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Upcoming Events

July 1, 2021
July 28, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
August 5, 2021
August 5, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
August 25, 2021 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

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Fellows Programs


Fellows Program Summary

This document is provided as a brief overview to increase your understanding of the structure and purpose of the ALF program sessions.  The strength of the program is in its ability to change and meet the needs of each class and to accommodate specific interest explorations.  As your class develops facilitators will work with the class to make adjustments and changes.  Constant in the monthly sessions is a combination of exploring pertinent leadership concepts, dialogue, the application of new learning in the Class setting and discussion of leadership challenges in service to one’s organization and the community.

The program is designed to promote the ALF mission of uniting and strengthening diverse leaders to better serve the community.  The program is designed in three phases.

Phase One - Unite: Using our Authentic Self as an Agent of Change (May-Sept)

Phase Two - Strengthen: Building Relationships through dialogue to build capacity for community change (Sept-Dec)

Phase Three - Serve: Building Collaboration in service to the community  (Dec-April)


Orientation (1 ½ Days and Overnight)

Orientation is an introduction to the American Leadership Forum and the current class.  During this session we review the different components of ALF, our history, mission and purpose.  Orientation is our first opportunity to get to know each other in a meaningful way and to understand what the yearlong ALF experience will include.

The focus of learning for this session includes:

  • Understanding the purpose of ALF and the richness and power of the diverse ALF network.
  • Providing an overview of the ALF program year including orientation to the Wilderness Challenge.
  • Developing awareness of the Class as a diverse group of leaders.
  • Setting the tone for the level of trust and sharing that will characterize the ALF experience.
  • Sharing leadership challenges and aspirations of the class participants.

Leadership and the Inner Journey (1 Day)

This session proposes that the first task of leaders is a deep understanding of their “Inner Journey”.  In this session we will explore the concept of self as an agent of change.  Leaders seldom take time to explore their own patterns of thought and how those patterns dictate how we see, experience and create the outer world.  Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  This implies that a rigorous understanding of our being should precede our actions and our doing.


The focus of learning for this session includes:

  • An enhanced understanding of the connections between our inner and outer world.
  • Developing an understanding of how other leaders connect their inner and outer worlds.
  • A discovery of practice that includes a more mindful approach to leadership.

Citizenship versus Consumerist Participation (1 Day)

Peter Block defines citizen as “one who is willing to be accountable for and committed to the well being of the whole.”  In this session we will explore all of the ways in which shared participation and construction of the class experience will create your personal the groups collective ALF experience. This class will include a conversation about the Wilderness Experience in particular and will ask each member to be an active citizen developing a plan to realize personal and collective value from this experience.


The focus of learning for this session includes:

  • An expanded understanding of citizenship and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
  • An application of principals of citizenship to our year together in ALF.
  • Intentionally creating a citizen-lead community including involvement in the design of the Wilderness Experience.

Wilderness Experience (6 Days, 5 Nights)

The Wilderness Experience is a six-day and five-night community building experience and is a pivotal and core component of the program. The Wilderness is both a group and individual experience.  As an individual, you will have space and time to contemplate your practice of leadership. In a group you will have the opportunity to create community in very intentional ways.  Challenges can be physical and psychological moving most Fellows outside a “comfort zone” where we become open to learning new ways of being and doing.  The Wilderness Experience often becomes the anchor for building a class into a cohesive community.


The focus of learning for this experience includes:

  • Exploring the leadership challenges experienced in thinking and acting as a community through individual, small group and whole class challenges and reflective conversations.
  • Reflecting on the personal leadership requirement to reach deeply into yourself…evoking your higher nature while advancing and risking interdependence.
  • Learning from the entire experience how to be flexible and adapt quickly to change and new environments.
  • Strengthening your powers of self-belief, feelings of self-efficacy, and the belief that you can accomplish what you set forth to do.
  • Encouraging you to rely on your inner resources; to use your intuition and the ability to extemporize and innovate in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity. (Jaworski, Synchronicity, 1995, p. 101).

Wilderness Debrief:  Exploring Differences (1 Day)

Every community is challenged to renew itself in the light of complexity and diversity.  Initially, we experience our differences in relationship to race, gender, religion, age and sexual orientation, yet our differences are often experienced in other ways. We will use the Wilderness Experience to reflect on our own community practice of how we experienced the many gifts and heard the many voices in Class XIV.  We will explore the parallels between what is happening inside this ALF class and the challenges of modern day communities to incorporate diverse voices and the challenges leaders face in building from within these diverse voices.


The focus of learning for this session includes:

  • Develop a deep awareness of personal capacity to engage, understand and build within differences.
  • Understanding the conditions necessary for leaders to allow differences to become transformative rather than divisive.
  • Engage in a discussion of how differences within our class are impacting the greater community.

Leading is Convening (1 Day)

Communities are desperate for skilled leaders who know how to come together in a way that makes the entire room smarter than any one person.  This requires pushing through polite conversation in order to get beyond status quo and arrive at a new understanding of issues that can allow for more comprehensive and creative solutions. 


The focus of learning for this session includes:

  • Exploring the critical role of leaders in convening community discourse.
  • Understanding the tools of convening and how to apply them.
  • Practicing the skills of self management that allow you to be what the conversation is calling for.
  • Identifying the areas in which the community is most in need of finding breakthrough thinking.

Convening Community Dialogue (1 Day)

In this session small groups of Fellows practice the art of convening with leaders to explore community issues.  The intention of these forums will be to bring together diverse leaders in order to better understand the nature of an issue.  The class will come together in the afternoon to debrief their experiences and learn from one another’s experiences.


The focus of learning for this session includes:

  • Exploring personal experiences of convening and advancing dialogue.
  • Analyzing experiences to determine effectiveness of various practices – what worked, what didn’t and what might you do differently next time?
  • Creating collective awareness from diverse interpretations of the content of the conversations.

Serving: The Third Leg of the ALF Mission (1 Day)

As leaders, you are already involved in many practices of service to your community.  ALF’s mission is to SERVE the community by working collaboratively to make significant positive contributions.  As an ALF class you begin to explore the issues, interests and values that will guide your collective exploration of service.


The focus of learning for this session includes:

  • Applying and negotiating the appropriate tension of generative dialogue.
  • Advancing collective wisdom – creating choices through collective insight into the group and community.
  • Ensuring trust and safety while negotiating roles and responsibilities.

Taking Stock Retreat (2 Days, Overnight)

These two days are a time to reflect on our progress as a class and our individual leadership journeys. At the Taking Stock retreat we will move toward a deeper investigation of each person’s challenges and opportunities with anticipation of where you would like to be in the future and how your ALF class might become part of your journey.


The focus of learning for this session includes:

  • Re-establishing and enhancing the class spirit developed in the Wilderness.
  • Assessing the development of the class as a team.
  • Individually focusing and reflecting on your personal values, vision and leadership journey.
  • Exploring the role of spirit in leadership.

Leadership In Action

How can the network of ALF advance your work in the community?  How can your participation help others?  How can the class leverage its collective capacity to serve?  These will be the questions explored by the class as individuals highlight ways that they are already engaging the ALF network and ponder how ALF Fellows engage the work of community change.  The class will explore its values and a sense of collective action that will carry it beyond commencement.  The class will also take the lead in designing the March session.


The focus of learning for this session includes:

  • Exploring best practices in generating collective action without getting stuck in consensus efforts.
  • Sharing personal learning about your leadership stance – how is being with this group of diverse leaders influencing how you hold yourself as a leader and in taking action in your work?
  • Generating collective insight into the diverse forces that are holding community issues in unproductive ways.

Leadership In Action

How am I participating as citizen and leader in this class?  How are we moving ahead?  What are we building together and how can we build it better?  These will be the reflective questions as the class, now fully exploring its sense of purposeful action, continues to learn from reflection about how to expand upon new thinking and develop action.


The focus of learning for this session includes:

  • Understanding how values are being generated collectively.
  • Understanding of how trust and safety must be challenged to create new potential.
  • Exploration of how commitment emerges from relationships generated by transformational leaders.

Commencement (1 Day with Banquet Dinner)

Commencement is a celebration of the class’ history together and a bold look forward exploring the possibilities present in active and continual involvement with ALF as a Senior Fellow. Fellows will present to one another their commitment to civic engagement and how they plan to build on their ALF experience. Later, spouses, partners and Senior Fellows join us in celebration of the class’ accomplishments.


The anticipated outcomes for this session may include:

  • Reflection on the ALF Fellows’ year and lessons learned.
  • Renewing one’s individual commitment to ALF, Class XIV and to the community.
  • Celebrating individual and class accomplishments.
  • Transition to the Senior Fellow network assuming the rights and responsibilities of being a Senior Fellow.

Leadership in Action Debrief (1/2 Day)

Six months after your commencement the Class will meet to debrief the Leadership in Action initiative.  The purpose of this ½ day session is to learn as much as we can about the collaborative leadership process, its challenges and advantages.

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