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Building America's Next Generation of Public Service Leaders

Lead For America recruits, trains, and places our nation’s most outstanding leaders in high-impact changemaking roles in their hometowns and home states.


We are building a leadership force to address our nation's most critical challenges in every corner of this country.

Become a LFA Fellow

Lead For America Fellows are dedicated to tackling the critical challenges facing the places they call home through paid, full-time service.


Our Fellowship provides the training, resources, and mentorship needed to make a difference, and serves as a launching pad for a lifetime of civic leadership.

Learn more about LFA's Fellowship program and how we're building a leadership force of changemakers across the nation.

Why We Exist 

Born into every American community are the talents and skills it needs to address its most critical challenges. But for far too many young people in far too many places, success has been defined in terms of leaving and never coming back.


We believe that building stronger communities, and a stronger America, starts by serving, and leading, where you live.

Learn more about our story, mission, leadership model, and impact.

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Our Impact to Date

215 Paid, Full-time Fellowships Created
in 150 different communities 
93% of LFA Alumni
committed to serving their communities for the long-term
Over $100 Million
raised or secured by Fellows for their communities and efforts they are leading
6 Affiliates Created
in Kansas, Hawai'i, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Poughkeepsie (NY)

In the News


Small-Town Natives are Moving Home

“It matters that we know things specific to the place we live,” Ms. Kraus has written, “that we know our neighbors, that we find inspiration in the way an enormous country sunset touches the entire horizon, that we practice humility in knowing the history of the people who shepherded this land before us.”

Our Approach

Lead For America is building stronger communities, and a stronger country, by helping outstanding people lead in the places they call home.

We do this in three ways: education, fellowships, and systems change.

What We've Learned

Lead For America, like any organization, has made its fair share of mistakes. We will never be perfect, but we can learn from our experience, both the good and the bad.

Read more about what we've learned, and let us know how we can continue to improve.


Lead For America students learn about the key challenges facing their community and state, are supported by local mentors, and are invited to launch projects improving their own neighborhood. We are building more engaged citizens, and young people committed to serving and leading no matter where they live.


We are building pathways to public service for the next generation of public service leaders. Our flagship program, the Lead For America Fellowship, creates new, paid, full-time opportunities for young people to serve in their hometowns and home states.

Systems Change

We are investing deeply in select communities to show the full force of our programs, and working with policymakers, from the local to the federal level, to advocate for policies and programs that will help every community build the leadership force it needs.

Our Beliefs


Joe Nail, Lead For America CEO & Co-Founder

Shandiin Herrera,

Hometown Fellow '19

Grant Kirkpatrick + 
Lorenzo Johnson,

Hometown Fellows '19

Bridge Building

Many parts of our country may be divided, but we aim to bring people together. This means building bridges and friendships across lines of race, class, geography, education, faith, and ideology. We welcome conservatives and liberals, urban and rural, young and old––anyone who is committed to making their home, and our country, better.

Proximity & Commitment to Place

The decisions that most affect our lives are made at the local level. We believe those decisions are best made by those who are representative of the communities they serve, who have direct experience with the challenges they address, and who are dedicated to community above self.

Integrity & Selfless Service

Great leadership is rare not because of a lack of competence, skill, or ambition, but because of a lack of character and integrity. We are building a community of public service leaders committed to service, not self-aggrandizement. and to doing the right thing, even when that comes at a cost.

Long-Term Commitment 

The challenges our communities and country face weren't created overnight, and they won't be solved overnight either. We are building leaders who are committed to their communities, and to public service, for the long-term.

Joe Nail, CEO

What People Say 

"Cities and communities are now the vanguard of problem solving. Lead For America marries the desire of recent graduates to make change in our communities and the need of local governments for new ideas and capacity."

—  Bruce Katz
Inaugural Centennial Scholar at The Brookings Institution,
Author of The New Localism