The Association of Leadership Educators, Inc. (ALE) grew out of a need to create professional development opportunities for people who work with leadership programs. Development of the association was subsequent to a series of successful leadership development seminars via Cooperative Extension at the national level.
In the 1980s and '90s, the opportunities for professional development for those specializing in leadership through Cooperative Extension were minimal. Although many Home Economics Extension faculty were adept at delivering leadership development programs, the linkage between the professional practice of leadership development and research was lacking.
The first Extension Leadership Development Seminar, Empowering Adults As Leaders Through Home Economics Programs, was held on July 10, 1988, in Charlotte, NC. This early seminar was designed to "(a) strengthen the leadership skills of professionals who work to develop leadership capabilities [in] others and, (b) strengthen and broaden the knowledge base which supports research, teaching and extension programs in leadership."
The second seminar, Developing Human Capital Through Extension Leadership Programs, was held August 6, 1989, in Manhattan, KS. At this key meeting, participants focused on the need to share information regarding leadership research, teaching, and practice.
The Association of Leadership Educators was formalized at the third seminar, People Problems and Solutions: The Leadership Connection, which was held in Milwaukee, WI, August 17-18, 1990. Members of the seminar planning committee proposed the development of a professional association that would provide an avenue to bridge theory, research, and practice in leadership education. Elizabeth Bolton (University of Florida), Marjorie Hamann (North Dakota State University), Ann Hancook (Purdue University), Tom Mounter (Clemson University), Hariett Moyer (University of Wisconsin), Katey Walker (Kansas State University), and Lynn White (Texas A&M University), the "founding mothers and Tom," as they are affectionately known, laid the groundwork and facilitated the discussion that ultimately led to participants' “yay” vote to form The Association of Leadership Educators.
Participants at the 1990 seminar in Milwaukee, WI, had the opportunity to become charter members of ALE by paying dues in the amount of $25. This group of leadership education trailblazers was determined that ALE would succeed. Their vision for a professional association that focuses on leadership education, links theory to practice, disseminates research, and provides professional development opportunities for anyone engaged in leadership education (formally and informally) has been realized.
The first official ALE conference and annual meeting was held in Denver, CO, September 13-14, 1991, with Elizabeth Bolton presiding as president. More than 40 presenters representing 20 states were at the conference.
By 2002, ALE launched the Journal of Leadership Education (JOLE) with Tom Gallager serving as the first editor. An electronic peer-reviewed journal, JOLE is intended to promote a dialogue that engages both academics and practitioners in the art and study of all things related to leadership education. Issues of JOLE contain Research and Theory Features, Idea and Application Briefs, as well a commentary for authors to share their views and thoughts about leadership education and to spur discussion and a free flowing exchange of ideas.
Established as the premier international professional association for leadership educators, ALE has continued to grow and expand. Membership is open to any individual whose career interest is in leadership education. As we celebrate our accomplishments, we look forward to the future. A strong foundation of leadership has brought us to this point and with the vision and unwavering dedication of its early leaders, current board, dedicated volunteers, and loyal members, ALE will continue to grow as it engages members in fulfilling the mission to strengthen and sustain the expertise of professional leadership educators.