The History of Leadership Metro Richmond


Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR) started as a program under the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce in 1980. The city climate at the time was tense, as most leaders had not gone to integrated schools. The intent behind creating a leadership program of this nature was to improve relations between communities – specifically North and South of Broad Street.

LMR fit into the pattern for everything the chamber was trying to do at the time: economic development, embracing regional collaboration, and engaging citizens and elected officials outside of the business community. From the beginning, the program was particularly successful in two areas. First, it gave people an opportunity to significantly broaden their view of the region, introducing them to people, places and institutions that they had not known. Second, it provided an opportunity to discuss issues and confront prejudices in a safe environment. Priorities for the program were diversity (representing the whole community), teaching (building skill sets for more capable leadership) and connecting (fostering networking and discussion).


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At its inception, LMR gathered leaders from Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico, but over time it has grown to include all the localities of the metro Richmond region bringing in Charles City, Goochland, Hanover, Powhatan and New Kent. The first graduating class in 1981 was comprised of 47 community leaders selected from 100 applicants, and today the organization boasts over 2,000 alumni with 75% of those individuals continuing to reside in the Richmond region.

Without initial funding from The Metropolitan Foundation (today known as the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond), LMR would not have been possible.


The structure of the flagship program remains the same as it was in the beginning: an opening retreat followed by monthly day-long seminars on public issues taking place in different locations throughout the metropolitan area. While volunteer committees were initially responsible for planning and executing the nine seminar days, today content is planned by consultants and staff. Each year the curriculum is adjusted based on the interests of the class per the essays submitted in their program applications. Although the content of the program has evolved over the years, there remains a commitment to the annual selection of a truly diverse class of leaders who are committed and interested in serving this community.


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Unlike most non-profit organizations, it is hard to quantify the impact of LMR in a dollar figure, number of projects completed or public policies created. However, many of the Richmond region’s top CEOs, educators, judges, elected officials, entrepreneurs, community organizers and non-profit leaders have been educated on local issues and connected to one another as a result of LMR. So while the influence of the organization’s work often goes unseen, LMR helped create the foundation for one of the Richmond region’s strongest assets – the tradition of cooperation and collaboration among businesses, community organizations and public officials.

Time Line


1979
The idea for a leadership program is brought to Richmond

1981
LMR Alumni Association formed

1986
First use of traditional sponsors

1994
Team building retreat is added

1996
LMR & Alumni Association unite

1997
First full-time staff is hired

2000
First class to select a Servant Leader Award recipient

2002
LMR website goes live

2012
Hiring of education consultant to manage flagship program

2015
Off the Cuff and Convening Leaders programs created for alumni engagement

2016
First Board Connector held in partnership with Community Foundation for greater Richmond

2018
Launch of LMR Magazine

1980
The first class is selected

1985
Change from focus on emerging leaders to inclusion of existing leaders

1993
LMR Annual Fund established

1995
Community Action Projects are initiated

1997
First year of Ukrop Community Vision Award

1997
Endowment fund initiated out of $1M challenge grant

2001
LMR is established as a standalone 501c3

2007
Seminar day issues are chosen by the current class

2012
Community action projects are replaced by the Immersion Experience

2015
Inaugural Lora M. Robins Speaker Series in partnership with Robins Foundation

2017
Last print directory published – Alumni directory now exclusively available online

2019
Board Concierge Service established

Words from Our Founders


"It’s hard to get movement on local issues if you don’t get involved."

Carlton Moffatt (President of the Chamber of Commerce in 1980)

"The change from focusing on just emerging leaders to the inclusion of more seasoned leaders was wise. Bringing together young people and established professionals is necessary."

Tom Bliley (VP of the Chamber of Commerce in 1980)

"LMR does a good job of working quietly in the background."

S. Buford Scott (Incoming Chamber of Commerce chairman in 1980)

"LMR is similar to training in the army – it teaches leaders to function whenever, wherever, and however."

John Hager (VP of the Chamber of Commerce in 1981)

Support Our Mission

Help Us Build a Stronger Richmond Region
Thanks to the generous support of LMR alumni, community partners, and local corporations, we are able to provide programs and opportunities for community leaders to connect with one another, to increase their understanding of key community issues, and to serve in an impactful manner. By supporting LMR, you will play an integral role in advancing our mission of strengthening the Richmond Region by connecting diverse leaders and preparing them to serve.

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