Frances Hesselbein
(1915 – 2022)

Pioneer for women, volunteerism, diversity, and opportunity.


Inducted into the Thinkers50 Coaching Legends in 2023.


Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1998, by Bill Clinton.


Appointed by George Bush to two commissions on community service.


One of the most highly respected experts in the fields of contemporary leadership development, Frances Hesselbein was a ferocious champion of inclusivity and diversity. She worked to imbue many nonprofit groups with the hallmarks of leadership: openness to innovation, willingness to share responsibility, and respect for diversity. As CEO of the Girl Scouts of America, she reinvigorated the organisation with her commitments to inclusiveness and to upholding the Girl Scout mission of empowering each Scout to reach her highest potential. She dismantled the formal hierarchical structure, replacing it with what she called “webs of inclusion.” In The Community of the Future, which she edited, she argues that all sectors of community – not just the social, non-profit sector – need to come together in powerful partnerships to renew communities and change lives for the better.


Born in 1915, Frances Hesselbein served as president and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public and International Affairs. From 1976 to 1990, she also served as the transformative CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, after which she became head of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management – later renamed the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute. She was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning quarterly journal, Leader to Leader.


Frances co-edited 27 books and was the author of Hesselbein on Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2002); My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way (Jossey-Bass, 2011); and Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions: Enduring Wisdom for Today’s Leaders (with Peter Drucker and Joan Snyder Kuhl, 2009; reprint by Wiley 2018).


Media picks


“Along with Peter Drucker, Frances Hesselbein was a hugely influential thought leader who created much of what we know as great leadership today.”

Rita McGrath, Columbia Business School

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