National WIC Association

2022 Leadership Academy - Cohort 19

July 10, 2022 - February 19, 2023



The NWA Leadership Academy (NWA LA) Certificate Program is a customized leadership program designed to 1) assist WIC organizations in developing leadership skills and attributes for selected new leaders, and 2) update the skills of current leaders. Additionally, the NWA LA will enable WIC organizations to clarify, communicate, and execute their vision, mission, goals and strategic initiatives. WIC personnel completing the NWA LA will possess the leadership skills and qualities necessary to think and act strategically, demonstrate critical-thinking skills, and manage results-oriented teams. 

Download the Cohort 19 Calendar

Cohort 19 will begin on July 10, 2022. Registration is now open. Questions? Contact us at


Academy Information

The NWA Leadership Academy Certificate Program is comprised of four (4) courses – each one is 8 weeks in length: 

Course 1 -  What it Means to be a WIC Leader
Course 2 -  Managing the WIC Mission
Course 3 -  Results-Oriented WIC Leadership
Course 4 -  Mission Critical WIC Initiatives

Distance Learning

The four (4) courses are offered via a simple-to-access website featuring a new Learning Management System. The course materials are presented in a weekly fashion and participants will complete their assignments via the web.

Course Structure

Each course consists of eight (8) weekly assignments. The weekly assignments will take approximately 2 hours per week to complete. Participants will need to complete the assignment within a one-week timeframe and will then go on to complete the next week’s assignment until the course is completed in the eight-week period.

Each weekly assignment includes the following materials:

  • Mini-lecture that includes a downloadable pdf file.
  • Reading assignment that includes one or more downloadable pdf file(s) of relevant articles.
  • Discussion questions –Participants will respond to the discussion questions via the link that takes them to the Discussion Questions page.
  • Two (2) projects, which are generally 3-4 pages in length and are based on a set of special readings. The projects focus on practical applications of the curriculum on issues that participants would confront routinely.
  • A Case Analysis is due at the end of each 8-week course. 

Credit Hours

NWA offers a total of twelve (12) CPE (Continuing Professional Education) credits from the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for the Leadership Academy (each course is 3 CPEs).

Apply for a Scholarship

National WIC Association (NWA) offers scholarships and small grants to its members via its Member Benefit Fund. The NWA Member Benefit Fund was established by the NWA Board of Directors in 2017.

Information on Applying

Scholarship applicants should expect to spend about 30-60 minutes in all to submit an application. This time includes preparing a written statement that is to be uploaded to the online application system. You may pause, save your answers and return to your application at any time by using the "Save and Continue" feature that appears on the top of the second and following pages.  A written statement is required as part of your application and should be uploaded in the online survey application. 

For scholarship applications to be considered complete, applicants will need to submit their online application (with the written statement) AND their supervisor will need to confirm their support. Supervisor contact information will be collected in the application and NWA will promptly reach out to confirm their support.

NWA Leadership Academy Cohort 19 starts July 10, 2022.

Questions? Email


Course 1 Information


The first course in the NWA Leadership Academy Certificate Program emphasizes the foundations of leadership from the work of important thought leaders. This course will offer participants an opportunity to learn about:

  • Team building and discussion of personal integrity and its impact on effective leadership;
  • Leadership theory, including applicable leadership models, and the impact of a variety of contingency factors on determining a leadership style appropriate to the situation;
  • Practical application of learning based on observation and interaction in their daily WIC assignments;
  • Organizational culture and values as a framework for behavioral norms within an institution, and
  • The theory and application of managing group dynamics as an important component of a leader’s skill set.

Course 2 Information

Prerequisite: Leadership Academy Course 1

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Analyze issues related to WIC market interpretation.
  • Describe the importance of establishing a clear vision and mission for the organization.
  • Create and implement goals and objectives.
  • Develop and measuring business objectives.
  • Implement planning and project management techniques.
  • Describe the role of budget and cost control systems, and process improvement.

Course 3 Information

Prerequisites: Leadership Academy Courses 1 and 2

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe best practices for building working relationships.
  • Explain the process and challenges related to organizing and motivating your team.
  • Present examples of delegating methods and explain how these methods can be used strategically to render the best work performance.
  • Describe the steps and best practices related to performance evaluation.
  • Describe how to provide corrective action, and creating personal action plans.

Course 4 Information

Prerequisites: Leadership Academy Courses 1, 2 and 3

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Analyze and discuss selected topics related to mission-critical WIC initiatives.
  • Design and present research projects related to current WIC issues.
  • Demonstrate expertise in understanding and applying the themes and lessons from WIC research and literature to strategic scenarios.

Leadership Academy Faculty







Patti Hauser, MPA, RD, CD
Consultant, NWA Leadership Academy, Academic Supervisor 

Patti Hauser is a registered dietitian, receiving her Bachelors in Dietetics from the University of Wisconsin (UW) – Stevens Point, and a Master’s in Public Administration from UW – Oshkosh. Patti worked in public health, specifically the WIC Program, for over 30 years. She started a county WIC project in Wisconsin in 1979, when she paid the WIC grocery stores from her own checking account. Patti retired from her position as WIC Program Director and Chief of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Section with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health in 2013. She had been the State WIC Director since 1991.

Ms. Hauser was an active member of the National WIC Association, serving in many capacities over the years; as Midwest Region Directors representative and on many committees and task forces. These include income documentation, immunization collaboration, disaster planning and response, obesity prevention, the food package implementation, and the separation of duties. Each of these has provided a rich variety of experiences and friendships within the Association and USDA-FNS. They also provided the opportunity to learn from others and to bring the many years of local and state perspectives to the table. Patti also had the privilege to serve the NWA Board of Directors as Chair-elect, Chair, and Chair Emeritus.

In Wisconsin, Ms. Hauser managed a mid-size WIC Program of over 120,000 participants monthly. At the state level, she collaborated with several other health programs to enhance the services provided to WIC families, such as immunization, blood lead screening, and dental health. She had a reputation of trying to find the “win-win” in the program collaboration, while protecting WIC Program funds, and integrity of the WIC Program’s nutrition goals.

Patti lives on a lovely farm outside of Wisconsin Dells with her husband, Kurt.




Margaret Saunders, RDN, LDN, MS

Margaret started her career with WIC as a Nutritionist, accepted new opportunities, and advanced to the position of Local Agency WIC Director and has been in that position for nearly 20 years.  The CEDA WIC Program in Chicago and suburban Cook County is part a non-profit Community Action Agency that provides services to over 49,000 moms and babies.  Margaret is a RDN, LDN with a Master's in Clinical Dietetics.  She has had the honor of learning and growing with NWA and served as Illinois Local Agency Representative, Midwest Regional Representative, Chair of the Local Agency Section, selected as NWA Treasurer, and elected to President of the NWA Board of Directors.  Margaret has also served on several committees including the Calendar Committee.

Margaret and husband of 29 years, Wayne, have two daughters, Emma 22 and Julia 20, who are now in college, and a four year old Schnoodle.  Her interests away from WIC and family (and with family) include cooking, eating, traveling, camping, running, playing volleyball, and birding.

Margaret has served as faculty with the Leadership Academy since its inception in 2011 and is ready to help you reach your leadership goals.




Debra L. Keyes, MA, RD

Ms. Debra Keyes has nearly 40 years of experience working in private non-profit organizations; as well as, in hospitals, community clinics, and universities.  Her career has progressed from being a registered dietitian who worked in direct program services and patient care to program management and administration. She has been successful in orchestrating major program changes and enhancements throughout her entire career. Additional experience and expertise include, but is not limited to; public speaking, leadership training and college level teaching on a national, state and/or local level.

Ms. Keyes’ work in Los Angeles, California, included administrator for a federal grant program; as well as administrative lead on several smaller state and private funded programs affiliated with Watts Healthcare Corporation (WHCC), a Federally Qualified Community Health Center.  She served as the Director of the Women’s Infants and Children’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) and Maternal and Child Health Department (MCH), and effectively displayed strengths of being a prudent and productive executive; as well as a company resource.  She served on the Executive Leadership team to assist senior administrators in the management, supervision, planning and evaluation of health services.

Ms. Keyes held the position with the Department of Public Health (DPH), as the Georgia State Director for the WIC program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition section (FNS).  As the State Director, she was responsible for providing the overall vision, leadership and strategic direction of the program. Ms. Keyes facilitated a successful transformation of the Georgia WIC Program. She had overall responsibility for the Georgia WIC State Office staff who ensured compliance with Federal regulations and operations of over 200 WIC Centers serving more than 230,000 WIC Participants and partnering with over 1,400 Vendors (grocers) throughout the State of Georgia.

Ms. Keyes’ WIC programs, whether local or state were always an active member of the National WIC Association (NWA).  Ms. Keyes served as a Representative of the South Region for the State Directors Section of the Board of Directors 2015-2017.  She is currently an individual member of the NWA and is serving as faculty with the NWA Leadership Academy.

Ms. Keyes thoroughly enjoys her work in the field of Women, Infants, children and families. She brings years of hands on, real life, experience working with the WIC family populations. Ms. Keyes’ knowledge base brings a huge advantage and a fresh perspective on issues concerning the needs and services the WIC Program provides to the moms and babies in this nation.  In addition she enjoys providing mentorship to WIC Program employees and is excited and honored to have been assisting NWA Leadership Academy for the past two years grow new leaders in the WIC Program.


Tuition and Payment

NWA’s Leadership Academy Certificate Program is comprised of four (4) courses – each 8 weeks in length. At this time, each course must be taken consecutively in order to receive the certificate.

The full tuition for the Leadership Academy Certificate is $2,000 for NWA Members and $2,400 for non-members. To be officially registered for a cohort, balances must be paid in full at least three weeks prior to the start of the first class. If you cannot pay on this timeline or if you cannot pay the full amount at once, please contact us at to arrange a payment schedule; we are happy to work with you!

At this time the Leadership Academy is unable to offer scholarships. We are in the process of developing sponsorship opportunities. Updates on scholarships will be posted as soon as they become available.

Methods accepted for payment include American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and VISA, money order, check, cashier’s check, or purchase order. There is a $25 processing fee for returned checks.

If you have any questions about the tuition and payment, please contact us at Please allow one business day to receive a response.

All refund requests must be submitted in writing by e-mail (to or fax to the National WIC Association at 202-387-5281. The cancellation and/or refund request date will be the date the e-mail or fax was received by the NWA Leadership Academy. Please allow up to 30 days to receive a partial refund based on the following criteria:

80% if refund request is received on or before the first day (Sunday) of week 1
70% if refund request is received on or before the first day (Sunday) of week 2
No refund after the start of week 3

NWA’s Leadership Academy is designed to support your learning and growth as a leader and is committed to everyone completing the academy and feeling good about their experience. We understand that our students are busy, full-time professionals with competing priorities. It is important to keep up on coursework assignments. However, if you find that you are having a hard time keeping up with your academy workload, please communicate this with your instructor in writing as soon as possible. Your instructor can work with you to offer alternative timelines to help you get back on track.

A Note about the Weekly Discussions: Since the weekly discussions are heavily dependent on timely engagement, NWA cannot grant extensions in the area of weekly discussions.  The course materials and discussion questions are available to you at the beginning of the course.  If you cannot keep up on everything, please make certain to prioritize these interactive experiences. This is a key part of the leadership academy and other students depend on your interaction for their learning experience.  Please contact your instructor as soon as possible if any barrier to your participation arises (vacation, illness, etc.). They will help you work out a plan. 

The course instructors are here to help you succeed.  However, if you are unable to complete a course, the NWA staff will review your options with you and determine whether you are eligible to join a future cohort. Tuition can be applied to the future cohort if you restart an incomplete course in a new Cohort, within one year of your original start date. You may only transfer your tuition to a new Cohort once.

Exceptions for major hardships will be considered.