Frequently Asked Questions

What is The New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows?

Dean's Dinner
A scene from a Dean’s Dinner

The New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows is a professional development program for nonprofit practitioners. It is a unique initiative of The New York Community Trust, established in association with the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College and its Office of Executive Programs and the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management.

Fellows, or participants in the program, take part in an intensive professional development program that spans approximately 12 weeks. The program includes weekly full-day classes on Fridays led by faculty who blend practice and theory. Fellows also have the opportunity to choose a mentor to work with them on their change projects – an initiative specific to their organizations – as well as their professional development.

What is its aim?

The Leadership Fellows 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 56 mid-career practitioners, chosen each year from NYCT grantee organizations, 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.

How many cohorts does the Fellowship have annually?

There are two cohorts per year: spring and fall.

How do I submit a nomination?

During the recruitment period, executive directors or CEOs of eligible organizations are sent a Call for Nominations. Interested individuals can email [email protected] to check eligibility and receive the nomination materials.

How are nominations evaluated?

Each nomination is scored on a 25-point scale. A maximum of five points is possible in each of the following selection criteria categories:

  1. Evidence of relevant management experience – Has the candidate been responsible for managing a project or program? Has the candidate managed staff, volunteers, board members, and/or other stakeholders?
  2. Analytical thinking (as evidenced by change project description) – Does the candidate describe the context of the challenge or issue that her/his proposed project addresses?
  3. Written communication skills – Is the writing clear and convincing?
  4. Leadership experience – Has the candidate held leadership roles involving staff, volunteers, board members, or other stakeholders at his/her current organization? Does the candidate have leadership experience prior to her/his current organization?
  5. Proposed change project – Does the proposed project make sense in light of the organizational issue(s) or challenge(s) the applicant has identified?

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

Each eligible organization can 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.

Who completes the nomination form?

The executive director or CEO completes the first page of the nomination form. The nominee then completes the rest of the form, including 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 are eligible, as well as those without any college experience.

What are the Dean’s Conversations?

During the course of the semester, Dean David Birdsell of the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College hosts monthly informal conversations with outside guest speakers. These discussions provide an opportunity for fellows 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 monthly Dean’s Conversations, meet regularly with their mentors, and complete all assigned readings, written assignments, and surveys. Classes begin at 9 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m., including a one-hour lunch break.

Will there be required work outside of the classroom?

Yes. Faculty will assign readings and, in some cases, written assignments. Additionally, during the course of the semester, fellows are required to design the change project that they presented in their nomination forms. Fellows will then present a summary of their initiative plans to their classmates through two presentations.

Where will classes be held?

Classes are typically held at FPWA or at Baruch College. Alternative locations are used on an as-needed basis.

Do fellows receive an academic certificate?

Upon completion of their course work, Leadership Fellows will receive an executive certificate 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?

Please reach out to us at [email protected] to learn more about our recruitment cycles.

Who teaches the classes?

Faculty members of the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College and other experienced practitioners serve as faculty.

When are the course readings and syllabus made available?

Fellows can access these documents electronically a week before the first class date.

How can I find out more?

Please feel free to reach out to Gaurav (Mike) Bawa, the Associate Director, or Michael Seltzer, the Director of the New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows by emailing [email protected].