For nearly four decades, Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) has worked
diligently at helping young people make a difference and become positive
catalysts for change—in the home, in the school, in the workplace and in the
community. As one of the nation's foremost nonprofit, non tax-supported youth
leadership development organizations, HOBY is respected worldwide.
Beginnings in an African Jungle
In the summer of 1958, actor Hugh O'Brian received the
invitation that would change his life. O'Brian, then 33, was in Winnipeg,
Manitoba, parlaying his fame as television's legendary Wyatt Earp into extra
income by guest-starring with a circus.
Then the cable arrived from French Equatorial Africa: Dr.
Albert Schweitzer would welcome him at any time. O'Brian had long admired
the German doctor-missionary- theologian-musician. "I'd read so much about him,"
he reflects. "He was a great humanitarian who could have done anything he wanted
in the world, and there he was in the middle of Africa taking care of people."
Within two weeks he was on his way, by commercial airliner,
bush plane and canoe, to the famed hospital that Schweitzer had founded in 1913
on the banks of the Ogooue River in Lambarene.
There he was met by a very old man with a huge, white walrus
mustache, wearing white pants, shirt and pith helmet. "That was his uniform,"
says O'Brian, recalling his first sighting of Schweitzer.
The actor spent nine days at the clinic complex where
Schweitzer and volunteer doctors and nurses, working without electricity or
running water, cared for patients, including many with leprosy.
Schweitzer, then 83. who had received the 1952 Nobel Peace
Prize for his efforts in behalf of the "Brotherhood of Nations," was concerned
about global peace prospects and was impressed that the young American had taken
the trouble to visit him. The doctor led the actor through history over those
evenings. Schweitzer was convinced that the United States was the only country
in the world with the ability to bring about peace.
"He said the United States must take a leadership role,"
O'Brian recounts, "or we are a lost civilization."
It was an unforgettable nine days. And, as O'Brian departed,
Schweitzer took his hand and asked: "Hugh, what are you going to do with this?"
Two weeks after returning from his 1958 meeting with
Schweitzer, O'Brian put together a prototype seminar for young leaders.
42 Years Later...
From 1958 to 1967, leadership seminars took place in Los
Angeles for sophomores from California. In 1968 the scope of the HOBY
program grew to include national and international participants, and the seminar
moved annually to different major cities across the United States. Thus, the
International Leadership Seminar, now known as the World Leadership Congress (WLC),
began. In an effort to include more students nationwide, three-day HOBY
Leadership Seminars were instituted in 1977 in which high schools throughout the
country may nominate a sophomore to attend a HOBY seminar in their state.
Annually, more titan 14,000 tenth graders, representing as
many high schools nationwide, graduate from HOBY Leadership Seminars.
In 1991. HOBY added one-day leadership seminars called
Community Leadership Workshops (CLEWs). These workshops have become
popular because schools may nominate multiple numbers of students.
For more information about HOBY activities and sponsorship
opportunities please call 1-8181-851-3980 by fax (818) 851-3999 or at