An Institute State of Mind


This month we’ll be partnering with campuses and organization all around the nation to host over 30 sessions of our 6-day Institute program! We anticipate that over 1,300 participants and facilitators will be joining the LeaderShape community in May alone. And we are ready to invite them to join us as we work to make our vision of a world where all lead with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible a reality.

For our friends who are heading to a session of the Institute this month, we hope that it is an experience that inspires you to commit to something bigger than yourself. That the week propels you forward, giving you the tools and encouragement to go out and contribute to positive and equitable change in the world. And we challenge you enter the program with the mindset to…

  • Embrace a healthy disregard for the impossible – be open to what could be, even if it seems implausible.
  • Challenge yourself – to connect, to reflect, to learn, to share, to grow.
  • Be “all in” – it really is true that you get out of an experience what you put into it.
  • Take what you started there and use it to create ripples of change on your campus, in your communities, and in our world!

We’ll also be sharing tips from the LeaderShape staff over on our Instagram account. Follow us there to see what they have to share.

Palmer Award Finalist: Obinna Ejimofor

We received so many wonderful applications for this year’s Palmer Award, we wanted to share the work of those who were among our finalists. Today we learn about Obinna Ejimofor, Institute graduate from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.


On the path towards his vision, Obinna understands that his continued education will be in both the medical field as well as learn more promoting farmworkers’ rights. And he has made great strides in both areas!

Having spent time with Novant Health, Obinna performed and participated in duties that helped to improve patient satisfaction outcomes and conditions in the medical field. He tells us more about his experience, writing that “…the philosophy of care demonstrated by Novant Health also correlated with my core values as a leader.” He is committed to providing a remarkable patient experience, and was able to support this through innovative patient-care design, proper execution of health-care policy, and performing assessments of clinical standards and compliance. Through his work with Novant Health, he was also “reminded of various lessons learned from my time at LeaderShape Institute, such as the importance of leading with integrity and having the time, commitment and audacity to believe in the impossible.”

Obinna has also been expanding his knowledge and experience with and for farmworkers.

  • While interning in the Clinical Resources Department, he has facilitated projects with other healthcare administrators that challenged his understanding of medicine in the context of community benefit.
  • Worked at Student Action with Farmworkers, a local non-profit located in Durham, North Carolina. This organization specializes in advocacy rights and educational workshops that benefit the farmworker community and Latinx population.
  • Through Student Action with Farmworkers, Obinna conducted monthly workshops for Levante Leadership Institute students. They discussed topics on race, healthcare, financial literacy and higher education.
  • Held a fundraiser that raised over $500 in donations.
  • Lobbied for farmworker rights to local legislators.

Obinna shares, “Understanding the plight of farmworkers and acting as an ally that can help voice their concerns will allow me to better serve the community and provide effective medical assistance. I intend to accomplish this while also staying true to my core values of growth, humility, and happiness.” It’s clear to us that this is exactly the direction he is headed.

Palmer Award Finalist: Annika Kulkarni

We received so many wonderful applications for this year’s Palmer Award, we wanted to share the work of those who were among our finalists. Today we learn about Annika Kulkarni, Institute graduate from the University of Illinois.

“My vision was to provide more opportunities for diversity within music. As someone who studies music, I’ve realized that a large part of the profession and curriculum is centered around Western history and culture. By promoting music of different backgrounds and cultures, not only can we aim to be more well-rounded musicians and listeners, but we also become part of a wholesome society that accepts peoples of all backgrounds and promotes diversity.” – Annika Kulkarni

As Annika worked to get closer to her goals, she found that not only brought exposure to music beyond the Western culture, she also saw a sense of community develop. Some of the steps that Annika has taken towards her vision include:

  • organized student concerts to promote cultural music and artistic talent (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth)
  • joined Crescendo, a musical organization that aims to support underrepresented minorities within music and to provide volunteer and service opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion
  • through Crescendo we went to the local elementary school to educate children about different art forms from different cultures and what kind of instruments they used
  • donated money from a back sale to a local theater nearby the promotes arts education

Annika’s vision has influenced her academics as well – as a part of her senior thesis. She is eager to help provide fine arts students with access to leadership workshops and experiences that will help them consider what it means to be an artistic leader and to discover the role of diversity and inclusion in their fields of study.