Academic Professional Leadership Program (APLP)

The University of Illinois’ Academic Professional Leadership Program (APLP) utilizes superior leadership principles and applications to develop key academic professionals.  Through relationships built across the University of Illinois System, the program uses the knowledge of University staff, executives, academic theory and practical applications to foster an environment where leaders can emerge.

The program accommodates 20 participants in any given twelve-month class.  Candidates for the program must be in mid-career level positions and possess the desire and passion to contribute to the success of the University of Illinois System.  They must demonstrate values that are consistent with those of the system and have the characteristics and competencies that are exemplary of superior leadership.


Foster and sustain a culture of exceptional, dynamic, and transformational leadership at all levels throughout the University of Illinois System.


The goals of the Academic Professional Leadership Program focus on the individual development of UI academic professionals and the transmission of inter-institutional knowledge.  The program goals are:

  • Create opportunities for internal succession planning for emerging leaders.
  • Teach and provide opportunities to develop and implement best practices associated with leadership roles and responsibilities.
  • Develop key resources for the university through a network of leaders that are capable of successfully executing strategic plans and accomplishing strategic goals.
  • Enable leaders at all levels the agility to react quickly to our rapidly changing economic and social environment.


The curriculum consists of six integrated components.  Topics included in each of the components include:

  • University Organization
  • Leadership and Academic Theory
  • University Operations
  • Management
  • External Relations
  • Professional Development

The sessions will be supplemented by two extracurricular activities:

  1.  A reading program will offer insights into current literature related to the program topics.  Reviews of the literature will be integrated throughout the twelve-month curriculum.
  2.  A mentoring program will be offered to program members.  Mentoring can offer insights into the University operation, its formal and informal culture.  Mentors can also be good sounding boards to test ideas, discuss issues and career goals.  The mentoring program will be established and supported by the APLP, but mentor meetings will occur outside of the formal APLP sessions.


  1. Full-time, 12 month, non-visiting AP with minimum of three (3) cumulative years of service as an academic professional at the University.  Eligible applicants should have completed three years as an AP by the application deadline (May 31, 2019).
  2. Two or more years at a mid-level manager position.
  3. Currently in a management or leadership role.
  4. Not currently a member of another University-sponsored leadership program or past UAFP (University Administrative Fellows Program) participant.

Nomination and Application Process

Senior administrators may nominate an Academic Professional for the program by sending an email to with the following information:

  • Nominee's name, title, and department/unit. 
  • Nominee's campus and email address. 
  • Name and email of nominee's supervisor/manager.

Nominations were due by Friday, May 3, 2019. 

Nominees, their nominator and/or their supervisors/managers are then notified of the nomination. The program coordinators will determine if the nominee is eligible to apply to the program, and he/she will be contacted via email to complete an online application and provide the following:

  • current resume
  • letter of interest (500 words or less) indicating:
    • their interest and expectations for the program
    • career goals
    • a description of a professional experience in which the candidate took a leadership role, including examples of how the candidate was or was not effective, as well as what the candidate learned from the experience
  • letter of support and commitment from his/her immediate supervisor and/or department head.

Applications were due by Friday, May 31, 2019.  

Participation Selection

The APLP steering team selects 20 participants and 3 alternates from all eligible submissions and makes a recommendation to the Program Sponsor for final class participation.  Selected candidates will be notified via a letter no later than July 8, 2019. 


Program Dates

Dates for the 2019-20 cohort will October 16-18, 2019 (Urbana), February 19-21, 2020 (Springfield) and June 10-12, 2020 (Chicago).


Program Cost

The participant's department will pay a one-time $1,000 fee to participate in the program.  The System Office will cover the remaining costs of the program. 

Program Committees

Program Sponsor: Office of the Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs - Dr. Barbara Wilson

Program Coordination: System Human Resource Services - Jami Painter, Associate Vice President and Chief HR Officer and Jackie Billhymer, HR Coordinator

Steering Team:

  • Jami Painter, Chair, System Human Resource Services
  • Lisa Caridine, UI Hospital and Health Sciences System
  • Laura Clower, President's Office
  • Kyle Harfst, Office of the Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation
  • Catherine Sanders, Chancellor's Office, UIC
  • Joan Sestak, Chancellor's Office, UIS
  • Kandace Turner, Chancellor's Office, UIUC

Curriculum Advisory Committee*:

  • Jami Painter, ​Chair​, System Human Resource Services
  • Brian Brauer, Fire Service Institute (UIUC), Class of 2019 Graduate
  • James Gallaher, Illinois Human Resources, UIUC
  • Michael Ginsburg, Human Resources, UIC
  • Michele Gribbins, Center for Online Learning, Research & Service (UIS), Class of 2019 Graduate
  • Agnes Herget, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (UIC), Class of 2019 Graduate
  • Melissa Mlynski, Human Resources, UIS
  • Teresa Oliszewicz, UI Hospital and Health Sciences System
  • Kathy Sullivan, Institute of Government & Public Affairs, Class of 2019 Graduate
  • Sarah Zehr, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs

*Each year, one member from each of the universities and system office will be selected by their class to serve on the Curriculum Advisory Committee for the next program year.

2019-20 Program Participants

To view participant bios, click here.


  • Sarah Allison, Associate Director, Division of Animal Resources
  • Kelly Foster, Guest Services Manager, Illini Union
  • John Holton, Assistant Collections Manager, Spurlock Museum
  • Viveka Kudaligama, Assistant Director of Graduate Programs, Illinois Computer Science, Grainger College of Engineering
  • Jong Lee, Principal Research Scientist, National Center for Supercomputing Applications
  • Julia Makela, Associate Director for Assessment and Research, The Career Center
  • Kim Otchere, Assistant Director for Social Justice and Leadership Education, University Housing
  • Doug Wolters, Senior Director of Operations, College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences


  • Clare Delaney, Director of Student Services, Office of Academic Programs, College of Nursing
  • Michael Diaz, Executive Associate Director and Title IX Coordinator, Office for Access and Equity
  • Sharon Feldman, Associate Director of Global Health Policy Research Initiatives, UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy, Health Policy Center
  • Jacquelyn Jancius, Director for the Conflict of Interest Office, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
  • Brian Roessler, Executive Assistant Dean for Student Academic Affairs, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Monica Tith, Associate Dean for Administration, College of Engineering
  • Annette Wright, Associate Dean of Students, Office of the Dean of Students


  • Katherine Battee-Freeman, Director, Career Development Center
  • Emily Boles, Computer-Assisted Instruction Specialist, Center for Online Learning, Research and Service

System Offices

  • Laura Barnett, Senior Associate Director of Training & Performance, University Payroll and Benefits
  • Cynthia Cobb, Director of Portfolio and Process Management Office, Administrative Information Technology Services
  • Dan Szajna, Director, System Purchasing and Support Services

2018-19 Program Participants

To view participant bios, click here.



Anita Balgopal, Director, Office for the Protection of Research Subjects

Brian Brauer, Associate Director for Infrastructure and Special Projects, Fire Service Institute

Kim Collins, Interim Director & Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Disability Resources & Educational Services

Brian Farber, Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs/Director of Auxiliaries, Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Jeffrey Stein, Assistant Research Scientist, Illinois Natural History Survey

David Wilcoxen, Associate Director of Safety & Compliance, Facilities & Services



Stephanie Estrada, Senior Associate Director, Office of Institutional Research

Agnes Herget, Assistant Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Aginah Muhammad, Executive Director, Council on Teacher Education

Colleen Piersen, Assistant Head for Administration and Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacognosy, Department of Medicinal Chemistry & Pharmacognosy

Benjamin Ramirez, Director of the Center for Structural Biology and Research Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics

David Taeyaerts, Associate Vice Chancellor of Learning Environments and Campus Architect, Campus Learning Environments

Michael Wesbecher, Director of Communications & Events, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs



Michele Gribbins, Associate Director, Center for Online Learning, Research & Service

James Koeppe, Director of Campus Recreation, UIS Campus Recreation

Lisa Whelpley, Director of Annual Giving/Major Gift Development, Office of Advancement


System Offices

Jenny Ehrnthaller, Director, Strategic Budget and Finance, Administrative Information Technology Services

Brenda Hixson, Director for Business Solutions & Support, Office of Business & Financial Services

Joe Shroyer, Associate Director of Customer Service and Cashier Operations, Office of Business & Financial Services

Kathy Sullivan, Assistant Director, Institute of Government & Public Affairs