Leading from the Inside Out

July 1, 2020  • Institute Staff

Give NowThe Institute’s Aspen Global Leadership Network takes leaders from across the globe and across industries, and asks them to be authentic, vulnerable, and courageous with one another and as a community. The idea is to transform fellows’ career success into true leadership in which fellows are primed to live lives of meaningful impact. But is the program itself having a meaningful impact? It seemed only fair that the AGLN hold itself to the same standard.

Last year, the Aspen Global Leadership Network started a journey by asking: What difference is the program making? Is it producing results? How do we know?

These critical and complex questions launched a yearlong mission to design and build the AGLN’s first-ever impact framework and evaluation. The team wanted to systematically understand, capture, and measure what difference it was having on fellows and, in turn, what difference it was having on the world. The 2019 AGLN study, Understanding 20 Years of Impact, surveyed more than nearly 500 fellows across 11 fellowship programs for their insight and perspective, and it explored the changes to society that occurred as a result of the fellowships over the last two decades.

The results show that the Aspen Global Leadership Network produces overwhelmingly positive and outsized outcomes. Fellows find the AGLN fellowships to be deeply transformative, catalyzing them to become more purpose-driven leaders. As individuals they are influential levers of change, taking action in new and significant ways to create positive change in their organizations, communities, industries, and regions. The AGLN network has become a vital platform for fellows, especially to mobilize support and collaboration for projects and ventures. The study also presents strong evidence that there is a robust link between fellows’ personal change and the resulting actions they take to create positive change. In other words, it validates the fellowship model: societal impact accelerates when the Institute cultivates values-based leadership.

Alumni in Action

With the world shutting down, coupled with the protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, the Henry Crown Fellowship adapted its trajectory. The fellowship shifted to virtual alumni engagement efforts with a focus on impact, inspiration, and interconnectivity. This new phase was made possible with both alumni support and Lester Crown’s generous $10 million gift to seed and grow an endowment. Fellowship alumni are providing much-needed resources in response to the pandemic and leveling America’s playing field by supporting entrepreneurs and business owners of color.

  • 2015 fellow Devon Spurgeon launched Project Isaiah, which has delivered over 350,000 boxed meals per week to 200 organizations across the country, saving more than 500 jobs in the process.
  • Reed Hastings, a 1998 fellow and the founder and CEO of Netflix, has personally donated $120 million toward student scholarships at historically Black colleges and universities. What’s more, Netflix will start putting 2 percent of its cash holdings—as much as $100 million—into Black financial institutions that directly support Black communities in the United States. This includes $10 million for the Hope Credit Union, founded by Hastings’ Henry Crown classmate Bill Bynum.
  • 2016 fellow Marcelo Claure, the COO of SoftBank, announced that the firm will create a $100 million fund that will invest only in companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of color. Classmates Stacy Brown-Philpot and Paul Judge will serve as founding members and fund advisors.