Gerald R. Ford Leadership Forum

Fellowship Program


The Ford Leadership Forum’s Mentorship Program will pair students and young professionals with wise and experienced leaders in fields related to the young person’s vocational and public interests. In addition to providing young persons with important career and life advice, the mentors will draw upon the classical understanding of virtue to help young citizens navigate many of the ethical dilemmas that accompany life in a society as complex as ours. The mentors will be persons who have a reputation for personal integrity, hard-work, public service, and community betterment.

The central purpose of the mentorship program is to provide continuity between the generations as well as strengthen our civic life through careful deliberation about ethical activity. Mentors and students will be provided with opportunities to meet regularly and discuss the challenges they face and to engage in thoughtful deliberation about how to meet those challenges.


Benefits of Being a Ford Fellow

  1. Being part of a serious learning community 
  2. Identifying and cultivating virtues and leadership skills within yourself
  3. Intensive mentoring and support
  4. Being well-fed at Ford Forum events
  5. Group trips to places such as Washington DC and Philadelphia
  6. Meeting with potential employers

 Students having an engaging conversation during a Deep Study Learning Seminar.

Background on Gerald R. Ford

Gerald R. Ford was 38th President of the United States, and the only president from the state of Michigan. Although the only President never elected to either the presidency or vice-presidency, Ford’s ascendancy to the highest office in the land resulted from the confidence Congress had in him as a man of high virtue and unimpeachable integrity. President Ford understood well that our republican system of government could not survive without virtuous citizens and leaders. President Ford restored dignity and trust to the office of the presidency when both those were at there lowest point. By his resolute manner, honesty, ability to build relationships across the aisle, work ethic, and sound decision-making, President Ford demonstrated that decent and honorable persons could occupy that office and perform its duties well, and that the American people deserved and should demand nothing less.

At the 1997 rededication of the Ford Museum, President Ford uttered the words that are more relevant today than when he spoke them 25 years ago: “Some things must never change…things like individual decency and honor and compassion and service to others….In some quarters civility is mistaken for weakness and compromise for surrender. I know better. More importantly, so do the vast majority of the American people. Politics is a clash of ideas, not a blood sport. It is a contest of principles, not a holy war. … You don’t need to be president to make history. Make your own history by contributing to your own community. Then you will discover the joy of being part of something bigger than yourself—and the realization that, while we make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

The 2022 Michigan Wolverine Football team responding to Executive Director Gleaves Whitney.

Interested In Becoming A Ford Fellow?

Fill out this form with info about yourself and why you’d like to become a Ford Fellow and we will be in touch.

For questions please reach out to our Director Jeff Polet at