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NCLS offers community opportunity to “reimagine leadership; inspire teamwork”

Speaker on stage at NCLSAmerica’s first hearing impaired comedienne” Kathy Buckley speaks to cadets during the 2022 National Character and Leadership Symposium on. Each year, speakers from a wide range of experiences and backgrounds share their perspectives with cadets and visitors. The theme for 2023 is “reimagine leadership; inspire teamwork,” and will feature Medal of Honor recipients, CEOs, musicians and more. (U.S. Air Force photo/Trevor Cokley)

By Melissa Walther
U.S. Air Force Academy Strategic Communications

U.S AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Registration is now open for the 30th National Character and Leadership Symposium, held Feb. 23-24 at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

This year’s theme is “reimagine leadership; inspire teamwork,” and is rooted in the Academy’s institutional outcome of leadership, teamwork, and organizational management. It will feature a wide range of speakers, including musicians, authors, military leaders, Medal of Honor recipients, an astronaut, entrepreneurs, industry leaders and more.

“It’s not every day that you get to hear from the senior leaders of the Air Force, Space Force, former Navy SEALS, astronauts and CEOs,” said Cadet 1st Class Trevor Holley. “You definitely don’t want to miss it. This is my fourth year attending, and you always learn something new every year.”

While a large purpose of the conference is to broaden the perspectives of Academy cadets and create leaders of character, it’s far more than that.

“This year’s NCLS is another amazing opportunity to raise your game as a leader,” said Col. Benjamin Jonsson, vice superintendent of the Academy. “Whether through music, Medal of Honor stories, or barrier-breaking leadership examples, there is something to help everyone elevate their leadership performance.”

As part of the “reimagine leadership; inspire teamwork” focus, attendees will hear from speakers who have found success leading teams through diverse and difficult situations, often requiring them to reassess exactly what makes a good leader.

“Sometimes, it is more about what leadership ‘isn’t’ than what it ‘is,’” said Commandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen Paul Moga. ”True leadership isn’t management. Programs, spreadsheets, budgets, etc., can be managed. People require leadership, and there is no prescriptive way to do that well.  Aircraft have checklists. People do not. ​Occasionally, leadership can come in the form of getting individuals or teams to do something they don’t necessarily want to – and like it.”

Unlike many other conferences, NCLS also offers unique opportunities for interaction with speakers, students, cadets from all service academies and other attendees. From book signings to social hours, dinners and even laser shows, there are numerous opportunities to interact and network with leaders and future leaders.

In addition to lectures and social events, the symposium also features in-depth workshops, where participants can take deeper dives with speakers and facilitators, analyzing a wide range of topics and situations.

While in-person attendance is encouraged, NCLS is also offered virtually, for those who are not local to Colorado Springs or otherwise unable to attend in person.

Learn more about NCLS and this year’s speaker line up.

Registration closes Feb. 9 for all in-person events.