About YLC

The Young Leadership Council (YLC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic organization created to develop leadership through community projects.



YLC is credited with founding the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, which recruits major sporting events to the city. The Sports Foundation has had an economic impact of more than $1 billion.


YLC made a major impact on the city’s skyline by raising more than $500,000 to add lights to the Mississippi River Bridge, now known as the Crescent City Connection.


YLC created a slogan that has become a widely held mantra in the city – New Orleans: Proud to Call it Home. This civic pride campaign is best known for its bumper stickers, found on cars around town and across the country.


YLC presented Festival of Fins, the largest art display to ever hit the streets of New Orleans. An auction of the fish sculptures raised more than $550, 000 for 65 local non-profits.


Leadership Development Series, YLC’s flagship ten-week series, was created by Executive Director Gerald Duhon. In this project, young leaders were connected with industry professionals to learn best practices in non-profit management.


YLC partnered with the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans to highlight issues of adult literacy and bring people together across cultural lines by reading one book at the same time. This project was dubbed: One Book One New Orleans, and it continues today with an eight-week reading period and new book every year.


YLC took over full production of the Wednesday at the Square concert series from the Downtown Development District after having provided volunteers for the project since its inaugural year in 1999. The free live music festival has become an annual rite of spring, attracting an average of 6,000 attendees each week.


YLC launched its second public art display – this time with miniature streetcar replicas designed by local artists and sponsored by area businesses. A Street Car Named Inspire served as a tangible sign of New Orleans’ recovery post-Hurricane Katrina.


YLC members founded Youth Run NOLA, a project focused on developing healthy, young leaders through running. In 2013, Youth Run NOLA became its own independent non-profit.


YLC partnered with the City of New Orleans to renovate the New Orleans Terminal Railroad Bridge and add decals to welcome Super Bowl XLVII attendees and other tourists to the city.

YLC members created YLC Kicks, a youth program developed around soccer. In 2017, YLC Kicks became its own nonprofit managed by The Catalyst Group.


YLC partnered with ARC New Orleans for the Mardi Gras Recycling Initiative. In 2020, YLC worked with the Krewe of Cleopatra to become the first krewe to offer on-float recycling.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, YLC pivoted to virtual leadership development programming and produced 85 virtual leadership development experiences with 36 hands-on leadership opportunities.


Through volunteer-led community projects, YLC recruits and retains young professionals to New Orleans and has a positive impact on the quality of life in the region. The oldest independent YPO (young professionals’ organization) in the country, YLC has raised more than $25 million to support community projects in and around the New Orleans area since 1986.

YLC has more than 500 members and is led by a 24-member board of directors and two staff members. Each community initiative is led by one or more volunteer project leaders.


In the spring of 1986, a handful of young New Orleanians came together to tackle problems facing the community. They were a few years out of college and didn’t think existing civic organizations would afford them opportunities for hands-on involvement. So, they formed their own organization and called it the Young Leadership Council. Their unique and primary focus was leadership development through community projects.

The YLC lives on more than 35 years later in the same tradition with over 500 members and numerous community projects.