Institute for Leadership and Diversity (ILEAD)

The Institute for Leadership and Diversity (ILEAD) at the Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business integrates the school's accelerating focus on organizational diversity and inclusive leadership.

In addition to providing innovative student, community and executive leadership education and development opportunities, ILEAD will consolidate and expand the Ilitch School's inclusive leadership service and research programs with business and community partners. This work involves nurturing collaborative relationships with corporate, government and nongovernmental organizations concerned with advancing leadership and inclusion agendas.

Through its myriad initiatives and broad community exposure, ILEAD will promote leadership and diversity research and practice — fields increasingly recognized as among the decade's most salient challenges for organizational success.

Associate Dean and Professor Toni Somers and management faculty member Sheri Perelli have driven the creation of ILEAD over the past two years and serve as the institute's faculty co-directors. They've also been involved in recent initiatives by the Ilitch School in support of leadership and inclusion in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors — strategically undertaken with local, state, national and international collaborators — demonstrating the school's impact in fueling the development of inclusive organizations and leadership in Michigan and beyond.

Over the past two years, the Ilitch School has:

  • produced three widely distributed research reports exploring corporate and entrepreneurial leadership and inclusion practices and performance in Michigan companies, in support of the Inforum Center for Leadership and the Michigan Women's Foundation
  • been selected as the host institution for the April 2017 Reachout Conference of the Committee of 200, an international organization of the world's most successful women entrepreneurs and corporate innovators
  • initiated the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) in collaboration with the National Association of Women Business Owners, Greater Detroit Chapter (NAWBO/EXCEL), a year-long program unique in the nation for its exclusive focus on middle and high school girls
  • launched a Corporate Mentor Program, which pairs first-generation college students with Detroit executives for long-term, one-on-one mentoring
  • launched the Warriors Business Community to cement networks among first-generation college students and peer leaders through a residential experience on Wayne State's campus
  • hosted women business majors at an AutomotiveNEXT executive networking event

ILEAD will provide a cohesive platform for these types of programs in the future, and Somers said the school's impending move to the District Detroit makes it the perfect time to solidify efforts in leadership and diversity.  

"We have an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen our relationships with Detroit business, government and non-profit communities and contribute to the revitalization of the city," Somers said. "Strong ties to and productive collaborations with business, government and non-profit organizations to advance the practice of inclusive leadership will benefit both students and alumni seeking rewarding careers in those sectors."

ILEAD's foundation in diversity reflects one of Wayne State's strengths and differentiating characteristics. The university's student body, which includes a significant number of first-generation college attendees, is among the most diverse in the nation.

 "We anticipate that the personal presence and active involvement of diverse city leaders in our classrooms and at our events will motivate and inspire students," Perelli said. 

For more information, email ilead@wayne.edu or call 313-577-6116.