University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design

Transform your career by becoming a more intentional and effective design leader.

Whether you’re looking to move your organization in a new direction, or increase your ability to tackle pressing design challenges, or simply become a better leader, the Executive Program in Design Leadership will provide you with tools you can use right away to overcome obstacles and pave the way for your next career breakthrough.

This unique 6-month executive program offered by the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design is created specifically for design professionals who are seeking to learn new leadership skills, build their networks, and grow their careers.

Taught by leading design educators, practitioners, and experts in leadership development, the Weitzman Executive Program in Design Leadership (XDL) focuses on transformational leadership, inclusion in the workplace, design thinking techniques, facilitating stakeholder engagement, and negotiation skills.

Specifically designed to fit into your busy schedule, the program features self-paced online learning interspersed with live on-line meetings with your instructors and the XDL community of curious and motivated design professionals. You will also participate in a live online 1-day Design Leadership Summit. In this dynamic event you will form closer connections with your colleagues, participate in thought provoking discussions, and hear from prominent design leaders on the future of design leadership.

Who is this
program for?

Design leaders and emerging design leaders who want to maximize their leadership potential.

Professionals who do not have design backgrounds but are leading design projects from the client or organizational side.

XDL is for those seeking to learn with a diverse group of successful professionals who are committed to becoming effective leaders by becoming more intentional and self-aware.

The Executive Program in Design Leadership (XDL)

The XDL Program is for those seeking to learn with a motivated group of professionals who are looking to take the next step in their career by becoming transformational leaders.

This is the place for emerging and established design leaders to take the next big step in their career by practicing the use of empathy, intentionality, and self-awareness in everything they do.

Download the viewbook to learn more about AIA and ASLA Continuing education learning units.

It is for:
  • Designers
  • Architects
  • Landscape architects
  • Urban designers and planners
  • Engineers, builders, and consultants
  • Business, nonprofit, government, and community leaders
Executive program in design leadership


  • Explore and test your newfound leadership techniques and receive feedback in real-time from fellow design professionals.
  • Connect with a diverse community of design professionals from across the globe.
  • Discover new frameworks for tackling leadership challenges in design settings.

At the end of this program, you will be able to:

  • Build more equitable and better collaborative work cultures by advancing inclusive leadership skills
  • Create cohesive organizational systems by fostering high-quality workplace relationships
  • Transform organizations by becoming a more self-aware leader
  • Solve critical challenges by using the design thinking process
  • Empower diverse stakeholders by facilitating co-creative processes focused on real-world projects
“Transformational leadership is different. It requires a deep understanding of our own egoistic voice in order to understand and overcome resistance to change.”

What to Expect

This unique 6-month executive program offered by the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design was created specifically for design professionals who are seeking to learn new leadership skills, build their networks, have more positive impact, and grow their careers.

The tuition is $4,950, with a $500 discount applied to early applicants.

  • Courses
  • Online Events
  • Feb. 18
    Orientation (Online Event)
  • Feb. 25 - Mar. 19
    Enlivening Quality Relationships (3-week Online Foundation course)
  • Mar. 25
    XDL Community Building Day (Online & Optional)
  • Mar. 25 - Apr. 16
    Inclusive Leadership (3-week Online Foundation course)
  • Apr. 22
    XDL Community Building Day (Online & Optional)
  • Apr. 22 - Jun. 4
    Transformational Leadership (6-week online core course)
  • May 13
    XDL Summit (Live ON-LINE event)
    Independent Leadership Project starts
  • Jun. 10
    XDL Community Building Day (Online & Optional)
  • Jun. 10 - Jul. 2
    Elective (3-WEEK ONLINE COURSE)
    Design Thinking Basics
  • Jul. 8 - Jul. 29
    Facilitating Co-creative Stakeholder Engagements (3-week Online core course)
  • Jul. 29
    Design Leadership Day (OPTIONAL ON-CAMPUS or ON-LINE Event)

Core Faculty

Dr. Carla Thomas, Founder, The Realize Group

Having worked with clients ranging from higher education to global fortune 500 organizations in sectors that include: Higher Education, Technology, Life Sciences, Financial Services, Retail, and Consumer Goods, Dr. Thomas currently holds a faculty position within Villanova University’s Human Resources Graduate Program as well as various programs within The University of Pennsylvania. She sits on the advisory boards of Saint Joseph’s University’s Organizational & Leadership Development graduate program, The Academy of Natural Sciences and the American Public University System. She is an active member of the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Sciences, Philadelphia Society of People and Strategy, the Society for Human Resource Management, the Organizational Development Network, and the Inclusion Allies Coalition.

A. Mecquel, Instructor, Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University

Mecquel investigates the intersections of psychology, cognition, embodiment, movement, and its applications within performance, design, education, and leadership. Her curricula include embodied experiences to cultivate creativity, collaboration, empathy, and problem-solving. She also leads teams in effective communication, developing emotional and social intelligence, and relationship building at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Informed by psychology, contemplative practice, and somatic education, Mecquel bridges kinesthetic experience and practical application for a dynamic integration that repatterns the body, mind, and relationships. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Clinical Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NY.

Lucinda Sanders, CEO & Partner at OLIN

Lucinda Sanders is the President/CEO of OLIN and an Adjunct Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania's Weitzman School of Design. She has a core belief that transforming thinking transforms place, and she is eager to bring this idea to the design table wherever she works. Lucinda is responsible for continually shaping OLIN as a leader in design excellence, both in her role as CEO and as a Design Partner in the firm. She has led the design of many of OLIN’s signature award-winning projects and is the co-founder of OLIN LABS, the studio’s in-house research practice. Outside of OLIN, she is involved on boards and with academia dedicated to the advancement of the field of landscape architecture, urban design, and planning, with notable accomplishments including the co-creation and facilitation of the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership. Lucinda holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Doctor of Education in Transformational Leadership from Insight University.

Rob Fleming, AIA, LEED AP, NOMA, LFA Founding Program Director

Rob Fleming is an award-winning educator, author, keynote speaker, sustainability advocate, and architect. Rob is the Director of Online Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design, and he is the Faculty Director of the Design Leadership Program. From 1996 to 2021, Rob served as the Founding Director and Professor for the Award-winning Master of Science in Sustainable Design Program at Thomas Jefferson University, where he taught hundreds of emerging sustainability professionals who have made important contributions in the world. Rob works with clients and design firms around the country to facilitate integrative design charrettes using co-creative, stakeholder driven design processes. In this way, built environment projects reach higher levels of sustainability and the design teams themselves develop stronger bonds through a shared sense of purpose. Rob holds a master’s in architecture degree from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Temple University. Rob is also the 2022 Philadelphia AIA President Elect.

Sarah Rottenberg, Founding Instructor

Sarah is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design and the Executive Director of the Integrated Product Design Program, a master’s program at Penn that brings together design, business, and engineering. She also works as a consultant to corporate clients, training teams in design research methodologies and facilitating strategic product and business design sessions and teaches Design Thinking for Wharton Executive Education. Sarah is a cofounder of Lia Diagnostics, a company that has developed a flushable pregnancy test - a sustainable product that puts women in control of their own experience. Sarah began her career as a design strategist at Doblin, Inc. and she was a Directing Associate at Jump Associates. She has an MBA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a BS from Georgetown University.

Important Program Dates

December 1

Applications Open

January 1

Early Application Deadline

February 16

Regular Application Deadline

Learn to Lead.

Drop us a line. We’d be happy to answer any remaining questions you might have about the XDL program. You can also check out our FAQ page for additional information.

Apply Now Meet with with the XDL Director