In the fall of 2013, Danny Ludeman announced his retirement as CEO of Wells Fargo Advisors and decided to dedicate his life to helping others. He was informed of Project COPE, a small nonprofit that provided limited re-entry services to individuals leaving prison since 1985. Candace O’Connor, a professional writer and volunteer president of Project COPE, explained the devastating impact of reincarceration and suggested that Ludeman could help expand the nonprofit’s capacity. With that, Concordance Academy of Leadership was established.
Ludeman hired Washington University’s Brown School, the country’s top school of social work, to research effective, evidence and trauma-informed randomized controlled trials – over 107,000 studies were reviewed in the process. This research informed the conceptual models they created for the Academy.
In June 2016, the Academy began providing services to individuals in three Missouri state prisons. Ludeman looks to take the organization to scale, working with thousands of recently released inmates – first focusing on the St. Louis region, and then expanding statewide and eventually nationally.