Emerging Leaders Program

The Emerging Leaders Program is a 10-month, immersive, professional development experience for rising stars from the business, nonprofit, and government sectors who demonstrate leadership potential and are committed to supporting inclusive environments in their organization and community.

The Emerging Leaders Program inspires talented, high-performing professionals with experiences that empower them to deepen their community impact.

Program Content and Benefits

Emerging Leaders Program Participants grow in three primary areas:

Learn Transformational Leadership Skills

Skill development focuses on the tangible and intangible practices that strong leaders use to inspire and create change. Participants build these competencies by working with expert leadership coaches who guide them through monthly topics and exercises that are integrated with the Learning Day curriculum.

Increase Civic Engagement

Each month participants gain a deep understanding of a different community issue through a combination of:

  • In-person Learning Days presented by subject matter experts and influential leaders
  • Asynchronous learning opportunities in our online learning community via online discussion
  • Curated resources including articles, videos, and other curated content

Emerging Leaders will be hands-on with a small group of classmates, applying their developing skills while working with a San Mateo County nonprofit.

Build Cross-Sector Relationships

The Emerging Leaders Program elevates and empowers participants by connecting them to one another, and to organizations that provide opportunities for systemic change.
The program creates opportunities for participants to develop meaningful relationships with their cohort, and to collaborate throughout the program and beyond.

Participants learn from, and gain exposure to, speakers who are influential across SMC, and they leave the program as part of a valuable alumni network with ongoing connection opportunities.

Emerging Leaders Class of 2023 members Lena Silberman, San Mateo County Management Analyst, and Alexa Altamirano, Oncology Registered Nurse at Stanford Health Care, join their a line of classmates as they write out purpose statements on giant Post-It notes during their Opening Retreat, September 2022.

Benefit My Organization

Program graduates bring their clear sense of purpose to everything they do. They have learned and practiced leadership tools and mindsets that will activate change with a clear vision, outcomes, and team agreements, and, in so doing, will inspire collaborative problem solving.

They champion inclusion, remaining consistently present to the importance of diversity to their organization’s success.

Through valuable connections to the people, organizations, and services across San Mateo County, they collaboratively resolve issues, address needs in our communities, and help everyone to thrive. They bring new relationships and a better understanding of how to meet the needs of all people in San Mateo County.

VIEW the Emerging Leaders Program Overview (PDF)
Photo of the thirty-three members of the Emerging Leaders Class of 2023 outside the City of San Mateo Main Library.

Who Should Apply?

We welcome and encourage high-performing, professional candidates from diverse backgrounds and organizations who live and/or work in San Mateo County.

Graphic with a Venn Diagram of who should apply to the Emerging Leaders Program. The following are encouraged to apply: Nonprofit sector program coordinators, community volunteers, project managers, and community-facing volunteers; Private sector community engagement staff, department managers, public relations leads, business development staff, and community-facing employees; Public sector staff for elected officials, city manager staff, city department specialists, community development leads, and business office staff.

Commitment and Class Schedule

  • Mandatory two-day Opening Session in September
  • Monthly Learning Days are on Fridays through the end of May 2025
  • Learning Days are generally 8:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.; December's Leadership in Action Day runs from 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • Pre-work and small-group project time is 3–4 hours per month

Learning Day Schedule (2024-2025)

Two-Day Opening Session  (Mandatory)

September 12-13, 2024

Healthy Communities

October 4, 2024

Economic Development & Opportunity

November 1, 2024

Leadership in Action

December 6, 2024 *

Human Services: Addressing the Needs of All Members of Our Community

January 24, 2025

Intelligent Urbanism

February 7, 2025

Educational Equity & Opportunity

March 7, 2025

Climate Resilience & Adaptation

April 11, 2025

Safe Communities

May 2, 2025

Civics and Being a Community Citizen

May 30, 2025

Closing Session and Graduation

May 31, 2025

Application Process

  • Applications for Emerging Leaders Class of 2025 available March 1, 2024.
  • Application deadline is May 1, 2024.
  • Applicants notified by July 1, 2024.
    Those who are not accepted will be placed on a waitlist and, if not accepted off the waitlist, are encouraged to reapply in future years.

Selection Criteria

Candidates are selected through a highly competitive application process. Leadership CORPS applicants must:

  • Be committed to pursuing a leadership path or expanding their current role
  • Demonstrate leadership potential by being proactive, seeking new opportunities, and going above and beyond what is required
  • Seek to develop their understanding of the role and necessity of representative leadership to solve issues, and
  • Have the full support of their employer if applying as part of an organization

Program Costs - Emerging Leaders Class of 2025

  • Tuition is $2,800 plus a non-refundable $100 application fee.
  • Fees can be paid by the individual or employer.
  • Scholarships are available and payment plans can be arranged.


I feel so blessed to be a part of this program. The impact it is having on me is visible at work and in my professional development. I am not doubting offering my perspective and I am presenting myself differently. I feel activated and motivated to take on a bigger role living my purpose.
Headshot of Mandy Brown, Town of Hillsborough Senior Management Analyst and Emerging Leaders Class of 2023 Alumni.

Leticia Gonzalez

Project Manager
Movement & Power Building
Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Going through the Emerging Leaders Program has been transformative in several ways. Most importantly, it was a clear reminder of our community’s interconnectedness, and of the nature of effective leadership. I will leave this program a much more capable leader, prepared to effect positive change.
Headshot of Mandy Brown, TownHeadshot of Maurice Baker, Palo Alto Acting Community Services Manager  and Emerging Leaders Class of 2023 Alumni.

Gabe Aponte

HR Manager
County of San Mateo
President, PSHRA, Bay Area Chapter

The Emerging Leaders program offers a unique opportunity to meet and collaborate with other professionals interested in bettering themselves and the community. It is a great launching pad to engage with different sectors of the community and work toward building community together.

Mandy Brown

Senior Management AnalystTown of Hillsborough
Pronouns (she/her/hers)

As part of the inaugural Emerging Leaders Class, I feel very inspired to be part of a strong group of people who are like-minded and doing great work in San Mateo County.

Maurice Baker

Acting Community Services ManagerCity of East Palo Alto
Pronouns: he/him/his

Emerging Leaders Program is inspiring! If you are asked to step into a leadership role, always say 'YES!' We are all learning all the time and you CAN do it!

Alex Golding

Health Equity Coordinator & Clinical Program Analyst, StarVista San Mateo Pride Center
Pronouns: he/ him/his