Professional Executive Leadership School (PELS)

*Please indicate on the application your session preference.  You may choose more than one session.

PELS 55: Sep. 9-13, Oct. 14-18, and Nov. 11-14, 2024
PELS 56: Feb. 10-14, Mar. 17-21, and Apr. 14-17, 2025
PELS 57: Sep. 8-12, Oct. 6-10, and Nov. 10-13, 2025
PELS 58: Feb. 9-13, Mar. 16-20, and Apr. 13-16, 2026
PELS 59: Sep. 14-18, Oct. 12-16, and Nov. 9-12, 2026
Although every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate your session preference, session choices cannot be guaranteed.

Professional Executive Leadership School (PELS)
The Professional Executive Leadership School (PELS) 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 executive level positions within their organizations.  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 Budgeting for Public Personnel, Critical Thinking, Delegation & Leadership, Developing Your Leadership Skills, Ethical Decision Making, Foundations of Leadership, History & Leadership, Law & Leadership, Leading Multiple Generations, Communicating with Impact, Literature, Managing Conflict, Media Relations, Motivational Leadership, Negotiations, Politics and Leadership, Psychological Safety in the Workplace, Public Policy & Leadership, Understanding Individual Differences, Urban Development, and World Religions.  Classes offered change from time to time to ensure that topics covered are recent and relevant.  

During this program, participants will have the opportunity to network with peers from other organizations.  This is a great opportunity to meet and seek assistance from other professionals.  PELS is geared for executive-level officers and managers.  The program is open to applicants from both the public and private sectors.  Prospective applicants must meet the prerequisites and complete the application process.  Out-of-state applicants are welcome to apply.

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 class will adjourn at 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.

Program Fee
The program fee is $2,500 and includes tuition, course materials, certification, break services, lunch, and graduation luncheon.  The program fee with lodging is $3,800 and includes all of the above plus fourteen (14) nights lodging.  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

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 are from small agencies (35 or less sworn force) or are graduates of the ILCT program.  In addition, when funding is available, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police will accept requests for needs-based discounts / fee waivers from applicable law-enforcement agencies.  For more information click here.

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 serve 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.
  • Posses a personal commitment to expand their leadership abilities and use these skills to benefit their 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 policy within your organization;
  • Have successfully completed a multi-week intermediate level leadership program; and
  • Minimum 10 years’ continuous experience in current occupation.

Prospective applicants must submit the following:
  • A completed application form endorsed by the chief executive of the organization.  For LEO’s, applications must be signed by the Chief of Police or Sheriff. 
    • If the chief or sheriff is the applicant, the application must be signed by the town/city/county manager.
  • A current resume of the applicant.  Please include work history, experience, education, and relevant training history.  (Do NOT include a printout of all 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.  (This is not required for lieutenants and above.)
Please note, great care should be given to completion of the application packet, as acceptance to this program is limited to 30 individuals per session.  Handwritten, faxed, and/or incomplete application packets will not be accepted!  Completed application packages may be emailed to or mailed to Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, 880 Technology Park Drive, Suite 100, Glen Allen, Virginia 23059.   

Selection Process
A selection process is utilized for the PELS program.  To facilitate this process, applications packets received for each PELS Session are provided to the PELS Selection Committee after the application deadline.  Each applicant is contacted by a member of the Selection Committee for a brief interview.  The purpose of the interview is to ensure applicants have taken the time to familiarize themselves with the PELS program, are committed to expanding their leadership abilities to the benefit of their organization, and are committed to attending and fully participating in each phase of the program.  After selections are made for each session, applicants are 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 during the PELS Selection interview.

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.

For more information or any questions concerning this program, please contact Stephanie Diaz at (804) 709-1094 or email

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 or call (800) 421-3481.