Lead. Inspire. Lift.

Preparing principled, highly skilled, transformational leaders in higher education.

Strengthening the HBCU Leadership Pipeline. Building the Next Generation of Higher Education Leaders.

The modern HBCU is a complex and multi-dimensional teaching, learning and workplace environment

Effective leadership at HBCUs requires the skill of well-trained practitioners and academicians capable of expertly managing a range of persistent challenges, notably, declining enrollments, budget cuts, eroding public trust, fiscal limitations and aging infrastructures and physical plants. Simultaneously, HBCU leaders are increasingly called to reframe the narrative surrounding the relevance and effectiveness of historically black colleges and universities.

H.E.L.F. wishes to highlight seven of its past Cohort Members from their signature Leadership Institute.

These individuals each attended a cohort prior to ascending to the presidency.

Equally, we value the carefully curated H.E.L.F. Experience and the 450 plus Fellows who have come along for the journey. We are resolved in our commitment to produce highly skilled, disciplined, and transformational leaders to lead at our nations gems.

The HELF Impact and Experience


Students Served


Cohort Attendees


HBCUs Impacted


Senior Leader Fellows

The HELF Experience is a unique approach to contemporary leadership development. It is designed for those who are consciously, authentically and unapologetically committed to the ascendancy of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities.

The HELF Experience provides a rigorous framework for interrogating the theoretical and practical leaderships paradigms in community with experienced practitioners who have led HBCUs during periods of both calm and crisis.

The HELF Experience offers a fresh, innovative conceptual lens through which participants can address the historic, present and future challenges and opportunities at HBCUs.

Our History

The Higher Education Leadership Foundation (H.E.L.F.) was established in March 2015 to provide bold, engaging and innovative learning and mentoring opportunities for current and aspiring leaders.

Leadership Events

December 2024 | Marshall, TX

Inspire Leadership Institute

The Leadership Institute is a four-day conference for H.E.L.F. Fellows and program participants to be immersed in focused discussion and interaction with college and university presidents, administrators, scholars, industry and corporate leaders. Institute attendees will participate in case studies, scenario planning, personal empowerment and spiritual exercises aimed at affirming their commitment to their personal growth, career development and to HBCUs. The Institute culminates with awards acknowledging the life time achievement of a college/university president, innovative leadership and outstanding emerging leadership.

May 2025 | Charlotte, NC

Ideation, Innovation, & Collaboration:
The Future of HBCUs

“Ideation, Innovation, & Collaboration: The Future of HBCUs” is an out of the box gathering on HBCU sustainability in the current social context. We’re inviting dreamers, critical thinkers, and thought leaders in the public and private sector, to grapple with the imminent question; What does sustainability and self-agency look like for all HBCUs?

The Journal on HBCU Leadership

At H.E.L.F, we celebrated our African origins, specifically by naming our Journal of HBCU Leadership with an African phrase, Di Kan, which means to lead or be first.

The Podcast for H.E.L.F.

Forethoughts of our Founders creates a space for sharing information, insights, best practices, anecdotal and empirical research and professional practice in Higher Education.


Our Founders and Senior Fellows are guided by a set of core values which under-gird the work of the Foundation and affirms our commitment to aspiring leaders and historically black colleges and universities.

President | Huston-Tillotson University

Melva K. Wallace

President | Wiley University

Herman J. Felton, Jr.

President (Retired) | Wilberforce University

Elfred Anthony Pinkard