Cornerstone GettyImages 1189302552 Scaled

LO is more than Professional Development

Cornerstone is the primary program that Leadership Oakland offers to individuals seeking to expand their leadership skills personally, professionally and publicly. The program begins in September with a 2 1/2 day retreat, and end in June with a memorable graduation. Each month class members participate in additional sessions with a different regional focus-from education, government and the justice system to health and human services and race and ethnic diversity. Each in-depth session is led by subject experts, and includes a mix of lectures, activities and observation. Class members leave these sessions with an expanded understanding of the interconnected community, and the inspiration and knowledge to make a difference in every aspect of their lives.


Cost: $3,500

Application Deadline

Early Deadline: April 30

Standard Application Deadline: June 30

Frequently Asked Questions

Who participates in Leadership Oakland?

Talented, committed professionals with a desire to strengthen their leadership, organizations and community make up a Leadership Oakland class. The program is open to people living or working in Oakland County and the surrounding region. Participants come from a wide variety of industries, backgrounds, career levels, and age ranges from those in their 20s to those in their 70s.

How does the program work?

The Leadership Oakland Cornerstone Program is a nine-month program that kicks off with a Leadership Development Retreat consisting of 2 1/2 days in early September. At the retreat, participants get to know one another, gain an overview of the region, examine their leadership potential, and set goals for the year. The Retreat is followed by additional sessions each month from October through May. Each session is designed to expose participants to current resources and issues impacting our region as well as prompt them to think more deeply about their individual and group leadership growth and actions. The program concludes with the group Day of Service project and a special graduation event.

How can I be part of the next Leadership Oakland class?

Applications open each January. The class is limited to approximately 50 participants who are selected by the Leadership Oakland Selection Committee. The committee seeks to create a class that reflects a cross-section of the community, representing diversity of race, culture, age, and gender, and ability, as well as a diverse group of professional affiliations. In making its selection, the committee also looks for individuals most apt to utilize their leadership for the long-term benefit of the community.

Do I have to be part of a company or large organization to apply?

No. In fact, we’ve seen an increase in the number of entrepreneurs/small business owners and community leaders choosing to participate in recent years.

When is the application deadline?

The early application deadline is April 30. The standard application deadline is June 30.

What are the advantages of applying before the early application deadline?

Your application will be considered in the early selection review that happens in May. Applicants accepted during that review phase will lock in their spot for the year, regardless of the number of applications received after April 30.

How much is the program? Are there scholarships available?

The tuition cost is $3,500. We have some limited, partial scholarships available for applicants who are paying the tuition themselves or are from smaller businesses or non-profit organizations. If you are interested in scholarship assistance, please note that with your application, and be assured it will not affect the selection process. We also work with individuals, if needed, in establishing a payment plan.

Do I really have time for this?

We hear from a number of graduates who, initially hesitant about the time commitment, found that the experience and relationships created exceeded their expectations and determined it was a wise investment of time. Click here to hear from some of our alumni about their experiences.

I have more questions. Where can I get them answered?

Any member of our staff would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Please contact Leadership Oakland at

Session Topics


17-19, 2023

Leadership Development Retreat

The Leadership Oakland class meets each other for the first time at this 2 1/2 day retreat. Highly interactive, they gain insight into the program experience as well as their leadership/personal strengths and areas of development. Class members complete this retreat energized and motivated for the year ahead.

October 2023

Economy & Government

This session looks at the economic forces and government structures that shape Oakland County and their impact on the region. Participants hear directly from business and government leaders on the opportunities and challenges they face daily.

November 2023

Nonprofits & Human Services

In this highly impactful session, participants gain an understanding of how nonprofits and human service agencies contribute to the strength of our region. They see firsthand how these organizations serve a vital need throughout Southeast Michigan.

December 2023

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Often called one of the most impactful sessions of the program by graduates, this is not the stereotypical diversity training. Participants leave with an increased awareness and appreciation of complexities surrounding diversity and inclusion and its impact on their effectiveness as leaders.

January 2024


The changing worlds of healthcare impacts us all. Experts from throughout the region provide insight and understanding to the variety of developments that affect participants personally and professionally.

February 2024

Justice System

Witness firsthand the criminal justice system in action. In this eye-opening session, participants get a comprehensive look – from the local to the federal level – at the inner workings of justice.

March 2024

Education & Workforce Development

This session provides an awareness of educational systems as they evolve to meet the needs in developing the workforce and its future leaders. Current issues and innovations from early childhood through adult learning are explored.

April 2024

Arts & Culture

Participants gain a broad perspective of the arts and cultural sector in Southeast Michigan. They are exposed to the issues facing the future of the arts and their impact on the economic and social climate in our region.

May 2024


Our changing environment is the focus of this session. Experts from throughout the region provide insight and understanding to the variety of developments that affect participants personally and professionally.


Day of Service Project

The Leadership Oakland class finalizes and executes the group’s class project.

June 2024

Shaping the Future & Graduation

This session brings the Leadership Oakland Cornerstone experience full circle. It assimilates the insights and key learnings of the program and challenges participants to identify future action as a group and as individuals. Leadership Oakland participants and their guests are then invited to celebrate the completion of the Cornerstone Program and the participant’s commitment to continued leadership.

Applicant Requirements

The Committee will be seeking participation from a cross-section of the community. Participants should be active in business, and/or professional, educational, governmental, artistic, religious, service or community organizations. Retired individuals are also considered.

The most important factor in selection is identifying those individuals most apt to utilize their leadership for the long-term benefit of the community. In reviewing applications, the Selection Committee looks for candidates who demonstrate the following characteristics:


Genuine concern for the future of Oakland County and the region.


A sincere commitment, motivation and interest to serve Oakland County and the region.


Willingness and ability to make the time commitment required by the program.


The intention of seeking appointments to community boards, commissions or key volunteer leadership positions.


Representative of the diversity of the region.

For additional information contact Leadership Oakland at

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