Jun 04, 2011

Thirty Changemakers Complete Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service

Thirty dynamic recent college graduates completed the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service (FELPS) in May, marking the culmination of the sixth year of RCLA and NYU Wagner's signature program to develop diverse leaders early in their careers.

Through the program, fellows evaluate and refine their leadership skills and practices, craft a career plan based on personal assessments and professional goals; deepen their understanding of public service organizations; and build a network of talented, dynamic peers who can offer support and guidance. The fellows, all of whom work full-time in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or philanthropy, meet formerly for twice-monthly sessions over seven months, and also informally during independently organized meet-ups.

Senior-level public service executives serve as guest speakers, offering insights from their own career trajectories and on the latest issues and trends in the field. This year's speakers included: New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott; NYU Wagner Dean Ellen Schall, who founded the fellowship; Liesl Gerntholtz, director of the Women's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch; Brotherhood/Sister Sol Executive Director Khary Lazarre-White; and Sigmund Ginsburg, founder of the New York City Urban Fellows program.

In addition, the FELPS curriculum includes an ongoing series of readings and journal reflections, self-evaluation activities, facilitated small group discussions to foster peer learning, and informational interviews.

Mentorship is a key component of the program, and Fellows meet in small groups and one-on-one with Career Guides and Alumni Guides, who serve as mentors throughout the course of the fellowship. This year's Career Guides, all senior directors and managers in public service, included: Leticia Smith-Evans, civil rights attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Alexandria Sica, executive director of the Dumbo Improvement District; Jack Schnirman, vice president of Management Consulting for Bowne Management Systems; Krystal Reyes, senior advisor for Children & Family Services in the NYC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health & Human Services; and Josh Klainberg, deputy director of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

At the fellowship graduation on May 18, guest speaker Reinaldo Rivera, Jr., the regional director for the US Department of Justice Community Relations Service, encouraged the Fellows to build their careers around "competence, compassion, and courage." Other speakers included NYU Wagner Dean Ellen Schall and 2011 Fellow Jawad Cipriani, an undergraduate affairs officer at Prep for Prep, who discussed the importance of having a group of people to turn to for support and inspiration in coming years. His words echoed those of many fellows about the importance of the mentorship and a network of like-minded, passionate leaders they gained through the fellowship.

As one Fellow wrote about the experience: "To be around a group of young, eager, passionate, challenging, and smart individuals, all committed to public service, inspires and motivates me to stay in the sector. Working in such a small organization our sessions provided me with a much needed reminder of all the different types of interesting people who are out there trying to change the world."

The application for the 2012 Class of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service will be available online in Summer 2011.

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