Elgin Area Leadership Academy


The award-winning Elgin Area Leadership Academy (EALA) is an experience for individuals interested in building an understanding of community leadership through exposure, enrichment, and engagement. This premier program crafts and delivers a curriculum specifically designed to assist individuals in becoming active and engaged leaders in their community.

A program sponsored by the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, EALA develop a corps of informed, committed, and qualified individuals capable of providing dynamic leadership for the greater Elgin area. Founded in 1990, more than 475 individuals have graduated from the Academy volunteering in virtually all aspects of the community. The curriculum provides broad-based leadership perspectives to familiarize participants with the needs, opportunities, and resources in the Elgin area.

EALA is a 10-month program, meeting on Saturday mornings, featuring distinguished community leaders, content experts, and successful executives in the Elgin area sharing their ideas, perspectives and experiences. Monthly programs provide individuals with the skills, knowledge, connections and engagement necessary to develop and leverage a strong professional network of future and current Elgin leaders in all industry types.

During the monthly sessions, participants work together with local leaders to expand their network of contacts and resources, to increases their breadth of knowledge about the community, and to develop leadership skills. The curriculum also includes a community assignment, challenging the participants to explore current issues first-hand.

The objectives of the Elgin Area Leadership Academy:

  • Develop informed, trained and committed leaders who understand the issues and needs of the community.
  • Create the opportunity for leaders to meet, establish rapport, and maintain ongoing professional relationships.
  • Ensure that participants involve themselves in greater roles in their community through volunteerism in service and civic organizations, serving on appointed boards and running for local elected offices.
  • Create the opportunity for future leaders to continue to identify and study local issues.
  • Enhance the skills necessary to become effective leaders of the community.

Download Application and Class Schedule

Register and Pay online before June 10 and save  $50.00. Use Promo Code JUNE10


"EALA was an amazing experience. Imagine going to class on a Saturday morning, every other week, for 4 hours, but enjoying every session. I truly believe all of my classmates enjoyed every class. EALA fulfilled and exceeded my expectations. It was inspirational, exciting, eye-opening, and educational. I appreciate how well this program was put together. I appreciate the opportunities we were given to help us see Elgin and all its beauty. Elgin has so much to offer, and that is an understatement. I never had such a great appreciation for a city, not even my own! Shh... Aside from learning about Elgin itself, I have taken much more away from this program. I have grown as a leader, I am more confident in expressing my ideas and opinions with my colleagues and board members. I am more aware of how much effort, patience, collaboration, and networking takes place when working for a non-profit organization. I have been made aware of many more resources that are available within the community. As graduation approaches, I look back at the early days of class and recall the fun and hilarious team building activities we experienced. It makes me smile because I can only remember good times, no bad times because there just weren't any. It's sad to think that we are down to our last class... It's been such a phenomenal class. I've made great friendships that will last a lifetime. I will miss this amazing group of people. We came, we laughed, we learned, and we succeeded together. Cheers to the class of 2017" Kimpha Amy Chau Keoborakot


About the Academy

The Academy is led by community volunteers Dan Fox, Don Waters and Ruth Munson who have extensive leadership involvement in Elgin. Through their guidance, participants receive skills and knowledge necessary to become an effective leader through a curriculum built around community issues, including city government, economic development, ethics, health care resources, education and much, much more.

EALA is a rewarding experience designed to meet our community’s needs for active and future leaders.

DAN FOX, M.A. Dan is a graduate of Southern Illinois University and Northeastern Illinois University with an emphasis in government and political science. He taught social studies for 33 years at Conant High School where he coached and, in 1973, initiated one of the first mandatory student community service programs in Illinois. He served eight years on the Elgin City Council, was President of the Elgin Literacy Connection and served on the Elgin Planning and Development Commission. Dan is serving on the Board of PADS of Elgin and is a co-founder and co-facilitator of the award-winning Elgin Area Leadership Academy, now in its sixteenth year.


DON WATERS, Ed.D. Don is a graduate of Ball State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia with an emphasis in an administration of higher education and counseling. He has had extensive experience in leadership development and organizational planning. He was Vice President of Elgin Community College and a high school guidance counselor. He was President of the National Council for Resource Development and the President of the Illinois Council for Resource Development. In the community, he has served on the Elgin City Council for seven years, was President of the Elgin Kiwanis Club, Vice President of United Way Board and President of the Golden Corridor Economic Development Council. He also was a co-founder and is currently co-facilitator of the Elgin Leadership Academy.


RUTH MUNSON graduated from Northern Illinois University In 1981 with a BA in political science. An owner of a small technology firm, Ruth and her family moved to Elgin in 1990. She knew a good thing when she saw it and promptly enrolled in the first class of the Elgin Area Leadership Academy. Since graduating from the EALA, Ruth has led the effort to construct a community-built playground and co-founded both the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin and the award-winning Fiesta Salsa. She served on the boards of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Heritage Coalition, Economic Development Council, Elgin Community College Foundation and McKinley School PTO. Additionally, she was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Elgin, Elgin Hispanic Network, United Way distribution committee and participated in numerous other local boards and community-based efforts. Ruth served four years on the Elgin City Council and six years as State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly before proudly joining her mentors, Dan Fox and Don Waters, in 2012 as an EALA facilitator.

EALA Steering Committee


EALA Testimonials

"My experience attending the academy was very beneficial.  The many skills that I gained through the academy have been a valuable asset to me and others as I advance through my career path." Karen Werrbach MSN, RNC-OB, NEA-BC, Director, Women & Children's, Rockford Memorial Hospital

Rich Jacobs says "I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I was in the Academy in 2005-2006. I made many wonderful friends and learned a lot about how I could contribute to my community. I would highly recommend EALA!"

"EALA was a great experience! I developed many friendships, awareness of community needs and how I can help make a difference right here at home." former EALA student