NPLI Profiled for 15th Anniversary

The Harvard Gazette ran a feature story to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative:

The NPLI is a joint program of the Harvard Chan School and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). The annual executive education program has been attended by 750 leaders from 95 organizations in more than 30 states and 10 countries. It has reached thousands more leaders through symposia and training sessions away from campus.

The initiative began after 9/11 when the federal government approached [Dr. Leonard] Marcus and HKS Public Service Professor David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership and the NPLI’s other co-director. In the wake of those attacks, they discussed creating a leadership program to prepare government to respond to homeland security incidents.

The initiative launched in late 2003 to prep leaders for what’s often described as “the worst day of their lives.” The typical program stretches seven months, beginning and ending with an intensive week on campus. The time in between is spent working on cooperative projects with classmates. The program is built around the idea of “meta-leadership,” a framework that trains leaders to work toward the success of everyone around them. From that focus on the person, the program moves out to look at the situation a leader finds him- or herself in, and then further outward at the connectivity with others that mobilizes effective action.

Marty Cetron, director of global migration and quarantine for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), took the course in 2008 and said the idea that a successful leader asks, in essence, “How can I help you succeed?” resonated with him. Cetron said the concepts taught, often with catchy labels that make them easy to remember, are gathered from many sources and include some developed by program faculty and others borrowed from elsewhere.

Additional activities to commemorate the 15th anniversary will take place through June 2019.