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Leadership Foundations has served cities and communities around the world for over 40 years, dedicated to long-term transformation so that ultimately we see lives transformed and cities become playgrounds.


Reid Carpenter founds the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation to carry out the vision given by Reverend Samuel Shoemaker “that Pittsburgh will one day be as famous for God as it is for steel.” 


The LF model begins to spread across the US among leaders with a heart for their city and a desire to see it transformed. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Memphis, Denver, Phoenix, and Chicago were among these pioneering groups.


Dr. Ray Bakke becomes an important voice in Leadership Foundations, providing a rich sociological, anthropological, and theological framework for taking on the social and spiritual transformation of cities.


Local Leadership Foundations begin to share best practices and programs across the network. This begins with Operation Starting Line, a prisoner reentry program, and grows to include everything from youth mentoring programs to housing initiatives.<


The Council of Leadership Foundations is formed as a 501c3 to coordinate training and facilitate connections and prayer among the network. The LF model also begins to spread globally beginning in Pretoria, South Africa, and quickly spreading to other cities in Africa as well as India, Central America, and the Caribbean.


The LF Accreditation process, developed by John Hirt, a retired Marine Corps general and former college president, brings a new level of discipline, direction, and development to the network.


As the network grows, more formalized support and structure are needed. Leadership Foundations of America is created to develop, strengthen, and sustain Local Leadership Foundations for the social and spiritual renewal of cities. Reid Carpenter is elected as the president, and Jerry Colangelo becomes the first board chair.


The Four City Demonstration project, a capacity-building initiative funded through a $3 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant, launches. LF will go on to receive over $18 million for network-wide capacity-building and mentoring initiatives from HHS and the U.S. Department of Justice.


Dave Hillis becomes president and changes the organization’s name to Leadership Foundations in recognition of the scope, scale, and global nature of the network. He creates a series of task forces that bring further definition to the work, including the formalization of the three functions, now known as the LF wheel of change.


Leadership Foundations goes to scale with the introduction of a number of key services and initiatives like the Global Youth Initiative, Board Training Initiative, and the Senior Associates Strategy.


Leadership Foundations engages The Bridgespan Group around the Advancement Plus Project to determine what shifts are needed to achieve greater impact in cities around the world. The extensive process results in an increased focus on member improvement and services. The Stages of Impact Platform launches to provide LLF Presidents with data to deepen organizational impact and expand mastery of the LF wheel of change.


Leadership Foundations launches the Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center to generate and scale innovative programs, practices, and partnerships to support cities around the world. 

2020 & Beyond

Leadership Foundations celebrates over four decades serving cities and communities around the world and is poised to expand to 50+ cities expressing interest in joining the movement.

New Book Launch

City As Playground Anthology

 is now available for purchase in print and Kindle.

Celia Vigil

Communications Associate

What book, movie, quote, or tv show has most shaped your understanding of leadership or the city?   

A quote that has shaped my understanding of leadership and the city is, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

While the amount of work there is to do to transform cities is great, this quote reminds me that we are freed from having to complete it all, though our obligation to continue remains. We may never see a huge transformation in our lifetime. The work stretches far beyond us. However, this does not make our acts of faithfulness in the day to day less significant, no matter how small they may seem.