COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–The African American Leadership Academy, which aims to build the bench of Black leaders in the Columbus Region, is growing in size after a donation from the Columbus Partnership.

In its 18th year, the academy has graduated 260 fellows, and typically each cohort has 20 people. In 2022, the academy will add a second cohort of 20 fellows, and seek to graduate 40 people in total.

The size of the Columbus Partnership’s investment was not disclosed.

“Having the Columbus Partnership invest in the development of talented African American leaders is critical to maintaining a diverse community where everyone thrives,” Mo Wright, co-executive director of the academy, said in a press release

“These funds increase our capacity to serve more leaders who seek evidence-based and culturally relevant leadership development without the limitations of personal costs or investment from their employers, which is often lacking for many professionals of color.”

The academy’s fellows include notable Columbus leaders including Janelle Coleman, Laurel Beatty Blunt, Bo Chilton, Mark Hatcher, and Dawn Tyler Lee. Columbus Business First covered the academy’s growth and development in a 2020 cover story.

The academy, led by Wright and Donna James, offers a leadership curriculum focused on efficacy, leadership agility, and leadership interaction, according to organizers. Fellows’ tuition is paid by donations from sponsors, including the Columbus Partnership, Battelle, Nationwide, Fifth Third Bank, Denison University, and the United Way of Central Ohio.

Wright said the Columbus Partnership and the academy are exploring opportunities to engage fellows with Columbus Partnership members, which “would support our goal of greater awareness of our leaders in the broader community as well as facilitating access to these high-level leaders in Columbus for our fellows.”

The Columbus Partnership said in a statement that “Black leadership development in Columbus is critical to our region’s success.”

“This investment by the Partnership recognizes the value of AALA’s work to build the strong, diverse pipeline of leaders we need for an increasingly diverse community,” according to the organization.

For more business headlines, go to