The African American Leadership Forum (AALF) is developing a pipeline of strong leaders who gain skills in tackling key issues of social justice. Our Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy cohort experience equips participants with a greater awareness of community assets and opportunities leading to stronger connections with other African American organizations and their leaders. Our alums are inspired to shape the vibrant narrative that redefines and uplifts the African American community in the Twin Cities and across Minnesota.

The Forum recently reached out to our Associate Director, Ernest Comer III, to learn more about the value of the program. Comer also shared his views on how  the leadership academy fits into the larger picture of Black empowerment in Minnesota, which has some of the most substantial racial and economic inequalities in the nation.

Comer III: The Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy (JRJLA) leverages our network of people thriving in community leadership and careers to identify individuals who are taking their first steps into leading and finding great success. The hope in taking this approach is to be able to not only identify individuals with a powerful capacity for leadership but to also uplift opportunities for our most well-equipped leaders to lean into relationships with one another as well as those who are demonstrating the type of leadership capacity and competencies that can drive massive impact on the inequities we face in the State of Minnesota. We believe that making investments in building awareness, strengthening connections, and developing the leadership capacity of our leaders will drive us further in the right direction. We intend to have our leaders be even more aware of the history and culture of our community and to better understand how we have come to where we are. We intend to establish stronger connections across the leadership spectrum in our community and provide greater exposure to the Torch Bearers who have led us as far as we have come. We intend to create space and opportunity for leadership skills to be developed through coaching, reflection, and practice with a cohort of peers working through their own experience of the leadership development journey.

The attentiveness that we bring to our focus areas as an organization (Education, Economic Opportunity, Health & Wellness, Family & Culture) along with the acknowledging and uplifting of various leadership personas (Influencer, Ambassador, Builder, Thought Leader) is integrated with our approach to leadership development and enables us to have a significant impact on the vast breadth of inequitable circumstances we face locally. We bring a multifaceted approach to address multifaceted challenges.

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