The Kemp Leadership Academy is an intensive educational experience to expose talented individuals to the world of politics, political philosophy and the workings of government. We understand the importance of demystifying the world of policy and politics for individuals who have little if any political experience or background. It is designed for athletes who have the personal qualities, leadership, moral values and commitment to make a difference in their communities and nation. Success will be measured by how many athletes use their talents and reputations for the greater good of their communities and the nation, whether in political office or other walks of public life.
The objective is to help participants refine and sharpen their own views and learn how to communicate those views clearly and effectively. The approach is to present a body of knowledge and a diversity of viewpoints, so that participants will be comfortable with major public policy issues and the political process. Coaches more than professors are the teaching models; education that is relevant and applied is more important than what is customarily taught in a university classroom; and participants determine much of what they want to learn based on their own interests and needs.
The primary mission of the Jack Kemp Foundation is to develop, engage, and recognize exceptional leaders, which we believe to be the most meaningful way to perpetuate Kemp’s legacy and to make a significant contribution to our nation’s prosperity and future. In private life, Kemp often helped athletes who had the desire and ambition to go into careers in the public sector, and over the years saw the rewards of guiding and assisting professional athletes into the world of public service.
In his own transition from professional athletics to politics and in observing others who were successful (and some who were not), Jack Kemp recognized that intellectual curiosity and the willingness to formulate and test one’s ideas against opposing viewpoints are essential to playing a role in public life. And because every individual is unique, the path from the playing field to the political arena begins with a purposeful reflection on one’s own life, values, political philosophy and the public policy objectives that derive from those foundations.
In particular, Kemp understood and championed the importance of visionary ideas. Great ideas emerge from stimulating reading, interaction with other smart and thoughtful people of diverse viewpoints, and the creative cauldron of argument, discussion and competition. Policy victories come from translating complex ideas into clear and direct messages to inform and inspire the electorate. This is knowledge that can be acquired, and skills that can be taught.
“I believe pro football is great training for leadership. In fact, I hope more athletes choose politics as a profession so that we don’t leave the field to attorneys…!” – Jack Kemp