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Women and Leadership Affinity Group

The Women and Leadership Affinity Group (WLAG) is a network of leadership scholars and practitioners who want to enhance their knowledge, expertise, and research in the area of women and leadership and to advance the standing of women in leadership.


WLAG is intended to facilitate interaction and organize activities that support the sustained conversation on the subject of women and leadership. The unique purpose of this group is to provide information, resources, and networking opportunities for those scholars and practitioners who 1) study and conduct research around the issues of women and leadership and/or 2) who design development and coaching programs and services for helping women to move into leadership or to strengthen their leadership ability. It welcomes scholars and practitioners who are interested in discussing possibilities for future collaborative research and action around these topics.


The Women and Leadership Affinity Group's vision is to be the primary resource within ILA for the most current research, programming, practices, and opportunities for dialogue and collaboration to further promote women and leadership in the 21st century and beyond.

Principles and Practices

Relative to the issues of women and leadership, the ILA WLAG works to:

  1. Contribute to the body of leadership development work through research and publications and provide resources for practitioners.
  2. Facilitate interaction between its members by organizing activities and events on the topic of leadership development.
  3. Increase knowledge and expertise in leadership theory, research, and practice.
  4. Promote interest in special leadership topics.
  5. Develop partnerships between members for increased publication of high-quality research in the ILA supported journals.
  6. Support and foster learning among WLAG members and others in ILA.
  7. Provide a forum for networking, exchange of ideas, and mentoring of emerging researchers and practitioners.

Requirements of Participation and How to Join

Individuals may become members of the WLAG Group through their ILA Online Profile. Login to the Members Only Website, click on the link to edit your profile, and select Women and Leadership Affinity Group as one of your affiliations.  Membership forms will also be available at the annual meeting of WLAG during the ILA Luncheon.

There are no specific expectations for the participants in WLAG. Some may only be interested in yearly face-to-face meetings, while others may want to interact often to establish closer networking and mentoring relationships. Our goal is to establish a group that will allow for members to interact as frequently as needed and to receive relevant information throughout the year. WLAG members will be encouraged communicate with each other about key events, foster principles of scholarly practice, and to participate in working groups to accomplish committee tasks, as needed.

The following areas are some of the on-going committees and projects of the WLAG for which Executive Leadership Team members provide leadership: Communications/Media/Publications Committee; Conference Event Committee
Membership Committee; Research and Assessment Committee; Webinar Committee.

Lisa DeFrank-Cole, chair of the
ILA's Women & Leadership
Affinity Group

Affinity Group Leadership

WLAG is led by a 12-member Executive Leadership Team chaired by Lisa DeFrank-Cole, associate professor and director of Leadership Studies at West Virginia University. She can be reached at Lisa.DeFrank-Cole@mail.wvu.edu. Sherylle Tan, Claremont McKenna College, is the Chair-Elect and Melissa Mahan is the Past Chair.

Currently, the other members of the team are: Joanne Barnes, Indiana Wesleyan University; Chrys Egan, Salisbury University; Paige Haber-Curran, Texas State University; Karen Longman, Azusa Pacific University; Susan Madsen, Utah Valley University; S. Lynn Shollen, Christopher Newport University; Julia Storberg-Walker, George Washington University; Denise Thomson, DeWitt-Thomson, LLC; and Wendy Rowe, Royal Roads University.


In 2010 three ILA members (Susan R. Madsen, Karen Longman, and Kathi Tunheim) organized a "Women in Leadership Network Luncheon" that was held successfully at ILA's annual conference in Boston. Approximately 110 individuals joined us for this event. Attendees sat at tables with others who were passionate about their specific areas of interest for engaging lunchtime conversation. The table topic choices were chosen and emailed to attendees prior to the event. Sponsors for this luncheon included 1) The Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company, OD and Learning Division, 2) Utah Valley University, 3) Azusa Pacific University, 4) Gustavus Adolphus College, and 5) Global Institute for Leadership and Civic Development, Inc. At the conclusion of the luncheon, each table provided feedback on how they would like to see a more formal networking effort continued. The creation of an affinity group was at the top of the list. The establishment of the Women and Leadership Affinity Group in 2011 in time for the 2011 October ILA Conference in London, as well as a continuation of the Women and Leadership Luncheon tradition at the 2011 Conference fulfilled that request!