History of Leadership Tallahassee


Leadership Tallahassee (LT) began in 1983 as a year-long educational program for adults.  It was designed to facilitate opportunities for interaction with established area leaders, which would strengthen their bond to the community.

The initial LT Class (LT 1) consisted of 28 participants selected from the community at large.  They met monthly to learn more about the community through panel discussions & hands-on experiences. In subsequent years, a more formal selection process was added to strengthen the makeup of each class, assuring diversity along the lines of gender, age, race, ethnicity, profession, and interests.  Class size continued to be limited, and commitment to the program remained a top priority.

LTwebsite04Program Expansion

As each class graduated, the number of alumni increased.  Graduates had opportunities to give back to the organization by serving on committees to plan the program days for the year, and to plan activities to bring graduates together for both informational & social events.

In 1993, a formal LT Board of Governors was created, with Karen Moore (LT 5) as its first chair.  Bylaws & budgets were outlined, and the organization sought to generate sustainable funding through alumni dues & program sponsorships.

Under the direction of the Board, a committee was formed to present the first Distinguished Leadership Awards event in 1995 to recognize outstanding leadership in the community & to highlight the LT program.

The need for more leadership development options generated the creation of another new program.  Opportunity Tallahassee was added in 1997 to provide experiences targeted to corporate executives, managers and other leaders whose professional commitments precluded participation in the more time-intensive LT program.  This provided new opportunities for business leaders to learn about our community & receive our leadership training with a minimum expenditure of time.


Soon, we identified a need for volunteer board member training.  LT collaborated with the Junior League of Tallahassee to present Building Better Boards, a training seminar for novice & veteran board members, as well as agency staff & professionals who may be considering participating in a volunteer board.  Sessions have included information on the roles & responsibilities of board members & chairs, fundraising tips, legal obligations of boards & board members, governance, and strategic planning.  In 2012, Building Better Boards:  The Basics was created & is now offered three times annually as a two-hour new-to-board-service training session.

Youth Leadership Tallahassee

In 2004, LT 20 was challenged to create & develop a program for youth in the area.  Youth Leadership Tallahassee (YLT) was created as a year-long program that brings together a diverse group of high school juniors from public & private schools in the community who have demonstrated leadership potential in formal & informal situations and prepares them to become ethical leaders committed to active community involvement.  Students apply in 10th grade & participate in YLT in 11th grade.

That same year, to assist with fundraising for LT and YLT, Leadership Tallahassee applied for & received its 501(c)(3) not-for-profit designation.

Lifelong Connections

The annual Legislative Wrap-Up gives LT graduates the opportunity to hear from the local legislative delegation how the most recent legislative session may impact our region.

In addition, LT continues to provide opportunities for the community by working with other organizations to provide our business development resources to a wider array of leaders.  The Tallahassee Area Lifelong Leaders (TALL) program is a collaborative effort between LT and the City of Tallahassee Senior Center Foundation.  It offers a similar community leadership program as the adult LT to area senior citizens (adults 55 & older).

Other partnerships with the Community Foundation of North Florida, the Village Square, WFSU, Oasis Center for Women & Girls, and United Partners for Human Services have yielded successful community forums, speaker events, training in running for public office, and youth-led conferences – and in many instances, LT graduates participate as presenters, panelists, or facilitators.


Our organization has been given the “Reviewed” status on the Community Foundation’s nonprofit online database, FindLearnGive.org, and is available for review by the general public.  Donors, members, and other interested persons will be able to see information about our programs, staff, board members, and finances all in one place.  This distinction highlights LT’s commitment to providing outstanding leadership training & resources to the community through a not-for-profit organization while operating in a responsible & transparent manner.