In Brief

Leadership Training Offered for Faith-Based Group

A new three-year pilot program at The Fletcher School offers strategic skills to lay and ordained leaders in the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago
January 3, 2020

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One participant hopes to help clergy avoid burnout. Another wants to support parochial school students as they consider how religious principles apply to challenges such as climate change and poverty. And a third aims to harness modern communication technologies to connect a youth ministry with a broader audience.

These three members of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago will join seventeen of their peers this month in a new executive education program at The Fletcher School called Strategic Leadership and Transformative Action. The four-day intensive program, which covers topics such as financial management, communications, and conflict resolution, is funded by a  three-year grant from the nonprofit organization FAITH: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism.

“The goal is to help faith-based leaders reflect on what leadership means for their communities, to think more systematically and purposefully about leadership,” said Elizabeth Prodromou, J81, F83, a visiting associate professor of conflict resolution who coordinates the program and directs Fletcher’s Initiative on Religion, Law, and Diplomacy. “The program also aims to help participants to explore how they can apply the teachings of their own traditions to some very well-developed training and tools on effective leadership.”

“The goal is to help faith-based leaders . . . think more systematically and purposefully about leadership,” said Elizabeth Prodromou, a visiting associate professor of conflict resolution at Fletcher, seen here in a video interview with former dean James Stavridis.The twenty participants for the January session were selected through an application process overseen by FAITH. Half are ordained and half are lay people, and they work in a variety of fields, from health care and law to faith-based organizations affiliated with the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. The participants come from five of the six states of that metropolis, which includes parishes in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri. The program is the first of its kind for the Greek Orthodox community of America.

Participants in the program will engage in lectures, seminars, and skills workshops and will develop their own projects to implement later. Topics will include ethical leadership; strategic planning and financial management for nonprofits; communications and media for faith-based organizations; religious literacy and American religious pluralism; and mission, theories of change, and accountability.

Prodromou said she would like to tailor the program for other faith-based communities, which have expressed interest in leadership training at Fletcher. “Until now, our answer to them has been, ‘Well, we’d like to, but not yet,’” she said. “Now we have a template that can be customized to a whole panoply of faith-based communities committed to leadership excellence, best practices, and impact in dealing with urgent existential issues confronting the world.”

Heather Stephenson can be reached at heather.stephenson@tufts.edu.