The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Leadership Academy 2023-2024

For Computer Science & Engineering Undergraduates


The Leadership Academy is an online (synchronous) interactive professional development program welcoming students from groups that are historically marginalized in technology and engineering. It consists of 3 afternoon sessions per week, for 6 weeks. It is followed by a 9-month mentorship program that meets monthly, online, and in mentoring groups.



Applications are now closed and the Leadership Academy Class of 2023-24 is full. 

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We create a community of students from diverse backgrounds who are on a shared journey in tech or engineering. You will work closely with each other, develop friendships, and become each others' cheerleaders. Past cohorts of Leadership Academy students have included large numbers of women, Black and Latinx students, first-generation college students, and those with LGBTQ identities.




Students develop leadership strategies to thrive in college and launch their careers. Inspiration comes from visiting speakers who are professionals from different industries, with diverse identities, allowing students to engage on an array of career opportunities that fits their interests.




The 6-week summer internship program is followed by a 9-month mentorship program with a focus on career exploration, development of leadership skills, and growing professional networks to access apprenticeship and internship opportunities. Mentorship groups meet monthly to work on specific individual goals.

The Organizers & Teaching Team

The Academy is organized by the Institute of Diversity Sciences network of researchers, educators and outreach professionals, business leaders and students funded by the National Science Foundation and housed at UMass Amherst. The network is led by Dr. Nilanjana Buju Dasgupta and a core team from the University of Massachusetts system, in collaboration with the larger Massachusetts community.

The Academy is conducted by Dr. Rati Thanawala, 2018 Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard. Dr. Thanawala spent 39 years in tech. She created and piloted this program with a grant from Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda Gates Company.

The negotiation component of the curriculum is led by Dr. Hannah Riley Bowles, who chairs the Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences area at Harvard Kennedy School.


Rati Thanawala

Image of Rati Thanawala
Email Address

Hannah Riley Bowles

Image of Hannah Riley Bowles

Nilanjana (Buju) Dasgupta

Image of Buju Dasgupta
Email Address

Program Details

The Leadership Academy strengthens your capacity to lead by helping you understand:

  • What is fundamentally new when you start your journey in the tech and engineering industry?
  • What are the levers needed for thriving during college years, and later, in early careers?
  • How have “wise professionals", from groups that are traditionally underrepresented at mid and senior levels in the tech and engineering industry, used these levers to succeed?

Students develop the following leadership skills:

  • You will learn to sharply identify your unique strengths, and understand how, with the right investment, they can grow into “superpowers.”
  • You will get to sharpen your personal story. Personal narrative is powerful and a critical enabler to impact. You will learn how to guide others to appreciate the value you bring.
  • You will learn solutions to limit the impact from stereotype threats such as micro-aggressions and isolation.
  • Through interactive exercises and small-group work with peers, you will see yourself improving in a key skill area: Negotiation (i.e., the capacity to create value and manage conflicts by addressing all parties’ interests). This is a skill which will help you advance you work, education, life, and leadership goals.
  • You will engage with industry leaders in online chat sessions, specifically designed to answer your questions on leadership skills, how tech and engineering managers assess potential and performance of interns and new hires, and other questions that you generate through class discussions.


This program is free for students. Scholarships are available to provide financial assistance while attending the course to provide reliable internet access, or to purchase equipment needed to attend the course.


Undergraduate students who have declared (or intend to declare) majors in computer science, technology or engineering fields, who are:

  •  From underrepresented groups in tech and engineering such as women, men of color (Black, Latinx, Native American, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander), those who identify as LGBTQIA, first-generation college students, and those with disabilities,
  •  And, enrolled at a college or university in the U.S.

Class of 2022-23

Watch a short video with testimonials from graduates below.

IDS Leadership Academy from CNS UMass on Vimeo.


The Leadership Academy 2022 was made possible through corporate and academic partnerships.

Reboot logo






Academic partners:

Past sponsors: