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Become a Leader in TESOL International Association

Leadership Opportunities and Pathways

TESOL can help you develop your leadership knowledge and skills. Below is a summary of leadership opportunities in the association as well as ideas about how you can serve, grow, and lead in the field. For more information on the paths that members have followed to become association leaders, please review Past President Andy Curtis' May 2017 blog post and the correlating Association Leadership Chronologies.

Governance Structure

TESOL’s governance structure has three core committees:the Executive CommitteeFinance Committee, and Nominating Committee. In addition, Professional Councils and Task Forces collaborate with the Board of Directors and staff to carry out the association’s mission and strategic plan.

Serve as an Elected Leader

Certain leadership positions in the association are filled by nomination and election. Each has its own required skill set and core competencies:

Serve on a Professional Council

TESOL members who volunteer to serve on Professional Councils help to create and disseminate knowledge, influence policy, and maintain a strong organization. Serving on a Professional Council offers a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth and is one of the many benefits of TESOL membership.

Appointments to Professional Councils are for one year, with the option to renew for another year at the end of the appointment. The maximum continuous service period on these Professional Councils is three years. To be eligible, you must be a member of TESOL International Association in good standing.

Serve as an Interest Section Leader

TESOL has 20 interest sections (ISs). Many ISs have a chair, chair-elect, newsletter editor, and community manager. The chair and the chair-elect positions are filled through nomination and election, usually held in November. Newsletter editors and community managers are usually appointed by the IS chair. If you are interested in serving as an IS leader, contact your IS chair or

Serve as an Affiliate Leader

TESOL welcomed its first affiliates in 1969, when nine associations were granted affiliate status. Today, TESOL is affiliated with more than 100 independent associations that serve nearly 50,000 professionals. To maintain a working relationship with its affiliates,

Each affiliate has its own leadership structure and process for filling leadership positions. To find out more about serving as a leader in your local affiliate, please contact your affiliate leadership.

Leadership Courses and Programs

TESOL International Association also offers a number of courses and programs designed to help you brush up your leadership skills. Though some of the programs are open to TESOL members only, all of them will help you deploy your leadership skills in other contexts outside the association.

ELT Leadership Management Certificate Program

The ELT Leadership Management Certificate Program is designed to provide structured leadership training opportunities. The program comprises intensive, interactive workshops with recognized leaders in the field at the annual TESOL convention and at various affiliate conferences worldwide.
It is for ELT professionals at all levels who are currently in a leadership, administrative, or management role in their institution or organization, or who want training in these areas. Five key areas are addressed: effective leadership, strategic planning, teacher development, time management, and leading meetings. 

Leadership Development Certificate Program

The Leadership Development Certificate Program (LDCP) provides quality professional development and leadership training for current or future leaders within TESOL International Association. The four-week, 40-hour online program is available to TESOL members only, but the program also benefits current or future leaders of other English language teacher associations. Any TESOL member interested in developing knowledge and skills in association leadership is strongly encouraged to participate.

Leadership Mentoring Program

The Leadership Mentoring Program (LMP) has been part of the association’s commitment to leadership development for more than 20 years. In the LMP, which is open to TESOL members only, a successful applicant is paired with a mentor for a one-on-one, year-long mentoring program tailored to his or her specific needs, making every LMP unique.