ALA: From a volunteer

As Written by Paul Richards

A little more than two months ago, my plane touched down in St. Louis. I hopped in a van with a handful of volunteers, and then we drove. And drove. And then we drove some more. The Arch long since faded into the distance, we winded our way through cornfields, pastures, and small towns, finally arriving at Lake Williamson Conference Center—the site of the Fall 2013 Advanced Leadership Academy.


Sunday-Activities-37-400x300I served as the Publications Director at the ALA, where I joined volunteers from as far away as Canada and Los Angeles and as close as a few towns over. Together we welcomed the second class of ALA Project Managers, who impressed me with their ideas for changing their communities, inspired me with their personal stories of turbulence and triumph, and convinced me that the ALA is uniquely positioned to teach leadership and project management skills to high school juniors and seniors.

Some students arrived in St. Louis with well-developed project ideas in their heads, while others only had a vague idea of the issues they were interested in. I saw ideas for community fundraisers, gay straight alliances, anti-bullying initiatives, 5Ks for a cause, and more. Whatever the idea, each Project Manager left the ALA ready to enact or further develop their projects with a full year’s support of their Project Coaches and a new, close-knit family that only a HOBY seminar can provide.

The collective impact of ALA participants is immeasurable, and with each new class, the HOBY alumni family only grows larger. Take part in this amazing program in Birmingham this February. You’ll be glad you did!

The Advanced Leadership Academy (ALA) is a fun and interactive 5-day, university-style program for juniors and seniors who are ready and willing to become agents of change.  Equipped with an action plan and the project management skills to implement a high-scale service project, ALA participants (known as Project Managers) are certain to have a positive impact in their community.  The ALA takes place February 13-17, 2014 near Birmingham, Alabama.   For more information about ALA, please visit or email  Don’t delay and register today! Registration closes on January 26th.