Women's Leadership Development Program


The Women's Leadership Development Program provides emerging women leaders within the ARVO membership a highly interactive, year-long learning experience focused on leadership skill development and facilitating leadership opportunities and networking within ARVO. The program started in 2016 and hosts 9-15 female participants and their mentors (men and women) each year.

Eligible participants include early- to mid-career female scientists who are in a faculty/tenure-track (or equivalent) position for not more than 10 years and who have been ARVO members for at least three years at time of application.

Senior scientist and junior scientist smiling2024 - 2025 program timeline

  • Application opens Sept. 1, 2023
  • Application closes Oct. 31, 2023
  • Applicants notified Dec. 2023
  • Program begins April 2024
  • Program concludes April 2025

Program curriculum

Kick-off program and orientation

The 2024-2025 kick-off program and orientation will take place in-person on Friday, May 3, 2024 in Seattle, Washington (before the 2024 ARVO Annual Meeting). 

Monthly discussion topics facilitated by guest speakers

Includes live video chats with well-known leaders in the field and supplemental web-based written discussion.

Joan O'Brien speaks into a microphoneTopics include themes such as:
  • Finding Your Strengths
  • Building and Maintaining Your Network
  • Time Management & Maximizing Your Productivity
  • Positioning Yourself Internally and Externally
  • People Management
  • ARVO Service Opportunities
  • Confidence
  • Negotiation
One-on-one guidance from a mentor

Participants meet monthly with their assigned mentors for individualized support during the program year.

Program impact

The Women's Leadership Development Program aims to prepare more women to serve in leadership roles within ARVO and within their academic institutions.

  • After participating in the program, 73% of the 2018-2019 class plans to pursue a leadership role at their institution within the next two years.
  • Of current program alumni, 49% currently serve on an ARVO committee.


Who should apply to be a participant/mentee?

Two young women listening to a presentationEarly- to mid-career female scientists who are:

  • In a faculty/tenure-track or equivalent position for not more than 10 years
  • Have been ARVO members for at least three (3) cumulative years at time of application, and who will maintain active membership throughout the program 
  • Interested in future leadership positions within ARVO
  • Eager and able to commit to active participation in the program, including:
    • Attending a kick-off and orientation program on Friday, May 3 in Seattle, Washington. 
    • Monthly or more frequent interactions with her assigned mentor
    • Engaging and collaborating with program class and program alumni via topical discussions in a dedicated ARVOConnect community
    • Requesting their institution's support of the $500 program fee
Program fee for particpants

To help support the operating costs of the program, mentee participants’ home institutions are expected to support their faculty with a $500 participation fee.

A brief letter of support from the mentee’s department chair, or other appropriate institutional representative will be requested within the application form that acknowledges the program fee and mentee’s participation in the program.

Who should apply to be a mentor?

Any ARVO member (men and women) who:

  • Have been an active ARVO member for at least five (5) past consecutive years who will maintain active membership throughout the program
  • Have served in ARVO volunteer/leadership roles, such as committee, or editorial board service
  • Want to help develop future ARVO leaders with the goal of gender parity in ARVO leadership
  • Can commit to attending a kick-off and orientation program on Friday, May 3, 2024 in Seattle, Washington (ARVO will reimburse one night hotel stay up to $300 USD)

There is no cost to apply to be a volunteer mentor.


Program supporters

The Women's Leadership Development Program is supported through funds raised at the annual Women in Eye and Vision Research (WEAVR) Luncheon.

Supported by:

 Women's Leadership Development Program - supported by WEAVR

Application checklist

What you will need to upload in your online application.

Learn more