HBI Nonprofit Executive Leadership Circles

Nonprofit Leadership

Nonprofit leaders, whose jobs in the best of times can be challenging, are especially stretched in these tough times. There has been a growing demand by nonprofit executives for opportunities to develop stronger ties with other leaders to establish a network of peers to confide in, depend on, support, and grow with. The Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management offers Wisconsin nonprofit leaders a unique coaching and learning network.

The “Nonprofit Executive Leadership Circles” program provides facilitated discussions, peer coaching, mentoring, support, resources, and relationships. This Program will give nonprofit leaders the extra support they need to regularly address the challenging issues they face.

Based on an internationally known process called Action Learning, each Nonprofit Executive Leadership Circle comprises 6-10 nonprofit leaders committed to supporting one another. Discussions in the circles are confidential, supportive, and focused on learning and action. A trained and experienced facilitator helps participants identify goals and resolve individual challenges using the Circle. Participants typically meet once a month to (1) share insights and materials, (2) support and challenge each other, and (3) develop and keep action plans on track.


Nonprofit Executive Leadership Circles aim to:

  • Focuses on the needs of nonprofit Executive Directors & HR Managers, offering support to the top-level oversight of nonprofit organizations of various sizes and missions.
  • build relationships among leaders who may not always have the opportunity to work together and reduce feelings of isolation and “loneliness at the top”
  • promote emotional and moral support uniquely found in a safe and confidential setting with emphatic peers and provide a greater depth of learning through resonance and reflections from the peer group members
  • provide an opportunity for information and resource sharing, professional development, and skill-building
  • foster leadership development by providing a structure for pursuing goals that include accountability and expanded across to learning resources via peer group members
  • tap wisdom from each other’s own experiences and expertise rather than from outside experts



Like other Leadership Circle programs, participants will meet monthly in groups of 6-10 facilitated by an experienced coach for ten months throughout the year. Circle participants complete a brief registration form to help match individual leaders to a cohort of leaders with similar leadership responsibilities and life and work experiences. The number of Circles convened will be based on overall registrations.

There is a required annual membership fee of $300/year per participant.

Registrations for 2022-2023 are closed.

Please join us in June 2023.

A note about late registrations:

Since July 31, we have received many requests for late admission to the Executive Leadership Circle program. This year, it was decided to extend the registration period by an extra month to help resolve the late registration issues we’ve experienced in the past. With that extension, the new July 31 deadline remains hard and fast. Additionally, limiting the number of participants in each Circle (6-10) is vital to ensure the quality of the cohort experience. Unfortunately, at this time, all Circles are full, and we cannot consider any late applications/payments.
HBI will be creating new, additional Circles in the future, as there is significant growing interest. Be sure to mark your calendars for next year’s registration period from June-July 2023.


Questions? Contact Bryce Lord, Associate Director, Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management, at balord@uwm.edu or (414) 229-3176.