Trainings & Workshops

The Donaldson Leadership Retreat


Donaldson Leadership Retreat: Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders

The Donaldson Leadership Retreat, a flagship initiative of the Illinois Leadership Center, is a powerful testament to the impact of philanthropy on leadership development. Generously supported by Jane Donaldson, this annual retreat provides a transformational experience for undergraduate leaders of Registered Student Organizations (RSOs). Nestled in the scenic beauty of Allerton Park and Retreat Center in Monticello, IL, this retreat promises personal growth, skill enhancement, and a deeper understanding of effective leadership.

When and Where:

All information about the retreat is located here. This retreat invites participants to embark on a journey of self-discovery and leadership mastery. Allerton Park, an idyllic location steeped in history and natural splendor, offers a serene backdrop for this developmental voyage.

Empowering Leaders:

Students who attend the Donaldson Leadership Retreat can expect to:

Engaging Conversations:

The retreat offers a unique opportunity for participants to engage in candid conversations with esteemed campus administrators. These discussions will revolve around topics that significantly impact students and student organizations at the University of Illinois. The insights gained from these conversations will be invaluable for their leadership journey.

Dynamic Workshops and Presentations:

Through a series of workshops and presentations, students will be equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to be more effective leaders. Practical insights, case studies, and expert guidance will empower them to drive positive change within their respective organizations.

Celebrating Success:

The retreat doesn't end on the last day. A follow-up session later in the semester will provide an opportunity to reflect on the progress made since the retreat. It's a time to celebrate shared victories and set new goals for the future.

Application and Participation:

To be part of this life-changing experience, Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) should submit an application during the appropriate application window as described on the website. We encourage RSO officers to lead this initiative, and if an applicant holds multiple roles in different organizations, they should choose one organization per application. The application will also request nominations for 1 or 2 members of their organization to participate in the retreat.

Selected RSO representatives can anticipate comprehensive support, including transportation to and from the retreat, lodging, and meals throughout the program. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):


For further information about applying for The Donaldson Leadership Retreat, please feel free to get in touch with the Illinois Leadership Center at 217-333-0604 or 

The Donaldson Leadership Retreat is not merely an event; it's a pathway to creating the next generation of exceptional leaders who will shape the future of their student organizations and beyond. It's an opportunity for growth, connection, and lasting impact.

My Experience:

My journey through the Donaldson Leadership Retreat was a transformative experience. Not only did it equip me with valuable leadership skills, but it also welcomed me into a vibrant community within the University of Illinois.

At the retreat, we honed the essential skills required to lead student organizations successfully. We delved into the nuances of our campus culture and unraveled the policies that impact our student groups. Crafting leadership transition plans for our respective organizations underscored the retreat's practicality. I discovered the true significance of collaborating with fellow student organizations.

Engaging with campus administrators sparked meaningful dialogues on crucial topics affecting students and their organizations at the University of Illinois. The retreat's workshops and presentations were empowering, making us more effective leaders within our respective groups.

As a fitting conclusion, a follow-up session allowed us to reflect on the progress we made post-retreat and bask in the shared victories.

The knowledge and insights gained from the retreat have given me more direction into leadership at Illinois, and I am eager to apply these lessons in my future endeavors, such as my RSOs, internship, research, and study abroad. With a renewed sense of leadership and a deeper understanding of collaboration, I am confident in my ability to make a positive impact on my student organization and the broader community.

The Donaldson Leadership Retreat was not just an event but a catalyst for personal growth and community building. I look forward to the exciting journey ahead, armed with the skills and experiences I gained from this remarkable retreat.



The Institute™ by LeaderShape®

The LeaderShape® Institute™, a nationally recognized leadership development retreat, has been transforming the lives of young leaders. Hosted by the Illinois Leadership Center, a dedicated session for Illinois undergraduate students is convened each year at the tranquil Allerton Park and Retreat Center in Monticello, IL. The upcoming session in 2024 is scheduled from January 9th to January 12th.

Application Deadline:

All information about the Institute can be found here, along with the application link.

Exploring Leadership:

This retreat, unlike traditional leadership gatherings, delves into self-discovery, self-reflection, and feedback in the company of approximately 60 peers. Rather than focusing on generic leadership skills, the Institute has a unique focus on identifying the values that drive positive change in the communities participants are part of. Through comprehensive self-assessment, intense small group discussions, challenging team-building activities, and more, participants craft a vision for something they deeply care about.

Leading with Passion and Integrity:

By igniting their leadership journey with passion, integrity, and a fearless approach to achieving the "impossible," participants explore their true selves and the impact they want to make on communities working towards a more compassionate, just, and equitable society.

Participation Details:

Cluster Facilitators: Facilitating each group, known as "Family Clusters," are Cluster Facilitators, consisting of University of Illinois faculty, staff, alumni, or local community members. If you are interested in being a Cluster Facilitator, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Contact Us:

For further details regarding applications or any queries about The Institute, please contact the Illinois Leadership Center at 217-333-0604 or

Join The Institute™ by LeaderShape® and embark on a journey of leadership, self-discovery, and profound impact. Become a part of a vibrant community of leaders shaping a brighter, more equitable future for all.

My Experience:

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at The Institute. This experience was not only transformative as a retreat but truly gave us an understanding of the various ways that people lead first-hand. This program gave us a chance to both get to know each other, considering that the majority of the people on this retreat were strangers to each other at first, as well as getting to know and discover ourselves on a deeper level. The four days we were on this retreat flew by, and the fact that everything was funded allowed us to wholeheartedly focus on exploring the multifaceted facets of leadership and how they adapt to ever-changing circumstances. Being able to interact with some of the brightest minds and down-to-earth personalities on campus was a great way to start the new year, eventually forming bonds that I can say will last a lifetime. 

"The LeaderShape Institute is designed to provide students with opportunities to engage in self-reflection, identify their values and develop a vision addressing critical social issues, and create meaningful relationships with their peers at the retreat. Dulf has been proactive in applying the skills and knowledge he gained from the Institute to the various groups on campus he’s part of, and supporting his cohort of peers as they continue working to make their visions a reality."

- Hannah Driscoll, Illinois Leadership Center Assistant Director