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Harford Leadership Academy

Developing leaders for more than 30 years.

Co-sponsored by Harford Community College and the Harford County Chamber of Commerce, Harford Leadership Academy (HLA) is designed to promote the development of emerging and existing leaders and to create a committed, involved, and diverse network within Harford County. Through the Academy, future leaders are given the unique opportunity to learn from those who are leading today. To date, nearly 1000 individuals representing business, industry, education, government and civic organizations have completed this outstanding program.

Goals of Harford Leadership Academy

  • To identify, educate, motivate, and develop emerging and potential community leaders
  • To expose program participants to the challenges our community faces and the opportunities that are available for community growth
  • To provide a communications network between present and future community leaders
  • To promote leadership on a planned, continuing basis for the development of our community
  • To encourage individuals to take an active role in the growth and transformation of Harford County
  • A volunteer component is affiliated with the Academy and is strongly recommended of it's participants

Applying to Harford Leadership Academy

Application Deadline: JAN 5, 2024


The Academy encourages the attendance of emerging leaders, leaders new to the area, and existing leaders who:

  • have the goal of providing continued leadership in the community.
  • are interested in accepting new and rewarding challenges.
  • have demonstrated leadership skills and wish to learn more about Harford County.
  • may be new to the community and desire to become involved as leaders.

The Selection Process

To be eligible, applicants must live or work in Harford County, have demonstrated interest in volunteerism in the community, exhibit leadership potential, and be able to attend all required sessions.

The selection committee strives for a balanced and diverse representation of adults from all industries and professions including small businesses, governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations. Upon completion of the Academy, public recognition of the graduates and a certificate of achievement will be awarded. If there are more candidates than openings, a priority waiting list will be prepared for filling any last-minute vacancies.

Before You Apply

All interested candidates should review the HLA Schedule (below) to ensure that they will be able to attend the mandatory kickoff and the weekly program sessions. The Kickoff includes an introductory dinner program allowing participants to meet prior to the start of the program. 

Enrollment is generally limited to thirty-six adult participants. Selected candidates will be notified after the Selection Committee meets mid January.


The cost to attend Harford Leadership Academy is $895 per person, payable upon notification of acceptance. The SBDC offers a full scholarship to a small business owner/operator that meets SBA definition for minority business (African-American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian/ other Pacific Islander) Limited scholarships may also be available. Include statement of need with your application. 

How to Apply

Application Submission
Submit a one-page, one-sided application to include the following:

  • Name
  • Company or organization
  • Title or position
  • Business address
  • Home address
  • Phone (work, home & cell)
  • Email address
  • Current community involvement
  • Past community involvement
  • List your interests
  • Statement as to why you wish to attend the Academy
  • Two business references with phone numbers•

Also Submit

  • Photo (passport size in JPG format) Photo will be used for the Participant Directory and program slideshows.

Applications due no later than JAN 5, 2024. Email application to

HLA 2024 Schedule
  • Kickoff Sessions (Mandatory)
    Starting the Leadership Engine
    (Includes History of Harford County) 
    THU, FEB 15 |  5:30–9 PM  |  Location TBD
    FRI, FEB 16  |  8:30 AM–3:30 PM  |  Location TBD

  • Wednesday Weekly Sessions
    FEB 21–MAY 29  |  No class during Spring Break, 3/27/24
    Most sessions are 8:00 AM–12:00 PM
    APG, Healthcare, Public Safety, and Justice System/Emergency Response are full day, 8:00 AM–4:30 PM
    Focused Social Issues is 8:00 AM–1:00 PM

  • If sessions are cancelled for inclement weather, Wednesday sessions will be made-up on Friday of the same week.

  • Wednesday, JUN 6 is a reserved make-up date.

Harford Leadership Academy Alumni

Graduates of the Harford Leadership Academy are strongly encouraged to continue networking and grow their leadership participation through the HLA Alumni organization. Dues are $50 per year. The alumni group organizes several events throughout the year and raises funds through Winds of Leadership—the philanthropic arm of Harford Leadership Academy.

To be a network of committed, involved, diverse graduates of the Harford Leadership Academy, supporting the mission and vision of the Academy.

Through a united effort, apply the principles learned in the Harford Leadership Academy to impact current community challenges while utilizing all opportunities to make a difference in the quality of life in Harford County.


  • To schedule meetings informing alumni of new and continuing challenges and opportunities for Harford County
  • To promote involvement of Academy Alumni, personally and collaboratively, in leadership roles to address the challenges and opportunities
  • To provide a communication network between present and future community leaders
  • To promote leadership on a planned, continuing basis for the betterment of Harford County

Winds of Leadership established in 2007

Mission Statement
The Winds of Leadership will find projects in Harford County and assemble the leaders necessary to accomplish them, thus leaving behind us an improved county and a legacy of leadership.

Vision Statement
The Winds of Leadership is committed to exploring and applying the force of united leadership to achieve the tasks that leave a legacy. As a sail catches the force of the wind for speed and direction, so the Winds of Leadership will catch the force of a leader to go and do all good tasks in Harford County.

Who We Are
We are an open group of leaders. Currently, all participating leaders  are Harford Leadership Academy graduates. There are no dues or membership requirements. Winds of Leadership (WINDS) is the 501 (c ) (3) philanthropic arm of HLA.

Winds of Leadership Grant
The Winds of Leadership focuses on assisting nonprofits in their efforts to build leaders in our community. Direct costs related to projects/programs, such as but not limited to, personnel, equipment, materials and supplies, and administration and must support Leadership Development for an employee, client services, or development of future leaders are some of the criteria established for this new support effort. Funds must be for services that have a direct impact in Harford County, Maryland.

Types of Support Funds
The Dawn Hamilton Event Specific Fund
The Marlene Lieb Emergency Fund
Joe Brooks Program Fund

What we have accomplished

1 |  Replaced the main sail on the Skipjack Martha Lewis.

2 |  A sculpture to leadership, a symbol, was erected on the Harford Community College campus. It is a modern rendition of a sail. Why? Why build a visual symbol for leadership? Some may say, “It’s just a sculpture.” We believe it is more. Visual symbols are important in this modern world, where there is so much competition for our attention. Our hope and desire is that this symbol will be a graphic picture for the WINDS philosophy. We want it to:

  • Affect and influence people to unite as leaders in support of Harford County
  • Bind us together
  • Reinforce our philosophy
  • Point people beyond themselves

The sculpture is also a fitting tribute to the county and the college for the formation of the Leadership Academy

3 |  We raised support for the Maryland Center of the Arts with Game on: Harford Has Talent. This was a successful event, and we thank everyone that helped, participated, and came out to support this effort!

What we are doing

1 |  Contributed a $1,000 gift to the Harford Community College Foundation, Inc. in support of Harford Community College’s Student Emergency Assistance (SEA) Fund. Each year, Winds of Leadership makes charitable donations to local nonprofit organizations that provide services within Harford County, Maryland. The SEA Fund gift was awarded through the Marlene Lieb Emergency Fund.

“We are pleased to support Harford Community College Foundation’s Student Emergency Assistance Fund during these unprecedented times,” said Hugh McCarthy, President of the Winds of Leadership.