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NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence Program

In Collaboration with Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government


The NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence Program is an opportunity for you to transform your organization for greater impact. Join 49 other high-performing CEOs and senior leaders of community-serving organizations in taking advantage of a valuable opportunity to address your top organizational challenge or opportunity—one that you and your organization define.  To properly define the challenge and then address it, you will have the support and accountability of working  one-on-one with a top-notch executive coach, cutting-edge leadership curriculum from Harvard University and work with a facilitated group of consultant-peers. You will acquire and apply new skills and knowledge to identify what the “next level” could be for your organization. Then you’ll leverage your new tools and support to propel your organization to that desired state.

In the process, you’ll advance your work, your organization and yourself.
Achieving Excellence classroom

Your performance challenge

Your  challenge (once clearly defined in the first few months of the program) is one of the most critical challenges facing you in the coming years; it requires transformative organizational change. It's an issue that requires not just your work, but that of others in your organization as well. Over the course of the 16-month program, you'll acquire and practice with new tools and new ways of thinking, and you'll keep this fresh approach for the rest of your career.  Nothing done in Achieving Excellence is “busy work” or something added to your to-do list—everything in Achieving Excellence is designed to help you tackle the most important thing on your to-do list now, the thing that you would be working on whether you were in the program or not. Achieving Excellence will give you a new perspective that allows you to tackle the issue faster, more effectively and with better overall results, along with tools to make you a more effective leader overall.

Your executive coach

Change isn’t easy, and creating organizational change is particularly tough.  You won’t go it alone.  Each participant in the NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence Program receives executive coaching throughout the 16 months of the program to keep the new tools and concepts top-of-mind, to hold you accountable, to support you when you are being too tough on yourself, and to provide guidance as you navigate change in your organization.  

Your peer support group

To assist you in achieving performance, learning and change, the program includes structured collaboration among your talented cohort of leaders. Working with a group of approximately nine others, you will be accountable to each other while also being accountable to yourself, your coach, your organization and your community. Dozens of peer groups even stay together long after the program ends (including at least one peer group from the first AE class in 2000!).  The peer group is not there to become your friends, though that may happen; they are there to provide support when you face obstacles and honest feedback to keep you on track if you begin to fall short — and you will do the same for each of them.

Your Mind-Opening Curriculum

The multi-disciplinary approach of the academic curriculum at Harvard concentrates on the issues of leadership in organizations working to benefit their communities. Delivered in three week-long sessions over the 16 months of the program, the coursework is case-based and designed around your issues — those on your plate right now, those on the horizon, and the ever-present challenge of how to increase the community impact of the work you do. Faculty will lead a critical exploration of emerging issues in strategic analysis and planning, leadership and organizational alignment, equity and inclusion, performance measurement, community building, alliances and partnerships, and other relevant topics. Their approach will allow you to learn from cutting-edge work in the field and apply it within your own environment. It is expected that two of three curriculum modules will take place on campus at Harvard University and the third will take place online.
A unique opportunity to address your top organizational challenge or opportunity.