Shelly Wilsey
Chief Operating Officer

+1 (202) 470-4818 ext. 101

Shelly Wilsey has nearly 40 years of experience in leadership development, non-profit management, organizational development, and community organizing. She began working with the International Leadership Association in 2000 and serving since then in a variety of leadership and management roles as the ILA expanded from 1.10 FTEs to its current staff size.  

Wilsey started at the Academy of Leadership in 1997 as the director of the Community Action School, which she built into a highly successful training program attended by more than 1,000 diverse community leaders. She also coordinated the Community Action Network program, which provided seed grants to nine community groups to support local leadership development initiatives. Both programs were supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. While working with the ILA, she was also the Deputy Director of the University of Maryland's James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership from 2004-2009.

Prior to that, Wilsey worked for seven years at the CLEC Canvass Network in a variety of progressively responsible roles, including: financial manager, administrative director, and director of development and client relations. She began her non-profit management career at the Fullerton Management Company, where she served the administrative director for DC membership operations. In 1988, Wilsey was one of several co-founders of the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force, a regional, pro-choice, all-volunteer organization.

In 1986, Wilsey moved to the Washington metro area for a dream job at the United States Student Association (USSA) as the first program coordinator of the GROW project, a national training program for student leaders and activists based on the Midwest Academy model. Before leaving New York State for DC, she was first a regional organizer and then the organizing director of the Student Association of the State University of New York (SASU). She began her activist work in 1980 as a summer field canvasser and manager for NYPIRG. Upon returning to campus that fall, she became involved in organizations working to protect the environment, secure student voting rights, and expand access to higher education.

Wilsey earned her BA in history from SUNY Plattsburgh and was one of the first students there to earn a certificate in women's studies. A committed activist, she was active in a number of local, state, and national issue campaigns and held several campus-wide leadership positions. She received the Women's Studies Academic Excellence Award, and was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa.