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University of Wisconsin – Madison

Leadership Programs

The LGBT Campus Center offers programs to help LGBTQ and ally students develop their leadership potential.  

LGBTQ Leadership Institute

Leadership Institute is a weekend-long retreat for LGBTQ+ and ally students to build relationships, find community, and learn how to create a more inclusive environment for queer students on campus. The weekend will form the groundwork for developing leadership skills as well as building on existing skills, specifically in relation to intersecting identities, privilege, and oppression.

What to Expect from Leadership Institute

Leadership Institute is free to UW students and includes travel, lodging, and meals.  It is structured around activities, engaging workshops, and discussions and will also provide ample social time.

You will be able to explore:

  • Your own LGBTQ+ or ally identity and what that identity means in community with others
  • What it means to be an LGBTQ+ or ally leader in the community and what it means to organize for social change
  • Experiences at the intersection of our multiple identities and how we can use those experiences to build and strengthen the LGBTQ experience in your spheres of influence

You will have the opportunity to:

  • Join a “rainbow group” with 7-9 other participants to build community
  • Participate in large groups sessions that focus on identifying problems and solutions regarding LGBTQ life on campus
  • Interact with educational experiences designed to foster your own story towards social change

Leadership Institute 2017

Leadership Institute 2017 will be held in March 2017 at Camp Wawbeek in the Wisconsin Dells. 

Registration will open in January 2017. We will promote it here, on the newsletter, and our Facebook page.

A full schedule will be announced closer to the event. We will leave on a Friday afternoon and return to Madison by afternoon on that Sunday.

There is no charge for your participation! The LGBT Campus Center provides food, lodging, and transportation.

Camp Wawbeek is a respite camp in the Wisconsin Dells. Beds are in shared rooms with shared facilities.

For more information, contact Katherine at

Be a Rainbow Group Leader

Rainbow Group Leaders are an integral part of the LGBTQ Leadership Institute experience. Much of the learning at Leadership Institute is done in the Rainbow Groups through activities, discussions and session debriefing. Rainbow Groups also allow participants to connect to a smaller community within the larger Institute community.

Expectations of Rainbow Group Leaders:

  • Attend two Rainbow Group Leader trainings
  • Attend the entire Leadership Institute experience
  • Co-facilitate a Rainbow Group of 6-8 participants, encouraging personal reflection and engagement in the curriculum
  • Advertise and recruit participants for the Leadership Institute

Past involvement with Leadership Institute is highly encouraged, though not required to be a Rainbow Group leader. Applications will open in January 2017!

Queer Emerging Leaders Program (QUELP)

Queer Emerging Leaders Program (QUELP) is a thirteen-week program tailored for undergraduate students who are interested in exploring queer identity and developing leadership skills that will help them serve their communities. Participants have the option of elective participation, academic credit, or CfLI Leadership Certificate hours.

As part of QUELP, you can look forward to:

  • Meeting and building connections with other students invested in queer organizing
  • Developing leadership skills based on UW-Madison's new Leadership Framework
  • Participating in a semester-long project that will help you build connections between your communities
  • Leaving with a stronger sense of self after exploring your own identities through the lenses of identity models, queer narratives, and intersectional work
Sign up at the QUELP registration form!
Questions? Contact or the LGBT Campus Center.

What to expect from QUELP

We will meet every Monday, January 26-April 20 from 6:00-8:00pm in the LGBT Campus Center. Participants will discuss readings about queer experiences, different models of leadership, and how to build a framework for your work that considers overlapping power and oppressions. Their work centers on an individually-tailored, 8-week community engagement project with a campus or community organization, and they present on that project at the end of the program. The program combines social identity and community building with development of campus and community organizing and leadership skills.

See the QUELP 2016 Syllabus (.docx) to see what we're reading, learning, and talking about this semester!

How can I get academic or CfLI credit?

Depending on your academic department, we may have faculty partners who can help sponsor your participation in QUELP for credit. If this can be arranged, you can register for a 699 one-credit independent study and receive that credit with successful completion of the program.

You may also count QUELP for 30 hours of Out-of-Class Learning Hours toward the CfLI Leadership Certificate. This is the maximum number of hours allowed toward Out-of-Class Learning. Please contact us with any questions. 

Will I get a letter grade?

Each student will earn a letter grade based on class and service project participation, journal reflections, and a final presentation about the community engagement project. The grades will be most useful for folks getting academic credit, but will also help everyone gauge progress throughout the semester. You get as much out of QUELP as you put into it! 

Is QUELP for graduate students too?

The program is tailored for first- and second-year undergraduates. If you are interested in participating or volunteering as a graduate student, please contact us and we’ll talk about what you’re looking for and how QUELP can work for you.

Can community members participate?

Unfortunately, this initiative is only for UW students this year. Community members are always welcome at LGBT Campus Center public events, including speaker series, movie screenings, and socials.

I identify as straight and non-trans. Am I welcome?

We know that many straight-identified, non-trans people practice allyship around LGBTQ issues in their personal and professional lives. You are invited to join QUELP with the expectation and intention that queer lives and experiences will be the focus of the readings and discussions. 

Why do you use "queer" rather than other terms?

“Queer” is definitely a term with a complicated history. We have seen a movement in student groups and youth organizing towards using “queer” as an umbrella term for many gender and sexual minority identities. In other words, it can be more inclusive than most other terms. Also, it tends to carry a political meaning-- “queering” systems can mean disrupting an oppressive status quo.

We also recognize that many people see “queer” as claimed by/applying to only a particular subset of people. QUELP is still growing and developing. If you are interested, we would love your help in developing the program’s focus and content to be more inclusive of gender and sexual identities that don’t necessarily fit under an LGBTQ model.

I need accommodations to participate. What should I do?

We want everyone to be able to participate in QUELP. Whether you have specific accessibility requirements (large print or digital format, fragrance-free space, etc) or just know what you need to fully engage with the program, please contact us.

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