What is Leadership Fellows New York?

Leadership Fellows New York is a professional development fellowship for emerging nonprofit practitioners. It was established by the New York Community Trust in association with the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College and their Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management.


What is its aim?

The Leadership Fellows program aims to ensure that tomorrow’s nonprofit organizations have the human capital to flourish and advance their missions on behalf of the people of New York City, Long Island, and Westchester.


What are its objectives?

The objectives are:

  • To equip 60 mid-career practitioners each year, chosen from grantee organizations of partner foundations, with the knowledge, competencies, and skills to be more effective managers and leaders
  • To support these practitioners in applying their newly learned skills within their organizations
  • To develop participants’ understanding and appreciation of both the overall nonprofit sector in the greater New York City region and the impact of local, state, and federal government policies and regulations on their work
  • To foster a network of graduates who can learn and find support from their peers within and across the different sub-sectors of the New York nonprofit community
  • To connect practitioners with leaders and policy makers in the New York metropolitan region
  • To provide a malleable curriculum that allows participants to identify and enhance their particular talents
  • To create an appetite for lifelong professional development


What are the eligibility requirements?

  • You must be a mid-career professional with a minimum of five years of overall nonprofit experience and at least three years of managerial experience — managing people, projects, and budgets.
  • Your organization must have received a grant from The New York Community Trust, The Westchester Community Foundation, or The Long Island Community Foundation within the last three years. Unfortunately, donor-advised grants are not eligible.
  • You must be nominated by your executive director or CEO.


Are there any fees associated with this program?

All of the costs associated with the fellowship are underwritten by the New York Community Trust. The program is effectively free for applicants.


How many cohorts does the fellowship have annually?

There are two cohorts per year: spring and fall.


What is the course structure like?

Fellows will participate in approximately 10 class sessions scheduled on Fridays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. They will also attend a minimum of four Leadership Conversations, which are scheduled bimonthly on Mondays from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The sessions will be taught by distinguished faculty from the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs as well as other experienced practitioners.

Fellows also have the opportunity to have a minimum of four 1-hour meetings with a carefully selected mentor affiliated with the fellowship.


How do I submit a nomination?

For a link to the application form, please see our applications page here.


How are nominations evaluated?

Nominations are scored on a 20-point scale. Candidates are awarded a maximum of 5 points for each of the following categories:

  • Analytical Thinking: Does the candidate describe a challenge or issue that gives context to his/her proposed project?
  • Written Communication Skills: Is the writing clear and convincing?
  • Leadership Experience: Has the candidate held leadership roles involving staff, volunteers, board members, or other stakeholders at his/her organization? Does the candidate have leadership experience prior to his/her current organization?
  • Proposed Change Project: Does the proposed change project make sense for the organizational issue(s) or challenge(s) the candidate has identified?


Can my organization nominate more than one person to be a Leadership Fellow?

Each organization may only nominate one individual per cohort.


What is the change project?

The change project is an initiative of front-burner importance for the organization, developed in consultation with the executive director or CEO of the organization. The projects must address a leadership or management issue, challenge, and/or opportunity facing their organizations. Fellows use the skills gained through the curriculum to develop a strategic plan to bring the change project to fruition.


Can my change project evolve during the fellowship?

Yes, the projects can and do change. However, all changes must be approved by the executive director or CEO of the organization.


Are there any sample change projects listed online that applicants can review?

Yes. The following examples showcase change projects that we have accepted in the past, minus any identifying information about the fellows or organizations that submitted them. Note that this is not what your change project needs to be like; these are simply examples that are intended to showcase the needs surrounding various change projects.


Development Change Project
The change project that I propose is to strengthen and build up the residential department through the development of training exercises and assessment tools that will assist management in developing, implementing and retaining leadership skills.
Fundraising Change Project
I would like to build out a comprehensive corporate giving program that would be tied to volunteer events for employees. We don’t currently have volunteer opportunities for large groups so I want to think about what we could offer for corporations that want to volunteer with us. Corporate giving is one part of our overall major gifts program, and I believe we have a lot of untapped potential there, but we would need a “menu” of volunteer and partner opportunities to help with corporate engagement.
Operations Change Project
The change project that I would like to design is a dashboard that captures all the essential measurements of HR, finance, programming, and development. The intent of the change project will be to identify the KPIs, the frequency at which it makes sense to measure them, the best tools, as well as the ideal presentation for various audiences. The dashboard will be a tool that the organization can utilize both internally to plan and measure our ongoing performance, as well as with external stakeholders (funders, sponsors, and government) to show the performance, health and viability of the organization.



Is there a sample application that I can review?

Yes. The following examples come from three different Fellowship candidates who received high scores in our scoring rubric. Identifying information has been redacted or changed.


What managerial and/or leadership experiences make you a strong candidate for this fellowship?
I have worked at my organization since I graduated from law school, starting out as a law graduate and working up over the last 10 years to current director of my unit. I have expanded the unit from just one case-handling paralegal to two full-time attorneys, two full-time case handling paralegals, and one intake paralegal. This has helped expand our ability to serve more clients in our community, which became extremely relevant when the pandemic occurred. Within weeks of the shutdown, the number of clients reaching out to our organization tripled. Many people had lost their jobs and were in urgent need of government benefits (including food stamps, welfare, and Medicaid). Our unit was overwhelmed. I created a system in which my unit assisted clients online with new applications, and I designed workshops to train other employees throughout the organization to also assist. I then partnered with our pro bono unit to create a benefits application clinic where we trained volunteer attorneys in the process and supervised them in their overall assistance to clients. With all of this, we were able to help over 3,000 clients gain access to much-needed benefits. My ability to pivot in urgent situations as well as partner with different units and people make me a strong candidate for this fellowship.
Please describe how this fellowship can enable you to advance professionally. For example, what skills and competencies would you hope to develop or strengthen?
Through the fellowship, I hope to refine my leadership skills, gain new insights, and learn from peers and mentors. I am particularly excited about learning about the pros and cons of various leadership styles, the best practices for promoting capacity for innovation, and drivers for facilitating organizational culture change. I am at a point in my career where I want to take on greater leadership within my organization and with partners with whom I work. I think that the combination of the peer learning, the mentorship and the other opportunities provided by the fellowship will enhance my leadership skills, expand my networks and support my growth and professional development as a leader in New York state.
Describe the change project that you will design and begin to implement during the course of your fellowship. Please be sure to relate the change project to your current role and/or responsibilities.
I am managing the creation of my organization’s DEI strategy and DEI governance group (DGG) and will be working with the chairs of the DGG to ensure all teams are making progress against OKRs. One of the major drivers behind this work was to shift teams from operating in silos to working in concert with one another to maximize our impact. This organizational change will require business unit leaders to change some of their habits and behaviors and/or implement new habits to support the effort. For my change project, I would like to design a project management structure that will empower me to drive the DEI strategy forward with project leads, even while I am not the functional manager for many of them. I would like the structure to leverage insights from the I/O psychology field to support behavior change and enable project leads to work more in concert with one another as well as allow the DGG to weigh in on challenges of practice.



Who completes the nomination form?

The nominee must complete the first part of the nomination form, which includes a brief description of their planned change project. The executive director or CEO must then review and approve the completed nomination form before it is transmitted.


Are there educational eligibility requirements?

There are no educational restrictions. Candidates with advanced degrees, as well as those without any college experience, are eligible and encouraged to apply.


What are the Leadership Conversations?

The Leadership Conversations are informal conversations with outside guest speakers hosted by moderators from our program. These discussions provide an opportunity for fellows and alumni to be together outside the classroom and to engage in conversation with leaders of foundations, nonprofit organizations, and city and state government.


What time commitment is required of fellows?

Fellows are required to attend all class sessions, participate in a minimum of 4 Leadership Conversations, meet regularly with their mentors, and complete all assigned readings, written assignments, surveys, and presentations.


Will there be required work outside of the virtual classroom?

Yes. Instructors may require readings and, in some cases, written assignments. Additionally, during the course of the semester, fellows are required to submit one midterm writeup and one final writeup about the change project that they presented in their nomination forms.


Where will classes be held?

Classes are typically held at FPWA (40 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY)


Do fellows receive an academic certificate?

Upon completion of this program, Leadership Fellows will receive a Certificate of Completion in Nonprofit Leadership & Management from the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College. Baruch College is one of the six senior colleges of the City University of New York.


When are nominations due?

For the current cohort’s nomination deadline, please see our applications page here.


Who teaches the classes?

For a glance at our most recent roster of instructors, please visit our instructors page here.


When are the course readings and syllabus made available?

Fellows will receive these documents a week before the first class date.


How can I find out more?

Please feel free to reach out to us at info@fellows.gbtesting.us if you have any other questions!