Leadership Anchorage FAQs



Leadership Anchorage is the premier leadership development program for established and promising Alaskan leaders seeking to expand their impact in the community. We recruit a diverse cadre of leaders with a range of experiences. The focus is to deepen leadership capacity in individuals by learning through the lens of humanities, diverse group experiences and personal reflection; all in the context of the dynamic issues leaders of Alaska currently face.



What is Leadership Anchorage?


Leadership Anchorage strives to provide a "full experience" in leadership training development. Diverse participants build a network of peers, are nurtured through a mentor relationship that often continues beyond the program, prepare and implement a community service project and apply their leadership training throughout the program. Participants emerge from the program prepared to advance in and to fill new leadership roles, fueled by the desire to tackle a diverse array of community problems and challenges. The program seeks to ensure that the leadership of our city represents all of its citizens.


Leadership Anchorage is designed to introduce leaders across a range of experiences - from established to "emerging/promising leaders" in all sectors of our community, including business, government, non-profit, neighborhood, and ethnic organizations. We build a community of accomplished professionals and civic leaders in Anchorage and Alaska. Our goal is to make sure these leadership voices are heard and are at the table in the mix of city and statewide decision-making.


Consequently, group diversity is essential. Individuals proceed through ten rigorous, full-day sessions of interviews, speaker presentations, readings, and group activities designed to facilitate the development of critical leadership skill sets. The keystones of the program include: one-on-one mentoring with an individual jointly selected by participants and the program leader, a group project fulfilling an expressed need in the community, and a series of readings and exercises that bring the humanities to life. When a Leadership Anchorage class graduates, the community is enriched with individuals who know how to get things done, know how to operate in a diverse world, and think carefully about the ethical and personal demands of leadership.


What's the program's history?


Leadership Anchorage started in 1997 as a program of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change. Pew started ten Leadership programs in cities across the country that year to develop "civic entrepreneurs".  After two years, the Pew funding ended, but Leadership Anchorage had enough local support and interest to develop the financial base to continue.


Several individuals and organizations perceived that Anchorage needed more representation of its diverse populations at the table, for their voices to be heard in leadership positions, on non-profit boards of directors, as well as Municipal boards and commissions. Guided by mentors and facilitators, the program's learning was rooted both in practice and in critical reflection on literature, philosohpy, and in face-to-face experiences with community, and with the eternal questions that have shaped great leaders throughout history.


What is meant by participant diversity?


Participants have included representatives of a variety of Anchorage's ethnic communities, a wide range of ages and stage of career, individuals who were hearing or visually impaired, and recent immigrants. Employed by public, private, small business, and non-profit sectors, individuals come from every political party and interest.  We welcome both established and emerging leaders - individuals who have demonstrated their leadership skills in some manner or have demonstrated their commitment to their community, usually in one arena.  What Leadership Anchorage provides is the exposure to accomplished professionals and civic leaders in Anchorage and Alaska.  A unique characteristic of this program is that we intentionally bring together individuals from many different arenas who would might not otherwise come together.  Leadership Anchorage bridges people from all dimensions of diveristy across a variety of sectors, provides a larger community overview, and enables mutual collaboration to get things done.

What's the program's format?

Leadership Anchorage consists of an initial two-day retreat and nine full-day sessions on Saturdays, approximately every three weeks. In addition to the sessions, participants spend approximately 80 hours outside of class on their group projects, meetings with mentors, and preparations/readings for the class.


What is the cost?


The tuition for selected participants is $2,000, with $300 due before Session 1 and the balance due by graduation in May.  Many participants obtain financial support from their employer, personal sponsors, Native corporations, and other groups. Payment plans allow individuals to make payments throughout the program. The Forum works to ensure cost is not the barrier to participation for selected leaders from all sectors of our community and is able to offer a limited number of needs-based scholarships thanks to generous support from donors including: LA Alumni, Alaska Airlines, Atwood Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Totem Ocean Trailer Express. 

What do participants gain?


Leadership Anchorage provides opportunity for development in four core areas:

  • Interaction with established leaders in the context of leadership and current civic concerns

  • Engagement in a diverse working environment with colleagues from many differing backgrounds

  • Personal development of leadership capabilities applied to real world issues

  • Reading and in-depth discussion in the humanities to complement contemporary leadership challenges


Past participants also note they have gained access to tremendous networks of information and resources, and have made valuable professional and personal contacts across the community and state as a result of their completion of the program.

What are key elements of the program?


  • Mentors: Each participant has the opportunity to select a mentor. This mentor will meet with them on a regular basis, guiding them in meeting their goals for leadership development and community contribution.

  • Community Impact Project: Each participant will work within a smaller team to complete a project designed to address a community need by the end of the class.

  • Presentations by Leaders: In a collegial environment, participants spend time with established leaders, engaging in dialogue about leadership development as well as various timely issues.

  • Community Leadership Skills: Leadership Anchorage endeavors to provide an environment where skill sets are developed and connections made to improve an individual's ability to advance as an authentic and effective leader, while giving back to the community and/or his or her constituencies.


Where do the Community Impact Projects come from?


Projects are solicited from the community, and often come from non-profit organizations and semi-governmental entities. Community Champions are asked for projects that would benefit from the expertise and talent of a group from Leadership Anchorage. The intent is to fulfill a specific and existing community need with the group projects. At one of the Leadership Anchorage sessions, presentations are made for each project proposal and individuals select the one they want to work on.  We are currently engaged in a multiyear commitment for projects to support the goals of the Municipality of Anchorage’s Welcoming Anchorage initiative: building a stronger community through supporting and celebrating equity and inclusion. 


What are the requirements of the program?


The first rule of leadership is to show up, so punctuality and attendance are critical. A maximum of two missed sessions are excused. Completion of the readings and the community service group project are core requirements for graduation from the program.


Do Leadership Anchorage connections continue after the program?


One of the definite pluses to Leadership Anchorage is the bonding and connection that takes place within each group. For years afterwards, individuals can turn to other alumni when putting together ideas, building networks, etc. There are Leadership Anchorage Alumni who are connected through various social media, such as a Leadership Anchorage Facebook group, LinkedIn page and the Alumni page on this site.