Leadership Birmingham is a non-partisan community leadership program conducted by an independent non-profit organization. The program was initiated through the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce with initial funding from corporate supporters and the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. The group was incorporated in November 1982 with William Rushton III as chair of its board of trustees. Board members are not compensated and serve staggered three-year terms. The board hired Sheila Blair as the first executive director. The current director is Libba Vaughan, who succeeded long-time director Ann Florie in 2018.
Participants in the program are selected through a public nomination process. A selection committee from the board then reviews applications with the aim of putting together a class of proven leaders which represent a range of experience and potential impact across the Birmingham region.
Participants attend two weekend retreats, once at the beginning of the term in August, and once at the close of the year in June. In between monthly full-day sessions cover topics including education, public health, government, justice, community relations, human services, economic development and quality of life. Sessions, which are planned by previous Leadership Birmingham alumni, include visits to area institutions, updates on current initiatives, and moderated panel discussions. Participants are divided into study groups which prepare recommendations for promoting advancement in each of those areas and present them at the year-end retreat.
Tuition is charged for participation in the program, with some financial assistance available for those who might need it. A Members Association of former participants supports the goals of the program through continued networking. Leadership Birmingham is also affiliated with the Youth Leadership Forum for high school age leaders. In 2020 the program suspended its regular program due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Leadership Birmingham website