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Building America's Next Generation of Public Service Leaders

Lead For America is a national service program building the next generation of leaders for our country and communities across all 50 states.


Through the Hometown Fellowship, Fellows serve in a paid, full-time capacity alongside a local leader in their hometown or home state for one year, before advancing into positions of community, state, and national leadership for decades to come.


Lead For America Summer Institute 2019 

Washington, DC

Become an 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 to community and country.

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


LFA Fellow '21 Jose Trejo, LFA CEO Joe Nail & Lead For Kansas staff Joseph Shepard & Annika Wooton | Wichita, KS

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 across the country, success has been defined as leaving home 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 Hawai'i, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska 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 Values


Joe Nail, Lead For America CEO & Co-Founder

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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. Our community welcomes conservatives, liberals, and independents, urban and rural, young and old––anyone who is committed to making their home, and our country, better.

Love of Neighbor

We commit to serving, and loving, those in our community. This particularly means and requires acting with love to people we disagree with and assuming the best of intentions. We are focused on stitching our country back together, and that starts with being in deep relationship with those in our community who may have very different worldviews or perspectives. This also means acting with love even when that is not returned. Love does not mean agreeing. You cannot have love without a commitment to truth.

Service & Sacrifice

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.

Joe Nail, CEO

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2021 Lead For America Fellows in Kansas

Commitment to Place 

The decisions that most affect our daily 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. We also recognize this commitment must be sustained for the long-term. 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.

Innovation in All Things

We are continually evaluating how to make our organization world-class. When we make a mistake, we name it and keep moving with a commitment to improvement. When we find a better way to do something, we embrace it without ego. Valuing innovation means never settling for “good enough.” It means pushing ourselves to new points of discovery, of accepting the challenge of working towards an expansive vision, and working diligently to ensure communities everywhere have the tools, leadership, and collective commitment needed to succeed.

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

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