Leadership Development Institute (LDI)

Leadership Development Institute (LDI)

The Objectives of all LDIs are:

  1. to develop a cadre of positive youth leadership throughout the nation.
  2.  to stimulate an appreciation for African American leadership in the United States and the world.
  3. to expose students to various leadership skills, opportunities, and challenges.
  4. to inform students of the current and emerging economic, social, political, communal, and cultural issues affecting African Americans and people of color in America and the world.
  5. to nurture a network of positive youth by providing fertile opportunities for them to interact on various social and cultural settings.
  6. to promote and stimulate an appreciation for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  7. to encourage civic involvement, such as voting.
  8. to link the LDI with the fraternity’s programs and special projects, such as Project Alpha, A Voteless People is a Hopeless People, and Go to High School Go to College.

The Leadership Development Institute (LDI) aims to develop a 21st century generation of leaders. This mission starts with young people, particularly those who demonstrate the potential to comprehend and apply the fundamental principles needed by leaders as well as whom, by virtue of their age and education, are often looked upon as role models. Thus, the Institute, which is implemented in five regions, seeks to equip high school students, primarily sophomores to seniors, with vital leadership skills. To this end, the members of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., who organize and facilitate the regional LDIs, working along with other professionals/experts, instruct the participants in parliamentary procedures, conflict resolution, models of leadership, public speaking, community and civic engagement, and educational enhancement skills.

History of LDI

Since its founding on December 4, 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has supplied voice and vision to the struggle of African-Americans and people of color around the world.

Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African-Americans, was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York by seven college men who recognized the need for a strong bond of Brotherhood among African descendants in this country. The visionary founders, known as the “Jewels” of the Fraternity, are Henry Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert Harold Ogle, and Vertner Woodson Tandy.

The Fraternity initially served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice, both educationally and socially, at Cornell. The Jewel founders and early leaders of the Fraternity succeeded in laying a firm foundation for Alpha Phi Alpha’s principles of scholarship, fellowship, good character, and the uplifting of humanity.

Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were developed at other colleges and universities, many of them historically black institutions, soon after the founding at Cornell. While continuing to stress academic excellence among its members, Alpha also recognized the need to help correct the educational, economic, political, and social injustices faced by African-Americans.

Building on these areas, the Leadership Development/Citizenship Education Initiative is a national program of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc that aims to develop a 21st century generation of leaders. This program was initiated in the Southern Region during the administration of Bro. Dr. A.M. Witherspoon, Southern Regional Vice President. It was Bro. Witherspoon’s desire that Alpha, due to its history of leadership and modeling leaders, be the vanguard organization for assisting young people in becoming leaders. As such, the institute, under the leadership of Bro. Dr. Henry Ponder, who was the program’s first coordinator and future General President of the Fraternity, began working with a group of high school students on parliamentary procedures and public speaking. These areas were expanded between the years of 1988 to 1990, under the leadership of Bro. Drs. John Kelley and Clarence Christian, to include many of the Fraternity’s other national and special programs, such as voting, responsible sexual activity, and going to college. It was also during this period that the initiative expanded to other regions-Eastern and Midwest.

In the 1990s, the program saw even more development, particularly in its reaches to another region- the Southwest. This was due to the generous support of and strong commitment to education by Bro. Dr. Ernest Halloway, President of Langston University. It was during this period that Bro. William Baird, the National Coordinator for LDI, saw the imperative need for new leadership and recommended at the 1997 General Convention that each Regional Vice President appoint a Regional Leadership Development and Citizenship Education Coordinator and that they advance to each of their District Directors to do likewise. It was Bro. Baird’s intention that local chapters, after having been trained by the District Coordinator, would sponsor one or more leadership workshops per year in their local area. Although this was an excellent idea for producing a cadre of young leaders, it was wrought with internal and external challenges. The lack of continuity in the local workshops, a training manual, marketing strategies, and resources for local chapters, as well as the tepid level of support that the LDI received at the national, regional, and district level hindered this ideas along with others from becoming a reality. It was during this and subsequent periods that the LDI was faced with its greatest challenges.

In 2000, President Harry Johnson, Sr., Esq.-the 31st General President of the Fraternity appointed Bro. Dr. Said Sewell and Bro. Maurice Foushee co-chairs of the LDI. Bros. Foushee and Sewell resolved to build upon the past and set the Institute on a solid foundation. Upon their appointments as co-chairs of the Leadership Development Institute (LDI), they consulted with Bro. Zollie Stevenson, Ph. D., then National Director of the Educational Activities, and President Johnson regarding their role as Chairmen of LDI. It was from these conversations that they were tasked with the general responsibility of bring uniformity to the various regional LDI. They, from this general directive, developed six benchmarks during their administration. Those benchmarks were: 1) conduct site visits; 2) administer an evaluative assessment of all the LDIs; 3) coordinate a national town hall meeting on the Leadership Development Institute; 4) develop a standard mission statement, objectives, criteria for student selection, and curriculum; 5) develop strategies for increasing awareness of the LDI among the brotherhood and community participation; 6) identify both national and regional methods to raise funds for LDI. At the 2003 General Convention in Detroit they reported the completion of each of the benchmarks. Based on brothers’ leadership and support, LDI is poised to be one of Alpha’s greatest legacies.

Purpose of the Guide

This Guide will assist brothers, regions, and chapters with planning and implementing Leadership Development Institutes in their Region. Understanding the mission and objectives of LDI will help brothers share and advance the attributes of leadership and character among youth. A clear and supported purpose among the brotherhood will inspire students to seek and excel in leadership positions and express traits that help them, in turn, serve as role models. The checklist of tasks will generally ensure a well-run program and one that students and their families, as well as the fraternity, recommend to future leaders.

Alex DeJarnettLeadership Development Chair3550 Helton Drive G-4Florence, AL 35630(256) 740-0589LDI@apa1906.net