The FRED Leadership Forum convened in New York City at the Time Warner Conference Center on October 2-5, 2017 and participants indicated that the FRED forum was a great success!  We introduced the theme of Inspiring Voices and created a call for action from the FRED Community.

Everyone left the forum energized to have an even greater impact on FRED’s mission… to inspire the development of moral and inclusive leaders who make the world a better place.

We would like to thank our FRED Leadership Sponsors and all who attended the Forum this year.  Additionally, we would like to give special recognition to Time Warner who hosted the Forum in their outstanding conference center in the heart of Manhattan.

Pre-Conference Sessions:


Kevin Cashman
Senior Client Partner, CEO & Executive Development
Korn Ferry

“Transformative Leadership: Pause, Purpose and Performance”



Pre-Conference Workshop
Monday, October 2, 2017
8:30am – 12:00pm
The Downtown Room
Time Warner Center


Steve Athey
Senior Partner, Full Circle Group & The Leadership Circle

“The Conscious Practice of Leadership”



Pre-Conference Workshop
Monday, October 2, 2017
1:30pm – 5:00pm
The Downtown Room
Time Warner Center

For more Information and to register please see 2017 Pre-Conference Sessions under the FRED FORUM 2017 Tab.

Keynote Speaker:


Alex Gorsky
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Johnson & Johnson




Featured Thought Leaders:


Alisyn Camerota
Co-Host, CNN, New Day







Ed Freeman
Professor of Ethics
Darden Executive Education
University of Virginia





We need to “shout out” the new story of ethical business

By Bill Taylor

Ed Freeman has a simple dream of a better future. “I hope my grandchildren and great-grandchildren would grow up in a world where business ethics is not seen as a joke.”

Nearly a decade after the 2008 financial crisis, the idea of a healthy future for ethical capitalism may seem far fetched. But not to Freeman. “There’s a movement towards thinking of business as being purpose driven, where ethics are at least as important as profits,” he says. “I see a lot of it in practice, but I don’t see it much reported. For every Enron, for every VW, there are ten thousand businesses out there trying to do the right thing. But the old story has a strong grip on people.”

Professor Freeman is working to change that, as he has done all of his professional life as a philosopher and teacher. His latest book, due out next year, is tentatively called The New Story of Business. It sets out some of the foundation stones of a new era of socially responsible capitalism. They include:

  • Business creates value for all stakeholders. “It’s not just about transactions. Any business worth its salt creates a relationship with customers, suppliers, employees, communities and people with the money.”
  • These relationships are interdependent. “If you create value for customers, then that affects how you create value for employees and communities and so on.”
  • Businesses need profits to survive, but cannot truly flourish without a sense of purpose. “Entrepreneurs have some vision or dream or idea they want to share with the rest of the world.”
  • Business is deeply embedded in societal institutions. “You can’t pretend it’s separate from the health service, the government, etc. Purpose, values and ethics are important.”
  • Business is a physical activity in the world. “And that means you can’t pretend issues like climate change will just go away.”

People in companies need to shout out the new story, says Freeman. “There’s always going to be scandal, but it doesn’t follow from scandal that you condemn all business. The world is complicated. As a parent, I make some mistakes, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a good parent.

“Businesses with imagination are finding new or better ways to serve. If you actually look more deeply, most companies are trying to be good citizens.”

How we frame the new story matters a lot, says Freeman. And changing the deeply embedded old stories of capitalism can be slow going. But he learned a simple and profound lesson from setting up a record label with his musician son. “If you play it over and over, people remember the tune.”

For the past thirty years, Professor Freeman has taught at the Darden School of Business in the University of Virginia. He is senior fellow of the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics, academic director of the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics and academic director of the Institute for Business in Society. He also teaches at other universities all over the world, notably in Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia and the United Kingdom.

He is an optimist about the reforming potential of purpose driven business. The more you can create great businesses, the more pressure you put on the political system. “One role of government is to facilitate value creation. Infrastructure matters a lot; health care matters a lot; civil rights turn out to be an enormous facilitator of value creation because it makes people available for work. Policies that encourage kids to be entrepreneurs are really important.”

When Freeman wrote his first paper on stakeholder value back in the Seventies, the publishers assumed there was a typo in the title. “You mean shareholder. We’ll change it for you.” Now it is business leaders and banks in America – along with leading State-level politicians – who are most vocal in opposing President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.  “There’s been a significant change in my lifetime.”

Professor Freeman believes the future needs a combination of fierce determination and incredible humility, a lesson he learned from martial arts. “I didn’t start Tae Kwon Do till I was forty-five. It was very, very hard for me. After two or three years, my ability to focus and get stuff done increased by an order of magnitude. One thing you have control over is your attitude. I learned some incredible humility from my teachers and that is something I will always cherish.”

Sitting close to the heart of Freeman’s work is the idea that storytelling can help transform our deeply embedded old ideas about the nature of capitalism. He will be challenging Fred Leadership Forum to help “shout out” the new story of ethical leadership until it becomes the norm.


“Beautifully Incomplete Leadership”

by Laura Bennett

If you have ever enjoyed white-water rafting, you might remember the echoing call of the rapids waiting just downstream, or the smooth acceleration across a glassy tongue of water right before the boat dropped into the first wave train. Or perhaps it was the way the guide seemed to find an invisible path through what looked like absolute chaos. For Steve Athey, one aspect that draws him is the beautiful complexity of those river environments.  Such places – like the class 5 rapids on the Futaleufu River in Patagonia, Chile – requires even the best of river guides, though expertly competent, to not only trust one another immensely, but to share a deep sense of humility in the presence of such powerful complexity. Because in such an environment, even the best of river guides can find themselves instantly overwhelmed and at the mercy of far greater forces.

In fact, Steve – a former river guide himself – often uses white water rapids as a metaphor for leadership.  As a Senior Partner of The Full Circle Group and The Leadership Circle, global firms dedicated to evolving the conscious practice of leadership, he has worked with countless executives and executive teams.  Over the years, he has seen how today’s environment now requires a more fluid, nimble and integrated approach to leadership, and requires leaders who have a deeper, more conscious understanding of themselves and their world.  “Complex environments,” like the rapids, says Steve, “select for leaders that can be vulnerable, humble, and more radically human with one another. Leaders that are authentic and transparent … and beautifully incomplete … because nobody is smart enough to figure it all out on their own.”

An outdoor enthusiast, Steve began his career as a biologist and river guide.  His life has always been anchored there, and he continues to be deeply informed by the serenity of the river canyons and the beautiful chaos of moving water.  His passion and curiosity about the natural world led him to become fascinated with the ecosystems of human beings—how did these interconnected webs of belief, experience, behavior, and choice construct identity and how did these identities intermix to create lived experience in groups? Steve received his Masters in Social Work and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, spending a few years as a psychotherapist in a variety of clinical settings.

His life took a somewhat serendipitous turn when he was asked by a friend to join a facilitator training with a consulting company called, Maxcomm.  Having no prior introduction to facilitating, he agreed because it sounded like they were going to be working with people in experiential outdoor settings.  Little did he know at the time, but it would be his work at Maxcomm, helping executive teams push their limits in the mountains of Utah, where he would begin to blend his two passions and create deep developmental experiences for leaders.  And from there, launched his almost 30-year career in an arena he never would have predicted at the outset.

Roughly ten years ago, Steve and his partners at Maxcomm were introduced to Bob Anderson, creator of the Leadership Circle, a 360-assessment tool unlike any other he or his colleagues had used.  After using the Leadership Circle exclusively for a couple years, Maxcomm and The Leadership Circle decided to merge the two firms and created Conscious Leadership, an umbrella firm consisting of The Leadership Circle (the assessment company) and the Full Circle Group (the consulting company). It now has a global presence with offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. The mission of the firm is “to evolve the conscious practice of leadership, steward the planet, and awaken us all to our inherent unity.”

The Leadership Circle 360 Profile, Steve describes, is a robust integrated leadership framework that provides a clear MRI-like readout of the current state of an individual’s leadership effectiveness. The data serves as a doorway to a deeper conversation and generates fundamental developmental awareness—how did I become the person I am today? What are the implications of those choices on my leadership effectiveness? What’s possible for the future?

The discussions center around a framework of adult development that suggests we have a hand in constructing our lived experience, and as such, we have the opportunity to step into a more conscious authorship of the reality we want to create.  By loosening up our narratives (our assumptions and beliefs about who we are) we can create space for growth and development, untether our imaginations, and ultimately create more consciously thriving organizations.

It is through engaging in these conversations that Steve is hopeful about leadership in the future. He has seen tremendous willingness among leaders over the years to “go there” with one another, which (like a good whitewater experience) can be both frightening and rewarding.  And, through these conversations he has seen leaders create a deeper more integrated understanding of themselves and each other, so crucial in successfully navigating today’s complex world.

He is not, however, without his doubts and concerns. The $14 Billion leadership industry gives him pause. “Leadership” is fetishized in this country in so many ways and the foundational human character traits that underlie true leadership effectiveness often get overlooked or glossed over in ways that obscure the damage done by a pervasive lack of human integration. He cautions that we not ignore the fact that most, if not all of the global challenges facing the planet today were created under the mantle of “leadership.” He doesn’t believe we talk about that as much, and suggests perhaps we should.

This is much of what FRED members anticipate discussing when they come together for the ninth annual Forum in New York – how can we influence and promote the development of leaders who are moral and inclusive?  On Monday, October 2, before the forum begins, Steve will lead a session to introduce the Leadership Circle, and engage in dialogue based on one’s self-assessment, which will be completed in advance.

The session will be a unique opportunity to begin to explore how one shows up as a leader, and to get in touch with the reality they are creating.  And, such individual reflection can help set the stage for the discussions at the Forum around how to help inspire others to do the same.

Lecyca Curiël

Lecyca Curiël (1998) is an expert on Gen Z – her own generation. She works as a keynote speaker and researcher for WHETSTON / strategic foresight. Although she is still a teenager, she has the stage presence, charisma and humor to keep a large corporate audience on the edge of their seats.  Lecyca is also a student, currently enrolled in a trainee program to become a presenter for The Persgroep, an international media company. In 2018, she will start studying at Erasmus University College. Lecyca is also an ambassador for nonprofit organisation IMC Weekendschool and intern at the Women2Women International Leadership Conference in 2016 and 2017. 

WHETSTON is an international think tank on future human behaviour. How is the world changing? How can we expect human behaviour to change? And what does this mean for the strategy of organisations? WHETSTON specializes in giving memorable keynotes & workshops at global organisations and conferences.

Topic:  Gen Z on Gen Z

Are you ready for the REAL next generation? Move over Millennials, we have heard too much about you for too long. Welcome Gen Z! These are the 0 to 20 year olds. And yes, they are different. These modest entrepreneurial teens have entered the world of work years ago. Wise beyond their years, they approach the world with a raw & fresh perspective. Understanding the main characteristics of Gen Z will prove to be a wake-up call to any future oriented professional that’s creating a brave new workplace!



Tiffany Rea-Fisher (EMD Artistic Director) is in her thirteenth year with the NYC-based internationally acclaimed dance company Elisa Monte Dance (EMD). Tiffany joined EMD in 2004 where she was principal dancer until 2010. She was named Dance Magazine’s “On the Rise” person for their 2007 August issue based on her 2006 performance at the Joyce Theater. As a choreographer Tiffany has had the pleasure of creating several pieces for the company most notably meeting and having her work performed for the Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg, as well as being commissioned by repertory companies throughout the nation.  Tiffany’s work extends well beyond the stage creating work for the film, fashion, theater and the music industry.  In 2009 Tiffany and her husband started the non-profit Inception to Exhibition (ITE), which supports NYC-based artists in the fields of Dance, Theater, Music and Film through monetary grants and performance/exhibition opportunities. ITE also curates the Bryant Park Modern Dance Summer Series. Tiffany’s current affiliations include: Dance/NYC Board Member, Dance/USA Member, Stonewall Community Development Corporation Vice President, The Tank Advisory Board Member, Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA) Member, DCA Panelist, Steps on Broadway (substitute teacher) and Purchase College (substitute teacher).  Tiffany received her BFA from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College SUNY.  While at Purchase she co-founded ForArts, the school’s first interdisciplinary presenting organization, which provided opportunities for students from different conservatories to create collaborative works. In 2004 Tiffany created, directed, and curated Dance at the Tank.  She left the Tank in 2007 and currently serves on their advisory board.

Seeking out the ‘magic space for change’

By Bill Taylor

Throughout his professional lifetime as a conflict adviser in some of the most troubled parts of the globe, Hamish Wilson has never forgotten one simple piece of advice he received as a young aid worker in Pakistan: “Always get to know the name of your driver.”

In this particular instance, the driver warned Hamish and his humanitarian team about potential trouble from a local armed gang. But a guiding philosophy grew from that moment. Hamish Wilson – keynote speaker at FRED Leadership Forum in New York – believes in the power and wisdom of so-called “ordinary people” to contribute to change and transformation in communities and organisations.

“We are surrounded in any given day by opportunities for leadership action,” he says, “and it doesn’t matter how small the change is or how humble our social status. I’m fascinated to know how we can zero in on these tiny moments – to really harness the potential for change; that’s where the magic of leadership exists.”

“Magic” is an important word for Hamish Wilson. He has a surprising degree of optimism for a man who has spent years trying to rebuild stability after war and natural disaster in places like Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, the Congo, Ethiopia and Burma.

“In this line of work, you meet some pretty dark characters – people with a vested interest in maintaining a pretty dysfunctional status quo. Over time that can naturally breed cynicism. But the reverse is also true; you also get to witness the magic of humanity. You see people rise to positions of leadership from all walks of life, people who step up to extraordinary challenges in ways no one might have foreseen.”

Hamish believes that the humblest worker in the largest corporation can influence what he calls the “magic space for change”. That word again.

“I dismiss this idea that humanitarian work has a nobility that sets it apart from being a teacher or an engineer or a middle manager or a cleaner. People constantly undervalue the day to day contribution they make by being part of a large organisation providing resources and livelihoods for hundreds and thousands of people. This is the lifeblood of healthy societies – and amidst it all, my hope is that people stay connected with their own power, their own agency.

“It’s easy to become submerged in the relentless demands of middle management; expectations and aspirations can be stifled by the day to day. But I remember the words of Martin Luther King. He said, in effect, it’s gonna be a busy day, so I better get down on my knees and pray. Now, whatever your religious affiliation, the fact that this extraordinary change maker found time each day for reflection sends a profound message to all of us swamped by emails and calls and meetings: take precious time to reflect on your priorities and seek that space for your own agency to become manifest.”

For the Kenya-based Hamish Wilson, this is one of the most important and vexing questions of modern leadership. “I don’t feel leaders spend enough time reflecting on the complexity of the situations and challenges they face – we are operating in ever more complex, uncertain and dynamic environments. For example, I see an increased fracturing of society here in Kenya, following deeply divisive elections. We’ve seen similar and equally worrying trends in the wake of Brexit and Charlottesville. The demands on leaders are unprecedented, and evolving at an extraordinary rate.

“So it is vital that people understand who they are as leaders. You’ve got to take a point of view about where you stand. Do you have a belief in the interests and power of humanity in tackling such issues, in overcoming deepening fractures and divisions?

“Its equally important to recognise that in today’s world, no single person or organisation has the power to drive change alone. Leaders have to work through others. Allegiances, alliances and collaborations are fundamentally important.”

Hamish Wilson is one of four founders of the Nairobi-based development consultancy Wasafiri – Swahili for traveller. The business has its headquarters in Africa deliberately to counter the norm that development consultancy firms are dominated by professionals from the global North. As the agency website puts it: “Wasafiri was founded by a Zambian, a Rwandan, an Australian and a Brit in the belief that we would learn more and be more effective if our organisation mirrored the world we aspired to create.”

Talking about the world we aspire to create, one of the questions Hamish Wilson asks all the time in his role as an international consultant and motivational speaker is: What holds us back from working for a better community and a better world?

“I’m fascinated by this question. It’s so important. People come up with all the issues you might expect: fear, insecurity, the consequences of failure. And these are all entirely understandable, entirely legitimate. But I’m fascinated by what makes people rise above them. I’m particularly driven by what it is we need to do to overcome what holds us back.”

At the same time, says Hamish, there is a need for people to recognize that harnessing our leadership potential is all about hard work. “Like never before, leaders these days are swamped by prescriptions – ideas, messages, advice, frameworks and competencies. There’s a real danger that we might think the answer lies somewhere out there… or that some silver bullet will be handed to us by our organisations or mentors, our peers or the media.

“But how do we play the leadership cards we are dealt? Leadership is a magnificent journey of discovering the habits, disciplines and practices that work for us, with all the gifts, talents and limitations we bring to that journey. I firmly believe that as we deepen our connection to our own leadership experience, we will naturally awaken a more compassionate and more emotionally intelligent leadership.

“The normal pressures and demands of life are understandable. But what really matters to you? What gets you up in the morning or makes your heart beat faster? I’m not interested in imposing an idea of how people should live their leadership. But I am curious to know – what drives you? Where do you gain a wider sense of purpose, of fulfilment, of meaning? For me, these become the spark for a rich conversation.”

My guess is that this conversation will find a resonance not only among every individual attending the FRED Leadership Forum … but also among the leaders of FRED itself.

      Thank you to FRED’s 2017 Sponsors!