Think Tank MBA is the Atlas Leadership Academy’s flagship, 10-day strategic planning program for leaders within new and established think tanks. Participants draft a strategic plan for their organization, gain customized leadership advice, and compete in a Campaign Challenge and the John Blundell Elevator Pitch Competition.

Who will benefit:

  • Executive directors of institutes over 18 months old
  • New leadership at established organizations
  • Program managers & directors at established organizations

What you’ll learn:

  • Strategic planning
  • Evaluation methods
  • Branding & communications
  • Leadership skills
  • Personnel management
  • Successful fundraising strategies

You’ll leave this training with:

  • A strategic plan ready to be presented to your staff and board
  • A renewed vision for the work of your organization
  • A strong understanding of what it takes to fundraise successfully, in any political climate
  • Strategies for managing staff and leading with integrity
  • A tight knit group of fellow participants, from all parts of the world, who are eager to work with you and cheer you on to success
  • A one-minute elevator pitch ready to deliver to potential collaborators

Think Tank MBA 2017 will take place in Fairfax, Va., from Oct. 27 - Nov. 6. The application deadline has passed. Stay tuned for 2018.

Check out this video — The John Blundell Elevator Pitch — to see participants of Think Tank MBA deliver their message in 60 seconds or less for the chance to win $1,000.


The training program is divided into six modules, which include:

  1. Strategic Thinking – This module emphasizes the importance of developing a sound business plan for your institute, and includes drafting a S.W.O.T. analysis as well as evaluation and measurement techniques to assess your performance as a think tank.
  2. Strategic Communication – This module emphasizes the understanding and importance of working with media as well as properly crafting your message to your targeted audience.
  3. Group Campaigns – This module is a practical application exercise in which teams will design, plan, execute, and present a collaborative group project on a policy/advocacy issue of your choice. This module allows participants to work collaboratively with one another to apply what has been taught up to this point.
  4. Fundraising – This module teaches the basics of growing and sustaining a donor base by developing fundraising tools and crafting a sales pitch for your institute. This will include topics such as donor prospecting, proposal writing, direct mail, high-end relational fundraising and how to use your board in relation to fundraising.
  5. Leadership Development – This module will introduce ingredients for how to build a high-performing team — with sessions on personnel management, leadership styles, and case studies on successful think tanks and think tank leaders. Participants will take a Hogan Assessment survey prior to arriving at the Think Tank MBA.
  6. Operational Management – This module covers the “nuts and bolts” that support a smoothly functioning institute, including the role of the board, legal governance, financial stewardship; and office structure.