Be a Leader. Be part of LeadNY.

New York’s top leadership development program accepts applications from professionals in the food, agriculture and natural resources sectors of the Northeast. The application for Class 21 will be open from January 1 through March 15, 2025. 

LeadNY, a pioneering training program for mid-career professionals, provides intensive one- or two-year programs to improve leadership skills, self-awareness, issues analysis, critical thinking and civic engagement. Based at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the program links Cornell leadership and global development expertise with real-world training to help professionals maximize their potential in their careers and their community-based impact in the Northeast. 

The application process

  • An online application
    The Class 21 application opens on January 1 and closes March 15, 2025.
  • Supplemental materials
    • Three letters of recommendation (required): Ask three individuals with personal knowledge of your leadership abilities and potential to submit a letter of recommendation in your support. These individuals should be given a recommendation form and information describing the LeadNY program. (required) 
    • Employer/business partner statement of support (if applicable): If you are employed by someone else or share your business with another person, a statement of support is required. Supply the appropriate person with information about the LeadNY program and the draft schedule of workshops.
    • Spouse/domestic partner statement of support (if applicable): In order to get the most out of the program, we ask for the commitment and support from family members. Please discuss this with your spouse/partner/family and have them sign the statement of support. 

The program's first year has an anticipated time commitment of 25 days. Note that not all of these days may be in-person meeting days requiring travel away from home. Some of our curriculum may be delivered virtually as circumstances warrant. For example, if a seminar is listed as a 3 day seminar, we may actually have two days of face-to-face meeting, and one day of on-line learning scheduled.

Here is an example of a schedule for Year 1:

  • August (1 day): Eastern, Center, or Western New York location (Acra, Homer, or Batavia) Orientation: Procedures, expectations, assignments, facilitation, etc.
  • September (3 days) Camp Oswegatchie: Retreat, introductions, teambuilding, MBTI, leadership theory intro, Listening
  • November (3 days): Rochester: Consumers, marketing, food away from home, business etiquette, fundraising basics, speech training, 360 feedback
  • December (3 days): Batavia: Production ag. issues, technology, persuasive speeches, debate training
  • January (3 days): Syracuse: Ag. Society – TBD, practice debates, cooperatives, equine industry
  • February (3 days): Albany: State government, shadowing activity, lobbying, conflict management
  • March (5 days): NYC/LI: Food distribution, finance, urban consumers, LI agriculture, farmland preservation
  • April (4 days) Binghamton: Local government, Libertyville, meeting management and board service, graduation (spouses invited)

Participants who successfully complete the first year of the program (“Leadership Fundamentals”) can apply for the second-year program (“Lead Fellows”). 

LeadNY participants are selected through a competitive application process. After an initial review of the application materials in late March, a selection committee interviews selected applicants in person. After those interviews, the selection committee recommends a slate of nominees to the board of directors in late April. Once approved, successful candidates are offered a position in the next class.

The cost of Year 1 tuition is $2,700. It is also true that few of our participants actually pay the full tuition out of their own pocket. Most class members get support from their employer, cooperatives they may be a member of, or other sponsoring businesses. Additional tuition assistance is made possible by generous sponsors in the form of scholarships for those who need it. Contact leadnewyork [at] (leadnewyork[at]cornell[dot]edu) to inquire about available assistance. 

Participants in the LeadNY Program:

  • Enhance understanding of agriculture and the food system and its interrelationships on local, state, regional, national, and international levels.
  • Improve their leadership and communication skills.
  • Develop opportunities for networking and gain a network of professional peers.
  • Foster consensus-building and teamwork approaches to problem solving.
  • Increase their ability, desire, and commitment to seek solutions to today’s problems and to anticipate tomorrow’s needs.

Want to learn more about the experience? Check out our "Current Class" to see the class roster, schedule, syllabus and sample agendas for each of our seminars. While exact dates of seminars, seminar content and other particulars may vary slightly from class to class, the current class materials will give you a good idea of what to expect.