Jones Leadership Center

Who Are We?

The Willis L. Jones Leadership Center (JLC) is a part of the Center for Leadership & Involvement. The JLC works to to inspire and prepare students to work in partnership with others to positively transform themselves, their peers and their communities.

In order to reach this goal, the JLC holds leadership seminars for all students. Our seminars provide students with an open, inclusive environment where they learn the information they need to discover their leadership potential.


To facilitate unique and intentional experiential opportunities to develop students’ sense of self and their potential to lead.


To inspire students to work together to positively transform their campus communities and beyond.

Leadership can often be a vague concept, with many different interpretations. Using the Authentic Leadership Development model as our foundation, we define leadership as an inclusive, relational process of working positively with others towards a shared vision. Leadership is in one’s attitude, approach and actions and, therefore, can be learned by combining an understanding of leadership theory with real-life experiences. The goal of the JLC is to inspire and prepare students to work in partnership with others to positively transform their campus communities and beyond.


In 2013, the Willis L. Jones Leadership Center (JLC) was established through the generous donation made by Robert and Dorothy King. The endowment was made in honor of Coach Jones’ legacy of empowering students to be the leaders of tomorrow. Initially part of the Wisconsin Union, the JLC has made its new home in the Center for Leadership & Involvement.

Named After a Legacy

Willis L. Jones

Willis L. Jones was a beloved Madison-area high school coach for over thirty-five years. Mr. Jones holds a record that includes five conference championships & state titles at two different high schools. Over the course of his illustrious career, he taught thousands of young people how to set goals, work together, celebrate victories and accept defeat. Mr. Jones believed that through his work as a coach, he was building the leaders of tomorrow. Click here to learn more about Willis L. Jones.

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Contact Us

Scout Umnus (Advisor) 

No events returned.

Emerging Leaders Retreat Image

Leadership Conference Scholarships

The Jones Leadership Center organizes and sponsors the Emerging Leaders Retreat, a weekend retreat with emerging leaders from UW-Madison. The JLC also sponsors students to go to various leadership conferences.

Authentic Leader of the Month

The Willis L. Jones Leadership Center bases its programs and philosophy around the idea of authentic leadership. The Authentic Leader of the Month (ALM) celebrates and rewards student leaders on campus who use an inclusive, relational approach to guide others towards achieving a shared vision.


The JLC offers a variety of workshops throughout the semester. These are great opportunities to sharpen your leadership skills, dive deeper into topics of interest, and connect with students on campus.

Check out our upcoming workshops and sign up today!

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What We Do

What do we Do?

We provide leadership workshops open to all UW-Madison students. Through participation in the Willis L. Jones Leadership Center, students will:

  • ASPIRE to recognize how their values, goals, identity, and emotions affect their ability to build trust and credibility.
  • SHARE ideas across multiple modes of communication, allowing them to engage in meaningful conversations and actions with others.
  • TRANSFORM this vision into reality, and develop critical thinking skills to make decisions and solve problems.
  • CONNECT with others to foster positive change and seek opportunities to contribute to our global society.

 Benefits of Attending Our Events

  • Improved leadership abilities
  • Networking opportunities with other student leaders
  • Outside Classroom Hours for the UW Leadership Certificate!
  • Build your resume with concrete leadership skills

Leadership Series

  • EMPOWER: This workshop series provides an opportunity for personal growth, knowledge, acquisition, and skill development through engaging presentations, interactive group discussions and breakout sessions.
  • ENERGIZE: The area provides outreach, personalized workshops, Wisconsin Union student staff support, and coordination for the Wisconsin Experience Bus Trip (WEBT).
  • ENGAGE: The Leadership Speaker Series is a comprehensive lecture and discussion series that brings leaders from the Madison area and beyond to speak about their experience with leadership and how to help others develop theirs. Anyone who has displayed leadership within their community is welcome to speak.
  • EXPLORE: The EXPLORE leadership series provides scholarships to students to participate in national leadership conferences. Three scholarships for both of the conferences will be awarded based on an application process. IMPACT Conference: The largest annual conference focused on the civic engagement of college students. I-LEAD®: It is also intended that participants will leave I-LEAD® with a sense of excitement, energy, and urgency to be innovative leaders in their own lives and on their campuses.

Leadership Conferences & Retreats

Emerging Leaders Retreat

We believe emerging leaders should develop agility and adaptability.

The JLC has been organizing and sponsoring the Emerging Leaders Retreat since 2011 to help current and aspiring leaders on campus explore leadership skills and practice leadership behavior. This year’s retreat will be held in the spring and is free to participants (UW-Madison students only). The event will cover managing transitions, teamwork and conflict resolution, giving and receiving feedback, etc. All costs will be sponsored by the Jones Leadership Center.

If you are interested in developing your leadership skill in a fast-changing environment and understanding the fundamental knowledge of being a successful leader, stay tuned for our Spring 2023 application.

Sponsored Leadership Conferences

Do you want to be sponsored to attend a leadership conference?  Click here to learn about and apply for the JLC to sponsor you to go to a leadership conference.  You can also tell us about a conference you would like to attend and we will review that for sponsorship!

Request a Workshop

Mobile Workshops

The JLC is now offering personalized workshops for all student organizations on campus!  Our staff will work with your organization to create an interactive program that fits your group’s goals and objectives. This is a free service designed to help students develop their leadership skills on campus. Request a workshop for your student organization or residence hall today!


2021-2022 Staff

Scout Umnus: Leadership Programing Specialist

Scout is a leadership programing specialist and oversees the Jones Leadership Center!   Scout has a B.S.E. in Elementary Education with certification in English as a Second Language.  She is the most excited about Getting to work with an amazing team of student interns!  Scout oversees our intern team and is there to help whenever we need her!

Claire Pieper: Marketing Director

Claire is majoring in Marketing with certificates in Digital Studies and Graphic Design.  She is looking forward to getting to work on all kinds of different projects with everyone!  Claire is the head of our marketing team, but also helps with staff development and outreach!

Avery Bluey: Intern

Avery is a studying Political Science. She is most excited to work with other students interested in leadership and marketing! Avery is on committees for marketing, speaker series, and authentic leader of the month.

Isabel Fernandez: Intern

Isa is majoring in Spanish and English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She is most excited to make new friends and experiences. Isa is working on authentic leader of the month and staff development.

Brynn Flanders: Intern

Brynn is studying Agricultural and Applied Economics. She is the most excited to take on the task of event coordinating and to test her skills as a leader! Brynn is planning the emerging leaders retreat and explore leadership conferences.

Britney Patterson: Intern

Britney is majoring in Neurobiology. She is the most excited to collaborate with the team and plan the workshops. Britney is planning the emerging leaders retreat and is serving as our assessment & donor relations chair.

Aavia Shetty: Intern

Aavia is studying Neurobiology. She is excited to understand the behind the scenes for how leaders and leadership is brought about. Aavia is planning the speaker series and authentic leader of the month.

Rose Weithaus: Intern

Rose is majoring in Political Science with a minor in History. She is excited to work with people who share her interests and passions! Rose is also looking forward to growing in a new environment and learning more! Rose is working on the outreach committee as well as planning the explore leadership conferences.

2020-2021 Staff

Barb Kautz-Wittwer: Associate Director

Barb is the Associate Director of CfLI and oversees the Jones Leadership Center!   Barb has a B.S. in Elementary Education and a M.S. in College Student Personnel.  She is the most excited about Getting to work with an amazing team of student interns!  Barb oversees our intern team and is there to help whenever we need her!

Claire Pieper: Intern

Claire is majoring in Marketing with certificates in Digital Studies and Graphic Design.  She is looking forward to getting to work on all kinds of different projects with everyone!  Claire helps with our marketing team, staff development, and is our SLP liaison.

Hiya Jain: Intern

Hiya is majoring in Psychology.  She is looking forward to organizing and facilitating the workshops. Hiya helps with our marketing team, speaker series, and is planning our Virtual Emerging Leader Retreat!

Isabel Peterson: Intern

Isabel is majoring in Economics and Political Science.  She is looking forward to improving her own leadership style.  Isabel helps with speaker series and authentic leader of the month!

Jasmine Enriquez: Intern

Jasmine is majoring in Political Science and Legal Studies along with a certificate in Public Policy.  She is looking forward to being able to provide resources for students during these crazy times!  Jasmine helps with our virtual outreach, marketing, and authentic leader of the month.

Karina Gao: Intern

Karina is majoring in Actuarial Science.  She is looking forward to getting to know more about leadership and facilitating workshops!  Karina helps with our data assessment, union student employee training series, and facilitating workshops. 

Lauren Coleman: Intern

Lauren is majoring in Marketing and International Business.  She is really excited to have more marketing experience and to meet the other interns. Lauren helps with our marketing team and plans staff development.

Riley Mortara: Intern

Riley is majoring in Human Development and Family Studies along with Communication Arts.  She is looking forward to figuring out the virtual environment and making the most out of our events in creative ways. Riley helps with our virtual outreach and is planning our Virtual Emerging Leader Retreat!

Bucky Award Winners

Bucky Awards is sponsored by Student Leadership Program (SLP), the Jones Leadership Center sponsors the Outstanding Leadership Award.

Authentic Leader of the Month Winners

Jennica Martinson: April 2022

Jennica is a sophomore studying civil engineering. She is involved with the Salt Company at UW-Madison. In this position, she helps to facilitate group events, leads a bible study group, and also helps engage the group with the community at large.

Her favorite leadership quotes comes from 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” This applies very well to Jennica’s work as a religious leader on campus!

Katie Chesebro: December 2021

Katie is a junior studying journalism and communication arts. She is currently the Organizational Outreach Branch Coordinator for Student Leadership Program (SLP). Katie is also the Emcee and a bible study leader for Badger Cru

Her favorite leadership quote comes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg and states “so often in life things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune” because it is easy to get caught up in the things we “have to” do and lose track of the things we GET to do.

Matthew Engel: November 2021

Matthew is a junior studying chemical engineering and is also working towards the CfLI Leadership Certificate. He has served as the Vice President of the Wisconsin Engineering Student Council and is now serving as the VP of Diversity and Student Experience within WESC where he leads the Diversity and Student Experience Committee.

Chelsea Wells: October 2021

Chelsey Wells is a junior at UW-Madison studying marketing and management. She has extensive leadership experience; SACGB representative, Customer Service Rep at StudentPrint, Intern for the Center of First Year Experience, Member of AKPsi Professional Business Fraternity.

Her favorite leadership quote is: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Marissa Schaefer: December 2020

Marissa is a senior and has shown her leadership abilities as a Madison Turners Club Gymnastics Coach, a Badgers Give Back Volunteer, and a Freshman Seminar Mentor. She is also part of the University of Wisconsin Coed Cheerleading.

Marissa’s Favorite Leadership Quote: “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” -JFK

Andrew Evenson: November 2020

Andrew is majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is a Cadet Wing Commander of UW-Madison AFROTC Detachment 925 and an Office Student Supervisor for Carson’s Market, UW Dining and Culinary Services.

“A role model of mine is Matthew McConaughey. Matthew McConaughey did not get his notoriety handed to him on a silver platter. He had to really work hard and grind to get to where he is today. All the while, he did not fake his personality or let society change who he is. He has been able to keep to his values and opinions, despite his fame and fortune. I think this is something everyone should try to do. I try not to let society influence how I live my life or influence what I truly want to do.”

Click here to see our Authentic Leader of the Month winners from past years!