Announcing the Visionary Leadership Awardee
Connect with Linda K. Smith at
Leadership Connections™ national conference

Each year, an exceptional pioneer in the early childhood education field is presented with the Visionary Leadership Award at Leadership Connections national conference. This year’s recipient is Linda K. Smith, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Early Childhood Development for the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). In this role she lead policy efforts and coordination of agency priorities for children from birth to five years old, including the Head Start, Early Head Start, Child Care, and serves as the liaison to other federal agencies, including the Department of Education, DoD, and USDA.

Want to connect? Register


Leadership Connections™ college course registration now available
Turn your national conference training hours into college course hours

Leadership Connections™ national conference attendees have the opportunity to turn their conference training hours into college course hours by registering for and successfully completing the accompanying college course, Leadership Connections: Current Issues in Early Childhood Leadership. Watch this brief overview video to learn about the benefits of taking the Leadership Connections college course in conjunction with the conference, what the coursework entails, and how much it costs. 

How do I register?
First, register for Leadership Connections national conference here. To take the course, you must attend pre-conference AND the full conference. Then, sign up to receive the college course registration forms here.



Early Bird deadline nearing; sessions announced

Skill-building sessions details available
Explore the 50+ skill-building sessions being offered at this year’s conference. Which leadership sandbox(es) will you play in? This year’s tracks are:
Administrative Leadership
Early Childhood Policy
Pedagogical Leadership
Leadership Essentials
Professional Well-being
Social-Emotional Development
Supervision, Coaching, Mentorship



Jennifer Abrams returns
Last year’s powerful opening keynote speech on having hard conversations left many attendees clamoring for more. She’s back! Jennifer will present a daylong pre-conference session expanding on her keynote from last year. This one’s sure to fill up fast. Register for pre-conference now to save your spot.

Feb. 28 is Early Bird deadline
Save $100 off the full conference rate by registering now! The Early Bird deadline is in less than two weeks.



Registration is now open for Leadership Connections™ national conference! We hope you’ll join us May 18-20, 2017 in Wheeling, Illinois for inspiring keynote speakers, a lively public policy forum, energizing skill-building sessions, and opportunities to network with other leaders in the field. 

Register now to save $100 on your full conference registration.

Last year’s conference drew the largest attendance to date. Here’s what last year’s attendees had to say:

Attending the conference gave me more insight into my leadership style and how I could create a climate of leadership within my program.

I have a whole chart of take-aways, practical implications, quotes and resources, and reflections from each workshop.

I was really inspired by many of the conference sessions with a focus on being positive and happiness. I left with a renewal in myself and my focus for the children.

Leadership Connections was amazing! It is an amazing feeling to be surrounded by others that are so passionate about their work. I left feeling inspired and motivated to keep the good work moving.

One major take away for me was to see and hear other professionals with the same issues as me. I gained insight as to how I want my professional career to look from this day on.

This was my 11th year at Leadership Connections… It is and has been my favorite conference. It’s the most professionally run, well-organized and quality conference in Illinois. The attendees are many of the movers and shakers in our field. The presenters are always high quality. It is always nice to network with old colleagues and meet new ones too. Such a great atmosphere to be in.

Launching at Leadership Connections 2017: New Leadership Clearinghouse

When Transforming the Workforce for Children from Birth through Age 8 was published last year, we all heard the call to increase the knowledge and competency of early childhood program leaders in all sectors of the field. But how can we know where to go, if we don’t know where we are?

To address this data gap, the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University has committed to creating a dynamic, interactive national clearinghouse to collect and distribute information on the status of the early childhood leadership workforce; national and state professional standards for leaders; and programs that educate, support, and enhance the competency of individuals who lead programs serving children birth through age 8.

The clearinghouse will officially launch at Leadership Connections 2017.

Learn more about the clearinghouse and the data it will house.

Thanks to our generous 2017 Leadership Connections sponsors

Sponsorships and exhibit booths for this year’s conference are still available!