About

LEADERSHIP WHEN IT MATTERS MOST

The National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) is a joint venture of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Division of Policy Translation and Leadership Development and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership.

Since 2003, the NPLI has been a crisis leadership training program and research center dedicated to preparing those who lead in safety and security, preparedness, response, and recovery. More than 700 executive education NPLI alumni help lead federal, state, and local government agencies as well as in the private and non-profit sectors. Thousands more have attended NPLI workshops, seminars, and other leadership training programs.

Working in collaboration with key government, private, and non-profit agencies, the NPLI helps ensure that today’s unprecedented challenges are met with uncommon leadership from top officials and encourages connectivity across public, private, and non-profit sectors.

The mission of the NPLI is to equip leaders with the skills, knowledge, and abilities required to effectively lead during crisis in the 21st century by addressing four primary goals:

  • To prepare, teach and engage global, national, regional, and local leaders to cross geographic and organizational boundaries to prepare for, respond to, and recover from adverse events both natural and man-made;
  • To provide a forum for convening diverse leaders to tackle complex system challenges and improve preparedness;
  • To establish an institutional base to conduct qualitative and quantitative research, which will help equip leaders with new tools to address rapidly evolving challenges;
  • To develop and identify Harvard faculty and NPLI graduates who can reach out to officials at all levels of government as well as the private and non-profit sectors providing advice and insight relative to critical leadership challenges.

By design, the NPLI is a multi-agency, multi-sector program designed to foster connectivity across the many entities involved in major incidents. Our leadership development programs are built on the framework and practice method of Meta-Leadership that combines conceptual rigor with pragmatic insights developed through field research on events including natural and man-made disasters.

NPLI research is conducted by embedding with leaders in the field during the midst of high-stakes events and interviewing them after incidents. Faculty have been on the ground during or in the aftermath of events from Hurricane Katrina to the H1N1 pandemic, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Boston Marathon bombing response, Hurricane Harvey, and more. In each incident, the intent of faculty is to discover and distill enduring principles that can be used to teach future generations of leaders.  The output of these activities includes short, lessons-learned case histories, white papers, and teaching cases.