Our History

Our 1984 founding took place as leadership was transitioning from a handful of prominent industrialists. These leaders recognized the need to broaden and diversify the community’s leadership. The initial effort was spearheaded by Paul Poorman, editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, and civic activist Barbara Hiney. Leadership Akron, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, was designed to identify community leaders, inform them about the community, and launch them into community involvement.

In 2007, Leadership Akron’s board adopted the Continuum of Leadership as a framework for growth, commencing outreach to new audiences. In 2008, Leadership Akron launched Insight Akron, a condensed introduction for leaders new or recently reacquainted to the Akron area. In 2009, Leadership Akron reached a collaboration agreement with Torchbearers, establishing a presence with this audience of young professionals. The agreement was enhanced and renewed in 2013 to establish Torchbearers as an independent affiliate of Leadership Akron. Two new programs were created in 2011: Community Leadership Institutes for those looking to start their community involvement, and Leadership Akron NEXT (New Endeavors for Experienced Talent), which provides an opportunity for experienced senior leaders to define their next chapter of community involvement and impact. In 2014, Torchbearers and Leadership Akron partnered to create Edge, to provide college interns, post-grads, and early career professionals an opportunity to explore the Akron area as a place to build a life and career.

Leadership Akron is a member of the Association of Leadership Programs (ALP).