Charlotte Civic Leadership Academy


The City of Charlotte's Civic Leadership Academy (CLA) is a free 13-course program designed for Charlotte residents who are ready to take the next step in being community leaders and improving the quality of life in all of Charlotte's neighborhoods.

The CLA provides an overview of city government and allows participants to grow in their leadership, analyze issues using data, connect with decision-makers and other Charlotte leaders, and make a difference in their communities. 

Participation is determined through a competitive application process. 



  • A City of Charlotte resident
  • Commitment to continued community leadership
  • Ability to attend at least 10 out of 13 sessions

Benefits of Participation

  • Receive a personalized leadership assessment and leadership development training
  • Enhance your understanding of Charlotte's history, demographics, and decision making
  • Develop relationships with other community leaders and leaders in local government
  • Learn how to use data to articulate challenges and advocate for resources for your community
  • Get a behind-the-scenes look at how the City of Charlotte works and develop specialized knowledge about the departments and programs of the City of Charlotte.

Workshop sessions will cover:

  • Introduction to the City of Charlotte
  • Charlotte History, Implicit Bias, and Quality of Life Data
  • Leadership Development
  • Charlotte Government 101
  • Community Safety
  • Environment
  • Economic Development
  • Transportation and Planning
  • Housing & Neighborhood Development
  • City Budget and Decision-Making
  • Capital Improvement Projects
  • How to join Boards and Commissions



Leaders with vision and clarity of purpose will push our community forward. Our leadership development program will equip you with self and social awareness, emotional intelligence, and the ability to collaborate and exercise influence to be a better advocate for your family, neighborhood, and our greater Charlotte Community. 

Equity & Opportunity

With Charlotte and Mecklenburg County's last ranking in social mobility, our community needs a renewed focus on how we all can create an equitable community and expand opportunities for all residents. The CLA will give you tools to understand our collective history and work to achieve more positive outcomes for all in the future.

Accessible Government

The City's government structure can feel complicated, and you may need to learn how to access decision-making. The CLA will take you behind the scenes of each department and give you access to government leaders making daily decisions that impact residents' lives. In our interactive workshops, you will also be able to build relationships with city staff and elected officials. 


Civic Leadership Academy Online

We're excited to announce that more CLA videos are coming soon! Keep an eye out for new content that will be packed with valuable information and insights about the City of Charlotte and our partners. Whether you're looking to learn something new or just need a refresher, our CLA Online videos will have something for all residents. We're working hard to create a diverse range of videos on topics covered in the Civic Leadership Academy. So make sure to subscribe to our channel and stay tuned for the latest updates!


CLA Online

We are currently recording and capturing each section of the CLA so that residents will be able to view the sessions online! Please check back soon or subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when the new recordings are released!

Government 101

City of Charlotte Mecklenburg County

Charlotte Then and Now

Telling Our Stories

Economic Development

  • Economic Development Department
  • Aviation Department

Community Safety

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
  • Charlotte Fire Department


  • Charlotte Department of Transportation
  • Charlotte Area Transit System

City Decision-Making

  • Strategy & Budget
  • City Clerk's Office


Housing and Neighborhood Development

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Civic Leadership Academy (CLA)?

The CLA is a 13 session crash course in City of Charlotte Government and civic leadership. Participants will be provided the opportunity to grow in their leadership style, learn to analyze issues using data, connect with decision makers and other Charlotte leaders, and gain useful tools to make a difference in their communities.

Who can participate?

Participation is open to residents of Charlotte, NC. At this time, we are not accepting applications from anyone living outside of the city’s geographical boundaries (in extra-territorial jurisdictions, surrounding towns, etc.).

Do I have to be an established leader to participate in the CLA?

We encourage anyone who would like to exercise positive community leadership to apply to the CLA. This can include young people (16 and older), established neighborhood leaders, residents with no leadership experience,  homeowners, renters, business owners, non-profit workers, new arrivals, native Charlotteans, and everyone in between. If you care about Charlotte and want to work with the City to improve quality of life, we encourage you to apply for the CLA.

How and why was CLA created?

The CLA was created to equip residents with the tools and information necessary to be strong, community focused civic leaders. The CLA is focused on making City government more accessible and transparent, and engaging residents as partners in grappling with the challenges we face as a community.

The program was created with input from grassroots community leaders and City staff to reflect the needs and concerns of the community. Because we are deeply committed to being responsive in providing information and tools that the community needs, each CLA program will vary slightly to accommodate the feedback from previous sessions and to reflect changing issues and concerns in our community.

How will participants be selected?

Up to 42 applicants will be selected, six from each City Council district area.  Selection is based largely on the application content, with a focus on selecting applicants who reflect the rich diversity of our community and who demonstrate a willingness to engage as leaders in Charlotte.  Selection is competitive, as the number of applications received typically far exceeds the number of slots available. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to be as thoughtful, earnest, innovative, and engaging as possible in their application.

What makes a strong application?

Applicants are encouraged to be as thoughtful, earnest, innovative, and engaging as possible in their applications. A Selection Committee reviews applications; they are scored based on the following categories: Application Completeness, Engagement, Perspective & Innovation, Community Concern, and Demonstrated Potential for Leadership.

While we can't guarantee selection, we offer the following tips for your consideration:

  • Take your time – don't rush through the application.
  • Read full program details in advance – purpose, benefits, content, why participate, etc.
  • Review the entire application before you begin.
  • Follow the instructions, answer questions thoroughly.
  • Think through each question, giving thoughtful consideration, and provide your sincere, distinct response.
  • Before submitting, check to ensure your responses are clear and convey your intended meaning.

Should I send additional information with my application?

Extra information, such as a resume, is not necessary to include with the application and will not be considered in the application process.

What is the cost of participation?

The program is free. Meals and materials are included. Because the CLA represents a significant investment in each participant, we ask that potential participants commit to attending the sessions and consider the class dates and time commitment before applying.

Why should I participate?

The ideal CLA applicant applies because they have a love for Charlotte and wants to be a part of problem solving in order to move our community forward. Past participants in the CLA have been residents who wanted to become community and/or neighborhood leaders, existing leaders who wanted to sharpen their skills, non-profit workers who wanted to better educate their constituents on how to work with government, and residents who want to have an understanding of what the City does. Many CLA applicants have an interest in applying for boards and commissions as well as public service.

Participants of the CLA will:

  • Receive a personalized DISC Leadership Assessment
  • Learn how to efficiently utilize their leadership style to positively impact their community
  • Enhance their understanding of Charlotte history and decision making
  • Develop relationships with other community leaders and leaders in local government
  • Learn how to use data to articulate challenges and advocate for resources for their communities
  • Get a behind the scenes look at how the City of Charlotte works and develop specialized knowledge about the departments and programs of the City of Charlotte
  • Commit to using their leadership skills in the broader community to improve the quality of life for all Charlotteans.

Program graduates are strongly encouraged to apply to serve on City/County boards and commissions. The official boards and commissions applications include a designation for CLA graduates. CLA graduates will also receive a certificate of completion from Housing & Neighborhood Services Department and an exclusive CLA lapel pin.

If this sounds good to you, you should apply.

When and where are sessions held?

Sessions are held on weeknights and Saturdays, with a mix of in-person and virtual formats. Most in-person sessions will be held at City-owned facilities. Selected applicants will receive an official agenda with details on each session and location with their acceptance packet.

What information will the program cover?

The CLA covers the operations of the City of Charlotte, how to engage in purposeful leadership, how to use data, and the history of Charlotte. Participants will walk away with a high level understanding of the City of Charlotte, specialized knowledge about the City's departments, and a better understanding of leadership concepts like emotional intelligence, equity, and collaboration and influence.

This program may touch on the work of Mecklenburg County, the State of North Carolina and/or the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system, but is primarily focused on the workings of the City of Charlotte.

What are the attendance requirements?

Participants may miss up to three sessions out of 13. Each session is packed full of vital information and participants are highly encouraged not to miss any. Note that there is no virtual option for in-person classes.

What happens if I am not selected?

With so many applications received, only some of the applicants can be selected. We will keep your information on file and let you know if a participant in your council district drops out and leaves a vacancy you can fill. We also encourage applicants to apply again for the next series. We will give you the first notice when applications open.

We encourage applicants to attend other training opportunities the City of Charlotte offers. For more information, navigate to our Neighborhood Resources webpage.

I want more information. Who should I contact?

Please contact Cynthia Woods at or 704-336-2646.

What happens after the program?

Graduates of the CLA can indicate their status on applications for boards and commissions. The City of Charlotte will formally convene CLA graduates in voluntary, bi-annual meetings to give updates about programs and projects of the City and help the City problem solve, where applicable. Graduates will be included on the Neighborhood Organization Contact list. How graduates engage in individual community leadership is up to them. However, community involvement and leadership are conditions for participating in the program.