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Where Leaders develop the self-awareness, skills and tools to navigate change with confidence and ease.
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Grow Your Capacity to Face Challenges Courageously and to Realize New Possibilities Within Yourself, Your Organizations, and Society

Our world is in a crisis of leadership.

We need leaders who can access the best of who they are in the service of others — and create lasting, positive change.

Here are just some of the current challenges we are facing:

  • Climate change, natural disasters and resource depletion
  • Ethical crises in corporations worldwide
  • Overwork and burnout of employees, and a “jobless” recovery in developed nations
  • A relentless drive for short-term profitability
  • Social programs relying on continual growth to secure funding
  • The growing power of big business
  • Healthcare emergencies in developing nations

While these challenges paint a gloomy picture, each one is a golden opportunity for real, authentic leadership.

It is up to leaders like us to reach beyond the established traditions of leadership — and bring the power of self-awareness to our decisions and actions.

It all starts with your Authentic Leadership.

What is An Authentic Leader?

An Authentic Leader is a leader who has risen above the need to have an “at home” self and an “at work” self…

They understand the importance of internal alignment and self-awareness.

An Authentic Leader is someone who understands they can’t “act the role” of a leader to create trust and loyalty in their teams…

They understand the power of vulnerability, and reveal parts of themselves to influence and inspire those around them.

An Authentic Leader is a leader who integrates their head, their heart, and their hands into their work…

They are fully invested in what they do, in the people they serve, and bring their whole selves to their work.

Here are just a few qualities of an Authentic Leader

  • They are self-aware and genuine, and their behavior follows suit. This enables others to trust them all of the time, not just some of the time.
  • They are mission and values driven, while still being focused on results.

  • Authentic Leaders lead with their heart, not just their minds.
  • They take ownership when they have made a mistake and share responsibility for mistakes their team(s) make.

  • They help other people get in touch with their own power.
  • Authentic Leaders are committed to their own learning—they understand themselves as a person and are curious about how others see the world.

  • They are willing to leave their ego at the door so they can truly empower and develop others.
  • Authentic leaders create a shared vision, build teams, and remove obstacles to getting things done.

  • They guide people, organizations and groups to achieve their goals

Our Mission and Plan for You

Our mission is to transform the world by helping people transform themselves.

The Authentic Leadership Program takes you on a 16-week journey to discover your deep gifts and capabilities as a leader.

The process involves recognizing, embracing and beginning to release various beliefs and thought patterns about what leadership is… and then replacing them with your own direct experience and insight.

At times it may seem counter-intuitive. It may defy conventional “leadership training” techniques.

By the end of this journey, you’ll have a deep and unshakable connection to your leadership gifts And you’ll know how to connect with and inspire those around you to create positive change.

The 3 Primary Competencies of Authentic Leadership

The first competency is authentic presence (mind).

You will cultivate authentic presence through a variety of contemplative practices including meditation, aikido and movement. This helps you train your mind and access your own authentic experience.

The second competency is authentic relationship (heart).

You will cultivate authentic relationship through dialogue, communication skills, conflict resolution and working with differences. Authentic relationship helps a leader integrate the heart by cultivating compassion and understanding for others.

The third competency is authentic and effective action (body).

Effective action is all about leading change and mobilizing resources. It’s about “getting it done.”

During the Authentic Leadership program, you develop the skill of authentic action by selecting a project in your life or your work to actualize during the program.

“We can be the solution. We have the ability to create a whole new paradigm in our world, through business. We can reclaim the values in our work environments and begin to shift mindsets.”

Jeff Tkach

Chief Growth Officer, Rodale Institute

Welcome to the Authentic Leadership Program: A Leadership Training Centered in Self-Awareness

The Authentic Leadership Program takes you on a 16-week journey deep into your authentic leadership.

By the end of this journey, you’ll have a deep and unshakable connection to your leadership. And you’ll know exactly how to connect with and inspire those around you to create positive change.

Many of the graduates of the Authentic Leadership Program tell us they gain the personal courage and clarity to:

  • Reclaim their values in their work environments and shift mindsets
  • Be clearer and more congruent in all communication
  • Show up and make a bigger impact within their organizations
  • Create a whole new paradigm in their businesses
  • Trust themselves and trust their leadership
  • Have a larger capacity to hold complex issues both personally and professionally
  • Truly understand how to be their best self, and help others do the same
  • Find their own voice and style of leadership
  • Give back by teaching and encouraging others
  • Bring their innate talents, skills, and strengths to the work they do every day
  • Integrate their personal goals and mission with their professional work life

What Makes the Authentic Leadership Program Different

We have graduated over 900 students from the Authentic Leadership program. Here’s what makes this program different…

Easy-to-Use Online Learning Platform

The online portion of the program is delivered through our easy-to-use online learning platform

Two 5-Day In-Person Seminars

We believe the most powerful learning experiences happen in-person. That’s why there are two, 5-day live seminars included in the Authentic Leadership Program.

These seminars are your opportunities to create close, trusting relationships with like-minded peers. Peers who understand the challenges and struggles you face, but are not directly a part of your life or work. We also encourage teams from the same workplace to attend. You will have opportunities to work with others outside of your organization as well as time to work together on specific topics related to your team.

Action-Learning Project

We don’t just give you the theory, we help you apply it into your life through an action-learning project of your choice.

This is a self-selected project and can be as big as systematic change in your organization, or as small as a personal passion project.

Personal Coaching

You’ll also get five sessions with a professional personal leadership coach. Each coach is a graduate of the Authentic Leadership Program with years of professional coaching credentials and experience.

These Individual coaching sessions help you develop your unique leadership style, work on the leadership issues you’re currently facing, and complete your action-learning project.

Your coaching sessions are strictly confidential, which gives you the support and freedom to share your personal goals and professional challenges.

Susan Skjei
Lead Faculty
Susan Skjei
Lead Faculty
January 13 – May 8, 2020

Lead Faculty

Meet Susan Skjei, Your Authentic Leadership Guide

Meet Susan Skjei, Your Authentic Leadership Guide

Hi, I’m Susan Skjei, founder of the Authentic Leadership program.

I’ve been an international educator, coach, and consultant specializing in leadership and transformative change for over 25 years.

I believe Authentic Leadership is not based on a role, position or title. It is a powerful approach to leadership that is accessible to anyone who has the courage to show up, tell the truth and take action.

Here’s how I got started, and the story behind the Authentic Leadership program…


In 1998, I Discovered the Missing Element in Developing Resilient, Innovative Leaders and Unlocking the Key to Authenticity

It’s 1998 and I’ve just been promoted to Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at a fortune 1000 company.

I am suddenly responsible for the training and development of 8,500 employees worldwide — all during a time when the company is in serious trouble.

And despite falling profits, it is business as usual.

It seemed that the more challenging our business situation was, the more we tried to perfect the same-old solutions — only to create the same-old problems.

I had years of experience as a training and development professional, but the programs we were offering were not providing the breakthroughs we needed.

I knew something was missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until…

I Discovered that Bringing My “Authentic Self” — My Body, My Mind, and My Heart — Is the Key to Effective Leadership

I decided to take a break and change my perspective. So I went on a two-week meditation retreat.

It was during that retreat that I saw how much fear was keeping us stuck in old habits and patterns. I realized that the simple experience of being fully present — the experience of joining my body, my heart and my mind was the key to getting unstuck.

It was also the key to creativity, and the missing element in developing resilient, innovative authentic leaders.

I realized it wasn’t enough to just have this experience myself.” I wanted to offer it to those I served in order to help them be truly effective.

So I designed a new program that incorporated these new insights and practices. I went back to my corporate job and had some success… but eventually found the environment toxic and unwelcoming. So I left to find a more supportive environment for my work.

My search led me to Naropa University, where I created a program called the Authentic Leadership Program, the same program you’re considering right now.

And now, 20 years after its founding, over 1000 Authentic Leaders have graduated from the Authentic Leadership program.

Mary McHenry, M.Ed.

Mary McHenry, M.Ed.

Adjunct Faculty

Mary McHenry, MEd, is a wilderness guide and leadership coach with a background in music, movement and creative process. Her work explores the voice as a complex, raw and beautiful instrument for expression and communication; and embodiment as a vital leadership skill. Mary is currently Curriculum Design & Distance Education Manager for the Authentic Leadership Center at Naropa University.

Rachel Rambo

Rachel Rambo

Adjunct Faculty & Coach

Rachel Rambo, MA, is a mindfulness-based, transformational coach and consultant serving leaders and teams through change. Formerly engaged in organizational development and sustainability work within the food system, she is now serving as the Program Manager for the Authentic Leadership Center at Naropa University and continues to design and facilitate transformative learning opportunities for leaders and teams across sectors. Her education and training includes mindfulness and applied mindfulness in the workplace; diversity, equity and inclusion; leadership development and teamwork; and awareness-based systems change. Rachel holds an MA in Environmental/Resilient Leadership from Naropa University, trained with Newfield Network, and is a member of the International Coaching Federation.

Guest, Faculty & Coaches

How Your Leadership Will Change

You will learn how to navigate conflict, change, and uncertainty with ease… gain the tools and skills you need to become a more compassionate, honest, and skillful leader.

You will learn how to uncover and maybe even rediscover aspects of your vision… and integrate your personal vision into your everyday professional life.

You will realign with your core values with support of a group of other leaders

You will learn how to become a better communicator so you can help others see the vision you have for what could be.

You will truly understand how to be your best self, so you can help others do the same.

You will understand how to passionately lead with patience and compassion.

You will learn how to stay creative, fluid, and growing… and to lead rather than manage.

“I discovered that obstacles were just opportunities for personal and professional growth. I now successfully lead and support my spirited team with a keen sense of possibility.”

Resa Register

RTT Director, Radiation Oncology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Group

Program Information

Module by Module, Here’s What You Learn in the 16-Week Authentic Leadership Program

Module 1: Intro

Introduction to Authentic Leadership

    Understand the relationship between effective leadership, authenticity and trust

    Identify what authenticity is, why it is important, and how to cultivate it

    Understand how to use mindfulness practices to foster authenticity (in yourself and others)

Module 2: Awareness

Learn How to Develop Your Authenticity and Presence

    Understand how to bring your “presence” into leadership (and why this is so important)

    Actively deepen and expand your presence through your mind, body, and emotions

    Cultivate an open, curious and confident state of mind

Module 3: Exploration

Learn How to See What is and Mobilize Collective Energy

    Learn how to navigate change successfully (no matter how chaotic)

    Learn several models for change… and when to apply them for maximum results

    Learn how to harness the energy of resistance to change

Module 4: Creating

Learn How to Create a Purpose, Vision and Strategy and Share it With Others

    Understand how to create a shared vision, purpose and strategy for change

    Learn multiple ways to engage key stakeholders in your vision for change

    Create a clear vision, purpose and strategy for change you can share with your team or organization

Module 5: Partnering

Learn How to Create Short-Term Wins and Take Effective, Broad-Based Action

    Learn how to engage other people in implementing your vision and creating change

    Understand how to “prototype,” an essential part of any successful change process

    Learn how to create short-term wins so you can mobilize stakeholder commitment

Module 6: Effectiveness

Learn How to Align the Organization & Culture to Create Long-Lasting Change

    Understand how to form culture as a leader

    Recognize the importance of alignment in supporting change

    Understand how to stabilize change with key elements of organizational structure

What Students Are Saying

“I came to the AL program looking for answers to big questions of life and work. I left without answers. Somewhere through the process, I learned to listen, to really LISTEN with my whole body and then the questions disappeared.”

Kabir Sanjay Bavikatte

PhD, UNU-JSPS Fellow

Limited Availability – Enroll Now…

Are You Ready To Get the Tools, Skills, and Courage to Lead with Grace in the Face of Chaos? If So, Here’s Your Investment…

Got Questions?

Schedule a call with an advisor

Authentic Leadership Center at Naropa University is recognized by SHRM to offer SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP professional development credits (PDCs). This program is valid for 45 PDCs. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit

See the FAQ for college credits details.

Here’s How to Enroll in the 16-Week Authentic Leadership Program

Applying for the program is easy,
and takes about 10 minutes to complete.

First, use the table above to select the program dates that work best for your schedule. Then click the “Apply” button under the dates that work best for you.

From there, you’ll be guided through an application process and asked to answer several questions. You can also schedule a call with one of our enrollment advisors at any time.

After you answer all the questions, we request a $50 refundable deposit to secure your spot in the program.

You will have a call with one of our enrollment advisors and together we will make sure that this program is a good fit for you. If you then choose not to do the program, or are not accepted into the program, you will receive your entire $50 deposit back immediately.

If you have questions, please call 518-ENAROPA | (518) 362-7672.

When you join the 16-Week Authentic Leadership Program, this is exactly what you get:


    6 Easy-to-Use Online Learning Modules

    2 Intensive Five-Day On-site Seminars in Boulder, CO

    5 Private and Personal Coaching Sessions with Professional Coaches who are Graduates of the Authentic Leadership Program

    2 Small Group Coaching Sessions with Your Coach

    Direct Application of Theory into Your Life with the Completion of Your “Action-Learning” Project

    Access to One Digital Group Conference & Teaching Webinar

    Lifelong Connection to an international community of Authentic Leaders

“My key learning was to trust myself as a leader in life and in my work. Authenticity to me is very grounded in self trust and self love. I love the program onsites!”

Amy Green

President, Dynamic Potential Executive Coaching, LLC

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”


What Participants are Saying?

“In cultivating a mindset of open inquiry and risk, I continue to face and embrace new challenges and opportunities.”

Kim Kita
Director of Special Partnerships, Colorado State University Operations


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(720) 608-1238 | [email protected]

Travel By Air

  • Boulder has many lovely hotels.
  • We recommend the following because they are conveniently located to the public bus that runs to the Nalanda campus

Other lodging options:

The Authentic Leadership Program was developed in 2000 by Susan Skjei, PhD, PCC, former Training Manager at Hewlett Packard and Vice President of Human Resource Development at StorageTek. As a long-term practitioner of both meditation and leadership development, Susan brought together the best of western approaches to leadership with the practices of eastern contemplative traditions. The original faculty included Fred Kofman, PhD; Barb Lawton, PhD; Micki McMillan, MA; and Mark Wilding, MA. The program has been offered at Naropa University during the spring semester each year in Boulder since 2001. The program, which is updated every year, incorporates theory and methods from exemplars in business, human development and leadership, including: Juanita Brown, Pema Chödrön, Jim Collins, Glenda Eyong, Bill George, Mark Gerzon, Daniel Goleman, Joe Jaworski, Adam Kahane, Robert Kegan, Fred Kofman, John Kotter, Lisa Laskow Lahey, Sakyong Mipham, Julio Olalla, Parker Palmer, Otto Scharmer, Peter Senge, Chögyam Trungpa, Ken Wilber, Meg Wheatley, and Brenda Zimmerman.

Many guest faculty have taught over the years including

Barbara Bash (Calligraphy & Creative Process), Jean-Jacques Joris (Wise Action, Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy), Zoe Avstreih (Authentic Movement), Juana Bordas (Salsa, Soul and Spirit), Steve Demos (Right Livlihood), Barbara Dilley (Contemplative Movement), Mark Gerzon (Conflict Resolution), Arawana Hayashi (Embodiment Practice), Fred Kofman (Conscious Business), Barb Lawton (Leading Change), Julio Olalla (Authenticity and Emotional Intelligence), Jim Marsden (Theory U), Mikki McMillan (Commitment Conversations), Dan Montgomery (Balanced Scorecard), Laura Simms (Storytelling), Tami Simon (Contemplative Entrepreneurship), Mark Wilding (Transforming Systems), and Bob Wing (Leadership Aikido).

Got Questions?

Schedule a call with an advisor

Authentic Leadership:

Free Online Course

Become the Leader the World Needs Now

Cultivate your authenticity and presence
Learn to engage others through skillful conversation
Begin to demonstrate wise action at work and in daily life


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