SUNY Student Leadership Academy

June 3 – 5, 2020    

SUNY Student Leadership Academy (SLA)  

The SAIL Institute is proud to announce the creation of the SUNY Student Leadership Academy. The SLA will prepare the next generation of civically-engaged leaders by providing them with the skills, knowledge, and tools needed to successfully navigate and improve an increasing diverse and fractured community. This Academy, designed and delivered by professionals from across SUNY, leverages the collective assets of the system to provide a diverse and prestigious learning and networking opportunity for SUNY students. It will also act as a bridge between students and their career paths, as participants will graduate being able to articulate their personal and professional story to future hiring managers and graduate program directors..

The SLA is a three-day comprehensive experience where students learn together through a unique combination of classroom instructions, team challenges, and immersion visits with local and national leaders in New York’s capital.  Each year, the Academy will be centered around a grand challenge designed to support students in learning how to collectively tackle a pressing-issue currently facing society, while also learning about vision setting, cultural intelligence, community impact, and stakeholder engagement. This year’s cohort will focus on addressing how campus communities can collectively work towards achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

By actively engaging in the three-day Leadership Academy, students will be able to:

  • Connect across differences as they pursue team-based collaborative solutions to complex social challenges related to the UN Sustainable Goals;
  • Have a better understanding of their own culture and identities as they relate to their peers, community, and the world;
  • Expand their personal and professional network, both locally and globally;
  • Deepen their understanding of the Capital Region community as well as identify similarities and differences in their own local communities and beyond; and,
  • Learn and flex skills of storytelling and be able articulate their story to future hiring managers.

This engaging hands-on experience is designed for students and includes:

  • A series of leadership development workshops
  • Immersion visits with local leading organizations
  • International virtual exchange component 
  • Collaboratively team-based, applied learning

The academy will focus on one challenge question throughout the three day experience:

“How Do We Collectively Take Action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals to Transform Our World, Campuses and Global Communities?”

Goal: The SUNY SAIL Institute seeks to include at least two students from each of the 64 SUNY campuses to ensure a diverse and equitable 2020 SUNY Student Leadership Academy cohort.

The 2020 program kicks off June 3 and will include students from all across the SUNY system as well as internationally.

Nomination process: SUNY SAIL Institute is enlisting the assistance of our campus leaders to act as campus liaisons to encourage nominations from your student populations. Nominations may be submitted as self-nominations or others may nominate students.

The success of the SUNY Student Leadership Academy depends on strong connections between SUNY SAIL Institute and each of the SUNY campuses.

The role of the Student Leadership Campus Liaison is intended to: 

  • Encourage and promote nominations of students from your campus.
  • Nominations can be self-nomination, or you may nominate students
  • Review nominations for your campus’ student population 
  • Coordinate fiscal support for accepted students to represent your campus and fully participate

Interested Campus Liaisons: If you would like to be listed as a campus liaison, add your name and contact information to our Campus Liaison sign up sheet on the tab on the right. 

Nominations for this program may be submitted between March 9 – April 9. 

Acceptance letters will be sent to students by April 27.

Information Session: 

For Interested Campus Liaisons:  Please refer to the information session video on the right tab. 

Additional program information, including costs, is available on the Summer 2020 SUNY SLA flyer.

Reach out to Merissa McKasty, Leadership Development Manager at with any questions. 

Student Leadership Academy Design Team 

The design team is compromised of faculty and staff experts across the system who meet monthly to assist in curriculum and program creation of the academy. We thank them for their dedication in working toward creating a successful and high-impact experience for the 2020 Student Leadership Academy cohort. 

Joyce Akinmola, SUNY SAIL Graduate Student, SUNY System Administration

Meylin Andares, Director of Enrollment Management and Student Success, SUNY System Administration

Martha Asselin, Director of Leadership and Service, University at Albany

Mary Lou Forward, COIL Center Director, SUNY System Administration

Helen Gaudette, Assistant Dean for International Education, Fulbright Program Advisor, Fulbright Scholar Liaison, COIL Coordinator, Fashion Institute of Technology

Jason Lane, Executive Director, SUNY SAIL Institute 

Melissa Marietta, Career Development Center Director, SUNY Oneonta 

Carolyn Mattiske, SUNY SAIL Associate Director, SUNY System Administration

Merissa McKasty, Leadership Development Manager, SUNY System Administration 

Dr. Giacomo (Jack) Oliva, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Fashion Institute of Technology 

Maya Rudolph, SUNY SAIL Graduate Assistant, SUNY System Administration

Deirdre Sato, Dean for International Education, Fashion Institute of Technology


When and Where:

 June 3 – 5, 2020              Capital Region, NY

Housing is provided at University at Albany

SUNY Student Leadership Academy Application Coming Soon! 

This information session will provide an overview of SUNY SAIL’s 2020 Student Leadership Academy, stories from past student participants, the role of a Campus Liaison, and advise to incoming students to the academy.


“Due to this program being very diverse and multicultural, I have been able to interact more with people of different ethnicities and backgrounds, preparing me for future interactions within this country and abroad.”


Farmingdale State College

“I am a shy person and talking to a group of people can be uncomfortable for me, but this program offered an opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds and forced me out of my comfort zone. I learned that I am capable of connecting with a lot of different people and I am glad I stuck with the program.”


University at Albany

“I loved it, wish it was longer actually! Had a great time and am grateful to have been a part of it. I hope there are future programs like this, that I can be a part of!!”


Binghamton University

“I feel that this program is essential for those entering professional field of work and I can determine that it helped me open up not only to others, but open up to myself as well.”


SUNY Maritime College