What is the Early Childhood Leadership Institute?

The Snelling Center for Government created the Early Childhood Leadership Institute (“ECLI”) in 2014 as part of the Early Learning Challenge-Race to the Top Grant. ECLI seeks to stimulate enthusiasm for and effective participation in efforts to improve early childhood work in Vermont. Starting in 2019, ECLI became funded primarily by a State of Vermont grant and continues to bring a group of diverse participants together each year for twelve seminar days over six months to gain leadership skills and a deeper knowledge and understanding of the science and landscape of early childhood issues in Vermont. ECLI will give participants the information, tools and inspiration to make greater contributions in their organizations, their communities and Vermont toward early childhood issues. ECLI Associates will join a professional network of over 900 Vermont Leadership Network Alumni, with 100 Early Childhood Leadership Institute graduates to date.


  • Leadership is a valuable skill and it’s important to gain clarity between leadership and management.
  • Learn about your strengths and areas of growth as a leader to empower and more accurately direct your team’s management and leadership staff.
  • Begin to identify your own preferences and biases to invite more diverse stakeholders, perspectives, conversations and decision making into your daily work.
  • Explore ways that  race, power, privilege and inequities impact your organization, community and leadership.
  • Apply a systems thinking lens to mentor others and implement change in your organization.
  • Understand data science using Results Based Accountability and apply Appreciative Inquiry to transition and change.
  • Work with an 6+ month practice plan to bring your leadership learning insights to fruition.
  • Build a strong network of leadership, relationships and support that extends past graduation with continued opportunities to learn and engage.

Who has completed this program?

There are currently 100 program graduates who are making a difference in Vermont: leading home and center-based programs, creating innovative services for children and families, serving state government, and volunteering in their communities. In addition, ECLI alumni become part of the larger Vermont Leadership Network that includes more than 900 graduates to date from all of the Snelling Center’s leadership programs.

What are the program dates for the coming year?

The Class of 2019 will commence in May 2019 and graduate in October 2019:

Opening Retreat May 9-10 Basin Harbor, Vergennes
Leadership in Context June 20-21 Burke Mountain Resort, Burke
Human Centered Systems July 25-26 The Essex, Essex
The Shaping of Public Policy August 15-16 Capitol Plaza, Montpelier
Data, Decision Making and Leadership September 12-13 Hildene, Manchester
Commencement October 18-19 Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee

What are the costs?

A non-refundable application fee of $25.00 must accompany your application. If you are accepted into the program, tuition is $500 for double occupancy or $1000 for single occupancy. Tuition includes food and lodging for the six sessions/tweleve seminar days. The remainder of the $5,700 total program fees is covered by a State of Vermont grant. Limited scholarships are available.

How do I apply?

Applications are currently being accepted on a rolling basis. Contact suzanne@snellingcenter.org for more information.


What happens next?

After your application is received, we will schedule a 30 minute interview with ECLI alumni in your area. Our Selection Committee will meet in early April to review all applications and make a final decision on those selected for the Class of 2019. Applicants will be notified of their status in the program soon after.

What are the expectations if I’m selected?

Full participation in all sessions is expected. Session days typically run from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, so please make note of the session dates to minimize scheduling problems during the year.

What happens if I’m not selected?

Participation is limited to approximately 25 associates to ensure an optimal learning environment. Each class is selected with an eye towards diversity on multiple levels, including professional experience, gender and ethnicity, as well as applicants’ desire to learn and commitment to the citizens of Vermont. Consequently, we have to turn away applicants every year. If you are accepted as an alternate, you will automatically be offered admission in the next cohort. If you are not invited to join the class, we strongly encourage you to reapply to next year’s cohort.

Can I earn college credit?

Yes! 3 Graduate Credits through Marlboro College

What if I have additional questions?

Further details are available by exploring the Leadership tab on our website or feel free to call 802.859-3090 or email Early Childhood Leadership Institute Director, Suzanne Trahey, at suzanne@snellingcenter.org.