Regional Leadership Institute (RLI)

Metro Atlanta needs leaders to continue to work on critical issues like housing affordability, education, and economic competitiveness. RLI is designed to bring leaders together to understand how these issues intersect and how to build a regional approach to solving them. The weeklong interactive program invites participation from the 11-county metro area to build a network of leaders interested in working across disciplines and geographical boundaries to build a stronger Atlanta region.

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What do leaders get from RLI?

  • CREATE A NETWORK of community-minded leaders of diverse backgrounds
  • AN EDUCATION about the processes, programs, opportunities, and challenges that impact the 11-county Atlanta region
  • A RESOURCE for sharing new ideas, engaging new sectors, and building new partnerships for the region’s long-term success

Who attends RLI?

RLI participants include existing and emerging leaders representing the  sectors of the 11-county Atlanta region. This includes elected officials, department heads, business executives and organization leaders. Since the program’s inception in 1991, nearly 1,500 leaders have participated in RLI.

Nicole Hendrickson“The Regional Leadership Institute experience has not only deepened my awareness of the challenges facing the region, but has allowed me to interact with fellow decision makers and seek out innovative solutions to move our region forward collectively. It was one of my best experiences!”

Nicole Hendrickson, Chairwoman, Gwinnett County Government; Class of 2016

RLI Alumni

RLI boasts more than 1,500 graduates that continue to build on a network of leadership that will usher the region into a vibrant future.

  • Launchpad is a leadership academy at Clayton State University and funded by Mailchimp that helps students and faculty adapt to the 21st century workforce. The idea was created by two RLI 2016 participants, Jarrett Terry and Lain Shakespeare.
  • Heather Infantry (RLI class of 2018), and Fabiola Charles Stokes (RLI class of 2019) have partnered to make Generator Google’s first Community Connections in Atlanta.
  • Mayor-elect Joseph Geierman of Doraville (RLI class of 2018) and Mayor Bianca Motley Broom of College Park discuss the importance of regionalism on A Closer Look with Rose Scott.


“The Regional Leadership Institute was a necessary and transformative experience for my leadership development and impact in the region. Oftentimes, we lead in silos, and RLI is an amazing opportunity to understand the collective action of our work. This experience offers the network to connect and learn from some of the region’s most impactful leaders. I am a stronger leader because of this program. Thank you Atlanta Regional Commission.”

Eshé P. Collins, Chair, Atlanta Board of Education; Class of 2021

See the full list of RLI alumni:

Regional Leadership Institute Alumni

RLI Details

The Regional Leadership Institute recruits candidates through a competitive application process. The 50 participants selected for RLI meet for a week in Savannah, Georgia to learn together about the region’s issues. Sessions have included (among others): Building an Educated Workforce, Community Planning and Visioning, Systems, Policy, and Action: A Framework for Inclusion and Equity, and Housing Affordability, Access and a Growing Population.

2022 RLI Schedule

  • Orientation reception: TBD
  • RLI week begins: Sunday, September 18, 12 PM (in Savannah)
  • RLI week ends: Friday, September 23, 11 AM
  • Follow-up event: TBD

NOTE: Participants are expected to participate in all RLI events including the reception, follow-up event and every day of the program in Savannah.

“I am always impressed with the content of the program and the participants the Regional Leadership Institute. I am often asked to give speeches at other leadership programs around the region. I always end those by suggesting that participants’ next step as leaders should be RLI. I don’t think one can be an authentic and effective leader without first understanding the regional context. There is no better way to learn than going through RLI.”

Bill Bolling, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Founder; Class of 1992

Application Process

Applications are solicited from eleven counties in the metro Atlanta region – Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale. Interested individuals apply directly to ARC during the application period.

Selection Process

All applicants must complete the official online application by March 15 at 5 p.m. A selection committee will review applications and the final selection will be based on:

  1. Information in the application that indicates significant commitment to effecting positive community and regional change.
  2. History of civic engagement and potential for regional influence.
  3. Curiosity in deepening knowledge of regional issues and opportunities as well as desire to work collaboratively with leaders across geographical, political, and institutional boundaries.
  4. Leadership potential.

Review Process

The RLI Selection Committee is comprised of ARC staff and select RLI alumni. Each year the committee seeks to select a diverse group of individuals with regard to ethnicity, gender, geography, profession, community service, and demonstrated leadership. This is a competitive process. If you have questions, please contact RLI Program Manager Folashade Alao at

Participant Commitment

If selected, participants are expected to commit to the following:

Attendance – The Regional Leadership Institute is a week-long comprehensive program that consists of a half-day program on Sunday afternoon, four full-day programs Monday through Thursday, and a morning program on Friday. Full-day sessions are generally held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Participants are expected to arrive on Sunday, September 18 by 12 p.m. and attend all sessions each day of the program. The class ends on Friday, September 23 at  11 a.m. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS.

Cost – Tuition includes accommodations and most meals (breakfast and lunch each program day; dinner on Sunday and Thursday). Participants are responsible for their own travel to and from Savannah.

  • $3,250 Nonprofit/government (i.e. local government agencies, smaller nonprofit/advocacy orgs)
  • $3,650 For profit/private sector (i.e. businesses, consulting firms, economic development agencies, CIDs, very large/robust nonprofits)