Registration for our 5th annual Student Leadership Institute is OPEN! Register here!         

Cal Poly’s Student Leadership Institute is a one-day leadership conference focused on empowering students through providing educational experiences that support and challenge students to build and apply leadership skills to effect social change. The theme for SLI is “This is What a Leader Looks Like” and we will be highlighting all types of leaders across campus with a focus on expanding the notion of leadership while helping each student see the leader they have inside them. The Student Leadership Institute (SLI) is an open and free opportunity for all Cal Poly students to engage in leadership development opportunities and learn from and with their peers.

Cal Poly’s Student Leadership Institute is made possible by collaborations with some of the Center for Leaderships key campus partners — Cross Cultural Centers, Fraternity & Sorority Life, University Housing, and New Student & Transition Programs.


See the 2021 SLI Schedule

Hosted by the Center for Leadership in partnership with: Student Diversity & Belonging, Fraternity & Sorority Life, New Student & Transition Programs, and University Housing. 


10:00AM – 11:00AM, Welcome & Student Keynote — Advanced Technology Laboratories (Building 7)

  • Welcome to the 5th annual SLI! — Introductions and Acknowledgment of Land
  • Student Keynote Speakers 


11:10AM – 12:00PM, Break Out Session 1

Gillian Cutshaw (she/her) & Matilda Bunchongchitr (she/her)
Leading with your Assets: Asset-Based Strategies for Creating Inclusive Spaces — Building 10, Room 221
We will be discussing asset-based frameworks that empower individuals and communities to discuss strategies that are unique and successful to their identities.


Tommy Peterson (he/him)
Examining Your Leadership through a Trauma-Informed Lens — Building 192, Room 242
COVID-19 has changed how we interact with the world & one another. Learn how to lead others by evaluating your leadership style through a trauma-informed lens.


Emma Haley (she/her)
Interculturally Competent Leaders in Service — Building 10, Room 201
This presentation will inform participants how to avoid white savior complex and voluntourism while navigating culturally immersive service-learning environments.


Liana Rivera-Cardera (she/her) & Allie Matz (she/her)
Leaders in Action: Transfer Edition — Building 52, Room E28
What does being a leader look like to you? This presentation will promote and assist you in finding your values on what a leader is.


12:10PM – 1:00PM, Break Out Session 2

Marni Goldenberg (she/her)
Leading with Teamwork — Bonderson Lawn
This interactive presentation will include several team-building activities and discussion will focus on the importance of teamwork for leading in our communities.


Kari Mansager (she/her)
Self-Care for Leaders: Sustaining Your Most Valuable Resource — Building 10, Room 222
As leaders, we need to be able to show up as our best selves when people need us most. This means re-filling our cup through self-care practices. However, self-care is not a one-size-fits all recommendation, so how can best we take care of ourselves based on our privileges and needs?
Join PULSE for a reflection and discussion about how we as leaders can care for ourselves, care for others, and how we can make self-care more accessible to all.


Rachael Tibbets (she/her) & Mads Wales (they/them)​​​​
Paw-sitive Leadership: Lessons from our Four-Legged Friends — Building 10, Room 225
Get your bark-eloriate in paw-sitive leadership by taking this 45 minute crash course with two ulti-mutt dog lovers (and their favorite four-legged friends).


1:10PM – 2:05PM, Lunch & Keynote Speaker — Advanced Technology Laboratories
(Building 7)

Enjoy lunch from Mr. Pickles & an extra special keynote speech from Sonalee Rashatwar (they/he) LCSW MEd, an award-winning clinical social worker, sex therapist, adjunct lecturer, and grassroots organizer. They can be found on Instragam @thefatsextherapist.


2:15PM – 3:00PM, Break Out Session 3

Parsa Khosravi (he/him)
Practicing Gratitude and Leading a Legacy — Building 10, Room 222
The session will be a conversation and study on gratitude and why this is a skill that is worth developing. Motivation, belonging, and confidence are derived from gratitude, and giving back is key in having the right perspective and legacy. The psychology of gratitude is quite simple and well proven. I will touch on this and dive deeper into the statistics and concepts.


Huong Le (she/her) & Monica Gamez (she/her)
Empowering Leadership through Mentorship  Building 10, Room 201
This session will focus on the importance of mentorship in different fields of higher education, specifically clubs and organization. Come and learn your own mentorship style through this interactive session.

3:00PM – 3:15PM, Closing Video



Student Leadership Institute (SLI) is an open access student leadership conference for the Cal Poly community. This is a great opportunity to learn something new or share your leadership journey or a skill you value with the campus community. Students are provided breakfast and lunch and will get to hear from an inspiring keynote speakers during the meals. The conference will allow emerging leaders to build essential skills while also allowing more engaged student leaders to network and develop skills to foster leadership in others. SLI is held on a Friday and students are encouraged to come as they can with their class schedule.

We want to challenge and inspire students with engaging sessions and have faculty, staff, alumni, students, and community partners present on an array of leadership topics. Past topics include conflict management, identity development, inclusive language, being an undoculeader, teambuilding, mentorship, and more. Additional some breakout sessions are focused around sharing space and have discussion about leadership with individuals who share similar experiences, identities, or passions.

Click here to see the schedule from SLI in October 2019.




During the first two years we offered SLI there was a day-two component on Saturday that was an application-only student leaders retreat. Students from across campus came together to tackle issues around campus climate. Students are provided breakfast and lunch and had the opportunity to learn from diversity leaders on campus. Students collaborated in small groups during the day to create and then present action plans - you can read about the 2018 and 2019 action plans here. Given feedback from our campus community, we have decided to move this student leaders retreat concept to be a collaboration with the Center for Service in Action's Change the Status Quo social justice leadership conference held every February. We are excited for this collaboration and hope you will join us for this great event to be an agent of change for our campus!

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