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Hesselbein Leadership Forum Established in Partnership with Distinguished Alumna

The University of Pittsburgh, in collaboration with Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and Pitt alumna Frances Hesselbein, has established The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA).

Since 1990, Hesselbein has been at the helm of a leadership institute founded as the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management. In 2012, the organization was renamed to honor Hesselbein and her ongoing contributions. It continued its work and mission as The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute by providing social sector leaders with essential leadership wisdom, inspiration and resources to lead for innovation and to build vibrant social sector organizations. The institute has chosen to transfer many of its assets to the University of Pittsburgh to establish The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum.

“Frances has perfected the art of building global leaders,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “Central to her success is an unyielding commitment to integrity and an unrelenting focus on excellence. I am honored that she has chosen Pitt as The Hesselbein Forum’s permanent home, and I look forward to watching generations of Pitt students use this opportunity to make a powerful, positive difference in this world.”

The Hesselbein Forum plans to provide a variety of opportunities for fostering and growing leadership with three primary areas of focus: developing leaders of character and competence; providing dynamic global mentorship, training and service opportunities; and engaging, informing and enhancing the leadership journey of incoming generations of leaders from around the world.

“We have an array of very talented and motivated faculty working in public policy and ethical leadership, and we believe The Hesselbein Forum — and the record of accomplishment Frances Hesselbein brings to the University — will offer opportunity for a vital synergy,” said GSPIA Dean John Keeler.

The Hesselbein Forum will be managed by Kevin Kearns, professor of public and nonprofit management in GSPIA and director of the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership. Through the Johnson Institute’s educational programming, Kearns has demonstrated the capabilities and the capacity both to prepare young people to be leaders in their professional lives, and to provide mid-career individuals with new skills and approaches that can be applied to their current professions. He also has published extensively on public and nonprofit management and leadership.

Plans for The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum at the University of Pittsburgh include support for the following initiatives:

  • Hesselbein Forum Lecture Series: The series plans to feature proven leaders and thoughtful scholars presenting state-of-the-art ideas on leadership theory and practice, with a focus on public and nonprofit organizations.
  • Hesselbein Forum Leadership Program in International Security: Julia Santucci, a former senior adviser in the U.S. Department of State, was chosen to design and direct an extracurricular leadership development program for GSPIA students majoring in the study of international security challenges and opportunities.
  • Hesselbein Executive-in-Residence Program: Lindsey Anderson, a former senior adviser in the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will serve as the first executive-in-residence. Her role is to provide mentoring to GSPIA students and counsel to faculty and staff on programming and research activities in The Hesselbein Forum.
  • Publication of the award-winning Leader to Leader journal: Leader to Leader was recognized by industry peers for the eighth consecutive year with an APEX 2016 Award of Excellence in the print category of Magazines, Journals & Tabloids – Writing.
  • Hesselbein Forum Keynote Events (in-person and virtual): Frances Hesselbein has hosted interactive online dialogues, global in scope, attracting more than 4,000 participants representing 2,600 organizations from more than 40 countries.

In the future, The Hesselbein Forum seeks to offer graduate student fellowships, executive seminars for experienced and emerging leaders from developing countries and regions and a leader-in-residence program for accomplished leaders to share their wisdom with students and professionals.

The Hesselbein Forum will complement the existing Hesselbein Global Academy for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement at Pitt, which, each year since 2009, has hosted more than 50 highly qualified students (primarily undergraduates) with an intensive four-day learning experience on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Students and scholars also will be able to access Frances Hesselbein’s archives, which were donated to the University of Pittsburgh in 2013.

“My journey — lifelong learning, civic engagement and ‘to serve is to live’ philosophy — began long ago at my beloved University of Pittsburgh and continues to this day. The establishment of The Hesselbein Forum is one of the greatest honors of my life,” said Hesselbein.

About Frances Hesselbein

Frances Hesselbein is a native of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Pittsburgh Junior College at Johnstown. Her 70-year career in public service inspired the creation of the University of Pittsburgh’s Hesselbein Global Academy for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement in 2009, and, in 2015, the University Library System became home to the Frances Hesselbein Archives. Among other accolades, Hesselbein holds 21 honorary doctoral degrees, including one from Pitt. She is a distinguished alumna and a Pitt Legacy Laureate.

One of the most highly respected experts in the field of contemporary leadership development, Hesselbein was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, in 1998. The award recognized her leadership as CEO of Girl Scouts of the United States of America from 1976 to 1990 as well as her role as the founding president of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management.

In 2009, she became the first woman, and the first non-graduate, appointed to the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she taught for two years.

Hesselbein is editor-in-chief of the award-winning quarterly journal Leader to Leader. She is the co-editor of 27 books in 30 languages and the author of “Hesselbein on Leadership,” “My Life in Leadership” and “More Hesselbein on Leadership.”