What is the Chair Academy?

The Chair Academy is a premier leadership development organization for higher education and organizational leaders. Our vision is centered around developing inclusive and influential leaders whose purpose is to advance their academic and administrative leadership, regardless of position. With a 30-year history offering world-class, competency-based programs, the Academy’s key ingredient is our ability to connect and cultivate a leadership community, promoting a forum for collaboration, insight, discovery, and positive change.  

The Academy’s professional development experience provides emerging and experienced leaders with opportunities to interact, engage, and reflect with topics specific to higher education and leadership. Each program and session presents a learner-centered approach to ongoing growth and development that is relevant, meaningful, practical, and resourceful—all designed to foster a journey of transformational leadership.

Academy Vision

The Academy is dedicated to developing and presenting inclusive and superlative leadership development programs that promote advancement and positive change for academic and administrative leaders.

Academy Values

The Academy is committed to creating environments for respectful and learner-centered training that stimulate diverse conversations and perspectives, and offer safe spaces for ongoing learning, development, and improvement.

The Chair Academy | Transforming Leaders Since 1991

Developing Transformational Leaders
In 1991, the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) recognized an influx of new Department Chairs within their 10 colleges. The system identified an urgency for preparing these emerging leaders for their new roles and responsibilities. With the support of Dr. Elsner, Chancellor of the MCCCD, and Larry Christiansen, President of Mesa Community College, a task force was created to research potential training programs that would help develop Maricopa leaders. Not finding what they were looking for, the group began collaborating with other established leaders and global institutions on how best to design a training program specifically focused on building leadership capacity with those in the Chair role. The result of these collaborations and partnerships laid the groundwork for establishing “The Chair Academy,” an entity of MCCCD with a vision for developing transformational leaders to advance academic and administrative leadership across higher education. The goal was to implement theory with best practices in a learner-centered environment to promote positive change. The first pilot program was organized in 1992, with feedback influencing what is now the Foundation Leadership Development Academy.

Community and technical college systems outside of Maricopa were also challenged with the same leader development needs. They identified the Academy’s training program to be relevant, resourceful, and influential and began partnering with the Academy to develop their leaders. In the years that followed, program locations expanded, and participation extended to global leaders beyond the Chair level. Academy graduates soon started inquiring about their “next step” for professional development, prompting a new call to action. In 2005, the Advanced Program was introduced. This training opportunity focused on the development of mid-to-senior level leaders, building on the strategies, competencies, and best practices from the Foundation Program to engage teams, influence change, and reframe organizations.

Thirty years later the Academy Team continues on the path of developing and supporting transformational leadership. With a healthy appreciation for the overarching vision, service of past leaders, and advocacy of partners and participants, the Academy remains committed to creating relevant, learner-centered experiences that build inclusive leaders and communities.