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Professional Executive Leadership School (PELS)

Kind Words from PELS Graduates

The experience was very enlightening. I will recommend this class to anyone in law enforcement who is entering a command supervisory position. It broadens perspective and teaches the student to think outside the box. … The instructors are all impressive as well. They bring a whole new perspective to leadership. These instructors aren’t simply intellectuals; they want to learn from our experiences as much as we want to learn from them.


My experiences [in PELS] will not be forgotten and the training I received was top notch. During the different courses, I was able to expand my knowledge of leadership, how to identify leadership qualities and how to implement them in my course of duties. I found the self-evaluation portion to be very beneficial and I know it will guide me in my future role as a law enforcement officer. Each course had a positive impact on me and I was able to takeaway something from each course. I found all instructors to be amazing and each brought a different teaching method.


I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend PELS and was so impressed with the entire program. It was quite apparent that this program has been keenly scrutinized for the better, as the organization and structure of the entire program flowed brilliantly. The various courses built off of each other very nicely. The instructors, at the risk of generalizing and lumping them all into one category, were top notch — they really were! Casting aside the lecture format for a more participatory method of instruction proved to be very thought provoking and memorable. The stories shared by the instructors and classmates will undoubtedly equate to a high degree of knowledge transfer and retention.

I can’t say enough how thankful I am for having had the opportunity to attend. I truly believe in this program, and I wish all of the supervisors in my department could be so lucky as to attend. As a result of this program, I feel as though I am more equipped to be a better person at work and in my personal life — as a supervisor, cohort, subordinate, husband, and father.

As for the hospitality, the University of Richmond was a most gracious host. We are so lucky to have gotten to experience the program on the beautiful campus. The experience would not have been the same if it were done remotely in some police academy classroom or in an online setting. The environment was very conducive to cultivating learning and fostering participation. The joint cooperation between the UR School of Continuing Studies and the VACP was refreshing and something for which I was very happy to see. To witness a private institution, like the University of Richmond, so willing to invest such a large stake in the Commonwealth’s public safety leaders of tomorrow was exciting and very admirable.

The Professional Executive Leadership School (PELS) program is an intensive three-week leadership education program conducted in cooperation with the University of Richmond. This program is designed for individuals who currently serve in command/executive level positions within their agencies.  The objective of this program is to acquaint participants with best practices in leadership, challenge them to reflect upon their own leadership competency, and examine ways of achieving both personal and professional growth.

The University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies administers the PELS program. The classes are held at the University of Richmond’s main campus in Richmond, Virginia, and classes are taught by faculty members from all five schools within the University of Richmond and Executive Education.

The curriculum is liberal-arts/humanities based and focused on the study of leadership at an advanced level.  Curriculum topics may include Critical Thinking, Delegation & Leadership, Developing Your Leadership Skills, Ethical Decision Making, Foundations of Leadership, Going Back & Making A Difference, History & Leadership, Influential Leadership, Law & Leadership, Leadership in Crisis, Leading Multiple Generations, Leading with EQ, Literature, Managing Conflict, Media Relations, Motivational Leadership, Negotiations, Politics and Leadership, Psychology & Leadership, Public Policy & Leadership, Relationship Centered Leadership, Setting Goals for Your Team, Strategic Leadership, Understanding Diversity, Urban Crisis in America, and World Religions.  Classes offered change from time to time to ensure that topics covered are recent and relevant. In addition to classroom discussions, this program provides participants with the opportunity to network with executive staff members from other organizations.

PELS is geared for executive-level officers and managers. The program is open to applicants from both the public and private sectors.  In-state and out-of-state applicants are welcome to apply.  Prospective applicants must meet the prerequisites and complete the application process.

The program fee is $2,400 and includes tuition, textbooks, course materials, break services, lunch, and Graduation Luncheon.  The program fee with lodging is $3,300. Lodging is single occupancy.

Session 42: January 8-12, February 5-9, & March 5-8, 2018

Application Deadline is October 15, 2017


Session 43: September 17-21, October 15-19, & November 12-15, 2018

Application deadline is June 15, 2018

Program Information
The PELS program is conducted on the campus of the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia, for one week a month for three consecutive months. Attendees are required to attend all three weeks of the program. Classes are held from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, except on Fridays when classes will adjourn around 12:00 noon. Individuals accepted into the program must be prepared to commit to this schedule.  Because class sizes are limited, early submission of application packets is recommended.

A program of this type requires a total commitment on the part of the attendee and their organization.  Full-time attendance is mandatory for all classes and program activities.

Prospective applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must currently be in an executive or upper management position. LEO's must be a lieutenant or above (or the equivalent for law enforcement agencies with 35 or less sworn force).
  • Possess an associate’s degree or equivalent. (The equivalent of an associate’s degree is 4 years full-time increasingly responsible occupational experience in current profession.)
  • Possess prior training, education, and life experiences consistent with the requirements and expectations of this program.
  • A personal commitment to expand your leadership abilities and use these skills to benefit your organization.
  • The chief executive of the organization is required to nominate the candidate and endorse their application.
  • Out-of-state applicants are welcome.

Mid-level managers and sergeants are welcome to apply if they meet the following criteria in addition to the criteria listed above:

  • Occupy a position responsible for directly making or impacting policy within your organization;
  • Have attended an intermediate level leadership program; and
  • Minimum 10 years’ experience in current occupation.

Prospective applicants must submit the following:

  • A completed application form endorsed by the chief executive of the organization.  For law enforcement agencies, applications must be signed by the Chief of Police or Sheriff.
  • A current resume of the applicant.  Please include work history, experience, education, and relevant training history.
  • Agency organizational chart with the current position of the applicant clearly indicated.
  • A letter of interest to the PELS Selection Committee indicating why the applicant wants to attend PELS, and the applicant’s goals and expectations of the program.
  • Mid-level managers and sergeants must also submit a letter of support from their Chief Executive Officer describing how the applicant meets the additional criteria for PELS.

Please note, great care should be given to completion of the application packet, as acceptance to this program is limited to 23 individuals per session.

  • Handwritten applications will not be accepted.
  • Faxed applications will not be accepted.
  • Applicants not submitting a completed application & all required documents will not be accepted.
  • Do NOT include a print-out of all training history.  Relevant training history should be included in the resume. 
  • For law enforcement agencies, applications must be signed by the Chief of Police or Sheriff.
  • Application packages submitted after the deadline may not be accepted without prior approval.

Submit completed application packets electronically to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by mailing it to the VACP – PELS Selection Committee, 880 Technology Park Drive, Ste. 100, Glen Allen, VA 23059.

Selection Process
A selection process is utilized for the PELS program.  To facilitate this process, after the application deadline all applications packets received for that PELS Session are provided to the PELS Selection Committee for their review.  Each applicant is contacted by a member of the Selection Committee for a brief interview.  The purpose of the interview is to ensure the applicant has taken the time to familiarize themselves with the PELS program, is committed to expanding their leadership abilities to the benefit of their organization, and is committed to attending and fully participating in each phase of the program.  After the selection committee discusses each application and makes their selections, applicants will be notified of their status.  Applicants are evaluated based upon the following criteria:

  • Proper completion of the application and submission of all required documents;
  • Applicant meeting the pre-requisites of the program;
  • Thoroughness, thoughtfulness, and professionalism demonstrated in letter of interest to the PELS Selection Committee; and
  • Thoroughness, thoughtfulness, and professionalism demonstrated in responses to interview questions.

Certification and Credit
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the University of Richmond jointly award a certificate of completion to those individuals who successfully complete all phases of the program. In addition, this program has been approved by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) for Partial In-service Credit.  In-service credits awarded include Legal, Cultural Diversity, and Career Development/Elective.  Partial In-service Credit (PIC) forms and certificates of completion will be distributed at the close of the program during the graduation ceremony.

Program Fee
The program fee is $2,400 and includes tuition, textbooks, course materials, break services, lunch, and Graduation Luncheon.  The program fee with lodging is $3,300. Lodging is single occupancy and arrangements are made by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.

Lodging is single occupancy and arrangements are made by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.  If special accommodations are needed, please send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Scholarship Information
The graduates of the 24th Session of the Professional Executive Leadership School have created the Lex T. Eckenrode Scholarship for PELS.  This is a partial scholarship for PELS and is available to sworn law enforcement officers employed in the Commonwealth of Virginia who qualify for and are accepted into the Professional Executive Leadership School.  For more information click here.

When funding is available, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police will accept requests for needs-based discounts from applicable law-enforcement agencies.  For more information click here.

For more information or any questions concerning this program, please contact Stephanie Diaz at (804) 709-1094 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or age in its programs or activities, including education policies, admissions policies, scholarships, and other programs.  The following position has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the VACP's non-discrimination policies:

Executive Director
Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police
880 Technology Park Drive, Ste. 100
Glen Allen, VA 23059
(804) 285-8227

For further information on federal non-discrimination regulations, contact the Office for Civil Rights at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (800) 421-3481.