For students inclined towards leadership, the LeaderShape Institute provided “an immersion living/learning experience” during winter break. Over six days, students learned “to create a just, caring, thriving world where everyone leads with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible,” according to Program Coordinator and Director of Campus Leadership and Involvement Natalie Pariano. The LeaderShape Institute, known worldwide as a premier leadership program, is provided by LeaderShape, Inc., a non-profit founded in 1986 in Champaign, Ill.


Denison’s 12th session of the LeaderShape Institute began on Jan. 7, when 66 students traveled to Salt Fork State Park, Lodge, and Conference Center in Lore City, Ohio. They went through an intense six-day curriculum, intended “to produce a breakthrough in the leadership capacity of participants and facilitators which is demonstrated on their campus, in their community, or within their organization.” Daily learning objectives helped students learn to develop a vision, make it into reality, and lead with integrity.


Students who participate in LeaderShape experience many benefits, in addition to gaining leadership skills. “Participants are able to dig deep into what they care about in the context of a supportive learning community, and create a vision for a better world based on their passions. Students build trusting relationships with their peers that they would not otherwise know and it allows them to cross the invisible social, cultural and contextual boundaries on campus,” according to Pariano.


For Emily Schultz, an undeclared major first-year from Erie, Pa., the program gave her “tools to create our own personal vision for the world, and were encouraged to create manageable goals to accomplish during our time at Denison. I left the program feeling educated, self-aware, and inspired by all of the positive energy around me.”


The students build a community both as the whole group, the Learning Community, and in smaller groups, family clusters often students and a faculty or staff facilitator. Groups benefit from a diverse group of people, spanning all four classes, as well as different majors, genders, backgrounds, and hometowns.


One of the valuable aspects of the LeaderShape institute is the variety of experience available to students through the institute’s leaders. Two students, Megan McCormick ‘15 and Gary Fleisner ‘13, were the Leadership Fellows and On-Site Coordinators for LeaderShape. This year’s two Lead Facilitators, trained by LeaderShape, Inc., were Arthur Gregg, the director of the Multicultural Center at the University of Texas at Dallas, and Jennifer Jones, Executive Director of Student Development and Programs from the Southern Methodist University. Pariano herself, who served as the Program Coordinator, has consistently volunteered with LeaderShape since her own experience at the Institute as an undergraduate, and also travels to other universities and national sessions to be a Lead Facilitator.


Applications for the 2014 LeaderShape session will open in the fall, and more information can be found at or by e-mailing