History of GLI

The Girls’ Leadership Institute was created in the mid-'90s as a five day, four-night residential summer program to help girls entering the seventh and eighth grades learn skills to develop strong leadership skills.

In the early 1990’s, former Kent Place Head of School Sue Bosland, who was then the Director of the Middle School, along with then Head of School Arlene Gibson felt there was a need for leadership training and development at the middle school level. After extensive research, the two decided to form the Girls’ Leadership Institute and brought up the idea during a faculty meeting.

Christine Clemens, then Middle School history teacher, stepped forward as a facilitator of the program. Former Director of the Upper School Elizabeth Woodall, then an Upper School English teacher and Dean of Students, joined Clemens as a co-director of the program. Clemens had already honed materials for an eighth-grade history course, “Portraits of Leadership” which explores how leaders impacted history and influenced the human journey. She tailored her findings for GLI and started the program.

During the first summer of GLI, there were only 12 participants, six of whom were Kent Place students. In the second year, the number rose to 20 and scholarships were available so more young girls could apply and experience the program.

The numbers continued to rise every year and by 2015, there were 38 girls in attendance at the middle school program, from 22 different schools and four different states during the summer institute.

In 2017, GLI expanded programming to include a Primary School institute for students entering fourth and fifth grade, as well as an Upper School summer institute for students entering ninth and tenth grade.

In 2018, we responded to the countless requests for girls to be able to return to GLI summer after summer. Now from the time girls are entering fourth grade all the way up through tenth grade, they can attend GLI as their leadership opportunities grow and become incrementally more challenging each year they progress in the program.

The middle school program was expanding in terms of content and participants that we have divided it into two institutes: a one-week program for students entering grade six, and a two-week program for students entering grades seven and eight. Also, the Upper School Insititute expanded to two weeks.

The number of Outstanding Women Leaders (OWL’s) participating in our summer institutes is now at an incredible 90 girls each year. GLI has evolved greatly since 1996. However, the mission remains the same. The girls all continue to hone skills that make them more confident leaders.

The 2020 summer institute marked GLI’s 25th anniversary.
42 Norwood Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901   |   (908) 273-0900
The Girls’ Leadership Institute (GLI) is a unique summer program for girls entering grades 4–10 to explore their leadership potential and strengthen their personal confidence and self-esteem.