Community Development Fellows Program
In April of 2013, American Leadership Forum launched its first program in Community Development targeting two specific neighborhoods in Houston. The ALF Community Development Fellows Program is designed to join and strengthen leaders involved in all aspects of community development. The hope is that building relationships among the various leaders who both lead and are affected by community development will help them deal more effectively with the challenges that invariably arise. Approximately 25 participants are drawn from business, nonprofit, investors, government, local chambers of commerce, various community-based organizations, and philanthropy .
This program offers benefits to the community, but also to the organizations sponsoring participants (leadership development and networking across the community), and to the participants themselves (personal growth, professional growth, effective skilled service to the community, and long lasting bonds with relationships of mutual trust among diverse leaders). The program presents participants with a broad perspective of the environment in which community development operates, and enables them to develop relationships that can facilitate collaboration.
The twenty-day program includes a six-day wilderness experience in the mountains, during which extremely powerful bonds are forged. In the local area, monthly sessions are held on such topics as dialogue, appreciative inquiry, consensus building, and ethics. Deep connections are made across all kinds of lines, inspiring leaders to a lifetime of active public engagement. Characterized by its focus on the human capacity for collective intelligence, the ALF program begins a process of uncovering the principles of a different kind of leadership. When people who represent high achievement in different spheres of influence come together to learn and think, their creative and problem-solving power as a group can lead to highly effective coordinated action.
Each class of Fellows will host a community dialogue with a format and topic of the group's choosing. In addition to creating impact in the community, the community dialogues provide a learning experience about the nature of community leadership, as well as the challenges and rewards of collaboration.
Program graduates, Senior Fellows, are empowered to serve as catalysts in their communities, bringing stakeholders from other sectors together to collaboratively address the most urgent public concerns. In ALF Founder Joseph Jaworski's words, Senior Fellows are thus able to "break legislative and bureaucratic gridlock and get things done."