Leon Ford is an Entrepreneur-In-Residence for Bronze Investments; an Aspen Institute Civil Society Fellow; an internationally-known speaker, author, activist, and mental health ambassador; and a tireless advocate for social change. He was 19 years old when he was rendered paraplegic after being shot five times by a police officer during a traffic stop that arose from a case of mistaken identity. Through a powerful combination of faith and personal fortitude, Ford has become a leader in national efforts to heal and strengthen communities—efforts that began with forging personal relationships of respect and empathy with police officers. Ford has worked with police on cultural competency and policing reform; has worked with legislators to modify use of force laws; and conducts trainings in community healing, social justice, and empowerment for students from elementary school through University level. Ford’s latest university partnership, with Duquesne University, is a program known as “The Voices Project,” which provides an open space for students, faculty and community members to discuss a broad range of social justice issues.
Ford speaks internationally on issues of policing reform and community reconciliation, participating on US and BBC television and radio programs, TEDx presentations, and he participated in a panel discussion with President Obama, Bryan Stevenson and the late Senator John Lewis.
Ford was a recipient of President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award in 2017; The Root 100 award in 2018, and he was named one of Pittsburgh’s 40 Under 40 in 2019.
The Summit was more than empty words – it made clear that a solution-driven approach is the only way to fight hate. That’s why the working group activities, which are results driven are going to be critical in defeating violent extremism. The Summit brought together the best minds in government, private sector, academia, and civil society. Being surrounded by these experts sparked new ideas – some of which I’ve already implemented or have written about.