Looking Back on a Virtual Summer


It’s been a summer of firsts at LEDA! We had our first virtual Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute, our first virtual Career Institute, and our first three months with Executive Director Lamont Gordon. We’re thrilled to report that we successfully adapted to the “new normal” imposed by the pandemic thanks to Lamont’s leadership, the skill and dedication of our staff, and the community spirit of our LEDA Scholars and LEDA Career Fellows.

A note from our Executive Director

Over the course of my first three months as Executive Director, I have been deeply impressed with many things about LEDA – among them, the exceptionally bright and driven Scholars and Career Fellows, the extremely hardworking and dedicated staff, and the ability of the organization to adapt and innovate, as evidenced by success of this year’s first-ever virtual Summer Institute and Career Institute. Perhaps what has stood out most are the times when I was reminded of the power of community.

I was reminded of this in my very first week when we brought together over 100 Scholars, Career Fellows, and alumni to provide a supportive space for them to process their feelings and thoughts about the horrific murders of Black men and women and larger issues of racial injustice. I was reminded of this on the last day of Summer Institute when the Scholars spent several hours reflecting on their seven-week experience, expressing their deep gratitude for the authentic friendships and connections they made with fellow Scholars and their Aspects facilitators. And I was reminded of this when dozens of LEDA sponsors, career partners, alumni, and Board members answered our call for support and collectively helped to make the Career Institute a tremendous success.

2020 LEDA Career Institute - Lamont and Lisa Coleman
Lamont and Dr. Lisa M. Coleman, Senior Vice President for Global Inclusion and Strategic Innovation and Chief Diversity Officer at NYU, during the 2020 Career Institute

I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of this amazing community and I know that we will continue to be there for one another during this extraordinary period of uncertainty, which is when we need each other most. Thank you.

-Lamont Gordon

2020 LEDA Summer Institute

LEDA Summer 2020-1
Cohort 16 Scholar Jesus C. shows his LEDA pride on Instagram during the Summer Institute

We knew that our hallmark Summer Institute needed to keep our LEDA Scholars at the center of all of its programming, whether on campus or online. This year, accessibility was a top priority: to ensure that Cohort 16, our newest Scholars, could participate fully, we provided technology and internet access for Scholars according to their specific needs, as well as study grants for the entire Cohort to help support food and housing security.

In addition, we blended synchronous and asynchronous programming, offering multiple sections of each synchronous class meeting to accommodate Scholars’ schedules as they logged on from 37 states. The LEDA Community also stepped up to recreate the on-campus environment of past years that celebrates inclusion, belonging, and self-expression, helping our Cohort 16 Scholars connect with one another and with the larger LEDA network.

Click here to learn more about our virtual Summer Institute.

2020 LEDA Career Institute

2020 LEDA Career Institute - Alumni
A Career Institute “Main Stage” event featuring LEDA alumni

Over the course of five days, LEDA harnessed an online platform that centralized scheduling, session information, and this year’s “Main Stage” plenary events for our new 2020 Career Fellows. Sessions that were adapted from prior years included core career development workshops to help lay the foundation for career exploration and build career competencies, industry career panels to provide an introduction to an array of professional fields, and information sessions and “office hours” hosted by employer partners for Fellows interested in specific organizations.

One-on-one career coaching appointments allowed Fellows to begin developing action steps toward their professional interests and goals, and a prioritization of fun community events and debrief sessions with our Career Mentors created spaces for meaningful interactions with staff and other Career Fellows.

Click here to learn more about our virtual Career Institute.

Apply to LEDA

Start your LEDA application today!
Apply to LEDA

Support Our Work

Your contribution will help diversify leadership in America.
Give Now