Our Founding Story

About GLA

Our journey is rooted in extraordinary impact.

Our story begins with GLA Founder Fred Swaniker in 2003. Fred, a Ghana native, TED fellow and entrepreneur from Stanford University, envisioned a high school designed to develop Africa’s future leaders regardless of the student’s income or background. Fred believed that the key to success was not leading young people along a set path, but allowing them to define their own path.

After joining forces with Chris Bradford and Peter Mombaur, Fred’s former classmate and mentor, Fred’s vision was brought to life with the establishment of the African Leadership Academy, a revolutionary pan-African, non-profit high school in Johannesburg. ALA’s success was immediate and profound. When surrounded by a diverse group of peers and immersed in leadership development, students began to truly believe they held the power to change the world around them.

As a way to expand the reach of ALA’s successful curriculum, Fred, Chris and Peter created a summer program, this time welcoming students from around the world and planting the seeds for Global Leadership Adventures.

Global Leadership Adventures grew into a global team in 2006 with the expertise of Andrew Motiwalla, who joined the team as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, as well as a background in operating global service-learning projects and developing experiential education programs. Values central to the Corps – immersive experience, sustainability and working side-by- side with local communities – were infused into GLA’s program design early on and continue to be building blocks for the dozens of programs our organization operates worldwide.

Since its founding in 2004, Global Leadership Adventures has enrolled over 25,000 teens globally and helped them develop into young leaders. Many alumni have gone on to attend the top universities in the United States and around the world, found international nonprofit organizations inspired by their GLA service project, and shape their future careers as doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and beyond.

Fred Swaniker was honored as a pioneer by Time in its annual list of 100 Most Influential People of 2019. This was in recognition for his continued work with ALA, alongside the foundation of the African Leadership University and the African Leadership Network.