The Leadership Initiative hosts and co-hosts policymakers and other public leaders who shed light on how they responded to adversity, their successes,  and even, how they failed. Through the speakers’ stories, students learn how to navigate challenges and expand their conception of what a leader for the public good looks like. Often, in addition to the public events, speakers allow time for networking with students in small group sessions.

Leaders Model the Way

Student Session with Policy Makers

Policymakers share about their own leadership journeys in small group student sessions. These inspiring sessions offer students the opportunity to hear the more personal side of the leader’s story, ask candid questions, and learn how leaders navigate through complex decisions. Upcoming events will be listed here as registrations are available.
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Past Speakers

Greg Harden with Parker Tracey

Community Conversation with Greg Harden

Develop Self-Leadership

The oft-used phrase in sports “Control the controllables,” is as applicable to leadership in public policy. The phrase sits framed on Greg Harden’s desk and is the topic of his book, Stay Sane in an Insane World. Harden joined leadership coach Parker Tracey to discuss the importance of leadership. Read more

Matt Maasdam sits with Ford School students during a leadership luncheon.

Leadership Through Teamwork

Lead high-performing teams

Matt Maasdam shared tips he picked up during his experience as a Navy SEAL, military aide to the President, and member of the National Counterterrorism Center. He spoke with Javed Ali and students in this lunch-time workshop. Read more.

Munoz student panel

Student Session: Cecilia Muñoz

Live your values

Former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz spoke candidly about the role her Latinx heritage played in shaping her work at UNIDOS and her relationships at the White House. Students gained a clearer perspective on the nuances of policy development and the significance of diversity in shaping inclusive and effective public initiatives.


Student Session: John Tien

Collaborate across agencies

Former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security John Tien discussed the importance of cross-agency collaboration in national security careers.  Using the framework of the federal Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) needed for advancement to the Senior Executive Service, he shared examples from his career of the importance of developing these leadership competencies.