SUA Earns National Girls’ Leadership School Designation
St. Ursula Academy

The Leadership Program for Girls has chosen St. Ursula Academy as the first high school in the nation to offer its rigorous leadership development program.

SUA President Mary Werner said the distinction as the first National Girls’ Leadership School “recognizes our commitment to intentional leadership development and rigorous scholarship standards for every young woman. We are so honored to have been selected.”

Co-founder Lisa Cenca, Principal Nichole Flores, President Mary Werner, and co-founder Julie Carrier

St. Ursula Academy, founded in 1854, is Toledo's oldest, fully accredited, all-female, Catholic college preparatory school serving grades six through twelve. The school’s enrollment is 565 students with an 11:1 student-teacher ratio. SUA offers a full complement of honors and Advanced Placement classes, 13 varsity sports, and outstanding fine and performing arts programs. Additionally, one of SUA’s highest strategic priorities is developing and empowering young women to lead in the future. Formal and informal leadership development occurs in the all-girl environment, building confident, courageous, and self-directed leaders prepared for a complex and continually changing world.

Werner said this recognition would build on the current tradition of excellence at the school. “Beginning in fall 2021, the world-class leadership programming for girls will be included in our core curriculum, launching exclusively at SUA. Students who complete the four-year program will earn a Certificate in Leadership that will be denoted on their transcript for the Class of 2025 and beyond. I am thrilled for our students to participate in this leading-edge program. I can't wait to watch them learn, lead, and ultimately make a difference in the world.”

The Leadership Program for Girls was co-founded by Julie Carrier and Lisa Cenca. Carrier is recognized as the number one Coach for Young Women in the World by Thinkers 50 and Leading Global Coaches, while Cenca is a notable Harvard Graduate School of Education Leader and girls school founder who recently received Harvard University’s prestigious Phyllis Strimling Award for Advancing Women.

The Program’s mission is to bring intentional, equitable, and evidence-based leadership learning to the academic school day. The four-year leadership model for high school girls, after years of pilot testing and development, combines a rigorous focus on academics with an equally important focus on leadership, self-leadership, and service.

The Leadership Program for Girls is also advised by a team of the world’s foremost thought leaders in leadership development from Harvard University, The Center on Leadership and Ethics at Duke University, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and other leading education experts across the country.

The founders of The Leadership Program for Girls are excited about teaming with SUA to bring this world-class program to the school. In April, co-founder Cenca visited SUA to meet with school leaders. “Because we have witnessed the most incredible outcomes resulting from our intentional evidence-based girls leadership programming, we know the potential impact. As we bring this life-changing program to girls across the nation and even the world, we sought a school aligned with our mission to change the trajectory of girls’ lives and positively impact the world. St. Ursula Academy is that school,” Cenca said.

SUA Faculty and Staff will begin training this summer to teach the specialized program. Carrier noted, “We could not be more excited about working with SUA. The school will lead the way in bringing leadership learning to its students as part of their academic school day. The school’s dedication to innovation and leading-edge leadership development makes it a natural fit for this program. We are thrilled to be working with a school that is focusing on empowering girls to lean into leadership roles of the future.”

The Harvard Venture Program selected The Leadership Program for Girls for its innovation and ‘bold thinking’ in building future women leaders.

The co-founders and the world-class advisors meet regularly to assess the program and its outcomes. Along with the attention of experts on women’s leadership, the program has garnered the attention of the National Coalition of Girls Schools Organization, where Cenca and Carrier presented The Leadership Program for Girls at the National Conference in NYC.

Although the students at SUA will directly benefit from this robust programming, Carrier and Cenca agree that the SUA team of faculty and staff are the force that will bring the program to life. St. Ursula Academy Principal Nichole Flores is excited about the next steps the school is taking to develop leadership skills in the students at SUA. “This programming is unlike anything else in the country. Our girls will build skills and practice those skills in hands-on projects that positively impact the world. We are preparing our students to meet the needs of a changing world. It is incredibly inspiring for our girls and our community.”

To find out more about The Leadership Program for Girls, visit


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  • Leadership