The E-Lead program is one-of-a-kind, designed specifically for Marquette students.

We believe Marquette students shouldn't have to wait years into their careers until they have formal and intentional leadership development.

The Excellence in Leadership (E-Lead) Program is a three-year, curricular innovation leadership development program designed to prepare undergraduate students at Marquette to be innovation leaders in today's changing world. We cultivate opportunities for students to understand how they want to be the difference and what they can do right now to start making a meaningful impact in their relationships, workplaces, and communities as an undergraduate student.

Students earn academic credit through a Concentration in Innovation Leadership for their participation in the E-Lead program.


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E-Lead Program Guiding Principles

  • Guiding Change (Leadership)
  • Solving Problems (Innovation)
  • Serving Others (Marquette University’s Jesuit Tradition)

Program Outcomes

The objectives of the three-year E-Lead program are to intentionally:

  • Cultivate the leadership character, capacity and efficacy of outstanding undergraduate students who will be able to lead teams tasked with solving global problems.
  • Prepare leaders to inspire, engage and serve people and organizations who represent the full range of diversity across the human spectrum.
  • Develop leaders who are driven to address 21st century global challenges in order to create value and bring about positive change.

E-Lead Program Themes

Year 1: Leading Oneself

  • We develop innovation leaders who understand their value as self-aware individuals, who are committed to core values and motivated to develop the mindset, skillset and behaviors required to effectively lead with others. 

Year 2: Leading With Others

  • We develop Innovation leaders who draw on the value others bring as they inspire, empower, listen to, and collaborate with others to solve problems and create value.

Year 3: Leading Innovation

  • We develop innovation leaders who create value because they have a growth-oriented innovator’s mindset and they have the skillset to bring talented and diverse perspectives together to relentlessly pursue new and better ways of solving problems.


At Marquette University, our history has been shaped by bold risk-takers, disrupters, creative visionaries, and innovation leaders concerned with creating value and making an impact. The E-Lead Program is intentionally connected to these roots.

In 2011, Dr. Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean of the Opus College of Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering, started sharing her vision for an intentional leadership development program with a small group of people. In her decades-long career as a professor and then department chair in biomedical engineering at Marquette, Dr. Ropella repeatedly listened to the stories of countless alumni who were rewarded for their excellence as individual contributors in their workplaces with promotions into people-leadership roles. Many of those stories followed the same refrain – they had to learn the hard way that the skills that made them successful as individual contributors simply weren’t enough to help them navigate the responsibilities and challenges of leading teams of people. With leadership being one of the four pillars of the mission of Marquette University, Dr. Ropella knew we could not leave it to chance or assume that our graduates would learn to effectively lead people and innovation simply because we said we wanted them to.

After networking the idea with several initial donors, industry leaders, and alumni, the E-Lead Program was born.

The Opus College of Engineering launched the first iteration of E-Lead, then called Engineers in the Lead, in 2014. Since its inception, the nationally-recognized program has seen immediate results, graduating undergraduate engineering students with enhanced self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

In 2019, E-Lead doubled the size of the program and opened the program to all majors. Since that time, incoming cohorts consist of 40 students from disciplines across the university. E-Lead is now housed in the Fotsch Innovation and Engineering Leadership Development (FIELD) Center at Marquette University.



Kate Andrea Jenny Kris Mary Joy

Kate Trevey, M.Ed.

Nana Fotsch Director, Fotsch Innovation and Engineering Leadership Development (FIELD) Center

Andrea Minkley, M.Ed.

Associate Director of Engineering and Innovation Leadership Development

Jennifer Benjamin, M.B.A.

Associate Director of the FIELD Center

Dr. Kristina Ropella, Ph.D.

Opus Dean of the Opus College of Engineering

Mary Joy Hickey, B.A.

Graduate Assistant