What Is the Early Leadership Institute? 

The Early Leadership Institute (ELI) provides an opportunity for local associations to strengthen their connection to early career educators in a cohort-based learning journey to address issues of importance to the next generation of Association leaders. 

At participating local associations, one coach will lead a small group (6 - 12) ELI fellows through a six-month curriculum designed to follow a path of issue identification to resolution. 

Identify Issue
Research and Propose Solutions
Develop and Present Plan to Resolve or Improve Issue

The ELI program is led in Indiana by HUB Coordinators Raenell Smith, Clark Pleasant Education Association and Lisa McIntyre, New Albany-Floyd County Education Association. ISTA's staff contacts are UniServ Organizers Rick Scalf and LaQuita Maxey. 

Information for Local Associations 

Local associations benefit from participating in ELI. The program activates local associations to reach and engage new and early career educators, who thrive on collaboration, teams and social engagement. The program develops active, engaged members with the potential to step into leadership roles in the local association. ELI fellows have gone on to serve as association representatives, committee members and on executive boards.

Making connections and making room for new and early career educators to participate will strengthen your local and build member engagement.

Local Fact Sheet Local Application

Coach Fact Sheet Coach Application

Information for Fellows

Indiana's ELI fellows have experienced professional growth and increased confidence, which has led to leadership roles in their local association, schools and districts.

ELI fellows will network intentionally and strategically throughout the six-month program. Fellows will participate in a kick-off event, host sounding boards, interact meaningfully on action-based leadership work, create a Leadership Engagement & Action Project and develop a communications plan for continued fellow engagement after program completion.

ELI Fellow Criteria

Interested ELI fellows should:

  • Be within the first five years of the profession.
  • Be under 35 years old.
  • Represent the diversity within their local association/school district.
  • Show promise and initial interest in future association leadership.

Fellow Fact Sheet Fellow Application

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why would a local association participate in ELI?

Each year, 200,000 new educators are hired into schools across the country. Recognizing that many of these educators weren't raised in association households and may have little experience with associations, ELI offers an opportunity for local associations to strengthen their connection with early career educators and build for the future.

Who is responsible for ELI activities?

Each local association will designate a coach to work with fellows. Coaches will coordinate and mentor fellows as well as meet with other coaches and hub coordinators monthly.

There must be buy in and program support from the local association leadership for ELI to succeed.

Can I be a fellow on my own?

No - due to the collaborative, relational nature of the program, there must be a committed local association with at least six fellows to participate. Talk to your local president about starting ELI in your local.

I'm a local president, who can I talk to about starting ELI?

Connect with a UniServ Organizer. If you're in northern Indiana (north of Indianapolis), contact LaQuita Maxey at, or if you're in southern Indiana, contact Rick Scalf at

Program funded and provided in part by the National Education Association.