Community Education Fellows Program
In May of 2017, the American Leadership Forum launched the Community Education Fellows Program. This class is intended to join and strengthen diverse leaders who have a stake in and a passion for significantly improving the future of education across the Greater Houston region. It is becoming increasingly recognized that our schools and education systems cannot achieve the levels of success that we seek, and that our children deserve, without acknowledging and addressing the significant community and social needs of students, parents and families. This is particularly true for our urban and public schools and school systems. There is mounting evidence that students cannot succeed, even in strong educational environments, if they are undernourished, if their emotional and physical health needs are not met, if they face transportation or other access barriers to attendance, if they or their families are caught up in the criminal justice system or if they face numerous other challenges not traditionally considered in our education strategies and systems.
There is a growing understanding that these are critical issues and several initiatives and organizations are emerging to focus on them. Corporations, educational institutions, social service agencies, government agencies and many others are beginning to work more collaboratively than ever before toward a collective impact approach and long term solutions in this area. A carefully and thoughtfully constituted ALF Education cohort will add tremendous value to these efforts and will help to build and strengthen the core network of deeply connected and committed leaders that a sustained collaborative community approach needs.
The intent of this class is to bring together a group of leaders who have the potential to create a needed connection and synergy across education, health care, social services, criminal justice and government. There is little doubt that their participation will begin to show immediate benefits and their class project will in all likelihood identify substantially innovative ideas in this regard. Our time proven ALF curriculum builds deep, lasting and trusting relationships, fosters appreciation of differences, teaches and builds dialogue skills and creates an environment that is highly conducive to appreciative inquiry, emergent change and impactful collaboration. Additionally, participation will integrate the class members into ALF’s powerful and highly committed network of Senior Fellows across virtually every segment of our community.
As with all ALF classes, this class represents the full diversity of our region across gender, ethnicity, community and ideology. This ensures that the group represents all of the individuals, communities, organizations, institutions, corporations and agencies that must understand one another and work together synergistically to achieve the best possible outcomes going forward.
This program offers tremendous benefits to the community, but also to the organizations sponsoring participants including leadership development and networking beyond their usual circles. Participants themselves benefit from personal growth, professional growth, effective skilled service to the community, and the development of long lasting bonds and relationships of mutual trust with other leaders with whom they might otherwise never connect.
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.
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."