American Express Leadership Academy at Thunderbird

This annual program, launched in 2009 through a partnership with American Express, has served more than 300 managers from nearly 100 organizations in the past ten years.

“One of the philanthropic goals of American Express is to focus on the development of social sector leaders,” said Thunderbird Professor Mary Teagarden, Ph.D., the Academy’s Academic Director. “These participants are on their way to positions of senior leadership.”


American Express Leadership Academy curriculum

The Academy at Thunderbird's curriculum focuses on preparing high-potential emerging leaders by:

  • Building the personal, business and leadership skills needed to run a successful nonprofit organization
  • Delivering learning tailored to fit cultural nuances and different nonprofit niche needs, with the following core elements being consistent.
  • Blending personal leadership skills with business skills
  • Taking an assessment-based approach to education
  • Including one-on-one coaching and formal follow-up activities


The program delivery is practical, highly interactive and immediately applicable to the workplace. Participants will:

  • Participate in team exercises, case studies, class discussions and leadership style assessments 
  • Take a pre- and post-program Global Mindset Inventory assessment to measure their global mindset profile
  • Develop an organizational project that becomes refined during the Academy
  • Work with their senior leadership to take the project to the next step in their organization

Post-program evaluations show the American Express Leadership Academy gets top scores from the emerging leaders who attend. Participants report that the impact of this experience increases their leadership skills and global mindset. Participants also state they have significantly enhanced their strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

This program is by invitation only. For your international non-profit organization or NGO to be considered for nomination please contact:

Debisu Hyde
Program Director
American Express Leadership Academy at Thunderbird
+1 602 496-7046

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American Express Leadership Academy