Leadership Bluegrass



About Leadership Bluegrass

The purpose of the Leadership Bluegrass program is to pull together a cross section of people with exhibited or potential leadership qualities into a network of learning and communication. The results will foster a broad-based understanding of the total needs of the bluegrass community, which will help participants better prepare to determine the goals of the particular organization, company or group in which they choose to serve. Leadership Bluegrass seeks to explore bluegrass music and its place in the larger world of entertainment through:

  • A systematic study of the business of bluegrass, its institutions and organizations, their needs, problems and resources
  • Exposure to a wide variety of current music leaders and notable persons
  • Encouraging independent thinking, fresh perspectives and approaches. It is not intended to "indoctrinate" or pass on the current leaders' views and ideas.
  • Acquaintance with relevant issues facing bluegrass, their history and future possibilities
  • Involvement of all related facets of the music industry which impact bluegrass
  • High quality interactive sessions for the participants.



The selection process for Leadership Bluegrass is competitive, with more applicants than there are positions available.  While your application or recommendation does not guarantee a position in the class, IBMA does guarantee that everyone who applies will be given an equal opportunity. The deadline to apply every year is November 15 .  Details and application will be posted in the fall and will also be available at the World of Bluegrass Business Conference. Enrollment and participation in Leadership Bluegrass is voluntary and a new class will be selected each year. All class members are expected to bear the expense of any travel and/or lodging during the program as well as pay a class participation fee. 

  • A sincere commitment, motivation and interest in servicing the bluegrass community today and in the future
  • Relative bluegrass community activity and experience
  • An interest in advancing one’s own professional or volunteer leadership roles within the bluegrass music industry.
  • The opportunity and commitment to take the time the program requires for completion.



Thanks to our sponsors for Leadership Bluegrass 2015:

Presenting: Wintergrass, BMI

Platinum: Richard Spratt

Gold: Bluegrass Heritage Foundation

Silver: Denise Jarvinen, Megan Brugger, John & Trisha Tubbs, Anonymous.

Patron: Deborah Durant, Archie & Priscilla Warnock, Bob Altshuler, Nancy Cardwell, Lee Michael Dempsey, Walt Michael, Nick Barr, Jean Spivey, Kitsy Kuykendall, Arnie Fleisher, Fred Bartenstein, Bill Foster, MerleFest, Louis Meyers.

Supporter: Matt Merta, Claire Ratliff, Mary Burdette, Greg Cahill, Jon Weisberger, Lynda Dawson, Ethan Burkhardt, Barry Mazor.

The Leadership Bluegrass planning committee this year included Emilee Warner (Chair), Alan Tompkins, Jean Spivey, Nolan Lawrence, Dan Keen, Beth Fortune, Trisha Tubbs (facilitator), and Taylor Coughlin (staff liaison). Chris Keenan (EBMA) was the facilitator’s assistant.

The Leadership Bluegrass Selection Committee this year included Alan Tompkins, Nolan Lawrence, Nate Lee, and Shannon Turner.

Testimonies from Graduates of Leadership Bluegrass

“Most unbelievable amount of useful information in the shortest amount of time! Well planned…. My head is exploding!” – Jerry Salley, songwriter

“There is no better, more thorough and intense way to get an overview of bluegrass as a music and an industry, and the way it fits into both our culture and the entertainment history as a whole.” – Larry Nager, journalist

“I thought I might get bored at Leadership Bluegrass and be rewarded like a Girl Scout on my name tag at the next World of Bluegrass. I cannot express how wrong I was, and how valuable and essential this experience and these people will be for my career and life.” – Emilee Warner, Crash Avenue

“I knew it would be good, but it’s so much better than good!” – Mary Tyler Doub, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival

“It is like getting an MBA in Bluegrass. And just like getting that degree, the learning process has just begun.” – Richard Spratt, North Dakota educator/event producer

“Even if you think there’s nothing more for you to learn (or people around you think you already know everything), you will find the opposite is true!” – Angelika Torrie, European Bluegrass Music Association/ Bluegrass Europe magazine

“Leadership Bluegrass is an amazing, informative three days of learning and networking.” – Heidi Labensart, McGuckin Entertainment PR

“Leadership Bluegrass is the most intense and idea-generating exercise of the brain I have had in years. Thanks to all involved for enriching my vision and deepening my circle of friends in this industry.” – Tom Nechville, Nechville Musical Instruments

“I left LBG feeling rejuvenated as well as inspired to be a more active and engaged member of the bluegrass community. “It was a truly remarkable three days of learning.” – Juli Thanki, The 9513/ journalist

“Leadership Bluegrass is simply the most well-organized event I’ve ever participated in—it was engineered to eliminate trepidation, and it made it so much easier to feel compelled to contribute. The knowledge gained will bleed into all areas of my career, and hopefully lead me to some new opportunities.” – Beth Fortune, Seattle Public Schools/Wintergrass

“Leadership Bluegrass: Just do it. The music industry deserves your energy, and needs it.” – Frank Solivan, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen

“There was something for everyone to learn—no matter how new to the world of bluegrass music or how long one has been involved. The presenters were superb. Very informative! A truly rewarding experience!” – Greg Cahill, The Special Consensus

“Leadership Bluegrass is THE place to connect to the movers and shakers in our industry and to learn about the latest ideas and technology driving our success.” – Nolan Lawrence, The Hillbenders