The Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy has been a staple program in the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) since its inception in 2015. For years, emerging leaders have sharpened their personal and professional leadership skills through a leadership curriculum that included being mentored by well-established professionals and volunteering with Black organizations in leadership roles.

AALF is currently seeking nominations for this year’s cohort! Do you know a Black leader who would be a good fit for this program? Email your nominations to AALF’s Associate Director, Ernest Comer III at, including the following information: (1) Nominee’s full name, email, and phone number; and (2) Why this nominee is a good fit for the Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy experience. The nomination deadline has been extended to March 23.

We reached out to Comer III to talk about the Leadership Academy and its impact in Minnesota Black community.

Comer III: Most recently, we held a Guiding Lights event for JRJLA Torch Bearers at Black-owned Cobble Social House. The event was intended to bring together past mentors and torch bearers from the 2019 cohort. We had a videographer present to capture the event so we would have content that can be used for future media needs. This event and others like it create space for our more established leaders in community to build relationships with one another and get on the same page about how to best support the new era of leadership in community as it develops.

The purpose of leveraging a closed application process allows us to more intentionally strengthen the network of leadership in local communities as our new and emerging leaders find themselves being encouraged and supported by people who look like them in positions of great influence. The level of investment afforded by participation in the Leadership Academy experience helps to create a deeper level of appreciation in the nominee/nominator relationship and gives energy to inter-generational connections.

This leadership development experience of the program caters to those who demonstrate preparedness for the journey by being PASSIONATE • AMBITIOUS • ACTIVE • COACHABLE • COMMITTED • and DRIVEN. This initiative is designed to accelerate the holistic leadership development journey for Black leaders in local communities.

Learn more about the Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy (JRJLA).