Kick-start your leadership journey.

For more than 40 years, our Leadership Fort Wayne program has inspired 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 1,500 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.

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 80% of the nine 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.
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
  • Public safety.
  • Health services.
  • Government and economic development.
  • Community agencies.

Key dates for the Class of 2023 (subject to change) include:

Application deadline: Oct. 11, 2022

Selection day – cohort members notified: November 18, 2022

Virtual Meet & Greet event: Jan. 5, 2023

Orientation: Jan. 19-20, 2023

Program days in 2023: 

  • Feb. 16
  • March 16
  • April 20
  • May 18
  • June 15
  • July 20
  • Aug. 17
  • Sept. 21

Graduation: October 2023 (at the Leadership Fort Wayne Alumni Breakfast)

Tuition fees are:

  • $2,000 for employees of GFW Inc. investor companies.
  • $2,400 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.

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

Applications for our next class will be available in Fall 2023. Email Meghan Short at to learn more.