Kick-start your leadership journey.

Now in its 40th year, our Leadership Fort Wayne program inspires emerging 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 an optional nonprofit board internship.

Connect with the LFW alumni network–more than 1,400 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).
  • 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.

Area leaders and experts provide information about the community and its history, institutions, socioeconomic composition, and current issues. The goal of this program is to train, prepare, and inspire individuals to positively impact greater Fort Wayne-Allen County through meaningful engagement.

  • To instill an understanding of community trusteeship and a life-long commitment to community service
  • To provide information about the community–its history, people, strengths, challenges, and opportunities
  • To deliver opportunities to practice leadership skills and utilize knowledge gained

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 personal goals.
  • Have the necessary time and resources to commit to community service.

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

  • Attending the mandatory two-day orientation in January.
  • Attending at least 80% of the nine monthly, full-day sessions (February-September).
  • In addition to completing out-of-class assignments, class members will work on a community action project and provide community service.

A willingness to support LFW through time, talent, and treasure and referral of future candidates for the benefit of our community is also expected.

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.
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
  • Public safety.
  • Health services.
  • Government and economic development.
  • Community agencies.

Key dates for the Class of 2022 (subject to change) include:

Application deadline: Oct. 29, 2021

Selection day – cohort members notified: November 2021

Orientation: Jan. 20-21, 2022

Program days: 

  • Feb. 17
  • March 17
  • April 21
  • May 19
  • June 16
  • July 21 (half-day virtual session)
  • Aug. 18
  • Sept. 22

Graduation: December 2022 (at Greater Fort Wayne Inc.’s Holiday Night event)

Tuition fees are:

  • $1,800 for employees of GFW Inc. investor companies.
  • $2,000 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.

Applications to be part of the Class of 2022 are now CLOSED.

Applications for the Class of 2023 will open in Fall 2022!