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Leadership Academy for Development


LAD students and faculty at the workshop in Tblisi, Georgia, January 2016.

Program Overview  |  Background and Rationale  |  Training Program  |  Curriculum   |  Case Studies  |  Partnership  |  LAD Around the World  |  Videos  |  Instructor and Staff Bios  |  Workshops


Program Overview

The Leadership Academy for Development (LAD) trains government officials and business leaders from developing countries to help the private sector be a constructive force for economic growth and development. It teaches carefully selected participants how to be effective reform leaders, promoting sound public policies in complex and contentious settings. A driving principle of the LAD curriculum is that policy reform is not like engineering or other technical fields that have discrete skills and clear, optimal solutions. Instead, successful reformers must be nimble and weigh a broad range of factors that influence policy outcomes. They must have a solid grasp of country-specific economic, financial, political and cultural realities. Most importantly, they must have a sense of how to set priorities, sequence actions and build coalitions. LAD provides participants with an analytical framework to build these abilities and operate effectively under adverse conditions.

LAD is supported by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University, the Center for International Business and Public Policy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University, and the Omidyar Network.


Background and Rationale

It is widely recognized that (i) private sector performance is a key factor driving any country’s growth and development, and that (ii) government policies and programs can either stimulate or inhibit sustainable growth in the private sector. Long underappreciated, however, has been the importance of the individuals who design those policies and programs: the local government officials, international development  specialists  and  members  of  the  private  sector  making  the  decisions  that  frame  the business environment. Across the public-private spectrum, the capacity and leadership ability of these individuals are essential to strengthening private sector performance. These leaders must have technical knowledge and analytical skills. But they also must be capable of executing reforms in difficult political, cultural and economic environments. Technocratic training is not sufficient to prepare these leaders to succeed. To teach them to make a lasting difference, training must take a multidisciplinary approach that anticipates the complexity of the challenges they face.

Training Program

The LAD course is designed as an intensive, off-site, executive-level training program that occurs in partnership with a collaborating host institution. It ranges in length from three to five days. Participants benefit from lectures and interactive teaching exercises led by an accomplished team of international scholars and locally-based experts. As part of the course, participants are given assignments that require them to apply the ideas and skills they have gained to specific challenges they are facing in their professional duties.

The training programs target promising, mid-level government officials and private sector practitioners from developing countries who have technocratic responsibilities and knowledge about private sector development  issues,  but  must  operate  in  politically  charged  environments.  The  participants  are generally from a common geographical region (e.g. Central America, Southern Africa, etc) and play prominent  roles  in  the  formulation  and  implementation  of  policies  and  programs  that  affect  the behavior of the private sector in their home countries. The program also works to provide a platform for networking and knowledge-sharing among the program’s alumni after the program has concluded.


The Academy has developed a unique, multidisciplinary curriculum. It uses case studies that are tailor-made to illuminate the challenges associated with enhancing private sector performance in emerging economies. The cases address a wide range of issues – from the risks and opportunities of attracting private sector expertise and financing for high priority infrastructure projects to the nuances of creating a good investment climate. But they are ultimately rooted in real-world stories: specific policy reforms that have taken place in developing countries. Rather than serve as examples of “best practices” or “how-to” guides, the cases are designed to encourage participants to think critically about the key decisions that have led to policy reforms. They are written from the perspective of decision-makers who have designed or executed specific policies and they demonstrate how effective public officials think and act strategically. They show how these leaders address technical obstacles while simultaneously taking into careful consideration the political, cultural and social constraints to reforms.

The LAD cases describe specific public policy initiatives in countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They are grouped into four important themes of private sector development: 

In addition to general leadership instruction, LAD participants receive training in a defined sector or technical area. Approximately half of the course is devoted to teaching sector/technical specific skills. This allows participants to clearly see the career-related added value of the training, and helps them justify the time and/or tuition cost to their employers. LAD and the local partner institutions mutually decide upon a sector or technical focus based on estimated demand from prospective participants.

Videos of student testimonials and certain case study sessions are available via YouTube.  



Instruction: LAD has identified and worked with capable partners in the developing world to co-teach the training course mentioned above. LAD is primarily responsible for the instruction of the core curriculum. The partner institution is responsible for providing the regional perspective as well as the sector-specific or technical component of the course.  An important LAD goal is to gradually transfer responsibility for the LAD program to these local, collaborating institutions.

Recruitment: The partner institution is primarily responsible for finding and recruiting the appropriate participants in the course. Both LAD and the partner institution are involved in the application and matriculation processes to ensure that the most suitable candidates are accepted to participate.

Funding: LAD needs to provide significant scholarship assistance as most participants are government officials who are unable to pay the full cost of tuition. Once the format, focus, and cost of the program are specifically defined, LAD works closely with the partner institution on fund-raising to cover the cost of the course.




Student Testimonials



Interviews on Policy Reform


Instructors Bios 

LAD Co-Founder
Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow
Stanford University 
LAD Co-Founder
Center for International Business and Public Policy 
Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
Senior Lecturer
George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service
Texas A&M University
Senior Research Professor
Director, Public-Private Partnerships Initiative
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
Professor of Public Policy
Georgetown University and the Brookings Institution

Administrative Staff
Assistant Director
Leadership Academy for Development
Program Associate


Publication Series