History & Overview

The Values-based Leadership Program graduated its first class in the spring of 2002 at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center. Since then, between 30-50 leaders in various vocational settings have participated in the two-session training each year. Sessions have convened semi-annually at Laurelville with the exception of spring (Black Rock Retreat Center, Pennsylvania) and fall (CrossWind Conference Center, Kansas) of 2003.

The idea for an intensive, two-session leadership training emerged in the mid-1990s out of conversations between representatives from Laurelville, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), Mennonite Health Services (now MHS Alliance) and Lee Schmucker (owner of Schmucker Training & Consulting). These conversations provided the impetus to address leadership issues and skills for those interested in “building upon the theological underpinnings of an Anabaptist perspective.” A pilot seminar took place in South Bend, Indiana, leading to the revision and further development of a leadership curriculum as well as the formation of the Institute for Anabaptist Leaders (IAL) and its governing Steering Committee.

The Values-based Leadership Program Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from sponsoring agencies, which now include Mennonite Church USA Leadership Development (formerly MCUSA Executive Board), Everence (formerly Mennonite Mutual Aid), Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), and Mennonite Education Association (MEA) in addition to Laurelville, MEDA, MHS Alliance and Schmucker Training & Consulting.

Learn more about the sponsoring agencies of the Values-based Leadership Program

From its inception, the Values-based Leadership Program has aimed to create a community of learners from various vocational settings, including congregational ministry, church-related organizations and agencies, academic administration as well as the broader non-profit and for-profit sectors. Enrolled participants thus interact with one another to better understand how their personal leadership strengths and style can complement their faith and core values in their particular leadership contexts.

Participation in the Values-based Leadership Program is typically limited to the first fifty enrollees, a design intended to encourage personalized instruction and meaningful collaboration. Participants are also assigned to smaller cohort groups for dialogue and discussion throughout the program, and a strong mentoring component helps facilitate self-discovery and growth. More than 200 leaders in various settings have successfully completed the requisite coursework and have benefited greatly from this unique dynamic of the program.

Read participants’ stories to discover some of the benefits of the Values-based Leadership Program