About Leadership Iowa

Leadership Iowa is Iowa’s premier issues-awareness program promoting leadership and civic responsibility in our state. Through an integrated series of eight monthly sessions, participants are provided with a wide range of eye-opening experiences and insights that highlight the opportunities and challenges facing Iowa.

Each year, 40 individuals are selected to participate in Leadership Iowa. Throughout their year with the program (October through June), participants convene in an Iowa community each month for a two-day session. Each session focuses on a specific topic or issue important to Iowa, allowing participants to step outside of their areas of expertise and gain a refreshed, insider’s perspective on the condition, needs, and future of our state. 

The diverse topics of Leadership Iowa sessions typically include: agriculture, education, government, healthcare, economic development, advanced manufacturing, workforce and other pertinent subjects. Each session features unique interactive experiences, discussions with industry experts, collaborative group activities, industry tours, networking opportunities and more.

Selection Process

Individuals must be nominated in order to apply for Leadership Iowa. Anyone is welcome to nominate an individual for the program online by completing the nomination form. Self-nominations are also encouraged. The deadline to make nominations for the upcoming year is April 1.

After April 1, all nominees will receive communication regarding the application process. To apply, candidates must complete an online application and essay questions, submit a signed consent form from their employer, and pay a $50 application fee. This is a one-time fee that is waived for repeat applicants. All applicants are then notified of their selection status in July.

Applications are reviewed and evaluated through an extensive selection process by a committee. Participants are selected based on several criteria including leadership potential, community engagement, and more. Diversity among the group is also strongly considered when creating each class. The impact of Leadership Iowa is far greater when the group represents a wide variety of industries, professions, backgrounds, and geographic locations. 

Many qualified individuals apply each year to take part in Leadership Iowa, several more than the 40 selected each year. It is common for candidates to apply more than once before being selected. 


The current Leadership Iowa tuition fee is $2,800. This fee covers the cost of all in-program materials, experiences, and meals during the eight monthly program sessions, including participation in ABI's annual Taking Care of Business Conference, where the class will graduate.

Participants are responsible for lodging and travel expenses. If needed, scholarships for up to half of the tuition cost ($1,400) are available for qualified applicants after their selection in the program. The need for scholarship assistance can be indicated on the application form, but is not taken into consideration for selection purposes. 

Often times, employers are not only willing, but eager to underwrite the cost of their employee taking part in Leadership Iowa. They understand that the benefits of sending employees through Leadership Iowa far outweigh the expense. 

Impact of Leadership Iowa

Since its inception in 1982, more than 1,400 Iowans from across the state have participated in Leadership Iowa. Leadership Iowa encourages participants to use the tools they gain during their experience to bring about positive change in their workplaces and communities, thereby creating a better future for Iowa.

  • Impact on Participants: Participants gain current, relevant knowledge about the state in which we live and work, and also form life-long friendships with fellow participants that leads to a connected network of individuals who are enriched both personally and professionally through this shared experience.

  • Impact on Communities: Participants explore a wide variety of Iowa communities and topics each month, seeing first-hand how statewide challenges are impacting rural and urban areas of the state.

  • Impact on Iowa: Leadership Iowa creates a connected statewide network of informed leaders motivated to lead our state to a visionary future, while inspiring innovation and collaboration across industries, geographical locations, age groups and more.