Elevate your leadership.

Wherever you are on your leadership journey–emerging, seasoned, or somewhere in between–our Leadership Fort Wayne program can help you reach your full potential. For more than 40 years, we have inspired leaders to embrace the community, get involved, and drive positive change.

Join our next cohort to get:

Go behind the scenes to meet some of the city’s iconic institutions and leaders.

Grow your abilities in a fast-paced, engaging, and inspirational learning environment.

Put your skills to work in a community action project with local nonprofit partners.

Connect with the LFW alumni network–more than 1,500 members strong.

Leadership Fort Wayne is an nine-month program that consists of:

  • A two-day orientation (typically in January).
  • Eight immersive program days (one full day per month, typically February-September) where area leaders and experts provide in-depth insights about the community and its history, institutions, socioeconomic composition, and current issues.
  • Teaming up with a local nonprofit to develop a Community Action Project (CAP).
  • Increasing your awareness, understanding, and appreciation for community organizations and services.
  • Learning cutting-edge leadership concepts with practical, real-world application and practice.
  • An optional internship on a nonprofit board of directors.

The purpose of Leadership Fort Wayne is to train, prepare, and inspire individuals to positively impact greater Fort Wayne-Allen County through meaningful engagement.

We do this by:

  • Instilling an understanding of community trusteeship and a lifelong commitment to community service.
  • Providing information about the community: its history, people, strengths, challenges, and opportunities.
  • Delivering opportunities to practice leadership skills and utilize knowledge gained through intentional and best-practice leadership training.
  • Creating opportunities for networking and connections that benefit participants personally and professionally.

Leadership Fort Wayne welcomes emerging to seasoned leaders positioned at any level in their career.

All participants must:

  • Currently be working and/or living in the greater Fort Wayne area.
  • Have full support from their employer or sponsoring organization.
  • Possess the ability to achieve professional, personal, and program goals.
  • Have the necessary time and resources to commit to each program day, Community Action Project (CAP) work, and, if applicable, an internship on a local nonprofit board.

Participants are expected to make a commitment to the program, including:

  • Attending the mandatory two-day orientation in January.
  • Attending at least 75% of the remaining eight monthly, full-day sessions (February-September).
  • In addition to completing pre-work class assignments, class members will work on a team to complete a Community Action Project and, if applicable, serve as an intern on a local nonprofit board.

Each month, participants meet for a “program day,” getting behind-the-scenes looks at the building blocks of our community, featuring insights from key leaders. These topics are:

  • Community history.
  • Arts and recreation.
  • Education.
  • Inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.
  • Public safety.
  • Health services.
  • Government and economic development.
  • Community agencies.

Key dates for the Class of 2024 (subject to change) include:

Application deadline: Oct. 16, 2023

Selection day – cohort members notified: Nov. 17, 2023

Virtual Meet & Greet event: Jan. 4, 2024

Orientation: Jan. 18-19, 2024

Program days in 2024: 

  • Feb. 15
  • March 21
  • April 18
  • May 16
  • June 20
  • July 11
  • Aug. 15
  • Sept. 19

Graduation: Oct. 9, 2024 at the Leadership Fort Wayne Alumni Breakfast

Tuition fees are:

  • $2,500 for employees of GFW Inc. investor companies.
  • $3,000 for employees of non-investor companies and individuals.

Tuition may be paid by an employer, a sponsoring organization, or the participant. A limited number of sponsorships to underwrite program days or Designated Seat sponsorships are available to GFW Inc. investors only. Sponsorships are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Email Meghan Short at mshort@gfwinc.com to learn more.

Here’s a sneak peek at the insights you’ll get from Leadership Fort Wayne:

Applications for the Leadership Fort Wayne class of 2024 have closed.