SystemLEAD Leadership Development Program

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There is an increasing challenge for public agencies to retain a workforce that provides quality and cost-effective services to the citizens of Virginia. As of September 2020, the average age of a DBHDS employee is 45.7 years old and over a third of our employees are eligible to retire in five years of less. To this end, it is essential that we begin to build a talent pool through training and development that can advance our mission of supporting individuals by promoting recovery, self-determination, and wellness in all aspects of life.


In an effort to address this challenge, DBHDS offers a comprehensive, long term leadership management initiative. A university-based leadership training certificate program that presents core management and basic leadership concepts and frameworks. Recognized leaders from across the Commonwealth explore the nature of management and leadership in policy formulation, development, and implementation and subject matter experts take participants on a deep dive into the key issues and priority areas currently facing the DBHDS system.

Over the nine month program, key competencies for leadership will be used to increase the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors for participants aspiring to a leadership role. The graphic below encompasses these competencies.


  1. Click here for an overview of the SystemLEAD program and the application process.
  2. Read Frequently asked questions here.
  3. Complete application here.
  4. Have your supervisor read and complete the acknowledgement here.
  5. Have an additional person provide us with a recommendation here.


SystemLEAD gives participants broad exposure to the competencies necessary to be a successful leader in our system. Participants will be selected using a competitive process requiring an application and two recommendations. Participants who are accepted to the program will be expected to:

  • Attend one full week long session, monthly, and two bi-monthly, day-long workshops.

  • Complete pre-workshop readings and outside classwork.

  • Participate in online learning communities.

  • Contribute to team projects.

  • Participate in workshop activities.

  • Be prepared to speak in front of peers and system leaders.

  • Be an active member of the cohort; not a passive one.