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Honor the Living Legacy of Frances Hesselbein

Raised toward our $30,000 Goal
94 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on December 31, at 11:59 PM EST
Project Owners

Honor the Living Legacy of Frances Hesselbein

Exciting Announcement: December Donations Matched! 

A generous donor—Former CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and The Ford Motor Company, Alan Mulally—has stepped up to MATCH all December donations, up to $50,000! Give now and your gift will go 2x as far!

About The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum:

With more than 70 years of public service—and still going strong—few individuals have had as profound and as far-reaching of an impact on educating future leaders in all sectors as University of Pittsburgh distinguished alumna Frances Hesselbein. 

Through the Hesselbein Forum, Frances Hesselbein’s actions and example continue to shape the next generation of leaders by providing leadership development opportunities for Pitt students and leaders in all sectors.

The Hesselbein Forum is the namesake of Frances Hesselbein, who grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and in 1932, enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh campus there. Although she did not complete her degree at Pitt, in her lifetime she has received 22 honorary doctoral degrees, including one from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). Frances is a distinguished alumna and a Pitt Legacy Laureate. 

Frances began her career as a volunteer Girl Scout Troop leader and went on to become the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, where she transformed and diversified the organization. For this work, she was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Bill Clinton.

Just days after retiring from the Girl Scouts, she founded a nonprofit organization whose mission was to strengthen the leadership of the social sector through publications, events and programs. The New York Times once described Hesselbein’s organization as “a pool of management wisdom for all who choose to dip their cup.”

Today, that organization celebrates its 30th anniversary as The Hesselbein Forum, part of GSPIA’s Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership.

The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum is…

A Publications Hub, which includes:

  •  A library of 35 leadership books published in 21 languages
  •  A quarterly leadership Journal, Leader to Leader
  •  A daily Leadership Tip of the Day e-newsletter

A University-based Center for Teaching, Applied Research, and Public Service, which includes:

  • The Hesselbein Forum Leadership Program in International Affairs, an extracurricular leadership development program taught by former CIA leadership analyst and Forum Director Julia Santucci. This program empowers students with the skills they need to be effective leaders throughout their careers.
  • The Hesselbein Executive Coach Program, which connects Pitt students, faculty, and staff with veteran leaders for one-on-one coaching and small group leadership training workshops.

The Hesselbein Lecture Series, which gather students, faculty, and the greater public to learn from seasoned leaders, such as former CENTCOM Commander GEN (Ret.) Llyod Austin and Global Health Corps CEO Heather Anderson. 

Where Your Donation Goes:

Your contribution allows Frances’ example and leadership philosophy to continue to impact students and young leaders, working professionals and executives from University of Pittsburgh classrooms to military battlefields, from the social sector to corporate boardrooms. Not only does making a gift support Frances’ living legacy, it will also help generations of graduate students and professionals strengthen the leadership of the social sector, and their partners in business and government.

How you can help:

1. Make a personal contribution: Every size donation makes an impact! 

2. Spread the word: share this campaign via email and encouraging others to make a contribution. Do you know someone whose leadership journey was enhanced by Frances?

3. Share your story: Frances Hesselbein has touched the lives of many thousands of people. We invite you to share your favorite Frances story on social media, using the hashtag #ToServeIsToLive

Our Goal: 

Our goal is to raise $30,000 over the course of this campaign, which will support the Forum’s student-centered leadership development activities for one year. Through a gift of any size, you can make a significant impact on the lives of future leaders and affirm the importance of integrity, civic engagement and public service.

Thousands of individuals testify that receiving inspiration and leadership resources from the Hesselbein Forum has allowed them to live more fully Frances’ To Serve Is To Live leadership philosophy, as well as share this values-based leadership model with others in their wider community. We have established this crowdsourcing tool so that leaders at every level who have been inspired by Frances might have the opportunity to give back.

We hope you will join us at a time when transformational, values-based leadership has never been more critical.  

Other ways to be involved: 

View our archive of Hesselbein Lectures

Subscribe for free to our Daily (or weekly) Tip of the Day 

View our archive of complimentary Journal Articles

Subscribe to our quarterly print and/or online Leader to Leader Journal


Contributions received for this project shall be used in accordance with the purpose described herein, the terms in the FAQs and applicable law. For questions that cannot be answered in the FAQs, please call 412-383-5001 or email

Choose a giving level


Presidential Medal of Freedom

In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded Frances the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor—and recognized her as a “a pioneer for women, volunteerism, diversity and opportunity.” A gift at this level celebrates this achievement and honors Frances’ legacy as a champion of diversity and inclusion.


Inspiring Military Leaders

From 2009-2011, Frances held the 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She was the first woman, and the first non-graduate to serve in this Chair. In this position, she inspired hundreds of cadets and seasoned military leaders with her commitment to ethical, values-based leadership.


Happy Birthday Frances!

Donate in honor of Frances’ “milestone” 2020 November 1 birthday! (105! Shhh! Frances believes that “Age is irrelevant, it is what you do with your life that counts.”)


Support a Student

Support one graduate student pursuing a career in international affairs—whether as a diplomat, intelligence and security official, development professional, or in the private sector—in working effectively with leaders from around the world through the Hesselbein Leadership Program in International Affairs, designed and directed by Julia Santucci.


Fund a Workshop

Fund one leadership development workshop led by a featured Hesselbein Executive Coach, who will provide mentoring to GSPIA students and counsel to faculty and staff on programming and research in the Hesselbein Forum.


Leaders Developing Leaders

Celebrate the number of Leader to Leader Journal authors who have contributed to the Hesselbein Forum pool of intellectual capital, which serves as a resource for graduate students and leaders in all three sectors.


Fund a Lecture

Fund one Hesselbein Lecture, featuring proven leaders and thoughtful scholars presenting state-of-the-art ideas on leadership theory and practice, with a focus on public and nonprofit organizations.


Happy Anniversary!

Honor 30 years of leadership inspiration! The Hesselbein Forum began in 1990 (founded as the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management) and through the years was renamed to honor the leadership legacy and ongoing contributions of Frances Hesselbein. 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of an organization strengthening leadership and inspiring leaders.

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