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Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow

November 7, 2011

Last week, we hosted two classes of our American Express Leadership Academy in London and Delhi, India (more on that in the next post). Next week, we host a class of 48 emerging leaders in a Leadership Academy in Washington, DC in cooperation with the Corporation for National and Community Service. And, we are co-hosting a Nonprofit Leadership Forum with the White House in Washington, DC on November 15. So, in many ways, November is Nonprofit Leadership month here at American Express.

One of our giving priorities is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Through this program, we support the best methods, programs and partners that provide current and future nonprofit leaders with practical opportunities to learn and build leadership skills. We’re especially interested in projects that cultivate leadership opportunities for diverse communities within the nonprofit sector or that focus on innovative leadership development programs for emerging leaders of world-class institutions.

Created in 2007, this is our newest giving area, but it is closely tied to the company’s own interests in developing leaders inside American Express. Because it’s also important to the company that nonprofit organizations in our communities have strong and effective leaders, we have tried to take some of the learnings and business knowledge that we have in this subject matter and share it with nonprofit organizations.

We do this primarily through grantmaking to a wide variety of organizations including world-class leadership development organizations like the Aspen Institute and the Center for Creative Leadership, but also to important nonprofits that have created leadership development programs for their own high potential leaders or those in the fields they represent. These organizations include the Center for Association Leadership, Council for Urban Professionals Institute, Girls Inc., Independent Sector, JA Worldwide, Japan Philanthropic Association, National Guild for Community Schools of the Arts, National Hispana Leadership Institute, National Urban Fellows, National Urban League, Nature Serve, Public Allies, Thunderbird School of Global Management, UNCF, and United Way Worldwide.

We also created our own American Express Leadership Academy in New York, which has now expanded to Phoenix, Tokyo, London and Delhi, India. This week-long program focuses on building the personal, business and leadership skills needed to run a successful nonprofit organization. Class discussions are enhanced by bringing together trainers, nonprofit leaders and American Express executives. Our partners in this effort include the Center for Creative Leadership in New York and Washington, Common Purpose in London and Delhi, Japan Philanthropic Association in Tokyo, and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix. By the end of 2011, we will have trained almost 500 nonprofit leaders through the Leadership Academy.

We recently announced a commitment to contribute $25 million over the next five years to develop emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector. This year, in addition to expanding the Leadership Academy to Phoenix and India, we are planning to publish research that is being conducted by a group of professors from prominent universities who have programs in nonprofit management.

Tell us about your own experiences in leadership development. What are your tips for emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector? We’ll post your comments here.


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