Benedictine University Launches L.E.A.D.S – Its First Young Women Leadership Program

October 14, 2021

LEADS 20-21 CohortBenedictine University has launched its first young women’s leadership program called L.E.A.D.S., a four-year co-curricular, transformational program for first-year undergraduate women who demonstrate a desire to grow as leaders. Currently in its inaugural year with 22 students, L.E.A.D.S. will be accepting nominations for the 2022 school year on December 1.

L.E.A.D.S. – which stands for Leadership, Empowerment, Action, Development and Service –incorporates discussions, personal assessment, skill development and acquisition, speakers, peer and personal reflections and service opportunities focusing on four key leadership dimensions: Leadership from the Core Values; Leadership of Self; Leadership of Others; and Leadership of Community. The program culminates with each woman creating a Leadership Vision Portfolio (LVP) reflecting her own leadership evolution over the four years.

According to Charles Gregory, Benedictine University President, the goal of the L.E.A.D.S. program is to develop leaders driven to become agents of change for the good of their community and the globe.

“The sky’s the limit for this talented, focused, forward-thinking group of future leaders,” said Gregory. “When we first conceived of the idea for this program, we knew it would be a dedicated, intentional, and experiential leadership program for women supported by and influenced by philanthropic and entrepreneurial visionaries. With best practices, our goal is to create women leaders who use their L.E.A.D.S. skills in the boardroom, city hall, politics, business, and in their own companies.”

The Director of the L.E.A.D.S. program, Nicki Anderson, joined Benedictine last year to develop and oversee the 4-year program. “With the guidance of Dr. Nancy Sayer, who created an outstanding curriculum as well as an international advisory team, L.E.A.D.S. focuses on developing women leaders driven to become agents of change for the good of all,” said Anderson.

L.E.A.D.S. prepares program participants for life after college and encourages them to lead with integrity, no matter the setting or situation. Program themes include, social responsibility, inclusion, change creation, authentic listening, taking initiative, negotiating with confidence. To learn more about this program, contact Nicki Anderson at or visit

L.E.A.D.S. Director, Nicki Anderson
Nicki Anderson is the Director of L.E.A.D.S. (Leadership, Empowerment, Action, Development and Service), Benedictine University’s Leadership Initiative for undergraduate women. Nicki served as the CEO and President of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. Nicki was instrumental in leading a successful capital campaign resulting in acquiring advanced and much needed technology upgrades for the organization. Nicki also owned and operated her own health and wellness business from 1993-2012, when the business was sold. She has traveled all over the world presenting workshops on leadership, talent acquisition and marketing.

L.E.A.D.S. Programming Consultant, Nancy Sayer
Nancy Sayer, Ph.D., LCPC, PCC –Programming Consultant. Nancy is Founder and CEO of the Leadership Evolvement Institute. She serves as adjunct faculty at North Central College, in Naperville, IL and Aurora University, in Aurora, IL teaching classes in organizational leadership, group performance, and high potential leadership coaching. Nancy has a Ph.D. from Benedictine University School of Business, Lisle, IL in Values-Driven Leadership and received the Outstanding Dissertation Award. She has a Master of Science degree in Counseling and Guidance from Indiana University, South Bend, IN


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the ninth consecutive year in 2019. Benedictine University was also named the second-safest campus in the country and safest campus in Illinois by in 2019. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. For more information about the University, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

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