Emerging Leaders Program (ELP)


Fran Casey, corporate director of human resources at Goodwin House (GHI), wanted to create a program to help existing employees move up the career ladder—while also ensuring that the organization would have the talent needed to innovate and expand. GHI is growing and its senior care communities and services across Northern Virginia include 2 life plan communities; an innovative living at home life care program, Goodwin House at Home; a growing Medicare-certified service; Goodwin House Palliative Care and Hospice; and the new Goodwin House Small House Living and Health Care Center with a progressive model of senior care. Talent is a significant success factor for GHI as it brings innovative care models to its market.

After studying “off the shelf options,” Casey concluded that a custom program was necessary and led the development of GHI’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) in 2013.


GHI assembled a special task force to create a comprehensive program for emerging leaders with a focus on developing key leadership traits, such as inspiring and implementing change, transforming organizations, and improving overall performance. The curriculum begins with a discussion of learning styles and building trust so that participants get to know each other and then moves through areas the executive leadership team has found are critical when leading an aging services community.

At the conclusion of the training, ELP participants complete a “capstone project,” which is intended to demonstrate the knowledge they have gained throughout the year. The selected project needs to be achievable, but also must be challenging enough to stretch the emerging leaders. The leaders have 4 months to complete their projects.

Implementation Details:

  • Candidates must complete and submit an application; their candidacy must be confirmed by their direct supervisor. The applications are reviewed by HR and the executive directors. Not all candidates are accepted into the program.
  • Participants meet about twice a month for 7 months. Classes are generally full-day and include the topics below:
    • Purposeful and values-based leadership
    • Mentoring relationship
    • Influence and decision making
    • Exploring leadership dynamics and temperament
    • The language of leadership
    • Leading change and motivating others
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Conflict modes
    • Meeting effectiveness and group dynamics
    • Situational leadership and corporate decision making
    • Introduction to 360-degree feedback
    • Strategic Planning: leading with vision and purpose
    • Public speaking and presentation skills
    • Fundamentals of marketing and PR
    • HR beyond the basics
    • Financial management
    • The role of a supporting foundation
  • Each participant is paired with a mentor; mentors consist of leaders (including former participants) who meet established criteria
  • Participants are required to read an assortment of books for class discussion. In addition, each participant is required to read one unique book and prepare and present a report
  • Classes are taught by a mixture of outside professionals and in-house leaders

Factors for Success:

  • 100% buy-in by key leaders
  • An understanding of organizational and personal needs
  • A fulfilling, fun, dynamic, and interactive learning environment
  • Selection of candidates that have demonstrated required leadership competencies across the continuum; the curriculum is appropriate for all levels of staff
  • Providing participants with an opportunity to reinforce the learning
  • Encouragement of participants to be brave and take risk: it reinforces the learning and provides an opportunity to expand beyond one’s comfort zone


  • Since the program’s inception in 2013, 60% of ELP program alumni have been promoted and 10% have had their position expanded.
  • Sponsors provide feedback regarding emerging leaders demonstrated proficiency in the topics covered.
  • Emerging leaders submit a personal application essay, which allows emerging leaders to report on the experience in the class, especially why it was significant to them, and what actions they will take in applying what they’ve learned within GHI.
  • Management, residents, and peers of ELP alumni have observed and commented on an increase demonstration of these skills across alumni: increased business acumen and project management skills demonstrated emotional intelligence and a greater sense of comradery with fellow leaders.

Need more information?

Contact Fran Casey, corporate director of HR, Goodwin House Incorporated