HOBY was founded by Hugh O’Brian in 1958 as a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire a global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation. From 1958 to 1967, leadership seminars only took place in Los Angeles for High School sophomores from California. The success of the program over the first 10 years resulted in the expansion of the scope of the HOBY program. In 1968, seminars included international as well as national participants, and the leadership seminars moved to major cities across the United States on an annual basis.
In 1972, in keeping with the changing times of the growing women’s movement, young women were invited to attend HOBY seminars. In 1977 Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island are the first to hold State Leadership seminars. In 1986 the HOBY Alumni Association initiated Community Leadership Workshops, one-day local leadership training workshops. By 1988 10,676 high school sophomores, representing 51 percent of U.S. high schools, participated in State Leadership Seminars; HOBY volunteers numbered 2,500.
In 1990, the International Leadership Seminar was renamed the World Leadership Congress, and 28 countries sent students representatives for an eight-day global leadership summit. By 1998, HOBY celebrated its 40th Anniversary and launched a new initiative, Leadership for Service, challenging all HOBY ambassadors to commit to 100 hours of community service. Twenty pilot sites were given the community service challenge resulting in 345 ambassadors accomplishing more than 24,000 volunteer hours in 850 community service projects. Hugh’s belief in the potential of every human being and his commitment to helping the youth of the world become major contributors to society is his legacy. Today more than 500,000 HOBY alumni around the world are making a difference in the lives of others, thanks to the vision and passion of Hugh O’Brian
“I do NOT believe we are all born equal — CREATED equal in the eyes of God, YES — but physical and emotional differences, parental guidance, varying environments, being in the right place at the right time, all play a role in enhancing or limiting an individual’s development. But I DO believe every man and woman, if given the opportunity and encouragement to recognize his or her own potential, regardless of background, has the Freedom To Choose in our world. Will an individual be a taker or a giver in life? Will that person be satisfied merely to exist, or seek a meaningful purpose? Will he or she dare to dream the impossible dream?”
-Hugh O’Brian (1925-2016)