American Express Leadership Academy

 Rejuvenating leadership across the non-profit sector

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Key information

Who's it for?

High-potential leaders in the non-profit sector


40 hours across 6 months with online sessions prior to in-person.


FREE. Places are fully funded.



Online and In-person

In-person Dates

Asia Pacific: 14-17 May 2024,
Sydney, Australia
EMEA and UK: 9-12 July 2024,
London, England

The Americas: 12-15 Nov 2024,
New York City, USA

Application Deadlines

Asia Pacific: 8 March 2024 (closed),
EMEA and UK: 8 April 2024 (closed),

The Americas: 19 August 2024

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For over a decade the American Express Leadership Academy has aimed to strengthen the non-profit sector by building the capacity of its leaders.

The programme is transformative by design. It gives non-profit leaders from diverse specialities and organizations a unique opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences, address current and future challenges within the sector, as well as gain insight from key leaders in social, public and private sectors.

Are you ready to to drive change forward in your organization and help grow the foundations needed for the future success of the non-profit sector?

Brought to you by:

AmEx Leadership Academy Logo

Global Partners


Who is it for? 

The Academy is for people in the non-profit sector who are intentionally striving to be better equipped to respond adaptively to challenges, and to keep going in the face of adversity.

As a Resilient Changemaker you are looking to:

  • Have a growth mindset and be continually learning
  • Have (or are striving for) high levels of grit and perseverance
  • See failures as minor setbacks, with the tenacity to bounce back quickly and turn challenges into opportunities
  • Maintain a positive attitude when faced with change
  • Set the pace when learning from the front 
  • Take creative action to drive innovation

In so doing you can move your organization forward, with a greater potential to create a wider impact in society, because you are better able to cope with the pressures of our modern world.

Emmeline Lim
Former Co-Head, Programmes & Community Assets, Resilience Collective
"The Academy brought together such a rich and transformational blend of knowledge, inspiration and experiential learning. It has been a laboratory for me to test out different leadership behaviours and mindsets, and I am so excited to bring that spirit of taking risks and stepping out of my comfort zone back into my own context."
Mbao Ngula
Executive Director, ProjectEducate
"The Academy allowed me to see how non-profits can use local resources to help address developmental challenges within communities through visits to various institutions. I have drawn lessons from the uses of spaces that I hope to incorporate into my work."

The programme experience

What you can expect on your programme

Active transformational learning

Highly interactive, hands-on format, experiential, social learning offering an opportunity to practice new behaviours and learn by doing.

Real world

Rooted in real and live issues in a local context. Explored through the eyes of inspirational leaders who share how leadership works in their world.

Powerful networks

Access to ongoing support from a diverse peer group and where you can work together on personal leadership challenges that matter to you.

World class facilitators

Our facilitators co-design an experiential journey and psychologically safe space for learning in partnership with you, creating the conditions for rich feedback, open sharing, and experimentation

Skills, mindsets & knowledge

We explore the three conditions needed to thrive in an ever-changing world, from attitudes and perspectives, to taking an actionable approach

Practical tools and tactics

Real takeaways that you can continue to practice and apply in your everyday work

How it works

The programme themes

Developing a blueprint for your learning on the programme

360 evaluation

Complete a 360-evaluation focusing on the core elements of the Resilient Changemakers model.

Personal coaching

Following your 360 you will have the opportunity to partake in a series of 1:1 coaching experiences.

How to lead successfully with limited power

Influence outside your remit

Formulate strategies that support how to influence outside of your remit (particularly when you have limited decision making power.

Personal agility

Explore the concept of agility, how to better manage, and lead people through change and move organizations forward with purpose.

The innovator's mindset

Learn to recognize how innovators work in practice, what sets them apart and its role in effective problem solving.

How to thrive in uncertainty and ambiguity 

Personal resilience

Explore your inner resources, learn how to manage worry and uncertainty, and discover how to protect your wellbeing in challenging times.

Imposter syndrome

Consider ways to build your confidence, self-awareness, and sense of self-worth as a leader.

How to connect at deeper levels with other people

Communication in practice

Investigate the tools and frameworks that can help craft a resonating narrative with internal and external audiences to build greater connections.

Personal brand

Explore the concept of authentic leadership and discover your own personal brand, how to protect it and leverage it.


of alumni report that the Academy gave them greater confidence in their role as a leader


of alumni report that the Academy has enhanced their ability to innovate


of alumni report having a deeper commitment to addressing key issues currently effecting the non-profit sector

Quote mark graphic
Adirupa Sengupta
Group Chief Executive, Common Purpose Charitable Trust
"Common Purpose is delighted to continue our longstanding partnership with American Express, in designing and delivering a re-shaped and re-imagined leadership experience for the nonprofit sector. One that will not only strengthen the sector, by building the capacity of its leaders, but also inspire Resilient Changemakers to address some of the sector’s most complex challenges."
Jennifer Skyler
Chief Corporate Affairs Officer and Chair of the American Express Foundation
"Nonprofits are facing high leadership turnover and burnout at a time when their services are needed the most. We transformed the Leadership Academy to help nonprofit leaders accelerate their development and build new skills to meet the unique challenges of this moment. "

Learning outcomes

Get ready to change the non-profit sector for the better and become: 


With a better understanding and confidence in your role as a leader.

With greater resolve and stamina for leading change, particularly in times of uncertainty.

With a greater ability to better connect with others using the power of storytelling.

With a renewed commitment to addressing key issues currently affecting the non-profit sector.

The takeaways

Here is an example of some of the toolkit of resources you will receive to help you lead now and into the future.

  • Techniques to build your personal brand
  • Tactics for building a growth mindset
  • A variety of active listening techniques
  • Techniques to find/ know your purpose
  • Processes to experiment with to turn ideas into action 
  • Methods to better sustain yourself in times of uncertainty

How it works

Start your journey

Are you ready to take that next jump in your non-profit career? Take that “next step” to unlock your power and potential as a next generation leader within the sector. Step more confidently into the next phase of your leadership journey with us.

Get in touch

How can we help?

Get in touch with one of our learning experts to discuss your development goals.


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RegionDatesLocationApplication deadline
Asia Pacific14-17 May 2024Sydney, AustraliaClosed
Europe, Middle East, Africa and UK9-12 July 2024London, EnglandClosed
The Americas12-15 November 2024
New York City, USA19 August 2024



  • High potential leaders, currently in or identified for executive roles in future, with at least 5-8 years experience
  • Works for a registered non-profit
  • In roles that require them to accelerate their ability to influence inside and outside their organizations
  • With a track record of innovation, embraces change, and want to transform their team, organization and community

Please note that eligibility for this programme is limited to applicants within the specified region. Kindly ensure that you are applying for the programme available in your designated geographical area.


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Important information

We are also committed to and accountable for advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in all its forms. 

We actively encourage applications from people of all faiths, races, gender identities, sexual orientations, economic circumstances, backgrounds, and those from disabled communities.  

If you require adjustments to take part in the application process or to participate in the programme due to a disability, neurodiversity, caring responsibilities, or any other reason, you will be able to provide details in the application form or contact us by phone or email to discuss further.  

This site is managed by Common Purpose, not American Express. Information entered will be subject to Common Purpose privacy policy and terms.

Funding for the American Express Leadership Academy is provided by American Express. Common Purpose is responsible for the overall programme including curriculum design and content, delivery and administration of the American Express Leadership Academy

Frequently asked questions

Yes, if you have any further questions or would just like to discuss the programme in more detail, please reach out to a member of our team in your specific location who would be delighted to help.

Get in touch

We are a global not-for-profit leadership development organization on a mission to develop people who can cross cultural, social, and institutional boundaries. We work passionately with people to help push the boundaries of what is possible, all so that they can become those who can help us to work better together, be the connectors of our unique lived experiences and lead, with a difference.

Yes! The Common Purpose Charitable Trust was established as a charity in 1989. It is registered with the Charity Commission under the Registered Charity number 1023384.

The benefits of Common Purpose leadership programmes include gaining increased:  

  • Agility in adapting to changing circumstances and environments.  

  • Empathy to what other people feel, think and need. Seeing things from their point of view.

  • Influence in leading change with limited decision-making power.  

  • Openness to new ideas, possibilities and perspectives, including views they might deeply disagree with.    

  • Purposefulness in leading with intentionality, determination, commitment and resilience.

  • Self-awareness to their behaviours and outlook, and how they interpret and respond to situations.

When it comes to learning, there is no substitute for the power of real experience and fresh perspective. Our approach uses a robust behaviour and mindset change philosophy rooted in real life leadership challenges and experiences. To turn those experiences into real learning we follow five tried and tested steps that lead to habitual change in how people think, feel and act.    

  1. Experience: Being presented with new experiences. Engaging with leaders across multiple boundaries and being immersed in new environments.   

  1. Reflection: Learning activities to gain a deeper and more personalized understanding of the learning.    

  1. Translate: Exploring how to relate new ideas and thought processes back into the learner’s role or context.

  1. Practice: Developing a set of leadership practices that can be used to turn new behaviours into habits.

  1. Assess: Embedding numerous assessments to help learners track their progress pre, during and even beyond the programme.

Experiential learning is a core component of our programmes.

Our programmes create a carefully constructed microclimate to explore real-life leadership challenges in a safe environment, often leading to the types of purpose-driven conversations needed to achieve transformative change.

We also focus on the importance of active learning, by getting people out of their comfort zones and into the world, seeing things, meeting people, taking part, and taking advantage of processes that stimulate multiple neural connections in the brain and promote memory.

We are Common Purpose

A global not-for-profit devoted to good leadership

  • We deliver unforgettable and transformative learning experiences
  • Programmes for people at all levels of their careers
  • Gain the confidence, skills and mindset to be a purposeful change agent, with a difference

Who we are