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Bonner Leadership Teams - Overview

Page history last edited by Mikaela Chin 2 years ago

Front Page / Bonner Program Resources / Bonner Student Leadership / Bonner Leadership Teams / Overview


Bonner Leadership Teams

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download


The Bonner Leadership Team (BLT) is a group of students who assist in the governance and visioning of a Bonner Program on a campus. These students are either selected or elected to serve on this leadership team. It is highly encouraged for a Bonner program to strive to have a strong BLT structure so that the student voice can be heard and student ownership maintained. BLTs are also excellent tools for student accountability and policy generation. 


Purpose and Expectation Discernment 

 The first step in establishing a BLT is to determine the purpose of the team. It is important to consider the long-term and short-term goals of your Bonner Program and then begin to decipher how and where the student voice needs to be at the forefront of achieving those goals. 


To determine the purpose of your BLT, think through the following questions:

  • Where should the student voice be involved?
  • What does your Bonner Program need the BLT to do?
  • Where is the student voice missing?
  • In what distinct areas do you see potential for students to play a part?



Bonner Leadership Teams vary in terms of size and responsibilities. Some schools choose to abide by the structure of two representatives from each class, others have specific roles for students or entire committees to which they apply, and some choose to divide their programs into groups or “families” and have a chosen representative of each group. These are not the only structures but rather the ones that are most prevalent within the Bonner Network. It is up to you and your program to determine which organizational structure is the best fit for where your program is now. 


Many coordinators and directors find it useful to incorporate the other student leadership roles that exist within their office and programs into their Bonner Leadership Team. It is a common responsibility of a Senior Intern (LINK) to manage the BLT - i.e. to create the meeting agenda, manage communication among the team, and to act as an additional source of student accountability. Congress Representatives as a group (LINK) also often hold a place within a BLT due to the program-wide importance of the Big Idea (LINK) and their responsibility for representing your Bonner Program to the national network during conferences such as Bonner Congress and the Summer Leadership Institute. Site Team Leaders (LINK) are also often included in BLTs due to their direct involvement with community partners and the large role they play within student development trainings and reflections. 


Class Based BLT 

Class Based BLTs feature two or more representatives from each class (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior).  It is important to consider the overall size of your program when determining how many representatives to have per class. Often times these students are elected by their class peers to serve for the duration of the school year. Many programs feature a written application and interview process. With structures such as this one, responsibilities tend to be more collective or associated with a particular activity rather than individual. For example,  Sophomore representatives could be given the role of carrying out the Second Year Exchange and Juniors could be put in charge of developing a mentoring program with incoming freshmen.


Committee Based BLT

Committee Based BLTs are made up of groups of students that hold responsibilities for a specific topic or task within a Bonner Program. The recruitment process often features a written application and interview that incorporates current members of the BLT. Examples of common committees within BLTs are as follows:

  • Bonner Love/Group Bonding;
  • Training and Enrichment;
  • Campus Outreach;
  • Assessment (i.e. BWBRS, reflection leaders, attendance tracking);
  • Community Partnerships;
  • Cornerstone Experiences (i.e. First Year Experience, Sophomore Exchange, Senior
  • Capstone, etc);
  • Judicial (i.e. review cases of unmet hour loads, late paperwork, lack of attendance).




Chair-Based BLT

Chair-Based BLTs consist of individual students that hold a specific roles or responsibilities within the team. Students apply to serve as a specific chair and then are given that charge for the duration of the academic year. The position does not have to be limited to a one year term if the role deserves a longer commitment from an individual. Once again, it is highly encouraged to have a written application and interview process with student voice at the forefront. Examples of the Chair positions include:

  • Social Media Chair;
  • BWBRS Chair; 
  • Faculty Outreach Chair;
  • Bonner Love/Group Bonding Chair;
  • Campus Wide Engagement Chair;
  • Community Partnerships Chair; 
  • Reflection and Assessment Chair. 



Family Based BLT

"Bonner Families" are typically made up of members from each class and are designed to create bonding and mentorship opportunities throughout Bonner programs. Family Based BLTs are comprised of students that act as representatives from their Bonner Families. This is a leadership opportunity for upperclassman as they often have a deeper understanding and grasp of the Bonner Program than that of freshmen or sophomores. This structure is often adopted by new Bonner Programs as a stepping stone to more structured and deeper student leadership roles within the BLT. It is also important to note that Bonner Families can exist entirely independent of a BLT and act solely as a tool for group bonding and retention. 



Best Practices


General Rules of Thumb

  • Bonner Leadership Teams can be and should be catered to your specific program. 
  • Bonner Scholar Programs should have a BLT role designated to the Community Fund.
  • All BLTs should include Congress Representatives and have the implementation of the Ideas to Action Project as one of their goals.
  • All BLTs should include Bonner Alumni Ambassador to manage and engage with Bonner alumni.


Recruitment and Selection

  • The BLT should represent 10-20% of your total Bonner Program members.
  • BLTs should be diverse. Take into account factors such as skill levels, leadership styles, ethnicities, graduation year, etc.
  • For most Bonner Programs, it is recommended for the application process to begin in the Spring semester so that BLT members be selected and begin their term in the summer or immediately in the Fall. 
  • Though BLT selection can be occur three ways (voting, appointment, or a combination of voting and appointment), many programs have seen that a nomination process and application, followed by selection by Bonner staff/previous BLT/Senior Interns to have the most success.



  • Orientation is an important time to build community and establish roles and responsibilities for the BLT. Senior Interns are often involved in the planning and facilitation of this process.
  • Facilitate skill development and team-building with the BLT via strengths assessments such as StrengthsFinder, Meyers Briggs, and Enneagram, via social relationship building activities, and via skill-based workshops (see list).


Communication & Meetings

  • BLT members should come together for a meeting at least once a month (with or without Bonner staff) to ensure that all members continue communicating and updating each other regularly, as well as continue collaborating on team-based initiatives. 
  • Bonner staff should practice regular check-ins with each BLT member at least once a semester.


  • It is important to recognize the BLT for all of the work that they do. Small tokens of appreciation such as a 5 minute leadership transition ceremony, Hershey kisses or candies, or even just vocal appreciation can go a long way in ensuring a successful BLT team.


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