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National Character & Leadership Symposium


FEBRUARY 20-21, 2025

The annual National Character and Leadership Symposium is a flagship event on character and leadership held at the U.S. Air Force Academy. NCLS brings together distinguished scholars, military leaders, corporate executives, and world-class athletes to motivate and equip participants to live honorably, lift others, and elevate performance.

NCLS 2025 will explore the theme of Warrior Ethos as Airmen and Guardians as it influences the journey to become a Leader of Character. Warrior ethos is the embodiment of the warrior spirit: tough-mindedness, tireless motivation, an unceasing vigilance, a commitment to be the world’s premier air, space, and cyberspace force, and if necessary, a willingness to sacrifice one’s life for the defense of the nation. Air Force and Space Force warfighters exemplify warrior ethos by examining the profession of arms and the nature of war through many perspectives and cultural dynamics.  Exhibiting self-discipline in personal and professional endeavors, strengthening moral character by courageously choosing to do the right thing in the face of adversity, and developing physical and mental resilience through engaging in purposeful experiences and practicing habits of thought and action are some examples of how Leaders of Character embody warrior ethos. We hope those you hear from and connect with at NCLS 2025 will inspire you to strengthen your own warrior ethos and encourage you to live honorably, lift others, and elevate performance in all of your future endeavors.

NCLS connects participants with powerful speakers from all walks of life, in presentations and discussion sessions throughout the year, to encourage reflection and motivate personal action.

at a Glance

NCLS Facts




110Visiting Universities

Timothy Alexander, the founder of Inspired by TA, is a growth mindset inspirational speaker who has dedicated his life to motivating and inspiring others, speaking at the Forum in Polaris Hall.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is NCLS?

    NCLS is a two day symposium in which participants have an opportunity to hear from speakers sharing inspirational stories of character and leadership with the audience through his/her own words. It is one of the premier national symposiums in the area of character development, bringing together distinguished scholars, military leaders, corporate executives and world-class athletes to explore various dimensions of character and leadership. Speakers share their life experiences in order to challenge the audience to become more effective leaders of character. NCLS is a personal development symposium.

  • Who can attend?

    NCLS is open to anyone. This includes, but is not limited to, undergraduate students, visiting faculty members, community participants, military academy graduates, Association of Graduates members, U.S. Air Force Academy staff and faculty, out of state military members, local military/ DoD ID card holders, and federal, state, county, and city government employees.

  • Who will be speaking?

    You will hear from distinguished scholars, military leaders, corporate presidents, world-class athletes, and others in order to explore a character-related theme. The speakers will share their life experiences, challenges, and triumphs in alignment with the NCLS year-long theme, reinforcing the Air Force Core Values, encouraging reflection, and motivation for personal action.

  • How do I register?

    Registration for NCLS is scheduled to open in October for visiting students and faculty and in January for all other participants. Once registration is open, an email invitation will be sent to our previous participants and a “Registration” button will be available on our website. Please visit the “Deadlines and Fees” page for specific dates or email us at ncls@afacademy.af.edu with questions.

  • What is my registration type?

    On the NCLS registration landing page, click the button that describes you.

    Visiting Student
    • You are a student at a college or university between ages 18-26. As part of this registration type, lodging and meals will be provided on base in the cadet facilities.
    Visiting Faculty
    • You are a college or university faculty or staff member attending NCLS with students
    • You are an academic educator attending without students
    Community Participant
    • You are a college or university student over age 26
    • You are an Air Force Academy alum or Association of Graduates member
    • You are a member of the local community with no military affiliation
    • You are local or non-local area military, not assigned to U.S. Air Force Academy
    U.S. Air Force Academy
    • You are a cadet, staff or faculty, military or civilian assigned to any U.S. Air Force Academy organization

  • I do not see my college or university on the list, what do I do?

    In order to complete your registration in a timely manner, please select “Other” to proceed. Our NCLS registration team will update both your individual registration and our list of visiting universities.

  • If my school already has four students selected, can I still attend?

    If your school already has four students confirmed, we can place students on a waiting list. Should a spot become available, students will be notified on a first come first served basis, after December 6. Once all the registration requirements have been met, the registration status will change from “pending” to “confirmed.” If you wish to be placed on the waiting list, please have your faculty sponsor email NCLS@afacademy.af.edu with your name, email address and college/university.

  • When I register I only see a certain speaker listed once, but I know they are speaking more than once. Why is this?

    Speaker sessions will open for registration on January 3rd. Typically, each NCLS speaker is scheduled to present multiple times over the course of the two days; however, a few of our speakers may only speak once due to schedule limitations. Speakers are scheduled for various sessions throughout the event, some large and some small. The speaker you are looking for may be scheduled for a smaller session, which may already be full. If that is the case, that specific speaker session will no longer be visible as a registration selection.

  • Can I register a guest?

    While a guest may certainly attend with you, Visiting Faculty, Visiting Students, and U.S. Air Force Academy cadets and faculty will require individual registrations. All other categories of attendees will be able to register a guest within the same registration profile. Your guest will receive a separate confirmation email with their registration.

  • Can I attend virtually?

    Yes, please click the “virtual” button on the registration page. You will receive access to to live and on-demand virtual content the week of NCLS via the virtual event platform, which may be accessed using the email address you register with. Please note that not all sessions offered in-person may be offered virtually.

  • Where do I pick-up my badge?

    Check-in and badge pick-up for visiting students, visiting faculty, and community participants will be available in Falcon Club according to the following schedule:
    Wednesday, February 21st from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
    Thursday, February 22nd from 6:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
    Friday, February 23rd from 6:30 a.m.-12:00 pm
    *Please note that U.S. Air Force Academy permanent party members are not required to check-in at Falcon Club and will not be issued badges.

  • What is the uniform/dress code?

    For the Cadet Wing and Guests:
    Wednesday, Feb 21: OCPs (equivalent utility uniforms)
    Thursday, Feb 22: OCPs / Blues and service dress required for symposium dinner
    Friday, Feb 23: OCPs

    Civilians: Business casual for speaker sessions and Formal for symposium dinner

  • Will there be transportation?

    Transportation from Colorado Springs Airport (COS) will be available on Wednesday, February 21st. Shuttles will depart the airport for the Academy every 1.5 hours beginning at 10 a.m. and concluding at 10 p.m. Arriving participants who indicate they require transportation to the Academy can find shuttle personnel outside the COS baggage claim area.

    On Saturday, February 24th, shuttles will again be available to transport participants from the Academy to the COS. Saturday shuttles will depart the Cadet Area for the Falcon Club at 4 a.m., 6 a.m., 8 a.m., and 10:30 a.m. They will depart the Falcon Club at 4:15 a.m., 6:15 a.m., 8:15 a.m., and 10:45 a.m. respectively and arrive at the COS approximately 45 minutes later.

    Shuttles will not run to or from COS on Thursday, February 22nd, or Friday, February 23rd. Transportation will not be provided to or from Denver International Airport (DIA) or other locations. Participants will be required to coordinate their own travel arrangements to or from DIA or other locations.

  • Where will I stay?
    • Undergraduate Students (age 18 – 26) will be housed at no cost in the U.S. Air Force Academy cadet dormitories. Visiting students will be assigned a cadet escort and will room with that cadet in the cadet dormitories. The two academy dorms, Vandenberg and Sijan Hall, are co-ed dorms with shower facilities on each floor. While dormitories are co-ed, individual rooms and shower facilities are not. Rooms have either two or three residents.
    • Faculty and Guest: Visiting faculty and guests may stay on the U.S. Air Force Academy campus at the Rampart Lodge pending availability. Alternative lodging is available at other surrounding accommodations.
  • What is the CCLD?

    The mission of the Center for Character and Leadership Development is “To serve U.S. 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 U.S. Air Force Academy.

    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 and Space Forces to lead us in the face of a dynamic environment. 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.

  • Where can I find information regarding past NCLS events?

    Please click here to access archived NCLS information – including video-on-demand playlists, photo galleries, programs, and testimonials – from past events.

  • What are the COVID-19 requirements for the general public?

    COVID-19: In accordance with DoD and Air Force policy, attendees (including military personnel, civilian employees, contractors, visiting students, and guests) are NOT required to verify vaccination status or provide a negative test. If the CDC COVID-19 Community Level is medium during NCLS, social distancing measures may be required and if CDC COVID-19 Community Level is high during NCLS, attendees will be required to wear masks while indoors and on buses.

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Thanks to the Following Supporting Organizations

Air Force Academy Foundation
Association of Graduates
Falcon Foundation
Land of the Free Foundation
Lt Col (Ret) Earl A. Enix ’77 and Mrs. Candy Enix
Muse Family Foundation
Class of ’59
Class of ’73 – NCLS Flagship Sponsor
Class of ’74
Class of ’77
Class of ’93