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Emerging Leaders Academy: How to Apply

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Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for APWA’s Emerging Leaders Academy, candidates must be:

  • Individuals who have been working in the field of public works or performing public works-related functions for no more than 10 years or have been working for longer than 10 years but have been promoted into their first career supervisory role within the past three years. (Note: the total number of years includes public works-related employment at both public and private agencies.)
  • Interested in advancing their careers within the public works profession
  • Committed to full participation in all Emerging Leader Academy assignments and activities, with the full support of their agency’s executive leadership.


  • Participation on monthly Emerging Leaders Academy class conference calls
  • Timely submission of program-related homework assignments
  • Attendance at the Emerging Leaders Academy Retreat in Kansas City, Missouri (2021 dates TBD)
  • Attendance at the APWA PWX (Public Works Expo)
  • Financial support from designated sponsor for attendance at PWX (Note: this includes PWX registration fee, round-trip travel costs, hotel accommodations and meals)
  • Completion of class project
  • Member of APWA (if not a current member)

Application Process

Applications and program dates for Class XV (2021-2022) will be available in April 2021. The deadline for receipt of applications and supporting materials is typically in August. Selected applicants are notified in late September with a late October/early November retreat date. Visit the FAQ page for more information about ELA and the application process.

A completed application includes five components:

  • Current resume (no more than two pages long)
  • Program Agreement Form (available April 2021), signed by the applicant, the applicant’s department or division head, and the applicant’s financial sponsor confirming support for attendance at PWX
  • Letter of recommendation from a colleague in the public works profession (e.g., coworker, mentor, colleague from another organization, etc.)
  • Letter of recommendation from the applicant’s immediate supervisor
  • A completed Application Form (available April 2021)

Selection Criteria

Successful candidates have:

  • Demonstrated a commitment to leadership in their organization and their community
  • Sought growth in responsibility in their organization
  • Envisioned a more significant leadership role in their organization and their community in the future
  • Clearly defined goals
  • A willingness to contribute to the success of the Emerging Leaders Academy class
  • Submitted a complete application by the advertised due date

NOTE: For each successful applicant, APWA will pay for all approved Emerging Leaders Academy-related expenses EXCEPT costs associated with attendance at PWX 2021.