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

Barb Kautz-Wittwer (Advisor) 


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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.

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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 2021

2020 has been a chaotic and challenging year for all of us. Stepping into the future, 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 virtually the weekend of March 13-14th 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, submit your application now!

Servant Leadership Conference

CfLI and the JLC will be sponsoring up to 300 UW-Madison students FREE of charge to attend the Servant Leadership Conference that will take place June 9th-11th, 2021.  Learn more here.

This is a first come, first serve opportunity.

Register here.

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

2020-2021 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! 

Email with questions.


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

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!