Health Forward to Partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Center for Creative Leadership to Enhance Pipeline of Nonprofit Executives

KANSAS CITY, MO – The Health Forward Foundation (Health Forward) has been selected to collaborate with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) to implement a national fellowship program in metropolitan Kansas City that will help train the next generation of community health leaders. The RWJF Ladder to Leadership program aims to boost the skills and capabilities of early- to mid-level professionals working in health and health-related nonprofit organizations so they will be positioned to lead organizations as many nonprofit leaders retire.

Over the next three months, RWJF, CCL, and the national advisory committee of the Ladder to Leadership program will select 30 fellows who work in the Kansas City area to take part in the 16-month leadership curriculum. Fellows will participate in face-to-face training sessions, individualized executive coaching, and team project work.

“This program will offer excellent training to the emerging nonprofit leaders in greater Kansas City, not only enhancing their professional growth but helping our community grow a cadre of skilled health professionals to provide needed leadership,” said Steve Roling, Health Forward President/CEO.

To become a fellow, applicants must demonstrate a record of accomplishment within the nonprofit sector, potential for leadership in the nonprofit health or health care field, and a proven commitment to serving at-risk groups. An information session will be held on October 18 from 8:30 – 10:30 or October 19 from 1:00 – 3:00 at the Kauffman Conference Center.

The nonprofit sector, like many industries and sectors, is facing an impending exodus of senior leaders who plan to retire in the coming years. A study by the Bridgespan Group estimated that by 2016, nonprofit groups will need approximately 80,000 new senior managers each year. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there were 1.4 million nonprofit organizations in the United States in 2006.

“Nonprofit organizations are a critical part of health care and service delivery in this country. It is important we work with current leaders to build a pipeline of qualified future CEOs and executive directors, so we do not lose the vision and capacity needed to continue to do this work effectively in the future,” said Sallie Petrucci George, M.P.H., program officer at RWJF. “We are committed to investing in tomorrow’s nonprofit leaders to make sure they receive the training they need to best serve those at-risk communities.”

Kansas City was one of eight sites selected across the country to participate in the program. It was chosen because of the unique health care needs, census and demographic information, community-based needs for public health leadership development, and commitment of local community partners.

“We believe this program will have a powerful and lasting impact on individual leaders and their organizations,” said Karen Dyer, director of CCL’s Education and Nonprofit Sector. “By design, the program encourages fellows to apply new skills and innovative solutions to problems in their communities as these skills are learned. So they are giving back to the community as they go.”

To learn more about who is eligible and how to apply, visit: or].