Home > FAQ About VLI

What is the Vermont Leadership Institute?

The Snelling Center for Government created the Vermont Leadership Institute (“VLI”) in 1995 with the goal of stimulating citizen enthusiasm for and participation in public service. VLI gives participants from the private, public and non-profit sectors the information, tools and inspiration to make greater contributions to their organizations, to their communities and to Vermont. As Vermont’s premier civic leadership development program, VLI consists of eight overnight sessions, totaling nineteen seminar days, with each session held in a different region of the state to convey a sense of Vermont’s rich historic, geographic and cultural diversity. VLI associates engage in intensive assessment and self-reflection, learn from both each other and an esteemed faculty, and become immersed in some of the most important issues facing Vermont.

Why VLI?

  • Enhanced leadership skills are perhaps the biggest asset to successful careers in non-profit, for-profit and government.
  • 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.
  • Explore the role of innovation and transformational leadership in building for the future.
  • Work with an 8+ 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 more than 575 program graduates who are making a difference in Vermont: leading innovative businesses, creating award-winning non-profits, serving in the legislature and state government, and volunteering in their communities. In addition, VLI alumni become part of the larger Vermont Leadership Network that includes more than 1000 graduates to date from all of the Snelling Center’s leadership programs.

What are the program dates for the coming year?

Tentative dates for the Class of 2021 are outlined below. The schedule is subject to change based on evolving public health measures and mitigation strategies in relation to COVID-19. Session locations will be updated as the schedule is finalized.

Opening Retreat September 24-25  
Know Thyself October 21-23  
Leadership in Context December 3-4  
Systems and Organizational Change Leadership January 7-8  
The Shaping of Public Policy February 8-10  
Human-Centered Systems in Action March 17-19  
Transformational Leadership, Innovation and the Future of Vermont April 29-30  
Commencement June 4-5  

How are you managing COVID-19?

As noted above, session dates are currently tentative and subject to change based on evolving public health measures and mitigation strategies. We are continuing to monitor the situation and following guidance from the Vermont Department of Health. If the situation changes and new directives are issued, we will react immediately/accordingly and follow their guidance. This may mean that some content ends up being delivered via a hybrid online/in-person model.

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 $7,800 for double occupancy or $8,700 for single occupancy, which includes food and lodging.

What if financial commitment is a concern?

We strongly encourage all interested candidates to apply. Once participants are accepted into the program, we are committed to working with individuals to address financial barriers to participation. Thanks to the generous contributions of VLI alums and other supporters, we have a limited amount of scholarship assistance available, plus we also have resources on other funding opportunities. Check out our Financial Assistance page for more details or contact Ptarmigan Abbott at ptarmigan@snellingcenter.org.

How do I apply?

Click here to apply. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis.

What happens next?

You will receive confirmation once your application has been received and will be scheduled for a 30-minute interview with VLI alumni over the summer, either virtually or in-person depending on current public health measures. Our Selection Committee will then meet to review all applications and make a final decision on those selected for the Class of 2021. We will notify applicants of their acceptance status in August.

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. VLI constantly evaluates the curriculum, faculty, presenters, activities, facilitation and design. VLI seeks to break down barriers by listening to participants and openly engaging with complex conversations.

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.

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 ptarmigan@snellingcenter.org.

Additional Covid Precautions

We understand there may be additional anxiety about applying to VLI given the current state of affairs, so we want to offer extra reassurance that we are carefully planning for the next year. We are: 

  • Continually monitoring guidance from the VT Department of Health and CDC re: social distancing and hygiene requirements
  • Meeting in large spaces to facilitate appropriate distancing
  • Maximizing use of open-air and outside meeting spaces whenever possible
  • Coordinating with all venues to ensure guest safety as the top priority, including changes to meal delivery, sanitization standards and more  
  • Offering the option of single room accommodations

Strong leadership has never been more important, so we hope you will seriously consider joining us for VLI 2021.