Ignite Louisville Leadership Program for Young Professionals

Build leadership potential. Stand out from the crowd.
Ignite your career.

Since 2004, Ignite Louisville has been the go-to leadership credential for up-and-coming leaders looking to build the skills and tools to differentiate themselves to take the next step in their career. Far from just another leadership program, it’s a masterclass in getting things done with and through other people. Over the 6-month experience, you’ll learn skills that make you a better team member and leader. It’s the perfect program for mid-level leaders looking for their next promotion, position, or potential to make an impact in their organizations and community. 


For up-and-coming leaders age 25-45

6-Month Program (see calendar)

Classroom instruction & hands-on application

Applications are due July 29, 2023:
Apply Now
Presenting Sponsor:
Norton Healthcare

Connect with like-minded high-performers, building a stronger peer network that can last a lifetime.

Learn from highly-credentialed and experienced trainers from LeadingBetter™ and elite trainers from Louisville’s largest and most successful companies. Build skills that will increase your productivity, allowing you to stand out and get more done.

Meet and hear from successful corporate and nonprofit leaders in our region, their career stories and lessons learned helping you find pathways for advancement.

Being selected for this competitive program is something to shout about, but it’s the skills learned and impact you’ll make through Ignite Louisville that will truly prepare you for the next stage of your career.

Register for a Virtual Info Session

Quickly and conveniently dive deeper into the program, have your questions answered, and find out if the program is a great fit for you at one of our upcoming 30-minute virtual info sessions. Register:
June 7, 2023


Click to jump to a section or page:

How it Works

Who should apply

Details & Tuition

How Individuals Benefit

How Organizations Benefit

How to Apply

Frequently Asked Questions

Online Application

Manager Commitment Form

Program Calendar

Headshot Upload

Nominate a Candidate

Register for an Info Session

Contact Us

How it Works

Ignite Louisville is an immersive experience that pushes young professionals out of their comfort zones and into active leadership roles. There are two main components:


  • Two-Day Retreat. This mandatory retreat launches the class. It gives participants the opportunity to learn more about themselves, their leadership style, and effective team dynamics. We will form teams, and begin the deep networking that continues throughout the program.
  • Monthly Program Days. Participants get top training from some of the region’s most high-profile corporations and the Center’s highly-rated curriculum. Topics include: innovation, creative thinking, project management, effective communication, personal branding, DE&I, and leading up, down, and across.


  • Ignite Louisville Challenge. This is the hands-on aspect of the program. You will be part of a team and partner with an area nonprofits for four months to apply the teamworking and leadership lessons learned during the program. Teams forge meaningful relationships as they solve organizational challenges that significantly impact our nonprofit community. The challenge culminates at graduation, where the teams present their projects for a chance to win a grant for their nonprofit partner (see the last set of projects here).

Program days, deep networking, and nonprofit partnerships allow participants to forge relationships with a broader network of young professionals and achieve heightened visibility within the community.

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Who Should Apply

Ideal Ignite Louisville candidates are

  • High-performing young professionals or up-and-coming leaders who are on the path to significant leadership positions within their organizations.
  • Individuals who are engaged, involved, and ready to make a positive impact both in their career and in their community.
  • Typically between the ages of 25-45. Leaders above and below this mean are invited to contact us and we can help you decide if Ignite Louisville is right for you.

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Details and Tuition

Time Commitment: Ignite Louisville is offered once a year (October-April). The program includes:

  • A mandatory two-day opening retreat
  • One full program day per month
  • Time spent working with a nonprofit partner in the Ignite Louisville Challenge civic leadership project outside of program days.

Participants are expected to attend all program days, so please check the program calendar to ensure the dates work for your schedule prior to submitting an application.

Tuition: Tuition for Ignite Louisville is $4,200. This includes overnight retreat lodging, meals, and materials. We understand that this is a barrier for some, and encourage you to reach out to us for guidance on how to convince your employer to fund the cost of the program. If your employer is unable to support your participation financially, tuition assistance through Leadership Louisville Center is available based on need. You can request tuition assistance through your application form.

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How individuals benefit

  • Exclusive leadership development training from the Leadership Louisville Center and our partner organizations – which include top Louisville employers (such as Brown-Forman) and the U.S. Army (our Ft. Knox program day is unforgettable). Topics include: innovation, creative thinking, project management, effective communication, personal branding, DE&I, and leading up, down, and across.
  • Unforgettable experiences and valuable new relationships with a diverse network of young professionals.
  • Recognition as a rising young professional leader with demonstrated ability to take on leadership challenges and serve on civic boards and committees.
  • Leadership lessons that can only be learned outside your comfort zone.

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  • “Words cannot express the incredible experience I had in Ignite Louisville. I’m forever grateful for the countless relationships developed, the insights acquired, and the impact our class created.”
    Raechele Gray, Endeavor Louisville

  • “Ignite showed me the power of diversity.  My team of varied backgrounds, experiences, and strengths not only produced results beyond what I could have imagined, but also became life-long friends.”
    Elizabeth Strehl, Humana Inc.

  • “This was the most powerful and impactful leadership program that I have been involved in. I absolutely loved this program. I was apprehensive about the time commitment, but quickly fell in love with the project and the program days, plus I had phenomenal teammates. This is seven months I’ll never forget.”
    Wes Syndor MSD

  • “Ignite Louisville gave me friendships, confidence, and the ability to think outside of my usual perspective…The chance to learn about other industries made me a stronger leader in my company and the community, and I know that Ignite Louisville opened doors that would have otherwise remained shut.”
    Lindsay Wehr, Kosair Charities

How Organizations Benefit

  • Higher performing young professional talent and increased leadership capacity – participants learn through 50 hours of professional development and additional hours in applied teamwork.
  • Stronger employee engagement as young professionals are better equipped for leadership roles within their company and are supported in their deeper involvement in the community.
  • Valuable business connections with the region’s top corporations, including access to invaluable internal training programs of these organizations.
  • Local recognition as an organization dedicated to growing the next generation of leaders in our community.

Learn More about how Employers Benefit
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How to Apply

Applications for the next program (October 2023 – April 2024) will close on July 29th. Our selection committee considers experience, community service, responses to essay questions, and approval from your employer/supervisor. The application consists of three parts:

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Have questions about the program? See Frequently Asked Questions about Ignite Louisville, attend an upcoming Information Session, or feel free to reach out to Sara Bowman, and she’ll help you determine if this program is a good fit for you:

sbowman@leadershiplouisville.org | (502) 753-1492

Or fill out this form and we’ll get back to you with more information:

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Nonprofits interested in an Ignite Louisville Team

The most powerful aspect of the Ignite Louisville program is the service-learning component. Teams of these young professionals partner with local nonprofits to compete in the Ignite Louisville Challenge. This partnership is for the benefit of and completely free for our partner organizations. If you are a nonprofit interested in having an Ignite Louisville team of your own, click here to learn more about how our organization can help you achieve your goals.


Presenting sponsor Norton Healthcare