Co-founder, The Hear Foundation
Leon Ford, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is an accomplished entrepreneur, author, international speaker, community organizer and a former City Council candidate for Pittsburgh’s District 9. A well-respected activist, mental health ambassador and social advocate for change, he has devoted his life to the betterment of his community.
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Leon’s knowledge of social disparities and injustice comes from personal experience. In 2012, at the age of 19, Leon was unjustly shot five times by a Pittsburgh Police officer during a racially charged traffic stop stemming from a case of mistaken identity. Though that shooting left him physically paralyzed, Leon has not allowed his circumstances to deter him from having a positive impact on his community and the world. Through speaking engagements, community work and mentorship, he has sparked a movement cultivating leaders, organizers and social entrepreneurs to evoke change and reshape their communities for generations to come.
Leon is the author of Untold: Testimony and Guide to Overcoming Adversity (2017) and The Leon Self Care Handbook: From Surviving to Thriving, a downloadable resource that he created to support community wellbeing and those suffering from trauma. In sharing his journey, he outlines tools for healing ranging from conventional therapy to everyday practices of journaling, reading, fitness, meditation, time management, reflection and overall wellness practices. His new book, I am Leon Ford, The Phoenix Who Rises, releases in May 2023. Most recently, Leon has joined 150+ other leaders as a Founding Partner of Starts With Us – a movement to end the culture wars by fostering curiosity, compassion, and courage as daily habits.
While Leon is passionate about educating the community, he has also devoted time to work with police officers to help provide clarity on cultural competency. His work includes working with PA legislators to draft policies that modify the use of force laws.
In 2019, he executive produced the Cannes Film Festival award-winning documentary Leon. His work on the long-form video Breaking Bread: A conversation on race in America (2021) is a recipient of The Shorty Awards and captures six strangers from different backgrounds and viewpoints sharing a meal and having the crucial – and difficult – conversations Americans must have to heal America.
Leon is a member of The Aspen Institute’s Inaugural Civil Society Fellowship, which aims to prepare and engage the next generation of community and civic leaders, activists and problem solvers from across the political spectrum. He serves as an entrepreneur in residence for Bronze Investments, focusing on social impact companies, and is co-founder of the Leon Ford Legacy Fund, established in 2017 to advocate for community healing, individual empowerment, and social change, with a specific focus of turning pain into purpose and transforming grief into greatness. He is a board member of Let’s Reimagine, the Penn Hills Charter School Foundation, and the Ryan Shazier Foundation, and is the recipient of President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award (2017), The Root 100 (2018), and Pittsburgh’s 40 Under 40 (2019).
In 2022, Leon, together with Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Chief Scott Schubert, founded The Hear Foundation to foster collaboration between the public and police.
Chief Scott E. Schubert
Co-founder, The Hear Foundation
Chief Scott E. Schubert is a 29-year veteran of the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Two years ago, following the death of George Floyd, he and Leon gradually formed a friendship. Though not always aligned in agreement, that friendship is forged in mutual respect and a deep dedication to making Pittsburgh a place where every neighborhood is safe, and every resident is given equal opportunity to thrive. In 2022, Chief Schubert and Leon co-founded The Hear Foundation to bring community groups, the public, and law enforcement together in collaboration to solve issues impacting public safety in Pittsburgh. That same year, Chief Schubert announced that he will retire from the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police effective July 1, 2022, and take a position as section chief, Global Law Enforcement Support at the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services headquarters in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
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Prior to being promoted to Chief of Pittsburgh Police in 2017, he served a variety of assignments as a Patrolman, Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Commander, Assistant Chief, and Acting Chief. During that time, he was responsible for assignments in Patrol, Investigations, Special Deployment Division, Homeland Security, and Special Events Planning.
Chief Schubert is responsible for the overall command of supervisors, detectives, uniform officers and civilian staff assigned to six Police Zones, Special Deployment Division, Investigations and Support Services. He has extensive knowledge in special events planning and homeland security-related topics and participated in the planning and coordination of the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star Game; 2006 and 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl celebrations and victory parades; and the 2009, 2016 and 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup celebrations and victory parades. He was selected by the City of Pittsburgh and the United States Secret Service to serve as the co-coordinator for the 2009 G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh.
Chief Schubert received a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Law Enforcement from Point Park University; is a 2011 graduate of the 245th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia; a 2005 graduate of the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police in Boston, Mass.; a 2002 graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command; and a 2018 graduate of the National Executive Institute class #41 in Quantico, Virginia. Finally, Chief Schubert is a proud graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh.
In addition, Chief Schubert is the current Law Enforcement Torch Run Director for Special Olympics Pennsylvania, a Board Member of Special Olympics Pennsylvania, Board Member of 412 Boxing, Member of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Advisory Board, a Past Co-Chair of the Region 13 Task Force Law Enforcement Committee, a Past Co-Chair of the Area Maritime Security Committee, a Past President and Historian of the Pennsylvania State Division of the International Association for Identification, a member of FBI National Academy Association and a member of the Pittsburgh Police Emerald Society.