American Leadership Forum, Beneficial for Indo American Leaders

From left: Ashok Garg, Prabha Garg, Whitney Crane, Jim Crane and Jagdip Ahluwalia at the Joseph Jaworski Leadership Award Dinner

From left: Ashok Garg, Prabha Garg, Whitney Crane, Jim Crane and Jagdip Ahluwalia at the Joseph Jaworski Leadership Award Dinner

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: When IACCGH Past President Ashok Garg completed the American Leadership Forum (ALF) program recently, the first thought that crossed his mind was how beneficial this program would be for Indo American leaders. Summarizing his “unique and enriching” experience, he says he learned many things about himself, gained a clearer sense of who he is and how he fits in the larger picture of Houston and the surrounding community. He also believes that “we all have something to offer” and ALF helped him find and define what that was.

Sanjay Ramabhadran, an alumni of the Program and IACCGH Past President also concurs. Indo American community leaders, he says, would benefit tremendously from connecting with the diverse leadership from across the Houston region. Two traits, according to him, are important in a leader: the ability to listen with “the explicit intent to understand rather than the itch to respond” and the consciousness of being a servant leader to serve others around you. His experience at ALF also gave him an insight into different leadership styles. ALF, he adds, does a great job of deliberately engineering the class makeup so that the diverse leadership of Houston “gets to interact, work and learn from each other.”

The takeaways from ALF are different for each member, emphasizes ALF Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter President Dan Snare.  For some, the lessons are deeply personal with opportunities for introspection while others define the legacy they’d like to leave.  Some glean invaluable lessons on listening, asking powerful questions, engaging with others around difficult conversations and across differences.   ALF Vice President of Development Manisha Gandhi says her ALF experience “came at a career cross roads” and the experience helped bring clarity on what she wanted to contribute to the local community, made her a better listener and enhanced her leadership skills.

ALF was started in 1980 by Joseph Jaworski, a lawyer who left a successful law practice to address a crisis of leadership in the country. The organization, which started in Houston, soon spread across the country and presently has 8 active Chapters. The Houston Gulf Coast Chapter boasts of alumni such as Former Mayor Annise Parker, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and heads of diverse organizations.

According to an independent study, after participating in ALF, Senior Fellows say they have greater confidence in their capacity as leaders, have a better understanding of the needs of the community, and how to gather resources to meet those needs.

Its twenty day program includes a six-day wilderness experience in the mountains. Monthly sessions are held on topics such as dialogue, group emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry, consensus building, core values and moral courage.

Alumni and IACCGH Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia and Dan Snare’s advice for those interested in joining the Program is to check out the website at and look through the membership directory to see who they know among Senior Fellows. They suggest meeting with the Senior Fellow(s) and express an interest in submitting their nomination.