Signature Program

The Leadership Akron Signature Program is a 10-month program for our region’s top leaders across sectors who are interested in broadening their community impact. Each day-long experience is designed by Leadership Akron alumni who have expertise in the field of interest for that day. In addition to each month’s day-long seminar, short site visits to unique locations provide a deeper understanding of the topic at hand. The program not only engages and informs the top leaders of our community’s companies and organizations, it creates meaningful bonds with other like-minded individuals of diverse backgrounds.

From August through June, the Signature Program exposes top area leaders to experiences and connections that will prepare them to maximize their community impact. The program kicks off with a city tour and a spirited, overnight Opening Retreat. In the months that follow, the class is immersed in experiences that address specific aspects of the community. Each program day gives the class a hands-on, behind-the-scenes look at what is happening in each sector; the opportunity to hear from leaders of organizations and the key issues they are addressing; and firsthand accounts from providers and customers.  In addition to each program day, class participants are provided with the opportunity to engage in 2-3 hours of immersive experiences related to the monthly topic.

Class 37 Opening Retreat, socially distanced at Hale Farm

Class 37 Opening Retreat, socially distanced at Hale Farm

The Goal: Leaders Ready to Serve

Leadership Akron presents an unparalleled opportunity for leaders to see beyond their own spheres to the broader interests of community. They develop a working knowledge of our community across sectors, and learn to appreciate the diverse perspectives of their classmates. The result—a corps of leaders equipped to advance our community.


Akron City Tour
Wednesday, August 12 
7:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

New Class Reception/Annual Meeting
Tuesday, August 25
5:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m.

Opening Retreat
Thursday, September 10 – Friday, September 11
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Parks & Environment Day
Wednesday, September 30
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Arts & Culture Day
Wednesday, October 21
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship Day
Wednesday, November 18
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Civic Leadership Day
Wednesday, December 16
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Justice Day
Wednesday, January 20
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Social Services Day
Wednesday, February 24
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Education Day
Wednesday, March 17
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Healthcare Day
Wednesday, April 21
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Closing Retreat
Thursday, May 13 to 8:00 a.m.–Friday, May 14 to 12:00 p.m.

Wednesday, June 9
5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.

Ericka Lessears, Program Facilitator

Ericka Lessears, Signature Program Facilitator


The application period for 2020-21 is now closed.

APPLICANT criteria:

For the 2020-21 Signature Program, up to 40 individuals will be selected.  The process is highly competitive and in general, there are 2-3 applicants for every placement.  The selection committee, comprised of the Leadership Akron Board of Directors, carefully reviews all submitted applications. Each candidate will have an in-person interview with a member of the board to provide additional perspective on their application.

The committee looks for applicants who:

  • Have demonstrated interest in the community through past and current involvement.
  • Have a passion and commitment to greater Akron
  • Have an interest in taking their community leadership to a new level.
  • Have demonstrated a capacity for leadership and have a track record of driving action and results, in their own organization or in the community.  We also look for individuals who demonstrate clear leadership potential and those who have the ability to be highly influential. 
  • Will contribute to the shared learning that takes place by sharing their unique experiences with the other class participants.
  • Represent a diverse group of individuals across all sectors of our community in business, labor, education, health care, arts, religion, government, and community based organizations.
  • Represent all geographic areas of the greater Akron region.
  • Are willing to make the time commitment required to immerse themselves in the program and have the full support of their employer. (Those selected must attend the Opening Retreat and may not miss more than two program days.)

Other considerations for the Signature Program:

  • It is NOT a requirement to have completed any other Leadership Akron programs or attend any Leadership Akron events.
  • Appointment to the Leadership Akron Signature Program is limited. Only one candidate is selected from a business or organization in any given year.
  • Due to the size restrictions of each year’s class, many well-qualified candidates will not be chosen. Applicants are encouraged to reapply in subsequent years. When candidates reapply, it is noted and weighed in the selection process.


Tuition for the 2020-2021 Signature Program will be $4,000. Consideration for limited tuition assistance is available upon request. Based on the financial impact of COVID-19 on many companies and organizations, we realize there may be a need for payment plans with regard to tuition.  If that applies in your case, we would encourage you to apply, and if you are selected, we will work with you to discuss an approach.