About the American Leadership Forum

The American Leadership Forum joins and strengthens diverse leaders to serve the common good. We do this through an intense yearlong program that fosters learning and trust among experienced leaders from every sector of our community. The result is a unique forum where barriers between people are removed, issues are openly discussed, and solutions emerge that benefit the entire community.


The American Leadership Forum was founded in Houston in 1981 by Joseph Jaworski to address what he saw as a crisis of leadership taking place throughout the country. The Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter was established as a separate entity in 1989 and is now one of nine chapters. The American Leadership Forum is a nonprofit organization with a volunteer Board. To date, we have now graduated forty-seven Fellows classes and eighteen sector Fellows classes – five in health care, five in criminal justice, five in public education, two in community development and one in workforce development.  Classes L, LI, and LII are currently underway.

Who are Senior Fellows?

ALF Fellows and Senior Fellows number more than 4,500 nationwide. In Houston, they have created a network that brings together a broad cross-section of leaders committed to building a stronger community.  Fellows are selected by a committee composed of former participants in the program who are charged with recruiting a class that truly reflects the diversity of Greater Houston and who show outstanding leadership and potential, as evidenced by:

  • their achievement of positions of significant responsibility and leadership, both at work and in the community,
  • integrity,
  • professional stature, showing excellence in or contributions made to their professional or occupational field, and
  • willingness to challenge their own assumptions and increase their understanding and awareness of others

These Fellows are drawn from the arts, nonprofits, corporations, government and politics, media, education, the professions, philanthropy and religion, and are diverse along many dimensions.  ALF Fellows apply their leadership acumen and honed skills in major corporations and small businesses, in elected and appointed positions at the local, state and national level, and in religious, cultural, and other nonprofit organizations.

The ProgramBlindfolded Fellow Being Led in the Wilderness

The intense program includes a five- or six-day wilderness experience in the mountains, during which extremely powerful bonds are forged. In the local area, monthly seminars are held on such topics as dialogue, collaboration, group emotional intelligence, ethics, and civic leadership. Each class implements a leadership initiative of the group's choosing. Class participants are selected in a process that starts with nominations made by former participants in the program.


Benefits to the community include a continuing supply of effective and enlightened leaders trained in collaboration and consensus building, and coalitions created to build a more effective community in the Houston/Gulf Coast area. Benefits to the private, public, and independent sectors include top-level networking across sectors, and internal leadership development. Benefits to the individual Fellows include personal growth, professional growth, effective skilled service to the community, and long lasting bonds with relationships of mutual trust among diverse leaders.

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