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National Character & Leadership Symposium


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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. The next symposium will take place on February 25-26, 2021. The theme for 2021 is Warrior Ethos. Warrior ethos is the embodiment of the warrior spirit: tough mindedness, tireless motivation, an unceasing vigilance, a willingness to sacrifice one’s life for the country, if necessary, and a commitment to be the world’s premier air, space and cyberspace force.

This two-day symposium provides an opportunity for all Academy personnel, visiting university students and faculty, and community members to experience dynamic speakers and take part in group discussions to enhance their own understanding of the importance of sound moral character and good leadership.

Each NCLS connects participants with powerful speakers from all walks of life, in presentations and discussion sessions, to encourage reflection and motivate personal action. By reinforcing Air Force Core Values of service, integrity and excellence, NCLS contributes to the Academy’s role as a unique and valuable character and leadership resource for both the Air Force, and the nation.

Our Superintendent, Lt Gen Jay Silveria, welcomed our audience and challenged everyone to open their minds and seek out opportunities to hear viewpoints that may be different from their own.
We were honored to host the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. Their insight and experiences were invaluable to leaders at every level.
John Urschel shared his experience as an NFL athlete and mathematician.
Many of our speakers were published authors. AAFES held a book-sale and book-signing opportunities for our guests.
CMSAF Wright imparted lessons on life and leadership to cadets, permanent party staff, and our community members.
Audiences were engaged and entertained!
The Lamoureux sisters shared their journey to Olympic gold and inspired us all to work toward equality in athletics.
Mastora Arezo showed us how we can all overcome roadblocks, even in extremist-controlled territory in Afghanistan.
A former Air Force Spouse of the Year, Kristen Christy shared her story of resilience and advocacy for mental health support and awareness.
Speakers generously made time to interact with NCLS participants.
Audience members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions of our speakers, further driving opportunity for reflection and discussion.
Maj Gen Fantini and his wife, Dr. Rizzo-Fantini share a lighthearted moment while discussing balancing life, leadership, and family.
The US Air Force Academy was proud to host the 27th National Character and Leadership Symposium.
Cadets have an in-depth discussion following a thought-provoking session.
Colonel Kim Campbell shares her story of bravery and inspires decisive leadership.
All over campus, conversations were happening that pushed people outside of their comfort zones
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NCLS at a glance
  • First held in 1993 and now attracts over 6,000 attendees annually
  • One of the premier national symposia on character and leadership
  • Theme changes each year in a deliberate cycle, to reflect the broader mission of the Academy and its relationship to serving in the Profession of Arms
  • Cadets on the NCLS staff practice character-based leadership in a real-world context over the course of seven months, in a signature developmental opportunity that results in a major Academy event

The National Character & Leadership Symposium is held every year in February. To learn more, call 719-333-0736 or email NCLS@afacademy.af.edu.

Get the NCLS app!

Visit your app store on or after 16 February and search for “NCLS 2018” to locate, download, and install the NCLS app.

New for 2018

Your registration QR code may be scanned to admit you to speaker sessions. This will ensure all participants have a seat to the sessions for which they have registered. Please ensure you have a copy of your NCLS QR code (printed or digital).

Thanks to the Following Supporting Organizations

Air Force Academy Foundation (Formerly the USAFA Endowment)
Association of Graduates
Falcon Foundation – The Maj Gen William J. “Bud” Breckner Lecture
Earl Enix ’77 and Mrs. Candy Enix – NCLS Speaker for Heritage
John and Lyn Muse Educational Foundation (John and Lyn Muse Award & Lecture)
Class of ’59 – Class of ’59 Leadership Lecture
Class of ’73 – NCLS Leading Sponsor through the Class of 1973 Endowment
Class of ’74 – Brig Gen Malham M. Wakin Character & Leadership Development Award
Class of ’93 – NCLS Panel Fund