Logo for the Warren Bennnis Leadership Experience.

The Warren Bennis Leadership Experience (WBLE) is an annual event designed to develop students into leaders through the teachings and principles of Warren G. Bennis, leadership author, expert and the 22nd president of the University of Cincinnati (1971-77). 

This event brings nationally recognized leaders and experts in management to campus to discuss leadership principles applied to educational and professional settings to inspire an authentic leadership movement in Cincinnati.  

WBLE team returns from global conference 'more prepared than ever' to continue Bennis' legacy

Members of the Warren Bennis Leadership Experience student team attended the 2022 International Leadership Association’s (ILA) Global Conference, which took place in Washington, D.C. in early October. The students were accompanied by WBLI Thornburgh Academic Director Donna Chrobot-Mason, PhD; WBLI Coordinator Jack FitzGerald; and Lindner dean Marianne Lewis, PhD.

The team listened to prominent leadership voices like Valerie Biden, David Gergen, Raj Sisodia, Isobel Coleman and more. The students also learned how to implement mindfulness, how to draw on wisdom during uncertain times and how to work with leaders on a global scale. Panels, presentations, plenaries and collaborative workshops with other ILA attendees allowed for discovery on different leadership styles, insight on the decision-making process of global leaders and realization of their personal leadership styles.


WBLI Thornburgh Academic Director Donna Chrobot-Mason, PhD (second from right); WBLI Coordinator Jack FitzGerald (far right) and Lindner dean Marianne Lewis, PhD (center) pose with David Gergen (sitting). Gergen, an advisor to four U.S. presidents, recently wrote the book "Hearts Touched with Fire: How Great Leaders are Made."

Lara Taylor, BS ’23, was inspired by many of the powerful women at the conference to “work on building my confidence and to always seek new opportunities to further equality and inclusion for women everywhere.”

Invigorated and prepared to be better leaders at Lindner and UC, the team was also moved by hearing from those who knew Warren Bennis. The team considers itself more prepared than ever to continue Bennis' legacy at UC as it prepares for the annual WBLE in spring 2023. 

Other ILA 2022 takeaways from members of the Warren Bennis Leadership Experience student team:

Andrew Martin, BBA ’24


“When I left Cincinnati, I left knowing the names of my team, with a basic understanding of their interests and school involvement. Upon my arrival back in Cincinnati, I felt as if I had known each of my team members and advisors for decades. I feel that knowing your team, advisors included, allows for a better performance and structure for any organization, and I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to grow closer to them all.”

Alex Mason, A&S ’23


“The unique experience for an undergraduate student to present at an international conference is one I will forever cherish. I gained such a unique perspective by hearing responses from individuals originating all across the world in this diverse setting. There was also a very positive response and encouragement that our team received from many at the conference who had a deep interest in hearing the perspective from a younger generation.”

Matthew Toigo, BBA ’23


“We are beyond grateful for this amazing opportunity that generous supporters of the Warren Bennis Leadership Initiative have given to us and cannot wait to apply all that we have learned.”

2022 Warren Bennis Leadership Experience

The 2022 Warren Bennis Leadership Experience, planned by 13 undergraduate students, was held at Lindner Hall on April 4. The event brought 150 student leaders from across campus together in breakout rooms of 15. Each breakout room had an engaging discussion inspired by a conversation between WBLE co-founder Jack FitzGerald and renowned psychologist Daniel Goleman, PhD.


WBLE student team member Matt Toigo (far left) and WBLE co-founder Jack FitzGerald (far right) pose with 2022 WBLE attendees.

Goleman is an internationally known psychologist whose 1995 book, “Emotional Intelligence,” was on The New York Times' bestseller list for a year and a half, with more than 5 million copies in print worldwide in 40 languages. Goleman also wrote a book with Bennis — “Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor” — which was just one of the subjects covered in the conversation between Goleman and FitzGerald.

Students gained insight from Goleman’s groundbreaking work as well as from Bennis’ rich legacy, which they can use to advance their UC organizations and communities.

Previous Warren Bennis Leadership Experiences

Four male students stand in front of a sign.

From left to right, student organizers of the 2021 Warren Bennis Leadership Experience: Lou Langen (BUS ‘23); Alex Mason (A&S ‘23); Tyler Durr (BUS ‘22); and Nick Albers (BUS ‘22, ‘23).

Speakers such as Howard Schultz, former CEO and chairman of Starbucks; Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times No. 1 best-selling author Doris Kearns Goodwin; David Gergen, a political analyst for CNN who has worked for four U.S. presidents; and Paul Polman (BUS '79, HON '09), co-founder and chair of IMAGINE and the former CEO of Unilever, have attended previous Warren Bennis Leadership Experiences. Attendees have benefitted from meaningful discussions around how to apply Bennis’ lessons on leadership. 

Since 2016, the WBLE has hosted an annual event planned and led by students.

Learn more about past WBLE events and WBLE co-founder Jack FitzGerald's story from UC Magazine, Centennial Inc., the Cincinnati Business Courier and TEDxUCincinnati.

Three men and a woman speak on a panel.
Two women and a man speak on a panel.

Support the Warren Bennis Leadership Initiative

Honor a legacy of leadership and help develop the leaders of tomorrow by contributing to The Warren Bennis Leadership Institute Fund.