Excellence in Leadership Program (ELP)

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

Leadership is Worth the Investment

In modern nonprofits, organizational mission and performance are inextricably linked. Today’s nonprofit leaders cannot afford to expend resources based on good intentions and wishful thinking. The social sector needs to focus on meaningful and measurable change.

Nonprofit leaders and executives are critical to both maximize and sustain an organization’s impact. It is necessary for them to possess the skills and core competencies to inspire and support the people in their organization around this purpose.

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.

Our Faculty

Our faculty members are experienced and working professionals, who combine strong theoretical frameworks and real-life industry knowledge. Both in and out of the ELP classroom, they are committed mentors always available, ready and willing to offer advice and assistance.

Program Director

Please contact me about your questions.

Cinzia Perlingieri

As CVNL’s Director of Learning & Leadership, Cinzia designs and coordinates all our training programs with two main goals in mind. The first goal is to develop strong personal leadership and strategic problem solving skills. The second goal is to apply these skills to the major responsibilities of nonprofit leaders. Cinzia strives to provide tools and knowledge to nonprofit professionals for improved performance and increased impact of our Bay Area nonprofits.

Contact Cinzia at cperlingieri@cvnl.org or 415-448-0331

Charlotte Kells

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!

Cleve Justis

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.

Gina Guillemette

Gina is the Director of Consulting Services at CVNL with more than 20 years of nonprofit experience. Gina has extensive first-hand knowledge of the realities that nonprofits of varying sizes, program areas and funding portfolios face on a day-to-day basis. She has successfully advanced organizational development efforts as well as public policy and systems change benefiting nonprofit organizations and the individuals and communities they serve.

Jack Alotto

Jack is currently a consultant and interim development professional. As a member of the board, Jack has taught a variety of fundraising classes at the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership where he is on the faculty of the Emerging Leadership Program (ELP). Alotto has taught and managed the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Golden Gate Chapter’s Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) Review class.

Katelyn Willoughby-Bagley

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.

Laura Eberly

A community organizer and former Licensed Clinical Social Worker who leads advocacy and racial justice efforts at YWCA San Francisco & Marin. She comes to this work from extensive community organizing and leadership development experience. Laura has a background in both non-profit and electoral organizing and a BA in Public Policy and MA in Social Service Administration.

Linda Jacobs

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..

Steve Tulsky

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.

Thomas Cavanagh

Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Management at Barowsky School of Business, Dominican University of California. His courses include: Consulting for Effective Change & Leadership (MBA), Leadership, Teams & Change, Strategic Leadership for Organizational Performance (MBA) and Quantitative Methods.

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


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.

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
Youth Leadership Institute

ELP Schedule Spring 2019

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Follow-up Sessions


DAY 1: Tuesday, August 27, 9am - 5pm Nonprofit Challenges - Strong Leadership

8:30 AMBreakfast (drop in)30 min. 
9:00 AMWelcome/Setting the Context30 min. 
9:30 AMKnow Your Sector 1. Create a shared understanding of current nonprofit trends affecting the sector and nonprofit leaders1 hourLinda Jacobs
10:30 AMBreak15 min. 
10:45 AMLeadership Challenges, Trends & Values 1. Start exploring your own definition of a leader 2. Understand what others expect of a leader 3. Develop a basic understanding of common trends affecting leaders in the nonprofit sector 4. Begin to strengthen your support network by getting to know your colleagues better1.5 hoursKatelyn Willoughby-Bagley
12:15 PMLunch45 min. 
1:00 PMEffective Communication and Influencing Skills 1. See Communication as "shared understanding" 2. Discover barriers to effective communication 3. Learn how to overcome resistance 4. Discover techniques for influencing the conversation 5. Adopt tools of Inquiry and Advocacy for an actual critical conversation3 hoursCharlotte Kells
4:00 PMBreathing Break15 min. 
4:15 PMClosing Exercise15 min.

DAY 2: Wednesday, August 28, 9am - 5pm People-oriented Management: Engage with your Board and Staff

8:30 AMBreakfast (drop in)30 min. 
9:00 AMReflection15 min. 
1:00 PMDiversity & Inclusion 1. Review of attendees' Inclusion Inventory 2. Explore your intercultural development alongside your organization’s 3. Gain shared language and tools to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion 4. Learn how to create an equitable workplace3 hoursLaura Eberly
12:15 PMLunch45 min. 
9:15 AMBoard Governance 1. Define the roles and responsibilities of board members 2. Differentiate between operational and governance decisions 3. Apply practices that build effective boards in the areas of structure, role clarity, team dynamics and board continuity3 hoursLinda Jacobs
4:00 PMPeer Coaching30 min. 
4:30 PMClosing Exercise15 min.
DAY 3: Thursday, September 11, 9am - 5pm Strategic Problem-solving and Planning
8:30 AMBreakfast (drop in)30 min. 
9:00 AMReflection15 min. 
9:15 AMStrategy 1. Learn basic terminology and tools related to business strategy as applied to nonprofit organizations 2. Analyze tradeoffs necessary to maximize strategic impact 3. Examine and analyze some of the challenges and pitfalls involved in managing strategic organizational change 4. Learn tools and skills to help lead strategic change in an organization Case Study: TBD3 hoursCleve Justis
12:15 PMLunch45 min. 
1:00 PMAssessment & Planning 1. Learn to assess your circumstances & environment 2. How to use an assessment to set broad strategic goals 3. How you implement your strategy: strategic plan, business plan, work plan 4. Introducing the “Organizational Planning Toolkit” - a template to fill the gaps between analysis and practice. 5. Review of Case Study3 hoursCinzia Perlingieri
4:00 PMPeer Coaching30 min. 
4:30 PMClosing Exercise15 min. 
DAY 4: Wednesday, Sept 12, 10am - 3pm Peer Coaching - Progress on Organizational Toolkit - Problem Solving Skills
9:30 AMShare progress and experience with the toolkit - What stood out during the process? What particular challenges were encountered?60 min.Facilitator: Cinzia Perlingieri
10:30 AMStrategic Problem Solving 1. Introduction to Strategic Problem Sovling 2. Tools for Divergent Thinking 3. Tools for Convergent Thinking / Decision Making The goal of this session is to use our learning and tools to identify compelling powerful goals for your organization.2 hoursCharlotte Kells
12:30 PMLunch45 min. 
1:15pmGroup and peer coaching - Hands on sessions2.5 hoursCoaches: Cinzia Perlingieri (+ TBD)
Recommended reading: "What is Strategy" by Michael E. Porter; United Church Housing case study.
DAY 5: Wednesday, Sept 26, 9am - 5pm Financial Health and Programmatic Effectiveness
8:30 AMBreakfast (drop in)30 min. 
9:00 AMReflection15 min. 
9:15AMA Leader’s Guide to Organizational Financial Health 1. Understand the essential information conveyed in an organization's Statement of Financial Position and their Statement of Operations 2. Understand the key components of financial health, and recognize how these appear in the financial statements 3. Understand the types of financial issues that a leader evaluates and addresses as they manage their financial health3 hoursSteve Tulsky
12:15 PMLunch45 min. 
1:00 PMProgram Development & Evaluation 1. From strategic goals to programmatic effectiveness 2. The cycle of program development and the role of evaluation 3. Create an evaluation approach that fits your program needs, resources and organizational context 4. Identify strategies to address common barriers encountered in developing and evaluating programs3 hoursGina Guillemette
4:00 PMPeer Coaching30 min. 
4:30 PMClosing Exercise15 min. 
Recommended reading: "What is Strategy" by Michael E. Porter; United Church Housing case study.
8:30 AMBreakfast (drop in)30 min. 
9:00 AMReflection15 min. 
9:15 AMOrganizational culture as a brand 1. What is a strong organizational culture 2. Articulate your values 4. Effective storytelling techniques and data-driven narratives 5. Emotional appeal OR data appeal? Elevator pitch presentation template & group work3 hoursThomas Cavanagh
12:15 PMLunch45 min. 
1:00 PMFundraising & Building Relationships 1. Develop an understanding around the current trends in philanthropy 2. Learn more about building and sustaining relationships (stewardship, cultivation) 3. Defining fundraising as a relationship story – including relationship types (individual donors, sponsors, foundations) 4. Tools for building an effective fundraising plan 5. Explore fundraising channels and preferred methods 6. Role Play3 hoursJack Alotto
4:00 PMFinal Thoughts/Closing Exercise30 min. 
4:30 PMCertificate Presentation15 min.
 Coaching90 mins 
 Peer- Coaching90 mins 
 Coaching90 mins 
 Peer- Coaching90 mins 
 Coaching90 mins 
 Peer- Coaching90 mins

Sponsored in part by:



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

Cinzia Perlingieri

Director of Learning & Leadership, CVNL

Email: cperlingieri@cvnl.org

Phone: 415-448-0331