LFW is among the oldest community leadership development programs in the nation.
In 1972, Dr. James Moudy of Texas Christian University issued a challenge to Fort Worth calling us as a community to plan for the future by developing promising people for leadership roles.
The same year, Tiny Batts attended a national Junior League conference in Atlanta. There she heard about an exciting program called Leadership Atlanta, designed specifically to bring a diverse group of people together to explore the challenges and successes of the city and to learn to work together to improve it.
Tiny returned home determined to make happen in Fort Worth what she had seen in Atlanta, and in so doing, to answer Dr. Moudy’s challenge. She inspired the Junior League, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Texas Christian University, and Texas Electric (now TXU Energy) to join together to sponsor the new program. Later the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas Wesleyan University joined as sponsors. Tiny was determined that LFW would support diversity. In the climate of that time, she used to say that her greatest challenge was getting support for having women included in the program.
The very first class included: Kenneth Barr, Charles Edmonds, David Chappell, Joe Enochs, John Giordano, Rachel Gooch, Brodie Hyde, Betty Ledyard, Ellen Mack, Joe Matthews, Huey Mitchell, Steve Murrin, James Nichols, Carlos Puente, Willie Sears, and Jeff Wentworth. In the first five years of the program, other graduates include: Allan Barr, Harry Brants, Judith Carrier, Jeff Fraley, Robert Gooch, James Harris, James Holcomb, Erma Johnson Hadley, Bill Lawrence, Theodore Mack, Gary Moates, Frank Moss, James Parr, George Pepper, Ann Quinn, Charles Reid, Karen Simon, Joe Smith, Vernell Sturns, and Roger Williams.
Today LFW’s membership tops 1700 and includes many of the elected, volunteer and civic leaders of our community. Its commitment has been consistently inclusive. Tom Law, Sr., and later Rice Tilley, former chairs of the program, have attributed the racial harmony we enjoy in our community and the strength of our not-for-profit organizations at least partially to Leadership Fort Worth.
The Leadership Class has grown stronger as it focuses on established leaders who bring their expertise and spheres of influence together to address community issues, and over the years, LFW has expanded. In 1995, a group of LFW members created a middle-school training program called LeaderKids. It works with students from all the Fort Worth ISD middle schools to develop leadership abilities through community involvement. In 1999, LFW and The Community Foundation began a five-year partnership to sponsor The Fort Worth Leaders Fund, a program that developed and supported philanthropy in Fort Worth.
In 2009, the LFW board launched a new program targeted to emerging leaders in the 25-35 age range. This program, named Leading Edge, develops leadership skills in a community context and connects young professionals with areas of service through a Board Shadowing program.
LFW Membership Programs provide continuing education on a regular basis. For instance, LFW and Tarrant County College co-sponsored training on group technology led by Joel Barker, noted futurist. They worked through the Mayor’s Office to address problems of homelessness then being studied by a committee appointed to report to City Council and later provided input on the Wright Amendment controversy. During the 2007 Legislative session, LFW used this technology to provide information on regional commuter rail.
Through the years LFW has recognized Leadership Fellows, individuals who demonstrate the principles of community leadership that we espouse. Recent fellows are:
LFW is closely connected with the international professional leadership organization, The Association for Leadership Professionals. LFW’s own Executive Director, Harriet Harral, served as Chair of the international board of directors in 2002-2003. LFW continues to both learn from and model new program directions and services for our communities.