Donald Vandergriff

Protector. Educator. Strategist. Reformer.

Director of Adaptive Leadership Training (ALT)

Focus Areas: Mission command, leadership development, adaptability, organizational culture, learning methodologies, education and training, personnel and manpower management, and military history


Major Donald Vandergriff (U.S. Army retired) is an award-winning teacher, writer, and lecturer who specializes in military leadership education and training. He served 24 years as a Marine, Tennessee Army National Guard enlisted, and U.S. Army Armor officer. After retiring from the U.S. Army, he worked for their Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) Forward with a focus on leader and soldier development. He has also been a consultant and guest speaker at NATO, the U.S. Military Academy, and several law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Baltimore Police Department.


Vandergriff is the author or editor of seven books and over 100 articles dealing with leadership. His book, Adopting Mission Command: Developing Leaders for a Superior Command Culture, has been widely praised by a range of experts in military leadership. Vandergriff has twice been recognized as Teacher of the Year for the Army ROTC at the National and Regional levels. Thanks to his methodology and direction, the Army ROTC program at Georgetown University grew in rank from 241 to become the top ranked program in the nation in only three years. In 2015, Vandergriff designed, wrote, and executed the Program of Instruction (POI) for the Adaptive Soldier and Leader Training and Education (ASLTE) programs at Fort Benning, Georgia and Fort Campbell, Kentucky.


Vandergriff has acted as a consultant to the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Initiative Group (SIG) as well as to the Commander of the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, the Commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, and the U.S. Military Academy. His methodology, Outcomes-Based Learning (OBL), was placed in the 2020 USMC Strategy and Campaign Plans and employed by the U.S. Marine Corps. Vandergriff’s work on mission command (Adaptive Leadership Training) is currently being used by the Ukrainian Army.


Vandergriff is a change agent who throughout his career has never been satisfied with the status quo. His methodology is partly the basis for current U.S. Army personnel management reforms as they relate to developing better leaders. Former Secretary of the Army Thomas White told a reporters’ roundtable that Vandergriff’s book Path to Victory should serve as the blueprint for the future Army. Vandergriff’s work is currently impacting the U.S. Army talent management reforms.


Military Order of Saint Maurice Award for impacting U.S. Army infantry learnings over the last 20 years, Association of the U.S. Infantry, 2021; Honorary PhD from The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, London, U.K., 2013; Brigade Instructor of the Year Award, 2004; Colonel Leo A. Codd ROTC Instructor of the Year Award, 2003; Military Order of Saint George Award, Armor/Cavalry Association, 1995; BA in Education, University of Tennessee; MA in Land Warfare with an emphasis in German Military History, American Military University; volunteer (Revolutionary and Civil Wars) tour guide for the American Battlefield Trust