NC IOPL History
The NC Institute of Political Leadership began in 1974 by Dr. Walter de Vries in Wilmington, NC. It re-emerged in 1988 from the deliberations of a group of leading North Carolinians who were concerned about the lack of integrity found in our political system. These leaders joined together to begin a program to improve the quality of political and governmental leadership in state and local government. We are grateful for the vision of William Friday (former President of the UNC System), Walter DeVries (author and political consultant), H. Smith Richardson (founder of the Center for Creative Leadership), and L. Richardson Preyer (former Federal Judge and US Congressman).
Simply stated, the purpose of this unique leadership program is to produce better qualified, ethical, accessible, and more representative public leaders in North Carolina’s state and local governments. The Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that provides leadership development of people who have been identified as having the potential to become future public leaders. No other program offers such a comprehensive curriculum in strategic political leadership development. In fact, it is the oldest non-partisan political leadership training program in the state. In 2013, the Institute of Political Leadership merged with the North Carolina Center for Women in Public Service.
Our comprehensive non-partisan training programs help to prepare individuals from diverse backgrounds to enter the pipeline to be public servants – elected, appointed, or through other community involvement. We help individuals develop practical skills and confidence to become effective leaders. The Core Programs that support this mission are the Fellows Program and the Women on Board Program.
Participation in our programs is on the basis of leadership potential and commitment, without regard to age, race, ideology, or party affiliation. NCIOPL has over 1,100 graduates representing more than 82 North Carolina counties.
Since the inception of NCIOPL, over 400 alumni have served in many capacities in their communities and throughout the state. Currently, there are 120 alumni in office. Our graduates serve at every level of state and local government, including Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, and State Treasurer Dale Folwell. We have over 100 alumni who have served in the NC General Assembly, with 20 currently serving. Many others are city council members, county commissioners, school board members, judges, clerks of court, registers of deeds, sheriffs, and those who hold other elected offices. Numerous other NCIOPL graduates serve on appointed boards and commissions on both the state and local levels, and several use their NCIOPL experience regularly while working on political campaigns.