Community Development at Work: Neighborhood Leadership Academy

Neighborhood Leadership Academy Empowers Residents To Make An Impact

Claire Wolff, NLA Director and MU Extension Community Development Specialist

Claire Wolff, NLA Director and MU Extension Community Development Specialist

Since Neighborhood Leadership Academy (NLA)’s establishment in 2002, over 250 leaders in neighborhoods and organizations across the St. Louis Metro area have graduated from this program with an UMSL Chancellor’s Certificate in Neighborhood Leadership. The Academy trainings focus on honing leadership skills, learning community development approaches, and cultivating practices in management and organizational leadership. Neighborhood leaders tap into their own connections and networks to enhance their communities and make a lasting difference and change within their environments. A variety of projects have resulted from the drive, creativity, and tenacity of NLA participants, such as establishing youth empowerment programs, conducting community needs assessments, raising funds for local parks and gardens, and organizing neighborhood coalitions.

Claire Wolff, NLA’s new Director and University of Missouri Extension Community Development Specialist, has a background in community development, having most recently worked at Grace Hill, where she collaborated with Creating Whole Communities to create a place-based neighborhood leadership program for the communities within the 63106 and 63107 zip codes. Wolff hopes to grow the impact of the Neighborhood Leadership Academy by developing an “NLA 2.0” to follow up with former NLA cohorts through advanced trainings and workshops that provide an opportunity for community leaders to come together again to share strategies and build relationships.

The current Spring NLA 2017 cohort is now in session and will run through May 17. For any questions or to register for the Fall 2017 NLA, please contact Claire Wolff at or 314-516-6392. To access more information on community building strategies and neighborhood leadership while you’re waiting for the next NLA cohort to start up again, check out the Creating Whole Communities website! The NLA team provides you with a free and downloadable Community Toolkit that includes tips and strategies to apply in community and neighborhood-development initiatives and organizations. Visit to learn more!

The dots on the map below show where past NLA participants have completed community projects in the St. Louis region.

Written by Elisabeth Coats, CBN Practicum Student