The Vail Alliance inspires purposeful leading and living helping people manage life’s transitions. This includes the inner work of developing more clarity and self-awareness and the outer work of contributing to communities and the world.

Through one’s own sense of it, purposeful living is sharing, giving back, mentoring, and serving others and the community. Alliance programs, both online and in-person, support individuals as they navigate life and work transitions and their self-renewal. We’re a 501(c)(3) public charity.

Our purpose is to inspire purposeful leading and living.

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A committed and professional working group is advancing the Alliance:

  • Terry Minger, a former Vail Town Manager and foundation executive
  • Buck Elliott, a local business owner and entrepreneur
  • John Horan-Kates, an author, executive, and founder of the Vail Valley Foundation
  • Gregg Vanourek, an award-winning author and executive training, teaching, and speaking in the U.S. and Europe
  • Art Currier, a former business executive and sustainability champion
  • Richard Leider, a best-selling author and speaker and our Purpose Ambassador
  • Sarah Smith Orr, a Ph.D., life coach, consultant, and professor, and our Advisor

Most of the Alliance founders either live in Vail or have extensive experience running organizations in the Vail Valley.

Each of the founders has considerable experience in personal development: Most are experienced retreat facilitators and coaches, many with over forty years of experience.

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Inside First™

We use the Inside First™ perspective in our programs, a framework developed and refined over several decades by top practitioners in this field and used with great effect with many individuals and groups.

We’ve found that most such programs begin on the outside with skill-building and similar elements. While these are important, we think it works best when we begin with the “inside first” work of clarifying one’s values and purpose, then move to the “outside next” work of expressing one’s purpose, applying it in the larger world, while also addressing the “in between” work of removing barriers and identifying onramps to connect people with opportunities. Together, they offer a picture of how to move from internal exploration to external application.

Our Spiritual Perspective

We believe that people who incorporate a spiritual perspective into their lives and leadership are more likely to seek meaning and significance over self-aggrandizement. We believe that great leadership is built more on character and one’s personal ethics than on skills. And we believe that one’s character and ethics are in turn founded to a great degree on that spiritual perspective. This orientation recognizes that many leaders are spiritually hungry, but institutionally wary. And it recognizes that one of the best ways to get beyond our selfishness is to recognize that there is a higher power.

The Alliance endorses the proposition that great leadership can be strengthened and enriched by acknowledging and embracing the spiritual aspect of our humanity. We do not sanction any particular religion or spiritual tradition. We do not proselytize in favor of any one tradition, but are free to bring God into our conversations by asking what leaders believe and value and encouraging thoughtful dialogue on each individuals’ perspectives regarding spirituality. We might say we are “spiritually pluralistic.”

For many people, a spiritual perspective informs their purpose, values, and vision – their very essence. We seek to create authentic meaningful dialogue among thoughtful people, so to exclude this area would be folly. We believe incorporating a spiritual orientation is important – it differentiates us.

“I think much religion has been selling people an evacuation plan rather than helping them participate in a transformation plan.”

Dr. Brian McLaren – Center for Action & Contemplation


Benefits of the Inside First™ Model:


  • Developing a clearer sense of your purpose energizes your work.
  • Gaining increased insight into your values and beliefs improves ethical decision-making.
  • Creating a sharp vision of your future provides a powerful roadmap to significance.
  • Being clear about what’s important to you allows you to focus your creative energy for extraordinary results.
  • Developing listening skills makes you a better communicator.
  • Building relationships of trust helps you see that making progress through others is the essence of life and leadership.
  • Honoring a commitment to lifelong learning keeps you growing.
  • Gaining awareness of your strengths and potential allows you to maximize your influence and make greater contributions.
  • Drawing upon your spiritual perspective helps you maintain a healthy ego.
  • Developing an appreciation for nature allows you to reflect on the lessons of life.

About Our Logo:

Why did we choose an image of a waterdrop to represent our organization?
A single drop of water causes many ripples, expanding outward in concentric circles. Like a water drop, purposeful living starts from the inside, from the heart, with a clear sense of purpose and values. It then moves outward to connect and serve people, communities, allies, and partners. Our InsideFirst™ approach facilitates this movement through inspired self-discovery and group dialogue.

“Purpose is that deepest dimension within us—our central core. It is the quality we choose to shape our lives around. Purpose is already within us waiting to be discovered.”

Richard Leider

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