National NGO Program on Humanitarian Leadership

What is the NNPHL Program?

NNPHL is a rigorous, innovative blended learning leadership training program for humanitarian professionals.

NNPHL Course Framework

Training components for the program include:

In-Person Leadership Training Course

This didactic portion of the course will provide participants with a curriculum designed to introduce leadership frameworks, develop competencies in core elements of humanitarian programming, and sensitize participants to the approaches to understanding their operating environments.

The six day, in-person course, which is subject to change, will focus on:

  • Introduction to the Adaptive Leadership Framework
  • Application of the Adaptive Leadership Framework in practice
  • Understanding the field environment and local populations
  • Developing a strategic vision, effective communications, and negotiation
  • Management and team building, problem solving and conflict management
Emergency flood response in Mozambique

Concern travels to a remote community in Maganja da Costa, Mozambique, to register families who were affected severe flooding. Photo: Crystal Wells

Distance Learning

E-learning modules will be offered before and after the in-person course. In keeping with the in-person course, the distance learning component aims to strengthen leadership skills to improve decision-making and coordination, and increase knowledge to optimize current humanitarian programming. NNPHL combines leading-edge curricula from both world-class instructors and seasoned humanitarian practitioners to offer participants an educational experience that seamlessly combines theory and practice.

A series of modules will be offered online. These modules will focus on thematic areas, tentatively including:

  • Humanitarian principles, theories and ethics
  • Monitoring and Evaluation for humanitarian leaders
  • Civil-military Engagement
  • Leadership for global pandemic response
  • Understanding local populations

Experiential Learning

A mix of mentoring and individual assignments, provides NNPHL participants an opportunity to develop and apply what they have learned in the classroom to their work in the field.

  • NNPHL Assignments: During a three-month period after the in-person training, all participants will be asked to complete two individual assignments. The NNPHL assignments are a requirement of the program to ensure that participants have an opportunity to put their learning into practice within their organization. One of the two assignments will be to organize a small-scale leadership training or presentation for the participants’ organization or professional peer network. Please see the FAQs for more details.
  • Mentorship: During the experiential learning component, all NNPHL participants will receive support and guidance from a mentor. The goal of the mentorship program is to help build the leadership skills of the NNPHL participants and help cultivate important relationships within the humanitarian community. NNPHL mentors can also provide practical advice with challenges encountered during the completion of the NNPHL Assignments.
Concern's Kirk Prichard unloads carpets for a distribution in Talamarang, a village in Sindhupalchok district, one of the hardest hit areas by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015.

Concern’s Kirk Prichard unloads carpets for a distribution in Talamarang, a village in Sindhupalchok district, one of the hardest hit areas by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015.

NNPHL expects that participants will continue their participation in this online Community of Practice after the program has concluded in order to cultivate a network of humanitarian leaders. NNPHL will continue to provide an online platform for the NNPHL alumni to sustain this community of practice.

Pikin To Pikin staff member Victoria Squire leads a School Management Committee (SMC) training session in Makali Community, Tonkolili District, Sierra Leone. Photographer: Michael Duff

Pikin To Pikin staff member Victoria Squire leads a School Management Committee (SMC) training session in Makali Community, Tonkolili District, Sierra Leone. Photographer: Michael Duff

What are the learning objectives & expected outcomes of NNPHL?

By the end of this learning process, NNPHL participants will have the skills, knowledge, and confidence to take on leadership responsibilities within a variety of humanitarian organizations, ultimately improving the delivery of services to those in need of humanitarian assistance. The overall learning objectives are to:

  • Strengthen leadership skills to improve decision-making and coordination
  • Increase knowledge to optimize current humanitarian programming and strategic vision
  • Contribute to building a network of humanitarian leaders and promote the development of a community of practice

NNPHL participants who complete the course and met the program requirements will receive an NNPHL Certificate of Completion.

Ambulance training in Sierra Leone. Photo: Joseph Jasperse

Ambulance Training. Photo: Joseph Jasperse/Sierra Leone/30th Oct 2014

Eligibility Requirements

NNPHL is designed for exemplary, mid-level career humanitarian professionals working for non-governmental or community-based organizations in humanitarian settings. All participants of NNPHL will meet a standard set of minimum requirements: 

  • Must have a demonstrated interest in pursuing leadership roles in the humanitarian sector
  • Must be able to speak, read, and write English with proficiency
  • Must have a Bachelor’s degree or a comparable academic or professional qualification
  • Must be available to participate in the course (including the in-person training, distance learning and experiential learning highlighted above)
  • Must have the permission of your employer to participate in all aspects of the program
  • Must have reached a mid-level position in a non-governmental or community-based organization
  • Experience in at least one or more humanitarian emergency situations
  • Must aspire to take on leadership roles in and have a commitment to the humanitarian sector
  • Must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date of the in-person training course

Please note that expatriate staff are not eligible for NNPHL blended learning courses, nor are professionals working at UN agencies or government affiliated organizations. However, the forthcoming NNPHL E-Learning Course will be available to everyone at no cost.

Are there other selection criteria?

  • With a focus on strengthening the leadership capacity of national level staff, NNPHL will prioritize candidates working with national NGOs and community-based organizations. A limited number of spots will be available for national staff working at international NGOs.
  • For each regional workshop, NNPHL will prioritize applicants from the corresponding region. For  NNPHL.4, which is a global workshop, the in-person leadership training will be held in County Dublin, Ireland. NNPHL will accept applications from humanitarians working throughout the world. Please read the Eligibility Requirements above and ensure that you meet the criteria before applying. For more information about NNPHL’s eligibility requirements, please see the FAQ.

How do I apply to NNPHL?

Please visit the NNPHL Application page to learn more about the application process and note that the application deadline has been extended! Applications for NNPHL.4 are now closed.

Over the next two years, NNPHL will host four leadership training courses around the world. NNPHL’s five-month training programs combine in-person training, distance learning and field-based assignments. The in-person leadership training components are regionally based and the Call for Applications will open on a rolling basis:

  • NNPHL.3 June 3—9, 2018 to be held in Manila, Philippines: Applications for this course are closed.
  • NNPHL.4 September 6—13, 2018 to be held in County Dublin, Ireland: Applications for this course are now closed.
  • NNPHL.5 March 17—23, 2019 to be held in the Middle East: Applications for this course will open in September 2018
  • NNPHL.6 July 7—13, 2019 to be held in Africa: Applications for this course will open in January 2019

When & where does NNPHL.4 take place?

The NNNPHL.4 course begins in June and ends in December 2018 (dates to be finalized).

  • The program commences with the distance learning components, including a series of pre-requisite readings and e-learnings. The online modules begin in mid-June and conclude in August. All participants must engage in an online, virtual classroom, which is hosted by Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
  • The in-person training, which is subject to change, will be held September 5-10, 2018, in Ireland. Participants must be available to attend this component as no exceptions will be made.
  • The experiential learning components, the combination of mentorship, community of practice, and assignments, will begin in September and conclude in late December, with the NNPHL Assignments due December 21, 2018.
  • PLEASE NOTE that the program design, location and dates are subject to change.

When & where do the other NNPHL courses take place?

The NNPHL.5 and NNPHL.6 leadership trainings are regionally based, and the in-person training components are tentatively scheduled in the following regions:

  • NNPHL.5: Middle East location TBD, March 17-23, 2019; priority will be given to applicants from the Middle East
  • NNPHL.6: Africa location TBD, July 7-13, 2019; priority will be given to applicants from Africa

Please note that all dates and locations are subject to change based on instructors’ availability.

For information about our rolling applications for NNPHL.5, and NNPHL.6, please see our FAQs.

What is the cost?

Costs required to participate in the regionally-based, NNPHL leadership training courses (i.e., course fees, round-trip flight to the in-person training location, accommodation and meals during the in-person training only) will be covered by NNPHL.

Please note that any incidental costs are the sole responsibility of the NNPHL participant (i.e., visa fees, telephone usage, additional food expense, etc.), and NNPHL does not provide a per diem.

What other NNPHL learning opportunities are available?

NNPHL is developing an open-access, publicly available online course — the NNPHL E-Learning Course. This distance learning course will be open to anyone regardless of one’s experience, professional level or engagement with NNPHL (e.g. previous NNPHL applicants, and NNPHL alumni are able to take the e-learning course). No application is required for the NNPHL E-Learning Course. The online course will be available at no cost. Registration for this course will be open tentatively in June 2018. If you are interested in registering for this course or receiving updates about the course, sign-up here.


Please see the Frequently Asked Questions page for more details, and click here to subscribe to NNPHL updates.