Excellence in Leadership Program (ELP)

Fostering excellence in leadership to create stronger, more sustainable Bay Area nonprofits.

Why the Excellence in Leadership Program?

The Excellence in Leadership Program (ELP) is a focused, immersive program with over 45 hours of teaching and coaching from expert Faculty and nonprofit professionals.

ELP has two main goals:

  • Develop strong personal leadership and problem solving skills
  • Apply these skills to the major nonprofit responsibilities and functions

The program is designed to guide participants through a logical and expert learning path. At the end of each day we share implementable tools and practical skills to apply immediately. Participants develop executive skills and a much deeper understanding of their executive responsibilities.

Who should apply? This program is geared to nonprofit leaders at the Executive Director and Senior Manager levels. Ideal candidates lead teams or manage individual contributors and are responsible for the overall health of the organization or a major function of the organization.

The Program

Leaders spoke, we listened.


After 16 years’ experience, over 500 Bay Area leaders graduating, and a yearlong process of listening to and learning from community leaders and domain experts, we have developed the Six Pillars of Nonprofit Leadership Excellence framework for ELP.

Along the journey to sustainability and high organizational performance, leaders need to master their personal leadership skills as well as the critical functions needed to achieve organizational impact. We find that leaders who commit to such a pursuit make the most progress by cultivating six core capacities.

These core capacities, the Six Pillars of Nonprofit Leadership Excellence, are the guiding principles of the ELP curriculum and serve as the program’s framework.



As a state of being that demonstrates positive and energetic connection with others, authentic self-expression, and the ability to inspire and motivate.


People-oriented Management

Ability to partner with Board and staff in order to establish an inclusive culture and empower everybody to achieve their



Being able to create effective processes for long-range planning and establish strategic priorities to realize the organization’s vision.



Linking strategic and operational planning with the organization’s resources. Help monitor the organization’s finances and budgeting process.


Programmatic Effectivenesss

Ability to transform strategic goals into an organized and well-designed framework for effective programs and



Create realistic financial objectives and development plans. Being able to cultivate long-lasting relationships for effective and sustainable fundraising.

Spring 2021 Online -
Dates Just Announced!

March 16, 23, April 1, 6, 13, 20, 29, May 4, 11, 18,
9:00am – 12:00pm


Welcome & Orientation – Opening Remarks, ELP Program Overview, Introductions

A presentation and discussion facilitated by CVNL’s CEO.  Current nonprofit trends affecting the sector and nonprofit leaders (local, regional)

Cultivating leadership competencies that build personal resilience and  inspire others.

A deeper dive into leadership resilience, authenticity, and connection.

Tools to maximize strategic impact and lead through organizational change.

High impact program design that amplifies your organization and the people and communities you serve.

The essentials you need to lead, ask the right questions, evaluate and fiscally manage with confidence.

What it takes to create a culture of development in your organization. Strategies for donor prospecting and cultivation, tools for building a successful fundraising practice.

Roles and responsibilities of board members, decision-making, board continuity, and best governance practices.

9:00am-12:00pm. The connection between financial goals, marketing and donor acquisition, retention and motivation.

12:00pm-1:15pm. Participant De-Brief, Program Evaluation, Wrap-Up, Final Remarks, Sharing.


  • Spring 2021 Dates: March 16, 23, April 1, 6, 13, 20, 29, May 4 (date to be confirmed), 11, 18, 9:00am – 12:00pm. Last day ends at 1:15pm.
  • Tuition: $1,450 for CVNL members; $1,750 for non-members. ($100 discount for Early Bird registrations by January 29th, 2021.)
  • Group discounts and partial scholarships (based on financial need) are available. Contact Melissa Hersh, Director of Learning & Leadership, at mhersh@cvnl.org to learn more.
  • Tuition includes: All materials, including handouts and additional web resources. A Certificate of Completion will be awarded.
  • Participants must have a reliable internet connection, access to Zoom and a web camera.
  • Limited to 26 people.

Spring Delivery Online

Due to Covid-19, we have moved the ELP program to an online format serving people across Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and Solano counties. Reserve your seat now!

Our Faculty

Our faculty members are experienced and working professionals, who combine strong theoretical frameworks and real-life industry knowledge.

As Director of Design & Marketing Communications, Katelyn works with CVNL staff to manage client relations, PR and marketing strategies, develop promotional material, and oversee advertising and artwork. The end goal: to position CVNL as a go-to-resource for nonprofit organizations, their leaders, and volunteers.

With over twenty years of experience, Ana successfully works with individuals, teams, and organizations to develop their capacity to lead and influence at all levels. The drive behind her work is a desire to create equitable environments where all people have the opportunity to thrive. Ana’s focus is on shifting mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity.

Ana has worked with organizations such as the Association of California Colleges and Universities, Corporation for National and Community Service, University of Southern California, and Sierra Health Foundation. She holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Nancy works with nonprofit organizations to help them be sustainable and prepared to anticipate and navigate the inevitable changes and challenges they will face. Her career spans over 30 years in nonprofit development, management and serving in leadership roles with regional and national organizations. Nancy was a program director at the David and Lucille Packard Foundation in Los Altos for many years before moving to Sonoma County. She has provided interim leadership for Creative Sonoma that promotes the creative sector in Sonoma County.
Nancy lives in Glen Ellen in the beautiful Sonoma Valley. She plays the piano and performs in local events. She is dedicated to the nonprofit sector and passionate about the arts particularly for young people.

Knigi is Founder and Director of Glee Growth Strategies, a consulting firm operating in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Knigi’s experience extends to supporting sectors in consumer product goods, non-profit, government, and health and fitness industries. She specializes in customer acquisition, activation, retention, and upsell strategies.

Knigi analyzes program data and organizational infrastructures and blends clients’ insights for a deep understanding of user needs, habits and perceptions in developing growth initiatives. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.

Knigi currently lives in Oakland, California. She is a board member of Girls, Inc West Contra Costa County and Call of the Sea. Being that Knigi is an avid sailor, she combined her support for youth development and sailing, creating an opportunity to take a group from Girls, Inc. on a week-long sail from the San Francisco Bay to Point Reyes. Knigi loves to read, hike, and travel the world.

Linda Jacobs has served as the Chief Executive Officer with Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) since 2002. With over 30 years of combined executive and nonprofit management experience, Linda frequently presents on issues and trends in the nonprofit sector and consults with nonprofit leaders on board governance, succession planning, and leadership development..

An accomplished organizational leader in the environmental and entrepreneurial arenas for the past 20 years, Ceveland Justis is a principal at the Potrero Group. Cleveland has worked and consulted widely throughout numerous companies, nonprofits, and governmental organizations. Throughout his career he has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs refine their visions and develop successful ventures.

Co-founder & Principal of Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies. In this role, Jonathan collaborates with nonprofits and social entrepreneurs all over the world, helping them expand and deepen their impact. He specializes in business and strategic planning, metrics development, community and millennial engagement, and impact assessment for a wide array of Third Plateau’s clients.


A principal consultant and owner at Kells Associates, Kells helps her clients translate creative possibilities into strategic outcomes. She is highly effective in using 360 feedback and other assessments for “action learning” in her Executive Coaching and team development work. People count on her for her ability to quickly assess needs and custom design leadership development initiatives to successfully meet client goals!

Reva Patwardhan is the founder of Greater Good Coaching. She has 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector as a fundraiser, communications director, lobbyist, board member, facilitator, coach and diversity trainer.

For her individual and small group coaching clients, Reva holds space for courageous and liberating inquiry, so her clients can live and lead with confidence, clarity and purpose. While she works with all genders and ethnicities, she specializes in supporting women of Asian and Middle Eastern descent.

Reva co-facilitates small groups with the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She serves on the Board of Directors at Rethink Media, and Cross Cultural Communications, Inc. She is also a coach with Leaderspring, LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics), and Aletheia: A School of Integral Unfoldment. She is a certified Integral Coach.

Mara works with non-profit and business leaders on research and writing, program development and evaluation, and strategic plans. Her work focuses on programs and organizations serving or aiming to serve Latinos and other populations of color in the United States.
In her twenty years of consulting, Mara has served over 100 organizations. Mara earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from The University of Chicago. She is a Research Fellow at Dominican University of California concentrating on Latino entrepreneurship, and LeaderSpring Center, focusing on leadership in the non-profit sector and women of color in the tech sector. As a speaker, Mara has given presentations in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the U.S.
Mara was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and lives in Greenbrae. She loves water, you can see her swimming around in the San Francisco Bay and she is a certified scuba diver. Mara loves practicing her skills in oil painting, acquired at a young age. Mara values doing good, enjoying and fostering peace and kindness, and always keep learning.

Principal of the Benemetrics Consulting Group, Tulsky has over thirty years of experience as a financial professional. As a consultant, he has advised clients in both the nonprofit and commercial sectors on financial planning, analysis, information gathering, capital formation, and transactional matters. His current consultancy specializes in providing contract Chief Financial Officer advisory services to medium-sized Bay Area nonprofit agencies.

As a new Executive Director, the ELP gave me the resources to both recognize areas for knowledge and improvement and achieve results. Because of CVNL, this excellent program, and the community it offered, I can lead my nonprofit team with confidence. It feels great to be part of the CVNL community in working to make an impact.

Jacqueline Jaffee, JD
Executive Director
Adopt A Family of Marin

ELP provided me with a chance to focus on my own development, and a network I could rely on for years to come. I have deeply appreciated how this experience grew my own leadership, and have prioritized sending my team members through this training.

Jon Marker
Former CEO
Youth Leadership Institute

“Great sessions. You do a huge service to local nonprofits. Thanks."
Deborah Bouck
Vice President of Brand, Marketing and Communications, Goodwill San Francisco
"I learned more and was inspired more by ELP than I was by my years at Stanford. I feel like I came away with an arsenal of knowledge that all leaders of nonprofits should have."
"You get a cohort of amazing peers who are there to support you and give you feedback, you get the contact information of all their instructors, who are more than willing to help you with your problems, you get the amazing CVNL staff, who are so knowledgeable. If you are just starting off in your management role, or are hoping to get there in the near future, you should definitely consider this amazing experience!"
“I was so impressed with the whole program and the high level of quality of every presenter. Everyone who talked with us was an expert, a dynamic and interesting speaker, and very up to date with the thinking in their realm. So impressed. Thank you."

Sponsored in part by:


If you have any questions about the ELP or other CVNL training opportunities, contact:

Melissa Hersh at mhersh@cvnl.org