• Elgin Area Leadership Academy

    We'll begin recruiting for the Fall 2020 Class in January, 2020. Meanwhile, email us if you are interested in becoming involved.

  • Leadership is . . .

    Leadership is . . .
  • The award-winning Elgin Area Leadership Academy (EALA) is an experience for individuals interested in building an understanding of community leadership through exposure, enrichment, and engagement. This premier program crafts and delivers a curriculum specifically designed to assist individuals in becoming active and engaged leaders in their community.

    A program sponsored by the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, EALA develop a corps of informed, committed, and qualified individuals capable of providing dynamic leadership for the greater Elgin area. Founded in 1990, more than 475 individuals have graduated from the Academy volunteering in virtually all aspects of the community. The curriculum provides broad-based leadership perspectives to familiarize participants with the needs, opportunities, and resources in the Elgin area.

    EALA is a 10-month program, meeting on Saturday mornings, featuring distinguished community leaders, content experts, and successful executives in the Elgin area sharing their ideas, perspectives and experiences. Monthly programs provide individuals with the skills, knowledge, connections, nd engagement necessary to develop and leverage a strong professional network of future and current Elgin leaders in all industry types.

    During the monthly sessions, participants work together with local leaders to expand their network of contacts and resources, to increases their breadth of knowledge about the community, and to develop leadership skills. The curriculum also includes a community assignment, challenging the participants to explore current issues first-hand.

    The objectives of the Elgin Area Leadership Academy:

    • Develop informed, trained and committed leaders who understand the issues and needs of the community.

    • Create the opportunity for leaders to meet, establish rapport, and maintain ongoing professional relationships.

    • Ensure that participants involve themselves in greater roles in their community through volunteerism in service and civic organizations, serving on appointed boards and running for local elected offices.

    • Create the opportunity for future leaders to continue to identify and study local issues.

    • Enhance the skills necessary to become effective leaders of the community.

  • More About the Award Winning Elgin Area Leadership Academy

  • Elgin Area Leadership Academy Team Elgin Area Leadership Academy Team

    The Academy is led by community volunteers Dan Fox, Don Waters and Ruth Munson who have extensive leadership involvement in Elgin. Through their guidance, participants receive skills and knowledge necessary to become an effective leader through a curriculum built around community issues, including city government, economic development, ethics, health care resources, education and much, much more.

    EALA is a rewarding experience designed to meet our community’s needs for active and future leaders.

    DAN FOX, M.A. Dan is a graduate of Southern Illinois University and Northeastern Illinois University with an emphasis in government and political science. He taught social studies for 33 years at Conant High School where he coached and, in 1973, initiated one of the first mandatory student community service programs in Illinois. He served eight years on the Elgin City Council, was President of the Elgin Literacy Connection and served on the Elgin Planning and Development Commission. Dan is serving on the Board of PADS of Elgin and is a co-founder and co-facilitator of the award-winning Elgin Area Leadership Academy, now in its sixteenth year.

    DON WATERS, Ed.D. Don is a graduate of Ball State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia with an emphasis in an administration of higher education and counseling. He has had extensive experience in leadership development and organizational planning. He was Vice President of Elgin Community College and a high school guidance counselor. He was President of the National Council for Resource Development and the President of the Illinois Council for Resource Development. In the community, he has served on the Elgin City Council for seven years, was President of the Elgin Kiwanis Club, Vice President of United Way Board and President of the Golden Corridor Economic Development Council. He also was a co-founder and is currently co-facilitator of the Elgin Leadership Academy.

    RUTH MUNSON graduated from Northern Illinois University In 1981 with a BA in political science. An owner of a small technology firm, Ruth and her family moved to Elgin in 1990. She knew a good thing when she saw it and promptly enrolled in the first class of the Elgin Area Leadership Academy. Since graduating from the EALA, Ruth has led the effort to construct a community-built playground and co-founded both the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin and the award-winning Fiesta Salsa. She served on the boards of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Heritage Coalition, Economic Development Council, Elgin Community College Foundation and McKinley School PTO. Additionally, she was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Elgin, Elgin Hispanic Network, United Way distribution committee and participated in numerous other local boards and community-based efforts. Ruth served four years on the Elgin City Council and six years as State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly before proudly joining her mentors, Dan Fox and Don Waters, in 2012 as an EALA facilitator.

    EALA Steering Committee EALA Steering Committee

    EALA Student Reviews EALA Student Reviews

    EALA educated me on the variety of agencies throughout the Elgin area and the County.  The networking was critical in my work within and around the City of Elgin.  - Monica Meyers

    My EALA education has introduced me to community friends who then introduced me to their friends etc.  This networking continues to help me find business opportunities in the Elgin area all these years later.  In addition, geographically, I learned much about the area and what it offers. - Jeff Wheeler

    Learned team building, how to better understand budgets and diversity. - Beth Kruger

    A positive attitude is one of the most important things to have, as a positive attitude will help one overcome what they may face in life and business. - Jay Mulholland

    One learned to listen, to communicate, and to appreciate diversity.  These skills are always useful, wherever you are and at whatever life stage. - Marianne Nelson

    I keep in touch with many of my classmates.  Both on a personal and professional level.  They help me with projects I have, and I volunteer to help them if needed. One of my classmates is my financial planner.  Another classmate I hired to be my Director of Marketing years ago.  I still call on some of my classmates when I need to pick their brain on fundraising ideas.  Besides what I learned from the people in my class the History of Elgin was such a wonderful thing to have learned.  I felt more like a part of Elgin after this class and was able to share with my family and friends. - Kathy Hazelwood

    Project management and organizational theory that was learned and applied in EALA is crucial to leading school systems. The network that I developed in the program has helped me connect with stakeholders in various capacities to improve the education of all students. - Noe Velazquez

    I began applying the skills I acquired during my EALA experience right away at my job and within in the Elgin Community. I took on additional leadership opportunities at work and utilized my new-found network of EALA graduates to pursue holding public office. - Corey Dixon

    Leadership is a concept lost on many people. Being able to make a decision, motivate people to work together, produce a tangible result, can be impossible for some. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and attitude, so my view is always how to do the best for anyone or company as if it were my own. Motivating volunteers and employees to join that goal is done with a lot of grace, serendipity and also access to tools which enhance leadership. I feel that most of the concepts we learned helped reinforce what I already knew and experienced. I have a strong sense of dedication and outcomes have always mattered to me. We used a book during the class called, Lincoln on Leadership. I found it invaluable. I used it many times. I also used a book called The Book of Five Rings, this book along with Lincoln on Leadership were books that I frequently shared with board members. - Sheila Luecht

    It's all about networking, listening, asking questions, strategizing with others, learning when to lead and when to be a team player. It's also about stepping up and being available. To assess a problem and work towards a plan to address that issue. Elgin and the community have a lot to offer and I learned I have a lot to offer in return. I am a better neighbor, friend, co-worker, and leader and I can thank EALA for its integral part of my development. - Rich Jacobs

    I have remained in contact with some of my EALA colleagues, and have used some of their resourcefulness to assist families in my school. I also have had the opportunity (through EALA) to expand on my knowledge of community resources to share with families who need assistance or are new to the area to better serve their needs outside of school as well. The service project that our group conducted in EALA was directly tied to my school district and families and some of the relationships I forged through that service project are ongoing and have continued even though our "project" is over. - Sjoukje Brown

    I have learned better corporate communication skills, and I am networked to a wider group of professionals that I was in the past.  I am better able to understand other colleagues' perspectives than I was prior to the Academy. - Bill Kousoulas

  • Upcoming Events

    Upcoming Events



  • Students Are Talking

    You won't be disappointed being a part of EALA. As with anything, you will get out of it what you put into it.  The program is not only educational but fun. I have great memories from our group and the sessions. - Monica Meyers

    I think the EALA experience was very helpful for me.  It offered a great education and introduced me to a community/area that I was not very familiar with at that time.  I would encourage people that are new to the Elgin area or early in their Elgin area business careers to attend and stay involved. - Jeff Wheeler

    Wonderful opportunity to meet other Elginits, learn about the diversity in Elgin, build relationships and work together to make an even better Elgin. - Beth Kruger

    Do it!  It is a wonderful course.  Most importantly it is an opportunity to connect with the other students and form lasting professional relationships. These relationships are what grows the city of Elgin.  I still have relationships with fellow students 9 years after I completed the course. - Jay Mulholland

    Do it!  Yes, Saturdays are precious to us all, but this class could and will change your life in a great way. - Kathy Hazelwood


  • Class of 2019 Class of 2019



  • Class of 2016