities and elevate ESP careers.
  • Must provide documentation from employer approving release time for all in-person sessions.  
  • Must submit the online application by midnight EDT on August 11, 2023.
  • Must submit the video requirement by midnight EDT on August 14, 2023

Submit an application

Program Curriculum

Participants of ESPLI will engage in thorough and targeted training across an array of leadership areas, including:

  • Social and Emotional Intelligence
  • Use of Self
  • True Colors
  • Risk Taking and Change Management
  • Racial and Social Justice
  • Communication and Presentation Skills
  • Political Action and Advocacy
  • Organizing and Capacity Building
  • Time Management and Goal Setting
  • Team Building
  • Decision Making
  • Leading Change  

In-Person Meeting Dates and Funding

NEA will fully fund participants to attend all in-person sessions as permitted under the NEA travel guidelines, including transportation, lodging, meals, and substitute pay or salary reimbursement. Travel and lodging will be covered through NEA's direct billing process. All other approved travel expenses will be covered through NEA's non-staff travel stipend process. Affiliates incur no financial obligations for this program.

The first two meetings will be held virtually and are tentatively scheduled for November and December 2023 (dates and platforms are TBD).  

The in-person trainings will tentatively be held on the following dates. Meetings noted with an asterisk are mandatory. Note: These dates include travel days.

  • *February 15-19, 2024 
  • March 19-25, 2024 (NEA ESP National Conference) (Optional)
  • *July 20-24, 2024 
  • *October 10-14, 2024
  • March 21-24, 2025 (Graduation at the NEA ESP National Conference) (Optional)

All members accepted to the program must secure release time for all in-person sessions and provide documentation from their employer approving the release time.  

Submit an application

Questions? Contact Jennie Young at j[email protected]

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