MidAmerica Regional Public Health Leadership Institute

Background Information

The MidAmerica Regional Public Health Leadership Institute (MARPHLI) is a year-long fellowship program based out of the MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice (MCPHP) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health (UIC-SPH). Starting its twenty first year, MARPHLI was initiated as the Illinois Public Health Leadership Institute, and is the oldest state-based public health leadership program in the United States.  The Institute has expanded to serve the MidAmerica region, with teams representing Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.

The MARPHLI program has graduated over 1,000 Fellows since its inception. MARPHLI teams have included federal regional staff, state and local health department professionals, members of Boards of Health and/or county boards, state legislators, and representatives of community-based and nonprofit agencies.

The need for leadership and workforce development that informs the mission of MCPHP is based on Healthy People 2020 health objectives (Health Resources and Services Administration, HRSA) and the report, Future of the Public’s Health in the 21st Century, (Institute of Medicine, 1988 and 2002). MARPHLI provides public health practitioners with critical leadership skills, and supports improvements in public health infrastructure through the process of applied action learning and team technical assistance projects. Individual and team learning occurs in the context of contemporary national trends in public health practice.

Competency-based, public health leadership skills (eg. crisis leadership, preparedness, systems thinking) are built on the paradigm of the core functions and essential services of public health. The leadership development model defines a training perspective oriented to strengthening the infrastructure of public health through effective leadership.

Institute Mission

MAPRHLI assists practitioners holding leadership positions in the public health system to develop greater effectiveness in helping their agencies carry out the core functions of public health – assessment, policy development, and assurance.

Institute Objectives

  • Understand the characteristics of effective public health leadership
  • Expand their knowledge about effective leadership practices
  • Enhance their leadership abilities in carrying out the public health core functions and essential services
  • Learn how to successfully apply leadership skills within their agencies
  • Study models that have successfully applied leadership skills in the public health environment
  • Provide a forum for discussing leadership issues with mentors
  • Develop a network of public health leaders
  • Strengthen relationships between public health practitioners and their academic colleagues
  • Expand regional relationships among public health leaders in the Midwest
  • Understand how to use various leadership tools to strengthen the infrastructure of public health system

Leadership Competencies

The Council on Linkages competencies addressed through MARPHLI include but not limited to:

  • Incorporates systems thinking into public health practice.
  • Relates public health science skills to the Core Public Health Functions and Ten Essentials Services of Public Health
  • Analyzes internal and external problems that may affect the delivery of Essential Public Health Services
  • Participates with stakeholders in identifying key values and a shared vision as guiding principles for community action
  • Promotes individual, team, and organizational learning opportunities
  • Establishes mentoring, peer advising, coaching or other personal development opportunities for the public health workforce
  • Applies communication and group dynamic strategies (e.g., principled negotiation, conflict resolution, active listening, risk communication) in interactions with individuals and groups
  • Uses group processes to advance community involvement
  • Distinguishes the role of governmental and non-governmental organizations in the delivery of community health services
  • Contributes to the measuring, reporting and continuous improvement of organizational performance
  • Modifies organizational practices in consideration of changes in the public health system, and the larger social, political, and economic environment

Eligibility Requirements

1. To be eligible for appointment as a MARPHLI Fellow, the applicant should currently fill a leadership position at one of the following: state or local public health agency, local board of health, county board, state legislature, managed care organization, non profit or community based organization. The applicant should have at least three years of experience in the field of public health. The applicant must have academic training at the bachelor’s level. A post-graduate degree is desirable.

2. Applicants may be self-referred or a colleague may nominate them. If the applicant is self-referred, a letter of recommendation from a public health colleague, well acquainted with the applicant that describes how the nominee would benefit from MARPHLI should accompany the application. If the applicant is nominated by a colleague, the letter of nomination serves this purpose. Whether self referred or nominated, each applicant must complete the enclosed application form. In addition to the application and letter of recommendation, an up-to-date curriculum vitae or resume must be submitted.

3. Applicants may apply as an INDIVIDUAL or as a TEAM with colleagues from your organization or partnering organizations. Teams are requested to have at least one governmental public health representative and one clinical care representative and, ideally, representation from other stakehold-ers within or supportive of the health system, such as business, community-based organizations, and/or faith-based institutions. If individual applications are received, the MARPHLI program staff will work to align teams with diverse stakeholders and individual representatives.

4. All individuals applying for appointment as a Fellow must agree to participate fully in the twelve-month program and to comply with all Fellow responsibilities listed below.

Fellow Responsibilities

As noted in the above sections, MARPHLI is a yearlong commitment. For this reason, all Institute applicants should be aware of the specifics of such a commitment. Please read the following section carefully.

Fellows accepted to MARPHLI must agree to participate fully in all aspects of the twelve-month program including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Read all materials sent out prior to the three-day October conference
  • Attend and be an active participant in all sessions of the three-day kick-off conference and the two follow-up sessions which take place at the six- and twelve-month points of the Institute year
  • Complete all pre- and post-Institute leadership self assessments as requested by faculty and staff
  • During the course of the academic year, participate in developing an action learning project and an agency-based project
  • Be willing to work with a Mentor for a one-year period
  • Be willing to serve as a Mentor in the future.


The tuition for this 12-month program is $2,000 per applicant. This includes registration, conference materials, and selected meals. Fellows are responsible for hotel accommodation as well as transportation to and from the retreats.

Steps to Apply

The MARPHLI fellowship program is currently on hold.

View information from past MARPHLI programs in our Training & Events Archive.