Emerging Leaders Institute 

Application period is closed.
October 8, 15, 22 & 29  from 11 am - 2 pm PT / 2 -5 pm ET


It is essential to nurture and prepare community media leaders for this profound moment in U.S. history. As our communities continue to experience the impacts of two pandemics, Covid-19 and systemic racism, our community media centers and stations are also experiencing demographic, generational, and technological shifts. 

In the coming era, we have great potential to serve as essential sites for news, local cultural exchange and preservation, creativity expression, and civic engagement. In the face of major disruption, where is our potential for re-invention and transformation? What is required of us as community media leaders in this powerful moment? How can we best develop, celebrate, and enact our leadership potential?

The Community Media Emerging Leaders Institute uses a strength-based approach to enable diverse community media leaders with different backgrounds and perspectives to come together as a community of learners for personal growth and renewal. The institute includes three, virtual, interactive workshops, plus peer coaching.


Reflect on your personal leadership strengths and challenges in the context of a changing landscape for community media
Explore an anti-racist framework to inform personal goal-setting and the development of a “leadership manifesto” to guide your next chapter as a community media leader
Participate in a supportive peer group of community media leaders from across the country, and
Share highlights from the Institute experience within the field, which may include a short video, blog, or case study to be disseminated via ACM social media and website.


11 hours of activities, plus 1-2 hours of individual pre-assigned homework. This includes: 

Four 3 hour workshops over four successive weeks (Oct. 8, 15, 22 & 29 from 11 am - 2 pm PT / 2 -5 pm ET)
Three between sessions peer coaching groups (3 people per group for approximately 1 hour each for a total of 3 hours), and 
A follow up interview with an Institute facilitator (30 minutes). 

The ACM Foundation recognizes that all community media leaders are in a state of "emergence" in this unprecedented time. The Institute is designed for community media leaders at all levels who want to rise to new challenges, including: 

Mangers and coordinators in program, administrative or operations roles
Executive Directors, Co-Directors
Board members
Others who desire to develop their leadership potential in a supportive community


Paula Manley is a nonprofit consultant, educator, and community builder with deep roots in the media arts. She is the founder of Paula Manley Consulting. Her work is fueled by the power of story, drawing on a background in journalism and documentary video production. For 15 years (2000-2015), she co-founded and co-facilitated a national Media Arts Leadership Institute, in partnership with the National Alliance for Arts + Culture (currently the Alliance for Arts + Culture), to support the development of leaders at all levels in media arts organizations. She developed and presented a similar institute for multi-disciplinary arts leaders in partnership with the Alliance of Artists Communities and the Atlantic Center for the Arts (2010-2012). Other recent cohort-style leadership development projects include: Executives Leading for Equity and Inclusion (with Nonprofit Association of Oregon members) and Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Leadership Development Cohort (with Meyer Memorial Trust grantees).

Paula’s approach to training and leadership development is informed by extensive practical knowledge gleaned from experience over three decades as an executive director, interim executive director, network builder, program director, and board leader. She has served in program and executive leadership roles in Texas and Oregon, including Austin Community Television, Tualatin Valley Community Access, and Open Signal (formerly Portland Community Media). Paula has also consulted with many media arts organizations including Aurora Picture Show, Houston Cinema Arts Society, Austin Film Society, Columbia Film Society/Nickelodeon Theater, and Wisdom of the Elders. She is also an avid kayaker based in Portland, OR, who believes in the power of creativity and the arts to catalyze a re-imagined future grounded in love and justice.

Toni Tabora-Roberts has more than 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit and private sectors in a variety of roles, with expertise in leadership development, program management, communications, community engagement, and organizational development. She founded Esper House, a management, project, and communications consultancy in 2015. She has particular content experience and passion for arts, culture, media, education, sustainability, and social justice. With a strong DEI lens informing her work, Tabora-Roberts’ approach with organizations is grounded in team-based collaboration, interpersonal connections, experiential engagement, and culturally responsive, strengths-based facilitation. 

Significant areas of interest include leadership development program design and delivery, and leadership coaching and consulting. Her team is collaborating with the City of Portland’s Bureau of Human Resources to design and deliver pilot leadership development programs for a cohort of emerging leaders and for the city’s managers and supervisors. She is the co-designer/co-facilitator of Regional Arts & Culture Council’s (RACC’s) board training program, Art of Leadership, and was the co-producer/co-facilitator of Arts Workers for Equity’s Racial Equity in the Arts Self-Assessment Learning Circle. 

She has worked with diverse client and organizations including Alliance for Community Media, City Club of Portland, Media Rites/Theatre Diaspora, Meyer Memorial Trust, Mt Hood Cable Regulatory Commission, Oregon Metro, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland Parks Foundation, Shaking the Tree Theatre, Unit Souzou taiko. She is former Board Chair and is a current board member for APANO Communities United Fund, and is a core member of Arts Workers for Equity. She has previously served with City Club of Portland’s Friday Forum Committee, on the Program Committee with Partners in Diversity, and as Board Vice Chair at Bitch Media. 

Toni is also a mama, creative, and explorer with her daughter and husband in Portland, OR.


$200 per participant. Application deadline is September 1st.



This past year the ACM Foundation took the step of investing in future leaders for our field by creating the Emerging Leaders Institute, a two-day intensive training for folks who are new to leadership or are on the cusp of becoming leaders.   

How did we do?

Ask Jasmine White from CCTV in Salem OR:

"I'm not quite sure what my expectations of the Community Media Emerging Leaders Institute were, but this experience has been more than I imagined. Being a new Executive Director is a great opportunity and exciting adventure for me, but weighty at times. ELI challenged me to evaluate my own leadership principles by providing tools, resources and insightful guidance to support the tough, introspective work of personal and professional growth. I want to be a compassionate leader. ELI has helped me on this lifelong journey and introduced me to an amazing group of community media leaders from across the country. And the peer coaching sessions were awesome!" 

Or Seth Ring from Metro East Community Media in Gresham OR:

If you are looking to be energized, inspired and supported; to sharpen your leadership skills; and to come away with new ideas and strategic direction – this is the place to find it.