SSP Leadership Academy Overview

The 2020-2021 Leadership Academy will look quite different in practice than its former iterations. While the Academy traditionally takes place over the course of three in-person weekends at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated that SSP shift Academy operations to take place virtually.

The change in operations actually widens the doors for Academy applicants, as no travel time or fully immersive participation will be required. Traditionally, we have been unable to accept applicants who have scheduling conflicts or are geographically distant from major airports, and have also been limited by our grant-funded travel budget to a small cohort. This new model should make the program accessible to a wider number of SSP staff alumni!

Program Logistics

  • Virtual monthly cohort gatherings
    • December – May
    • Will begin on Zoom, integrating other platforms to keep fellows refreshed
    • Led by a rotation of facilitators, connected to either SSP or Wesley Theological Seminary
    • Scheduled to accommodate fellow and facilitator availability
  • Pre-session materials
    • Depending on the session, some facilitators might ask fellows to complete a pre-session reading or similar assignment. These should not require more than 30 minutes of your time.
  • Small group mentorship
    • Between full group sessions, small group connections within the Academy cohort will be available throughout the year, supported by mentors that are part of the greater SSP network

Contact us with any questions you have about the program!

Applications for the 2021 program have closed.

Meet the Facilitators

Session One: What is Leadership?

SSP HQ Staff:

  • Megan Walsh, SSP Executive Director
  • Veronica Russell, SSP Director of Engagement & Impact
  • Sarah Reynolds, SSP Program Manager & 2018 Leadership Academy Alum

Moe Leneweaver, SSP Board & Assistant Director of Recruitment at the DART Center

Session Two: Leadership & You

Elijah Ferebee, Co-Director of Recruitment at Wesley Theological Seminary

Elizabeth Pruchnicki, Recruiter at Wesley Theological Seminary

Session Three: Team Leadership

McKenna Culbertson, 2015 Leadership Academy Alum

Session Four: Leadership & Change

Rob Rynders, Founder & CEO at 1703: A Faith Collaborative

Session Five: Sustainable Leadership

Laura Steed, Director of Religious & Spiritual Life at University of the Pacific & SSP Board alum

Session Six: Applied Leadership

Chelsea SpyresCo-Convening Minister at Riverfront Church & Current Student at Wesley Theological Seminary

Support the Academy

The Academy is traditionally funded through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and facilitated by faculty at Wesley Theological Seminary. This year, GBHEM has halted funding for programs due to COVID-19 and our usual faculty are unavailable – but at SSP we are committed to developing our young leaders nonetheless!

There are multiple ways the greater SSP community can support this program: through direct engagement as a facilitator and/or mentor, and financially.

Facilitators & Mentors

Our vision for facilitators and mentors is to connect the greater SSP network, providing the near-peer support and guidance to staff that they in turn provide to youth through our programs.

  • Facilitators will take on the planning, execution, and summary of one or more virtual monthly sessions with Academy fellows. These can be scheduled based on the availability of the facilitator and the Academy cohort. If you feel passionate about a certain aspect of leadership theory and are interested in guiding fellows through these concepts in a structured format, this opportunity is for you!
  • Mentors will develop year-round connections with a small group of Academy fellows, and serve as the connecting thread between their virtual monthly gatherings. This is a more informal support role, fostering community connection among the cohort. If you feel passionate about developing relationships with young adults and guiding them in their self-discovery process, this opportunity is for you!

We will provide additional guidelines and orientation for both facilitators and mentors before beginning any work with the Academy.

Financial Support

This program is partially funded thanks to resources leftover from last year’s Academy. However, we still have a ways to go to cover expenses associated with this program. To support the Leadership Academy financially, we invite you to make a donation to SSP’s Leadership Development Fund.

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