United States Air Force Academy

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Preparing leaders of character in service to our nation

Center for Character and Leadership Development

CCLD Polaris Hall and Chapel at night.
NCLS Forum in Polaris Hall.
NCLS Forum in Arnold Hall.
Character & Leadership Development
Evening View of Polaris Hall & the Academy Chapel

Polaris Hall is the newest iconic structure on the United States Air Force Academy. Opened in 2016, this facility houses the Center for Character & Leadership Development.

World Class Forum for World Class Speakers

The Forum is a world-class venue for inspirational speakers to connect with cadets and permanent party.

National Character and Leadership Symposium

The annual National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS) is the United States Air Force Academy’s flagship event on character and leadership. It brings together distinguished scholars, military leaders, corporate executives and world-class athletes to motivate and equip participants for honorable living and effective leadership.

Leadership Overview

Integrity, Service, Excellence
Character, Connection, Commitment, Courage

The Academy’s mission is to educate, train and inspire men and women to become officers of character motivated to lead the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force in service to our nation. The Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD) is at the heart of accomplishing that mission. CCLD helps align academic, athletic, and military efforts—for faculty and staff and across all four years of the Academy course of instruction—to develop leaders of character.

The U.S. Air Force Academy defines character as: “One’s moral compass; the sum of those qualities of moral excellence which move a person to do the right thing despite pressures to the contrary.”

The mission of the Center for Character and Leadership Development is “To serve the Air Force Academy by advancing character and leadership development in preparation for service to the nation.” These words encompass the broad range of activities for which the CCLD is responsible, with a singular focus of advancing character and leadership development. The Academy’s strategic goal #1 is to develop leaders of character in service to our nation. The CCLD is the primary integrator of character and leadership development for USAFA.

Our vision is “To be the center of excellence for character and leadership development.” This vision statement points to our ultimate destination as a Center. Our efforts directly impact the development of leaders of character – not just officers – who walk across a graduation stage and into our Air Force and Space Force to lead us in the face of a dynamic environment and great power competition. With intentionality, we also help shape the leader-developers who influence and inspire those future leaders by preparing them to live honorably, lift others and elevate performance. We deliberately collaborate with external agencies and institutions to share and adopt best practices to accomplish our noble and high purpose in support of our nation. In short, we deeply and tangibly infuse character and leadership across the institution and beyond.

Learn more about how we develop leaders of character for the 21st century.

CCLD Faculty and Staff



The CCLD’s activities and initiatives are firmly grounded in the Leader of Character Framework, creating an environment where cadets and faculty alike own, engage, and practice the habits of honorable thoughts and actions in line with an identity of a leader of character. The framework defines a “leader of character” as someone who:

  • Lives honorably by consistently practicing the virtues embodied in the Core Values;
  • Lifts others to their best possible selves; and,
  • Elevates performance toward a common and noble purpose.

Leader of Character Framework description


The CCLD executes its mission through four divisions: Research and Scholarship, Integration, Development, Support and three lines of effort (LOEs):

  • Integrate: Integrate character and leadership development across the institution and with key stakeholders;
  • Serve: Serve mission elements as a first and primary focus;
  • Strengthen: Plan, program, and budget for long-term success.

These LOEs guide our daily efforts as we execute the CCLD mission and achieve the CCLD vision. All of our efforts result in commissioning officers who are leaders of character that will serve our U.S. Air Force, U.S. Space Forces, and our nation well in a dynamic environment.

To support the Academy-wide character and leadership mission, CCLD:

  • Advances understanding and implementation of effective character and leadership development practices across military, academic and athletic settings—for cadets, faculty and staff
  • Inspires cadets to embrace the core values of the Air Force and Space Force as the foundation of their lifelong development as leaders of character
  • Provides experiences, tools and collaborative, inspirational settings to foster character and leadership development for cadets and Academy faculty/staff
  • Advises Academy leadership on character and leadership development issues

Organizations interested in learning more or working with CCLD in areas of common interest may contact us at CCLD/Admin.



Watch the 2023 National Character and Leadership Symposium Video on Demand series.

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Polaris Hall, Suite 300
USAF Academy, Colorado 80840-6260

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