The George Washington University is a community of driven individuals who bring rich and diverse lived experiences to our campus community. Students’ involvement in leadership development, through positional and non-positional roles, is an important part of the college experience. These roles help develop a wealth of transferable skills that are not only useful while at GW, but also in the world beyond GW. 

Student Life Definition of Leadership

A purposeful and inclusive process of individuals working together to accomplish shared goals and positive change. We believe in the holistic development of students, that growing as a leader is a lifelong process, and that everyone has the ability to be a leader.

Leadership Philosophy

In our work, we blend a variety of leadership theories, with our core framework being based on the Social Change Model of Leadership and GW Values. Through this framework and our leadership programs, we strive to:

  • Build student’s leadership capacity, efficacy, and motivation
  • Provide opportunities for students to gain hands-on leadership experience 
  • Increase students’ self-awareness through the exploration of values, strengths, and identity 
  • Promote collaborative and inclusive practices in all leadership endeavors 
  • Cultivate change-makers committed to empowering and impacting their communities

Leadership Programs


Photo of students in Kogan Plaza learning

Excellence in Leadership Seminar (ELS)

A workshop series with a wide variety of topics to choose from. Students can choose the topic and times that work best for them. ELS is a great opportunity for any individual to further their leadership abilities and knowledge. Additionally, participation in ELS is required for student organization annual registration. 

Photo in the front of Gelman Library of around 80 LEAD participants at the end of the program.


Leadership Exploration and Development - a pre-orientation program for incoming, first-year undergraduate students. Upper class students have the opportunity to lead through the peer leader role.

Three student leaders at the summit of Mary's Rock mountain with backpacks behind them.

Trails Guides

A group of volunteer student leaders who lead outdoor day trips almost every weekend during the academic year, serve as guides for the Adventure Bound pre-orientation program, and lead Adventure Break trips during fall, spring, and winter breaks.

Workshops and Training by Request 

Topics can be adapted to meet the needs of a group. Examples of possible topics include, but are not limited to, group dynamics, leadership foundations, leadership styles, ethical decision making, communication skills, group development, conflict resolution, and self-awareness. Email Denise Remedios, Program Coordinator for Leadership for more information.

Leadership Opportunities

Leadership development doesn’t happen in one place. GW students have access to abundant resources across campus, both in academic spaces and co-curricular programs. We've put together a menu of resources across campus where you can learn more about leadership development opportunities at GW.


Browse Leadership Development Opportunities