In 1990, Then U.S. Representative Bill Nelson (FL) and several Congressional leaders started the first annual National Student Leadership Forum with the vision of encouraging, challenging and inspiring this select group of young leaders. Then Vice-President Dan Quayle, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), U.S. Representative Jim Slattery (D-KS) and then Missouri governor John Ashcroft convened a group of university student leaders who were politically, culturally and religiously diverse. They gathered around the study of Jesus’ leadership model. This inaugural national gathering in 1990 marked the culmination of many smaller events that occurred over twenty years on various campuses throughout the country. This event served as the catalyst for many state forums, and it stirred a core of students whose relationships were cemented in this experience.

Two years later, Bill Nelson and his wife, Grace, hosted the inaugural Florida Student Leadership Forum on Faith & Values. Today, almost two decades after the first forum was held, the dream lives on and continues to encourage our state’s future leaders toward growth and maturity.

In a world where self-interest is the guiding current, we seek to challenge students to consider a different style of leadership. To embrace serving others instead of self, to equip themselves with true leadership skills: humilty, reconciliation, purpose, love. We hold that true change starts with changing ourselves and then changing the world.

Our hope is to study these principles intensely and grapple with their meaning. By studying them, we aim to nurture leaders who understand the value of reconciling relationships, standing up for truth, loving God, and loving their neighbor as themselves. We wish to inspire the leaders of tomorrow to pursue a life in leadership with both passion and perspective.