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International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
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        VOLUME 27, ISSUE 4 • December, 2023.  Full issue »

Prestigious LEAP leadership program expands into two parts  

Program Background 

The MDS LEAP program started in 2014 after a leadership task force was put together by the then MDS President, Dr. Matthew Stern, under the leadership of Dr. Cynthia Comella. The task force selected three faculty members to undergo training at a prestigious international leadership program created by Drs. Couzes and Postner.  

Based on the knowledge and experience they gathered, the faculty members then put together a leadership training program specific to the needs of MDS for young professionals to take on leadership roles within MDS and serve the needs of the Society.

The first course was offered in 2014 and has been operational until present. The format of the course was a two-day in-person training program for all years except 2020, 2021, and 2022, when the course was offered online because of limitations imposed by the pandemic. We also offered two mini-LEAP programs, which were one-day programs, in Miami (2019) and Bangkok (2019) to be able to increase the outreach of the program to more participants.

In early 2023, based on the feedback from participants and a detailed review of the scope of the program by the MDS officers, MDS leadership suggested that the leadership steering committee consider evolving the program to reach a larger and more inclusive audience, and ensure the participants had a clear idea about the structure and functioning of the Society whose needs they would later serve.  

The LEAP steering committee reviewed the officer’s feedback with multiple meetings and engaged in discussion about how to restructure the program. Based on their feedback and extensive discussions, a new format for the MDS LEAP program was created, which will now be offered in 2024.  

Revised Program  

The new and revised MDS LEAP program will be offered in two parts: LEAP Basics and LEAP Advanced.  

Applications for LEAP Basic course are open now. The program will accommodate up to 100 participants. Review of applications and registration will be on a rolling basis.  

In preparation for the LEAP Basics course, participants will engage in course pre-work, the details of which will be outlined with registration. The LEAP Basics course will take place live and online March 8-9, 2024, and consist of an introduction to global leadership theories followed by a leadership panel of senior and experienced MDS leaders who will answer questions submitted by the participants.  

Only those participants who complete the LEAP Basics course will be eligible to apply for the LEAP Advanced course. This will be a day-long in-person course offered one day prior to the MDS International Congress in Philadelphia on September 26, 2024. A total of 20 participants will be selected equally from all four regional sections of MDS (5 participants per section).  

LEAP Advanced will consist of more details about leadership principles, supplemented by video presentations and small group breakout modules. It will also include interactive activity modules, which will help further consolidate understanding about applying leadership principles. The advanced program will continue for a period of one year, during which the participants will engage in:  

  1. Bi-monthly interactive calls focused on practical application of each leadership principle, presented by a small group of participants.  

  1. A mentor assignment, where the applicant will be paired with a senior leader within MDS who will share their knowledge and experience and help the applicant grow and develop their leadership caliber.  

Past graduates of the MDS LEAP program have benefited tremendously from the program, and have been incorporated into various committees, task forces, and activities across MDS. A significantly large number of these graduates have gone on to become prominent leaders in the field and the Society.


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