Welcome, Leader


Good news: there is another level to the game.

For those Rising leaders who showed up for each other consistently during the Rising Leaders Circles program and many who have expressed interest in continuing this work together, we are offering a Circles Fellowship.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”


Leaders need a place to examine their biggest challenges, away from those directly impacted. Often, the initial work is uncovering the challenge, giving it voice. Then it is powerful to hear questions and shared experiences from others who have committed their full attention to you, and you to them, and who have gotten to know you over time. Who don’t have a stake in the outcome besides what’s best for you.


In six 90-120 minute virtual sessions, we will establish a highly-functional peer group. All sessions will be professionally facilitated and designed. The result will be a space where members can bring their most sensitive and important challenges. The final session will be a 3-hour virtual retreat during which the newly-formed Fellowship Circle will decide its future.

Some Fellowship Circles are forming from the kernel of a Rising Leader Circle. They may accept a few new members to bring the circle to the ideal 6-8 member range. The Circles team will curate others from those who expressed interest.

The group will meet twice within Month 1 to get momentum, scheduling meetings every 3-4 weeks following. With a group of 6-8, there will be a bit of flexibility to the schedule, although we recommend a consistent meeting time.

Each meeting will include structures designed to unearth and explore challenges as well as some frameworks or text “sparks” that springboard the conversation into a more powerful place. Circles will begin to self-direct, and may chose areas of focus or outside thinking to bring in themselves. Throughout, they will have access to the Circle Library and peer learning experts.

What is a Fellowship Circle?

At their heart, Fellowship Circles are unique spaces where members can bring their greatest challenges to a safe, confidential, space, and count on the support of peers to live their fullest lives.

We chose the word “Fellow” because the relationship of members of a next-level circle transcends the labels “friend” or “colleague.” These powerful peer groups have had many other names – Ben Franklin’s Junto, YPO’s Forum, Napoleon Hill coined the term “mastermind” after observing that most successful leaders of his time had one.

Structure and facilitation make such groups work. In these six sessions, participants will learn to apply the best practices of peer groups to realize new levels of effectiveness to their time together. Like many leaders before them, they will find that practices like confidentiality, process, commitment, vulnerability, curiosity, and, storytelling apply directly to other spaces in their lives. In fact, as part of this experience, participants will have the option of earning a “Circle Leader” badge themselves.

Costs and Timing

Fees cover the costs of management, facilitation, design and content. We are suggesting $750 for the entire program, although as in the Rising Leaders phase, we are open to some participants contributing less depending on the context. We are happy to split the payments between individuals and their sponsoring organizations.

The first session will be in March, with the goal of scheduling all six before the end of June. Because groups are smaller, there will be some flexibility to reschedule sessions and find a cadence that works for each circle.


Unlike the Rising Leaders Program, what sparks the dialogue is primarily situations and challenges from members’ lives. Each session will include time to update each other on the status of the most critical areas of your work and life, choose a challenge or two to explore further, and dive deep with the support of the other peers. Often these challenges will be common ones, and everyone in the circle will benefit from the exploration. It’s possible that, these may be selected and prepared in advance.

There may also be some relevant texts and discussions offered to build the strength of the group. There will be some time built in to reflect and apply peer group best practices, and to assess and deepen the group’s performance, reflecting on material distributed in-between sessions on the practices and norms of effective groups.

The Aspen Global Leadership Network is a worldwide community of more than 3,000 high-integrity, entrepreneurial leaders from business, government and the nonprofit sector in more than 50 countries. Because of their demonstrated accomplishments and abilities, they have been selected to be part of one of 14 geographic or sector-specific Fellowships around the world.

By being part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, Fellows commit themselves to moving from success to significance by taking action on some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

More information at this website

In the first phase, about 50 AGLN Fellows nominated 100 “Rising Leaders” from any level in their organizations. We guided them to select ambitious, talented leaders with open hearts — and a spirit of adventure. About half of these qualify for “Fellowship Circles” based on commitment shown during the first phase.

No, but we will try. If we can’t curate and schedule a great circle of 6-8, we would rather wait for the next cohort than go ahead.

The work of a Fellowship Circle is primarily you work. You will reflect on your biggest challenges. There may be a few light readings in advance. Every circle will have a whasapp group to share relevant things they notice and stay connected between sessions. But everyone involved is extremely busy and any time outside of sessions will be optional.

We’ll put forward a few choices that work across time zones, and then juggle.

It is crucial that you commit to all six sessions in order for the others in their group. This is far from a usual webinar. It will not be recorded. You will be missed if you can’t make it. But every circle will eventually devise its own attendance norms.

A quiet location with a good internet connection.

This is a partnership between the The Aspen Institute and Circles Learning Labs, Inc. run by Fellow Dan Hoffman, Henry Crown Fellow, 2014. The AGLN are starting to think more about how to help develop leaders more widely and deeply in organizations. After running a series of seminar discussions with Fellows this year, and getting feedback from several, they conceived of this experiment. The results will help inform the Institute’s strategy and may form the basis of a more recurring program.

Circl.es enabled the moderators to have intimate, absorbing, dialogues about issues of racial and gender inequality in this pandemic period with virtual hugs no less. Absolutely wizard.” – Keith Burwick, Aspen Moderator.

No, this is one-time experiment meant to extend the impact of seminar-style dialogue to more people. Those who participate do not become AGLN Fellows nor are they considered part of an AGLN Fellowship.

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