American Express invests in social sector leaders

April 22, 2013
Thunderbird trains social sector leaders for success in complex global economy through American Express Leadership Academy

High-potential emerging leaders from 10 international social sector organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will develop new leadership skills May 6-10 during the American Express Leadership Academy at Thunderbird School of Global Management.

The annual program, launched in 2009 through a partnership with American Express, has served more than 100 emerging leaders from 39 organizations during its first four years.

“My deputy director and I came back from the intensive weeklong program brimming with new ideas,” said past participant Michael McDonald, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Tucson, Arizona.

“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 program’s academic director. “These participants are on their way to positions of senior leadership.”

The curriculum of the American Express Leadership Academy at Thunderbird focuses on building the personal, business and leadership skills needed to manage and lead a successful nonprofit international organization. The Academy is tailored to fit cultural nuances and different nonprofit niche needs, with the following core elements being consistent: a focus on high-potential emerging leaders; a curriculum blending personal leadership skills with business skills; an assessment-based approach, including one-on-one coaching; and, formal follow-up activities.

This year, the Academy will include leaders from The Nature Conservancy, Mercy Corps, Plan International, Opportunity International, Digital Divide Data, Outreach International, International Development Exchange, SoukTel, International Medical Corps and Worldreader.

Media can contact Virginia Mungovan at or (602) 978-7081 for more information.


About Thunderbird School of Global Management

Thunderbird is the world’s No. 1-ranked school of international business, with nearly 70 years of experience in equipping global leaders with the business skills and global mindset necessary to create sustainable prosperity worldwide. For more about Thunderbird, visit

American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow
One of American Express’ three philanthropy platforms is “Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow.” Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit sector, American Express is making grants focused on training high-potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century. For more information about this program, visit