Supported by The Isaacs-DeFrancis Fund for Community Leadership

The leadership program portfolio is a part of the Island Institute’s Island Education Fund, designed to support islanders through life-long learning and skill-building opportunities needed to keep their communities vibrant places to live, work, and educate children. Effective local leadership is the single most distinguishing feature of strong year-round island communities—whether in town government, within nonprofit organizations, or in island-based businesses.

Recognizing that sustaining strong communities requires effective leadership, long-time Island Institute members and Islesford residents Henry and Donna Isaacs have chosen to honor the legacy of the late Lisa DeFrancis through the establishment of The Isaacs-DeFrancis Fund for Community Leadership. This invested fund will help build the skills and experience of Maine’s island leaders, now and for years to come.

The Island Institute and founders of the Isaacs-DeFrancis Fund for Community Leadership welcome additional contributions to this invested fund, so it may grow to more fully support this critical area of work. Click here to contribute.

Leadership Programs

ILEAD (Island Leadership Exploration and Development)

ILEAD Seminars are leadership training programs for island and coastal leaders. The programs are targeted at specific sectors of island economies. They are designed to bring participants together to develop leadership and management skills and create a professional network of island leaders.

Recent programs include:

ILEAD Housing - September 2019

The ILEAD Housing training was designed for anyone working on affordable, workforce, or sustainable housing in Maine. The two-day program helped participants gather information and tools to use as they work to create sustainable and workforce housing, grapple with difficult questions, and innovate for the future. It included workshops to test new tools, the opportunity to build networks with housing professionals and funders, and the chance to participate in a demonstration of a housing design charrette led by Maine Sea Grant. Sessions included:

ILEAD Historical Societies – May 2019 

The ILEAD Historical Societies training was designed to bring historical society leaders and volunteers together to learn from each other, hear from experts in the field, and create professional peer-to peer-networks. Held at the Maine State Historical Society, this program helped participants gather information and tools to use as they work in their historical societies to grapple with difficult questions and innovate for the future. In addition to the keynote presentation from Maine State Historian Earle Shettleworth, sessions included:

ILEAD School Futures – January 2019

ILEAD School Futures was leadership training seminar for island and coastal educators working to address the acute and persistent challenges many of our schools face, as a result of issues such as declining enrollment and funding, meeting state and federal mandates, and attracting and retaining excellent teachers and school leaders. The goal of the training is to bring educators together to develop specific leadership skills and create a professional network of support around these issues.

ILEAD Sea Level Rise – May 2018

The ILEAD Sea Level Rise Seminar was designed to help participants gather information and tools to use as they work with their communities to grapple with difficult questions around sea level rise. Training topics included:

  • Engaging Your Leadership: Lessons from community leaders
  • Engaging Your Community: Tools and strategies used to drive community conversations
  • Funding: Planning and implementing community strategies

Learn more and see the presentations here

ILEAD Nonprofit Board Leadership Series – January/February 2018

The Island Institute’s Nonprofit Board Leadership Series is a four-part online training for nonprofit board members that covers essential skills for board members of island nonprofits. These interactive trainings are hosted through the Zoom virtual meeting app, so that participants can attend remotely. Sessions include:

  • Mission, Vision, and Values – Thinking Strategically
  • Board Responsibilities and Effective Meetings
  • Board Personalities and Conflict Management
  • Finances, Fundraising, Legalities, and Ethics
ILEAD Educational Leadership – March 2017

ILEAD Educational Leadership training offered leadership support and professional development for island and coastal education leaders. The program was designed to bring educational leaders from Maine's islands and coast together for high-quality professional development and create a professional network. The program's goal was to help strengthen the skills necessary to manage a successful island and coastal school such as:

  • Articulation of school mission, vision and values
  • Communication strategies
  • Meeting facilitation
  • Social issues/family engagement
If you have any questions about our ILEAD training or would like more information, please contact Kate Tagai.



The Island Institute will bring leadership training seminars to island and coastal communities upon request. These topics and format of the training seminars will be individualized, based on the community needs. The cost is dependent on the time and topics covered.

Some of the topics available are:

  • Mission, Vision, Values
  • Meeting Facilitation
  • Strategic Planning
  • Fundraising and Budgeting
Contact Kate Tagai for more information about bringing leadership training to your community.



The Island Institute offers trained facilitators to work with boards or community groups on islands or in coastal communities. The facilitator will help develop a plan for the meeting, serve as a neutral party during the meeting, provide notes and offer follow up recommendations after the meeting.  The cost is dependent on the time commitment required.

Some programs we have facilitated in the past include:

  • Strategic Planning Sessions
  • Community Interest Groups
  • Focus Groups
Contact Karen Burns for more information about our facilitation services.