ALF Fellows Program

Since 2008, the American Leadership Forum-Great Valley chapter (ALF) has worked very intentionally to bring together a multicultural mix of tremendously diverse leaders from virtually every sector of the tri-county region of Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin — not to debate, but to co-create new possibilities. Characterized by a strong belief in the human capacity for collective intelligence, the ALF program focuses on the principles of a different kind of leadership. When people who represent high achievement in very diverse and 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.The fundamental principles of ALF assert that when individuals suspend judgment and allow themselves to truly hear meaning and context from others without the interference of cultural and ideological filters – this potential is unlocked to serve the common good.


This commitment to community and cooperative spirit is nurtured through a yearlong program in which ALF Fellows engage in dialogue, learn to value their differences and unique perspectives, find common ground and build lasting relationships.

ALF doesn’t take short-cuts. To achieve our goal of building an equitable, resilient and thriving Central Valley that courageously navigates the biggest challenges of our time, we begin at the beginning – with individual leaders.

Each year, the ALF Fellows Program brings together twenty to twenty-four Central Valley leaders with diverse backgrounds and perspectives for an intense, one-of-a-kind leadership development experience.  During their year together the class explores cutting-edge network principles and strategies including network relationship-building, dialogue skills for complex and controversial conversations, developing an openness to be influenced by others’ perspectives, and the ability for personal renewal.

Drawing from the arts, nonprofits, corporations, government, media, education, the professions, philanthropy and religion, the Fellows are diverse along many dimensions and truly reflect the diversity of the region, and who show outstanding leadership and potential, as evidenced by:

  • Outstanding Leadership Potential – Their achievement 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
  • Willingness to Learn – To challenge their own assumptions and increase their understanding and awareness of others
  • Commitment to Community – The passion and ability to personally take action to better their community
  • Capacity to Commit – To fully commit to being present at every session.

The twenty-day Fellows 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, group emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry, consensus building, and unconscious bias.


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.  New coalitions are created to build a more effective community from diverse segments. Deep connections are made across all kinds of lines, inspiring leaders to a lifetime of active public engagement.

Graduates, called Senior Fellows, form a diverse network committed to building a stronger community, using network leadership skills to identify and deal with complex regional issues, and creating opportunities to work together in ways that make a significant difference to our communities and our region. This Senior Fellows Network provides the fertile ground to develop additional relationship-based “networks of networks” that are equipped to help the Central Valley manage the complexities of the 21st century

Participation in the ALF Fellows Program is by invitation only, and though most are nominated by our own Senior Fellow network, interested individuals may self-nominate online.  Participants are selected for their recognized leadership position in the community, as well as their potential to provide collaborative leadership and regional stewardship in the future.  The selection of Fellows for each class is designed to create a diverse group within each class, bringing together individuals from different sectors, ethnic backgrounds, religious traditions, political affiliations, genders, geographies, and more.