American Leadership Forum

Program Overview

Answering the Call

The dynamic of leadership is changing. Today in our rapidly growing and diversifying region, leaders must be boundary crossers committed to the public good. Issues and problems no longer stop at the county or state line and will require leaders who understand collaboration. In 2009, The Great Valley Center took the bold step to be a catalyst for the development of this leadership capacity by inaugurating the Great Valley Chapter of the American Leadership Forum. The Chapter joins 14 chapters across the country, and serves the 3-county region of Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin in the Northern San Joaquin Valley of Central California.

More Than Rubbing Elbows

Each year, 20 to 24 established leaders representing every sector–business, government, education, faith, nonprofit and community–are nominated throughout the 3-county region of San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced Counties. Those selected to become ALF Fellows share many characteristics:

  • Possess stature as established leaders in their chosen field of endeavor or service.
  • Demonstrate commitment to service in their community.
  • Interested in becoming part of a regional network which is committed to serving the public good.
  • Recognize the importance of practicing collaborative leadership across boundaries.

This program is funded through a combination of $10,000 organizational sponsorships and tuition payments. The sponsorships provide scholarship funds to enable class make-up to represent the diversity of the region.

Giving You The Tools

Each month during the first year, ALF Fellows meet for seminars and dialogues led by highly skilled faculty. These sessions focus on developing an understanding of and skills for collaborative leadership. The pivotal piece of the first-year program is the Wilderness Experience in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This trip together is taken at the beginning of the program year, creating trust and self-reliance while developing the necessary close relationships. Before the year is complete, Fellows design and implement a civic engagement inititiative, addressing an actual regional need. It provides them with a real-time collaborative experience, using the skills learned in dialogue, consensus building, negotiation and conflict resolution.

Finishing On Top

The importance of the experience doesn’t end with the first-year course. Graduates, known as Senior Fellows, continue to work together in a regional network built on real and enduring relationships across all sectors. Senior Fellows become part of the ALF network that numbers over 4,000 leaders across the country, and in doing so, find connections to leaders in their fields. The Great Valley Chapter of the American Leadership Forum is good for the Fellows, and good for the region. While the yearlong experience is life-changing for participants, the true value of the chapter is the building of a critical mass of leaders who are committed to serving the public good and who have learned the new dynamics of collaborative leadership.

Mission and Vision

Empowering Leaders to Make a Difference

The Great Valley Chapter of the American Leadership Forum joins and strengthens established leaders from diverse backgrounds to improve the greater Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Merced County region.

Our vision is to improve the social, economic, and political fabric of the Greater Central Valley region through shared commitment to collaborative action.

Our Mission is to UNITE boundary-crossing leaders from a diversity of sectors throughout the central valley region; to STRENGTHEN their leadership capacity through deepening relationships and transformative experiences; to SERVE the community by working collaboratively to make significant positive contributions.