The Inspired Leadership Initiative explores Rome

Author: Costanza Montanari

The Inspired Leadership Initiative is a one-year program for accomplished leaders who have finished their traditional careers and come to Notre Dame to discern their next path in life. This year, fourteen fellows are immersing themselves in the rich academic resources of the University, both at the main campus and globally, while also providing their wisdom across generations to faculty and students through mentoring, guest lecturing, and engaging in Notre Dame’s many centers and institutes.

Coppia Sorridente

Vogt comes from a background in international organizations and sustainable development. He was the director of sustainable conservation finance for the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation and he has an advisory role in Terra Global Capital, a San Francisco firm promoting sustainable landscapes, mostly in tropical forests.

Toner has a background in education and social work. Among many other things, she was a founding member and chief operating officer at The Cube, a free streaming platform that featured over 4,000 schools worldwide and captured more than 275,000 live events.

Both Vogt and Toner moved with their spouses to South Bend from their respective cities, and are taking advantage of academic opportunities at the University, following graduate and undergraduate courses that appeal to them and are useful for their professional future. They felt very welcomed both by professors and students, and encouraged exchanging experiences and perspectives from their younger colleagues.

“One of the courses I have followed in the last semester was Foundations of sustainable development and I joked with the professor by saying I was finally learning the theory behind what I have been practicing for the last fifteen years,” says Vogt. “It was really good to see the progression in terms of the thinking that has been made in the latest years behind the work that I have been doing.”

During a travel to Patagonia Argentina at the marvelous location of Torres del Paine, Vogt met Tom Schreier, one of the ILI founding directors, who talked to him about the program. Vogt found it interesting, especially the incorporation of spirituality, discernment, and international exposure. He decided to sign up.

“The biggest strength of the program is our group,” says Toner. “It is composed by different people with diverse backgrounds, but each of us with a strong willingness to work together with the organizers to create the best result possible.”

Group Photo

“The international experience, the possibility of travelling to the several gateways and centers the University has around the world, plays an important role in the program” adds Toner. “The idea of this year is to dedicate time to self-reflection, discernment, and figuring out what’s the next step to take. In order to do so, you focus on understanding where you have been, and an international perspective definitely helps you think broader and push your limits.”

While in Rome, the group had the opportunity to interact with Notre Dame faculty and students studying abroad. They visited the Vatican Museums and the Scavi Tours at St. Peter’s Basilica, the Jewish Ghetto, the Community of San’Egidio, and performances at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, which highlighted all of the beauty in Rome.

To learn more about the Inspired Leadership Initiative, please visit

Originally published by Costanza Montanari at on March 04, 2019.