#AmExLeads Shapes Me

I have been lucky enough to have been selected to attend three American Express Leadership Academy training institutes, and each has helped me develop as a leader and as a person. Every time I return from an Academy, my friends and colleagues ask how they can access this sort of high-intensity leadership development support. Most of the Academies are invite-only, but a new three-day program, the 2019 Converge Academy is taking a different approach: from now until August 16, eligible U.S. “for purpose” leaders can apply for a scholarship through the open online call for nominations.

The Converge Academy, presented by the Center for Creative Leadership and LeaderStories, will provide leadership development to 24 U.S. social purpose leaders who are selected by a panel of judges. To be eligible, you must be an emerging leader in a certified nonprofit in the U.S. and be committed to staying in the nonprofit sector and on increasing leadership roles and to continuing to learn and inspire others. 

Terri and Her Co-Hort

Personality + Behavior = Leadership Effectiveness

My most recent experience took place during the summer of 2017 at The American Express Leadership Academy Aspen 2.0, hosted by the Aspen Institute at their stunning Colorado campus.  Personally, I went into the Academy looking to empower citizens so that they can speak up and create the change they want to see in their own community and be the people to actually implement that change.

The Aspen Institute 2.0 Academy, like the new Converge Academy,   helps leaders understand how their personality and behavior influence their leadership style and effectiveness. It is also designed to help the fellows understand their own and others’ preferred style of managing change that enhances collaboration and builds organizational synergy. It is also a tool to help fellows to apply critical business skills important to the success of their organizations. At Aspen 2.0 we read classical literature and plays and took part in a salon-style discussion about the science and art of leadership. 

Through the Academy, I am connected to fellows from across the world who are now on speed dial anytime I need to solve a complex issue. They’re like family to me. This network of leaders has already proven to be a phenomenal resource to have in my corner. I can share ideas and experiences with them but I also can rely on them to help me set realistic, measurable goals along with a plan of action to accomplish these goals. 

Terri at The Aspen Institute

Next Level Thinking

I truly believe that American Express is creating a generation of leaders that will be able to take our world to the next level. I think as a leader you have to always believe in yourself yet you have to be flexible and agile. When I think about my work, I’ve been blessed to have many experiences at the American Heart Association. I get the job of fighting heart disease and stroke through public policies. That means I get to save lives every day. Many people are shying away from being lobbyists or being in the public policy space, but I think that this is a time where we can step up and inspire people to take action in their community. 

American Express is currently taking nominations for the Converge Academy 2020 so if my testimony struck a chord with you or piqued your interest, nominate yourself or a friend. If you want to further your leadership development and are in a career related to nonprofit or purpose-driven work, I highly recommend applying and tell them that I sent you, #Firestarter!

American Express and their support has been transformational for me in my leadership journey. As I close out the year with intense focus, I am sure about one thing. The rest of 2019 will be a time where I am not afraid to fail forward and not afraid to take risks and see new challenges. What will your last quarter of the year be like?


Authors Note: Thank you to Peyton Short, Editorial Member of #MovementMakerTribe for her help with this article.


Copyright (c) 2019 Williams Strategies, LLC. All rights reserved.