2026  Leadership institute 

April 12 - 17, 2026
The DUke Mansion 
Charlotte, North Carolina

The application period for the 2026 Leadership INstitute will open fall 2025

All applications will be reviewed by the Leadership Institute Selection Committee.

In preparation for the launch of the 2024 SEMC Leadership Institute application period, we asked several members of the 2022 Institute cohort to reflect on how participation in the program impacted their careers and professional growth. Special thanks to 2022 Leadership Institute graduates, Lance Wheeler, Stacey Thompson, Mary Hauser, Christine Anglin and Andrea Miskewicz for contributing their reflections in the video. Huge thanks (and kudos!) also go to Alan Wheat, Director of Education at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and graduate of the 2022 Leadership Institute, for editing all of the videos together. Y'all are awesome!

SEMC Leadership Institute: Leading for Today’s Challenges

The Southeastern Museum Conference (SEMC) offers a professional development program for future museum leaders that supports diversity and inclusion. 

Proudly developed in partnership with the Association of African American Museums (AAAM), this program is focused on leadership training for staff of small- and mid-sized institutions.

The 2026 Leadership Institute: Leading for Today’s Challenges aims to equip a new generation of museum leaders with outward-looking skills and strategies that increase their effectiveness as leaders and ability to create a productive and inclusive environment within the museum and among the museum’s board.


The Southeastern Museums Conference Leadership Institute will develop a diverse and inclusive group of future museum leaders who:

• Can identify and build on their existing personal strengths

• Assess how to maximize these strengths internally in an organization and externally as part of a community

• Identify methods to capitalize on their strengths and their environment to move an institution forward


The curriculum, taught by leaders in their fields, covers six areas:

• Reflecting Your Best Self*

• Building Inclusive Cultures

• Strategic Communication and Thinking

• Leadership Challenges

• Adaptive Leadership

• Creating Your Best Self as an Organization

*Using the Reflective Best Self Tool


SEMC Executive Director, Zinnia Willits, with Leadership Institute Faculty members, Robert Bull and Marsha Semmel at the 2023 Association of African American Museums Annual Meeting.

The 2026 Leadership Institute tuition is *$1,500 for SEMC and AAAM members and $1,600 for non-members (*2026 Pricing TBC). Tuition includes all instruction, Institute resources, and registration to the SEMC2026 Annual Meeting.

Meals (other than those noted below) and lodging at the The Duke Mansion are not included in tuiton. The 2026 Leadership Institute room rate is $199 per night + tax. Daily lunch and a closing banquet dinner are included. Restaurants and grocery stores are a short walk from the The Duke Mansion.

The Institute will also include daily coffee, morning and afternoon snacks, a reception and a closing dinner.

                   Special thanks to Banks Creative for the Leadership Institute logo design!