Leadership 101.

Congratulations on being selected to attend the Illinois Leadership Seminar! ILS is not a class; it’s an incredible journey that allows you to explore your own leadership potential away from home. We cannot wait to go on that journey with you! Here is some basic information you will need for Illinois Leadership Seminar:

  • The 2017 Illinois Leadership Seminar will take place June 9, 10, and 11 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) at North Park University in Chicago. This is an overnight event.
  • Registration emails with the information you need to register will be sent out to all nominated students at the beginning of each week starting in January. Students will then have two weeks to complete their registration. Failure to complete registration by the deadline will result in the forfeiture of your spot at ILS 2017.
  • Check-In times will be in the early morning on Friday, June 9.
  • All leaders must have their signed, completed Consent Form with them when at Check-In.
  • Parents and families are invited to attend Closing Ceremonies on Sunday, June 11. The time for this will be communicated in later communications once you are registered. Check-Out will immediately follow Closing Ceremonies.


If you have any questions about Illinois Leadership Seminar, please make sure the read the FAQs that are displayed below. If the FAQ doesn't answer your question, please send us an email to

Registration will open soon!

ILS is the only place that I have ever felt like it’s okay to just be me. I went in to seminar on a Friday morning as a shy, self-conscious 16 year old. I always was trying to please everybody around me, even if that meant sacrificing my own character in the process. I came out of seminar on Sunday afternoon a changed person. I finally realized that being me is okay; in fact, being me is the best thing I can ever do.
Andrea, LeaderElgin High School (2008)


Leader FAQs

What is Illinois Leadership Seminars (ILS)?

Illinois Leadership Seminars is a non-profit, 100% volunteer organization with one mission: to unleash the leadership potential of Illinois youth. We accomplish this mission in two major ways. First, we provide students all over the state with an opportunity to attend a free leadership seminar. Second, after a student has gone through one of our programs, they have the option to stay involved with our alumni association. The alumni association provides our students with an active nationwide network of successful leaders to rely on for support with everything from advice on how to run a high school pep rally to college applications and job interviews.

You have been selected to go through phase one of our program by attending our free, three-day leadership seminar.

How did I get selected to attend the Illinois Leadership Seminar?

We reach out to high school counselors and administrators all over the state and ask them to select one outstanding sophomore from their high school to attend our seminar. We leave who to select and how to select them totally up to the schools. Some schools have a private staff vote, some hold an essay contest, and some counselors just hand pick a student on their own. No matter how our students are selected, they all have one awesome thing in common: leadership potential.

If you are unsure of who specifically selected you and you would like to find out, please contact our Recruitment Director, Amber Dalgaard, at and she will look it up for you.

Why should I go?

ILS is an opportunity to be around other outstanding leaders your own age. Sometimes, students are nervous about attending a seminar where they don’t know anyone, but to us, that’s the best part! ILS is a fresh start. There’s no pressure from your peers to be anything or conform to any mold. At ILS we encourage you to be one thing… you.

Our message is simple. No matter your gender, your ethnicity, your religion, your socioeconomic background, no matter where you come from… you (yes YOU!) can be a leader. We aim to unleash the leadership potential that is already in YOU.

Open spots at our seminar are in high demand and we typically have a 40-50 student waiting list for our program. If you decide ILS is not right for you, please contact our Recruitment Director, Amber Dalgaard, at as soon as possible so we can offer the opportunity to another student.

When is ILS?

The 2017 Illinois Leadership Seminar will take place June 9, 10, and 11 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). This is a three-day, overnight event. You must attend the entire seminar.

How do I register?

You must sit down with your parents or legal guardian and register online for our seminar. Your counselor has already nominated you to attend ILS, but your spot is not reserved until you complete the online registration process. The sooner you register, the sooner we can reserve your seat at seminar.

All students will receive a personalized email with registration instructions and the codes they will need to register. Registration emails will be sent out at the beginning of each week beginning in January. If you have not completed registration by your deadline, we will cancel your nomination and give your spot to schools and students on our waiting list.

Registration is a very simple process that should not take longer than 10 minutes. The step by step instructions are very easy to follow, so please read the entire email. We understand that some leaders will be nominated for a while before they can register, but we are waiting to focus on registration until we have all of our nominations in. Your counselor will also receive a notification when we have sent out registration instructions.

Please read through all of the Frequently Asked Questions before you complete the online registration process. You need to understand what you are committing to before you register.

What actually happens during the weekend?

Before we answer that, let’s get some ILS lingo out of the way. All of our participants are referred to as “leaders” throughout the weekend. So from here on out, “leader” refers to a student who is attending our program, in this case, you!

The program includes motivational speakers, leadership activities, group discussions, and a whole lot more. During the ILS experience, a broad spectrum of leaders will address various aspects of leadership in our changing world and the challenges future leaders will confront. You will have the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers and participate in small group discussions throughout the seminar. This is a dynamic weekend!  We will conclude Friday evening with a dance and Saturday evening with the Leader Showcase.

The program is not designed to teach leaders what to think, or even how to think, but instead bring out the leader already inside them by emphasizing the importance of critical thinking skills in leadership roles.

Saturday ends with a “Leader Showcase” … what’s that?

The Leader Showcase on Saturday night is a talent show starring our leaders. We recognize that in addition to possessing great leadership potential, our students also possess many special talents. If you can sing, rap, play an instrument, twirl a baton, or recite poetry, we want you to “bring it”! If you want to display some artwork, that’s great too! Performing is optional, but as long as it’s appropriate, we would love for you to showcase your talents and abilities at the Leader Showcase on Saturday night. Please remember to bring anything you need for the Leader Showcase with you to Check-In.

How is the seminar structured?

Once a leader has registered for our seminar, they are assigned to a group of 8-10 leaders. These groups are totally random to insure each leader is exposed to other leaders with different backgrounds. Each group has one Sr. Staff member (a Sr. Coach) and two Jr. Staff members (Jr. Coaches). Different seminar activities require different levels of participation. Some highly interactive activities and discussions will be done within the small group, while other activities will be done as a large seminar group. You will have an opportunity to interact with leaders from every group at some point during the weekend.

Is the seminar REALLY free?

Absolutely. We work very hard all year long to make sure that no student has to pay to attend the Illinois Leadership Seminar. All meals (beginning with lunch on Friday), housing, and overhead has been paid for. Sponsors include GFWCs (Women’s Clubs), Gallup Inc., and alumni of the seminar itself. Schools, parents, and students incur no costs with the exception of transportation to and from our seminar site.

When and where do I go for Check-In? How do I Check-In?

Check-In times will be early morning on Friday, June 9th. Please plan ahead and consider that there may be traffic on Friday morning. When you arrive at North Park University, please park in the free visitor parking lot on the southeast corner of Kedzie and Foster Avenues, across from McDonalds. Cross Kedzie Avenue and Illinois Leadership Seminars volunteers will meet you at the front steps of Hamming Hall (number 12 on the campus map) and direct you to Check-In. Please bring everything you will need for the weekend (including your signed consent form) with you.

At Check-In on Friday morning, please be sure you clearly indicate who will be picking you up on Sunday. For your own safety, you will not be released on Sunday to someone not listed on your Check-In form. If there may be several different people picking you up on Sunday, please list them all.

Once checked-in, your parents can accompany you to your dorm room to drop off your luggage. Finally, you will find your small group where you can meet your Senior Coach and the rest of your group for the weekend. It is not mandatory that your parents accompany you to Check-In or to the dorms, however, they are more than welcome to if they would like.

When is seminar over? How do I Check-Out?

Seminar will conclude with a special Closing Ceremony which your family is invited to as well. Closing Ceremony times will be included in later communications once you have registered. We ask that your parents arrive at least a half hour before the start for these ceremonies. Check-Out will immediately follow Closing Ceremonies. After you have completed Check-Out with your Sr. Coach, you may collect your luggage and leave. You may want to purchase items from our ILS store at this time.

I have a conflict. Can I arrive late/leave early?

All of our leaders are required to stay for the entire weekend, no exceptions. Sponsors have paid for you to attend the whole weekend and we require all of our leaders to experience seminar it its entirety. Please put ILS on your calendar NOW and make sure you check your finals schedule, sports schedule, camp schedule, work schedule, vacation schedule, etc. If a conflict arises that prevents you from attending the entire seminar and you cannot reschedule, please email our Recruitment Director, Amber Dalgaard, at ASAP so we can find a replacement.

What about transportation?

Each leader is responsible for getting themselves to North Park University at Check-In and home after Check-Out. Please plan ahead. Some of our leaders literally live five minutes away from campus. Others live five hours away from Chicago. Whatever your individual transportation situation is, we ask that you do your best to plan ahead. We understand that getting to North Park University is more difficult for some parents and leaders than others. If you would like to carpool or are willing give someone in your area a ride, please check the carpool option on the transportation page when you register. Our Recruitment Director will send out an email with the contact information of everyone who indicated they would like to carpool during registration about a month before seminar. Beyond that, we cannot set up any carpool/ride share program. Please be respectful of everyone on the list and honor their wishes if they choose to no longer participate.

If a parent is your transportation to seminar, please make sure they are free Friday morning! Do not assume that your mom or dad is automatically available to bring you. Friday is a business day and many parents still have to work. Check with your parents before committing them to drive you to seminar and make sure they know Check-In is EARLY on Friday morning, June 9th.

Some leaders choose to drive themselves to seminar. If that option works best for you, please park in the visitor parking lot on the southeast corner of Kedzie and Foster Avenues. Parking is free for the entire seminar.

If circumstances arise that prevent you from getting to and from our seminar site, please let us know ASAP so we can offer the spot to another student.

What should I wear?

Dress is casual and active on Friday and Saturday; this means sensible shoes. Jeans, t-shirts, and shorts are most acceptable. Please bring a nice outfit for Sunday. Closing Ceremonies are more formal.

What else should I bring/pack for the weekend?

We have a detailed check list of everything you should pack for the weekend. Click here to view it.

Please do not bring valuables of any kind.  ILS is not responsible for any lost or stolen items.

Where will I be sleeping?

All of our staff and leaders will be staying in dorms on campus. There will be all male floors and all female floors reserved exclusively for ILS (i.e. participants from other activities going on at North Park University will not be on the same floors as ILS participants). Access to each floor is restricted to leaders and staff rooming on that floor by each individual key card. Therefore, no male can access a female floor and no female can access a male floor. You will have one or two other leaders of the same gender as roommates for the weekend. Each floor will have an emergency adult contact on call whenever leaders are in the dorms. Staff members are strictly prohibited from EVER entering the dorm room of a leader. Leaders will not be allowed to go back to the dorms during the day.

What, if any, additional interaction or contact should I be expecting before the seminar?

Our Recruitment Director will be sending out additional reminder emails in the months and weeks leading up to seminar. It is imperative that we have an accurate email address for you on file. If your parents check their email more often and they would prefer we send information to them instead, that’s fine, we can use their email address. The reminders are primarily meant for you, but they can pass the information along.

Other than the reminder emails, you will be receiving a phone call from our Director of Recruitment, Amber in early May and also from your Sr. Coach in late May. When you register, please be sure to list an accurate phone number where we can get a hold of you. If an incorrect phone number is listed, we have no way to call you. Amber will be calling to confirm transportation plans. Each Sr. Coach will be calling to ease any pre-seminar concerns and answer any questions you may have, but if your parents have questions they would like to ask, your Sr. Coach is available as a resource.

What about religious services?

Illinois Leadership Seminars is not affiliated with any one faith or religious identity.  We understand that regular religious services are a part of many leaders’ lives; however, we do not allow leaders to leave campus during the weekend for any reason.  To meet the spiritual needs of our leaders and staff, we have time set aside on Sunday morning for optional quiet reflection, prayer, or meditation. Those who do not wish to participate are not required to do so.

Something has come up and I will be unable to attend. What do I do?

We understand that things come up, but if they do, please let us (and your counselor) know! There is a long waiting list of Illinois students who want to participate in this weekend and if you are unable to attend, we would like to offer this opportunity a student on our waiting list. You can email our Recruitment Director, Amber Dalgaard, at or give her a call at the phone number listed at the bottom of your registration email.

Whom may I contact if I have additional questions?

Make sure you have looked through all the Frequently Asked Questions first. Almost every question a leader has ever asked us is answered right here. If you do have additional questions, please contact our Recruitment Director as she is your liaison until you arrive at North Park University. Amber will always get back to you within 24 hours. Please do not hesitate to ask questions! We are here to help! We understand that most of our leaders have never done anything like this and we are always willing to assist you in any way we can.

Is this going to be fun or boring?

Students come into seminar with a wide range of expectations. The best advice we can give a student before attending our program is to remember that usually what you get out of any experience is directly tied to what you put into it. We always tell our leaders to approach the Illinois Leadership Seminar with an open heart, an open mind, and a positive attitude. For the students who follow that advice, well, let’s just say that whatever their expectations about ILS were before the weekend are usually blown out of the water…