January 2013 Atlas Corps Fellow Nurangiz Khodzharova

January 2013 Atlas Corps Fellow Nurangiz Khodzharova

The mission of the Atlas Corps is to address critical social issues by developing leaders, strengthening organizations, and promoting innovation through overseas fellowships in the U.S. and Latin America. The Atlas Corps offers 6 to 18 month fellowships three times a year for skilled nonprofit professionals from around the world. Applicants from the U.S. have the option of two fellowships in Latin America – a Nonprofit Fellowship or a Volunteers Colombia English Teaching Fellowship. Applicants from outside the U.S. can apply for a Nonprofit Fellowship to work at social sector organizations in the U.S. All Fellows serve full-time at Host Organizations working on issues that complement their expertise. Fellows develop their leadership skills while sharing best practices and supplement daily knowledge with theoretical topics presented in the Atlas Corps Global Leadership Lab. Fellows commit to returning to their countries to work for at least one year in the nonprofit sector, sharing new skills, best practices, valuable experiences and a global network of changemakers.

Currently, the Atlas Corps is seeking applicants with two or more years of relevant experience in the social sector and 35 years or younger when the fellowship begins. Benefits of the fellowship include a living stipend, health insurance, and training. Atlas Corps considers applications on a rolling basis for fellowships that begin in January, May, and September. Applicants are encouraged to apply by November 8, 2014 to be considered for the May 2015 class.

To learn more about this fellowship, we interviewed Nurangiz Khodzharova from Russia, who spent her fellowship year at Net Impact, a San Francisco based nonprofit that empowers a new generation to use their careers to drive transformational change in the workplace and the world.

1. What inspired you to apply for the Atlas Corps?

Atlas Corps reached out to me on Devex, a social enterprise and media platform for the global development community, while I was still in grad school in 2010. The program sounded immediately appealing to me as I had been looking for a post-grad school opportunity at that time. The chance to experience the day-to-day operations and contribute to the work of a nonprofit in the U.S. is a very unique opportunity in my opinion. There are many fellowships and exchange programs out there, but the idea of Atlas Corps is different because it creates a mutually beneficial process, where both the fellow and the Host Organization exchange knowledge and best practices. Scott Beale, the Atlas Corps CEO, always says: “Talent is universal but opportunity is not.” Atlas Corps strives to correct that through their program and does so successfully.

The 11th Atlas Corps Class, January 2013

The 11th Atlas Corps Class, January 2013

2. What have been some of the most eye-opening moments during your fellowship?

I’d have to say that meeting all of the amazing, talented fellows from around the world was an eye-opening and life-changing moment. Also, I’d studied in the U.S. before, so I just assumed that this year would be similar to that, but was quickly proved wrong. I definitely had to deal with some unexpected challenges and was off to a pretty rough start, but I was very lucky to be placed at a wonderful host organization, Net Impact. Net Impact is a network of more than 50,000 next-generation leaders that wish to use their business skills to create positive social and environmental change in the workplace and beyond. My job during the fellowship was to create innovative and interesting content for their flagship event, the Net Impact Conference. I learned a great deal working on the 2013 Net Impact Conference, which convened in the heart of the Silicon Valley, California that year. The conference itself was simply amazing, with many sleepless nights leading to it, but at the same time a deeply gratifying experience. Besides my time serving at Net Impact, some of the most memorable moments of that year  were attending President Obama’s inauguration and hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Now that’s an eye-opener!

3. What tips would you give others applying to Atlas Corps?

My biggest advice would be to be flexible, open-minded and ready for a bit of an adventure. I’m on the Atlas Corps Selection Board, so I interview prospective fellows and every year I am very impressed by the accomplished pool of candidates. To make your application stand out, really think about what skills you can bring to the table and why you think Atlas Corps is the right program for you. Also, be ready to answer the question regarding what you want to do when you return to your home country, as that is the central tenet of the Atlas Corps fellowship.

Nurangiz is from Moscow, Russia and has five years of international experience in the nonprofit sector, and earned a Master’s of Science in International Development and Management from Lund University, Sweden. Prior to completing the Atlas Corps Fellowship, she worked for the Migration and Law Integration Center in Moscow coordinating a project on providing assistance to Moldovan children and families in Russia, in partnership with the Terre des hommes Foundation. She is now doing freelance consulting work and co-leads an English public speaking club in Moscow. 

© Victoria Johnson 2014, all rights reserved.

Washington DC Esteemed Fellows Dinner sponsored by Cultural Vistas (October 9, 2014)

Washington DC Esteemed Fellows Dinner sponsored by Cultural Vistas (October 9, 2014)

Yesterday, we held an Esteemed Fellows Dinner in Washington, DC, generously sponsored by Cultural Vistas. The event included current and former fellows from Cultural Vista’s Alfa Fellowship Program in Russia, and the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship and the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) in Germany. They were joined by members of ProFellow’s International Affairs Network, including alumni from the Fulbright program, ProInspire, Capital City Fellows, and the Gabr Fellowship, among many others.

Guests mingled over a delicious meal at Silo in downtown DC, where they discussed topics ranging from global health, international security, the need to encourage minorities to enter STEM fields, and traveling in Kazakhstan. It was a lively and intimate exchange of experiences and ideas among fellows from a variety of disciplines.

The Esteemed Fellows Dinners are organized by our International Fellows Network (IFN), which is a rapidly growing professional networking organization of more than 1,000 current and former fellows from all over the world. We also hold events in San Francisco, New York City and Berlin, Germany, and will be expanding to other cities. If you are a current or former fellow and would like to get involved, please sign up for ProFellow and we’ll be in touch by email. Through the IFN you can connect with other fellows for advice and information on fellowships, jobs, events, graduate programs and international competitions.

October 2014 DC attendees:

  • Brandon Ernst, International Public Policy Fellow
  • Devon Rollins, Center for American Progress Leadership Institute Fellow
  • Diana Galperin, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Junior Fellow
  • Doug Mitchell, Fulbright Senior Specialist to Chile
  • Elisabeth Perry, Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Fellow to Germany
  • Haroun Habib, Gabr Fellow to Egpyt
  • Jennifer Huffman, CBYX Fellow to Germany
  • Jon Yahirun, CBYX Fellow to Germany
  • Kate Bussiere, Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Brazil
  • Maria Mahler-Haug, Robert Bosch Fellow to Germany
  • Michael Blauw, Fulbright grantee to Malaysia
  • Miriam Kochman, Chinese Government Scholar
  • Olga Khrustaleva, Fulbright Scholar to the US from Russia
  • Rachel Manis, CBYX Fellow to Germany
  • Richard Bobo, Cultural Vistas staff
  • Roushani Mansoor, Fulbright-Clinton Fellow in Bangladesh
  • Sarah Hale, Robert Bosch Fellow to Germany
  • Tracy Williams, ProInspire Fellow
  • Valarie Russell, Alfa Fellow to Russia
  • Waiching Wong, Capital City Fellow
2014 Princeton in Africa Fellow Eva Zenilman

2014 Princeton in Africa Fellow Eva Zenilman

Princeton in Africa (PiAf) offers yearlong fellowships in Africa to recent graduates who are committed to Africa’s advancement. Each year, Fellows have the opportunity to work with one of 20-30 organizations in approximately 15 African countries. Fellows have helped improve education and public health, source fresh water and alternative energy, increase family incomes, and provide other services. The program is open to graduating seniors and young alumni from any accredited college or university in the U.S. The deadline to apply is November 2, 2014.

To learn more about this extraordinary opportunity, we interviewed Eva Zenilman, a current PiAf fellow in Kenya, who is currently working with The Boma Project, a U.S-Kenyan non-profit that aims to alleviate poverty and build resiliency in the drylands of Africa.

1. What inspired you to apply for the Princeton in Africa Fellowship?

I worked in Kenya the summer between my junior and senior year of college on a public health study in the Western region, and ten weeks just didn’t feel like enough time. Once I returned to the U.S. in August, I immediately started Googling for fellowships and opportunities. Less than a year later, I was able to return on the Princeton in Africa fellowship.

I now realize that the experience had been crucial in rekindling my spirit of service. After high school, I spent a year volunteering with the AmeriCorps program City Year in Brooklyn. I enjoyed supporting the students in all sorts of ways and adjusting to an unfamiliar environment, and I also found it incredibly empowering to go to work every day with people who were all committed to fostering change.

But then I went to college, and school is so full of tension and pressure that I somewhat lost track of my greater ambition to explore and affect structural change. My work and time in Kenya brought that ambition back in full force, and I knew that Princeton in Africa was the right fit because it embodies those values as an organization and encourages its fellows to do the same.

Eva (right) and a friend in Kenya

Eva (right) and a friend in Kenya

2. What have been some of the most eye-opening moments during your fellowship?

I haven’t been on my fellowship for that long, but in my first month here I was able to spend about 10 days in rural Northern Kenya. The BOMA Project works with pastoral communities in Northern Kenya’s dry, arid lands, and supports women living in extreme poverty in launching micro-enterprises and savings groups.

This trip was to prepare for and run the annual training the organization holds for the field staff, but it gave me a ground-level view of the world that The BOMA Project operates in. The vastness of Northern Kenya (we drove for ten hours and only saw one other car) was breathtaking and mind-boggling. Climate change has toughened the conditions in Northern Kenya, which means that building resilient and sustainable livelihoods among women and households is extremely important. For the first time, I was able to put all that I had learned about our programs into context, see what these livelihoods could look like, and understand the potential effects an increased level of resiliency could have.

The BOMA Project receive new tablets, in order to field staff received tablets to help transition their data collection from paper-based to digital

The BOMA Project field staff received new tablets to help transition their data collection from paper-based to digital

3. What tips would you give others applying to the fellowship?

Don’t be deterred from applying for any reason! Two nights before the application was due, I stopped filling it out because I “knew” I wasn’t going to get it. It took a whole day of pep talks from my brother, my mother and my roommates to get me to press send. And here I am.

I’d recommend reading about the organizations where Princeton in Africa fellows are working or have worked, and thinking about which ones intrigue you and why (and be honest). How does the work relate with your academic interests? How does the post align with your previous work experience? If it doesn’t relate to anything you’ve done, then why the change? Do you want to be in a city, or somewhere more rural? Your lifestyle preferences are important! Asking these questions to yourself helps you become aware of what you want and where you want to challenge yourself, and it helps the staff create a fulfilling experience for its fellows.

But really, don’t be scared of applying.

Eva Zenilman is a current Princeton in Africa fellow. She lives in Nanyuki, Kenya and is a Monitoring and Evaluation Associate at The BOMA Project.

© Victoria Johnson 2014, all rights reserved.

Presidio Graduate School Seminar, September 18, 2014

Presidio Graduate School Seminar, September 18, 2014

This week we kicked off our Fall 2014 University Seminar Tour at the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. During the tour, I am sharing insider tips on how to find and win professional and academic fellowships. I also provide students and staff an overview of a variety of fellowships for different career levels in the U.S. and abroad. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship, the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship in Germany, the Alfa Fellowship in Russia, and the Cultural Vistas summer fellowship abroad, among many others.

The Presidio Graduate School offers MBA, MPA and dual degree programs in Sustainable Management. The graduate program attracts domestic and international students from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, including Fortune 500 corporations, small and medium-sized businesses, nonprofits, and governmental agencies. We were pleased to have the opportunity to share how fellowships can provide graduate students and mid-career professionals opportunities to expand their experience and skills in sustainability.

Our next stops on our tour include Mills College, UC Berkeley and Stanford University. Also, Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service will be sponsoring a special Esteemed Fellows Dinner on October 28th for San Francisco Bay Area fellowship alumni and aspiring fellows from the Stanford community.

If you have questions, please contact us. We hope to see you there!

Global Health Corps Fellows

Global Health Corps Fellows in Jinja, Uganda

The Fulbright U.S. Student Grant is one of the most well-known and competitive fellowship programs for study and research abroad for recent American graduates. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. The awards are geared towards graduating seniors and recent bachelor’s-degree recipients, Master’s and doctoral candidates, and young professionals, including writers, creative and performing artists, journalists, and those in law, business, and other professional fields who have up to 5 years of professional study and/or experience in the field in which they are applying.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Grants are offered in more than 155 countries. For countries with high numbers of applicants like the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Kenya, and South Africa, less than 5% of applicants are awarded a Fulbright grant. Due to the small numbers of spots available in some countries, we often recommend that applicants consider applying to countries that have lower applicant-to-award ratios such as Austria, South Korea, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and Mozambique.

There are also several other funded fellowships that serve as comparable alternatives to the Fulbright award, including:

The Luce Scholars Program in Asia: The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship program established to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. The program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for 15-18 Luce Scholars each year, and welcomes applications from college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals in a variety of fields who have had limited exposure to Asia. The deadline to apply is November 1, 2014.

Princeton in Africa: Princeton in Africa develops young leaders committed to Africa’s advancement by offering yearlong fellowship opportunities with a variety of organizations that work across African continent. Approximately 30 paid fellowships are awarded each year. Fellowships are awarded on a needs-blind basis. Graduating seniors and young alumni from any accredited U.S. college or university are eligible to apply. The deadline to apply is November 2, 2014.

Princeton in Latin America: Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) seeks to connect recent college graduates with one-year, service-oriented positions at NGOs and community based service organizations in Latin America. For most positions, some knowledge of the local language (Spanish, Portuguese, or French) is necessary. PiLA is currently open to graduating seniors and young alumni of Princeton and other universities. The deadline to apply is November 3, 2014.

U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Graduate Research Grant: The U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security graduate research grant program supports exceptional graduate students who are interested in developing a component of their graduate research in a developing country setting. All topics that relate to food security (e.g., agriculture, nutrition, ecological resources, poverty) and are linked to the research strategies of the Feed the Future initiative are admissible. The grants have a value of $15,000-$40,000 for 6-month to 2-year long international research stays. The deadline to apply is November 10, 2014.

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals in Germany: The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) is a fellowship funded by the German Bundestag and U.S. Congress, and administered by Cultural Vistas, that annually provides 75 American and 75 German young professionals the opportunity to spend one year in each others’ countries, studying, interning, and living with hosts on a cultural immersion program. The deadline to apply is December 1, 2014.

Mickey Leland International Hunger Fellows Program: During each two-year fellowship cycle, 12-15 Leland Fellows are placed with international development organizations that include international and local NGOs, U.S. government agencies and multilateral organizations. Fellows work on a variety of food security issues, such as agricultural development, nutrition, natural resource management, agribusiness development and women’s empowerment. Includes a monthly stipend, health insurance and travel expenses. The deadline to apply will be in January 2015.

Boren Fellowships: Boren Fellowships provide up to $30,000 to U.S. graduate students to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study, or increased language proficiency. Boren Fellowships support study and research in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East, with a focus on studying less commonly taught languages. Boren Fellowship awards are made for a minimum of 12 weeks and maximum of 24 months. The deadline to apply is January 27, 2015.

William J. Clinton Fellowship in India: William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service in India is a 10 month leadership fellowship that pairs a select number of young professionals with credible NGOs and social enterprises in India in order to accelerate impact and create effective projects that are replicable, scalable, and sustainable. Applicants must be between the ages of 21 and 34 and completed an undergraduate degree. AIF provides a round trip ticket to India, insurance coverage, and a monthly stipend to each Fellow. The deadline to apply is February 1, 2015.

Global Health Corps: Global Health Corps is mobilizing a global community of emerging leaders to build the movement for health equity. We place talented individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds in paid, high impact roles in NGOs and government agencies in sub-Saharan Africa and the US for one year. During the fellowship year, fellows collaborate, innovate, and create sustainable and impactful change. Applicants from a broad range of sectors and disciplines can apply for up to 3 positions that match their interests and skills, from project management to monitoring and evaluation, engineering, communications and more. The deadline to apply is February 3, 2015.

Rotary Peace Fellowships:  Each year, Rotary selects individuals from around the world to receive fully funded master’s degree fellowships at premier universities in fields related to peace and conflict resolution and prevention. Locations include Japan, UK, Australia, Sweden and the U.S. These fellowships cover tuition and fees, room and board, round-trip transportation, and all internship/field study expenses.  The deadline to submit completed applications to Rotary International is July 1, 2015 for academic study beginning in 2016.

© Victoria Johnson 2014, all rights reserved.

Fulbright-Clinton Fellow Roushani Mansoor with  local children in Comilla, Bangladesh

Fulbright-Clinton Fellow Roushani Mansoor with local children in Comilla, Bangladesh

The Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship aims to build mutual understanding among nations by providing opportunities for U.S. citizens to serve in professional placements in a foreign government ministry or public sector institution in select countries. During their 10-month placements in countries such as Haiti, Kosovo, Peru, Samoa and Bangladesh, Fulbright-Clinton Fellows serve as a “special assistant” for a senior level official. Fellows work in public policy areas such as public health, education, agriculture, justice, energy, the environment, public finance, economic development, information technology, and communications. The goal of the professional placements is to build the Fellows’ knowledge and skills, provide support to partner country institutions, and promote long-term ties between the U.S. and the partner country. Fellows also work on an independent study and research project. The program seeks candidates with a Master’s or Doctoral degree and at least 2 years full-time work experience in policy-related fields. The deadline to apply is October 14, 2014.

To learn more, we interviewed Roushani Mansoor, a 2012-13 Fulbright-Clinton Fellow in Bangladesh, about her fellowship experience and her fellowship application tips.

1. What inspired you to apply for the Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship?  

I applied for the Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship – then called the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship – because it was an incredibly unique opportunity to gain professional experience abroad in a public policy capacity. It was then, and still is now, unlike most other available fellowship opportunities. I applied during my last year of law school where I focused primarily on public international law. The Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship seemed like an exceptional opportunity for me to put theory into practice. I had spent three years in school learning about the law in a public policy context and now I had the chance to use what I had learned in the real world. I wanted to gain hands-on experience working in challenging contexts abroad, and this fellowship offered that. And as someone just graduating from school, I looked to this fellowship as the beginning of my career. That’s a great thing about the Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship – it’s a fantastic opportunity for individuals at every stage of their career, whether at the beginning or mid-career, those with very specific experience in one area or those starting to explore a certain field.

Roushani with women from a legal awareness class outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh

Roushani with women from a legal awareness class outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh

2. What have been some of the most eye-opening moments during your fellowship?  

Working as a foreign national in another country’s government is eye-opening in and of itself. I worked in the Ministry of Law in Bangladesh and helped with a couple of legal reform projects. For example, the Government of Bangladesh is looking to incorporate alternative dispute resolution mechanisms into its justice system – processes like arbitration and meditation for both civil and criminal cases. I assisted with designing and implementing trainings hosted by the U.S. Embassy or international donors for Bangladeshi legal professionals on these topics. I spent my days working closely with my supervisor and other colleagues at the Ministry of Law assisting where I could; some days I spent reviewing draft legislation amending the criminal procedure code while other days I spent making phone calls and setting up meetings. You can be given very different tasks on any given day, and I appreciated the opportunity to help where I could. My most unique experiences, however, came when I was able to leave my office and talk to Bangladeshis about their experiences with the justice system. I watched a workshop hosted by a local NGO that focused on legal awareness for women. The women who attended the training were all from the same village, brought their children with them, and discussed the issues that affected their daily lives. The point of the workshop was not to drone on about specific laws, but to raise awareness about their rights under the law and what they could do if they felt their rights had been violated. Hearing these women talk about how much more empowered and confident they were now armed with a bit of information was inspiring. It solidified, for me, the importance of rule of law development at both the structural and grassroots levels, and my desire to work in this field. Being in Bangladesh on this particular fellowship afforded me the opportunity to have these enriching professional and personal experiences.

Dancing with students from the Girls Secondary School in Satkhira District, Bangladesh

Dancing with students from the Girls Secondary School in Satkhira District, Bangladesh

3. What tips would you give others applying to the fellowship?  

I think, like for any application, a competitive applicant will highlight their unique experiences and skill sets that will help them be a successful Fulbright-Clinton Fellow. I think this fellowship is looking for dynamic and determined individuals who are eager to work and make an impact, large or small, in the countries available to apply to. The application process itself is fairly straightforward. There is an application due in the fall – this year, it is October 14 – that includes a resume, some short written responses, and recommendation letters. Selected applicants have an interview that generally includes some individuals in the U.S. and some posted in the country you are applying to. After all interviews are completed, finalists are selected. There is a pre-departure orientation at the end of summer, and then most people leave for their host countries in the fall. In my application specifically, I repeatedly highlighted my previous experiences with Bangladesh and my desire to work on several legal issues there. But I was also realistic in my application and underscored my willingness to assist whatever ministry or agency of the Government of Bangladesh I was placed in. Again, I think a successful applicant highlights the reasons why they are applying to a particular country and what they can bring to the table. I think, also, there should be an emphasis on contributing to long-term development processes in the potential host country. Past Fulbright-Clinton Fellows have contributed to their host country in a number of different ways, all of which have made some sort of impact on the development of that country.

Roushani Mansoor was a Fulbright-Clinton Fellow in Bangladesh from 2012 to 2013 and worked as a Special Assistant in the Ministry of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs. Currently, Roushani works as a Justice Advisor in the Office of Criminal Justice Assistance and Partnership in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

These interview answers are personal opinions of the interviewee and do not reflect the official views of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.

© Victoria Johnson 2014, all rights reserved.

The 2012-13 John D. Solomon Fellows (photo credit: New York City Office of Emergency Management)

The John D. Solomon Fellowship for Public Service  is a unique fellowship for New York City area graduate students devoted specifically to emergency management. Each year, the program provides nine fellows with the opportunity to complete a nine-month, paid fellowship in a New York City government agency or a nonprofit organization. Fellows have the opportunity to work on projects that involve collaboration with individuals from their own agencies, other City agencies, and various community organizations. Sponsored by the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the program was established by the family and friends of the late John D. Solomon, an accomplished journalist on homeland security and a devoted public servant. To learn more about this opportunity, we interviewed Luis Daniel, a 2012-13 John D. Solomon Fellow at NYC Digital. 

1. What inspired you to apply for the John D. Solomon Fellowship for Public Service?

I actually happened upon the Solomon Fellowship by being in the right place at the right time. The previous summer I had started an internship with NYC Digital, then housed under the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (now at the Mayor’s Office). NYC Digital focuses on making New York the nation’s number one digital city. By the end of the summer I had enjoyed the internship so much, I decided to stay through the following year. At this point, one of the existing Solomon Fellows was in the process of moving out of NYC, leaving a vacant spot for the fellowship. My boss encouraged me to apply and I did. My research and work had focused on social media and the various ways people can use it to improve their lives. This included the use of social media during humanitarian crises and disasters, which fell in line with the type of work done by NYC’s Office of Emergency Management which sponsors the fellowship. It just so happened that this was the year Hurricane Sandy devastated New York City. Social media played a crucial role in preparing New Yorkers for the storm and disseminating information during and after the hurricane.

2012-13 John D. Solomon Fellow Luis Daniel

2012-13 John D. Solomon Fellow Luis Daniel (photo credit: NYU)

2. What are the benefits of the fellowship?

The biggest benefit of the fellowship is the unique experience. My experience was particularly unique because I was there during Hurricane Sandy. But even if you’re lucky enough to spend your fellowship just preparing for a disaster, there is a lot to learn by working with the largest municipal government in the US. Not only do you get to work alongside and learn from the people who run the City, but you are also tasked with very meaningful and impactful work. I worked for Rachel Haot, then Chief Digital Officer for NYC, and she was a great mentor. While working there, I created resources that are tangible and lasting. For example, I created the first official Spanish language city government Twitter account (@nycgob), which provided crucial information in Spanish during Superstorm Sandy. Also, the Fellowship comes with a stipend.

3. What tips would you give others applying to the fellowship?

You have to be committed to the cause. The John D. Solomon Fellowship was made in honor of the late John D. Solomon, who was an active member in his community and a big advocate of emergency preparedness. The Solomon family is involved in the application process and finding someone who shares John’s qualities is a big part of what they’re looking for. Be sure to read the information about the fellowship itself, and don’t miss out on John’s blog: In Case of Emergency, Read Blog. You can also get a better sense of other fellow’s experience by reading the Solomon Fellows Tumblr.

Luis Daniel is originally from Monterrey, Mexico and is now a Research Fellow at The Governance Lab at NYU. He is also a graduate of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at Tisch School of the Arts in NYU. He worked as a Solomon Fellow at NYC Digital where he created and ran New York City government’s first official Spanish Twitter account, @NYCgob. During his time in graduate school, Luis focused on ways technology could help alleviate the problems Mexico faces because of the War on Drugs. In his previous job before coming to New York, Luis worked on oil rigs in South Texas as a field engineer for an oilfield services company. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.

© Victoria Johnson 2014, all rights reserved.

On August 14th, we had the pleasure to participate in ProInspire’s 5Year Anniversary Celebration in San Francisco. ProInspire’s Founder and CEO Monisha Kapila and Bay Area Executive Director Gene Kunde hosted the event. ProInspire features a unique fellowship program that aims to build the next generation of nonprofit leaders by expanding the talent pipeline, developing professionals, and increasing diversity.

The ProInspire Fellows

The ProInspire Fellows

ProInspire recruits outstanding business professionals with 2-5 years of business experience who want to use their skills for social impact.  Fellows spend one year working in an analytical or strategic role at a nonprofit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area or Washington, DC. In the past five years, ProInspire has succeeded in matching and supporting 100 ProInspire Fellows placed in 45 partner organizations in San Francisco and DC.

ProInspire Bay Area Executive Director Gene Kunde and Founder Monisha Kapila

ProInspire Bay Area Executive Director Gene Kunde and Founder Monisha Kapila

Organizations that have hosted ProInspire fellows include Kiva, Tipping Point Community, Share Our Strength, and the National 4-H Council, among many others. In addition to the experience gained through their work placements, Fellows participate in retreats, monthly workshops, coaching, and leadership development projects and receive career and graduate school support.

The 5 Year Anniversary Event at Bluxome Street Winery included graduation of the current cohort of San Francisco Bay Area Fellows as well as presentations from two recent alumni, Andrew Wu, a 2012 Fellow from SingleStop USA, and Sherry Ezhuthachan, a 2013 Fellow from San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. As a Fellow, Andrew worked on a variety of strategic projects including the expansion of funding support for Single Stop in California, the development of new digital marketing strategies and tactics, and the creation of new collaboration and training methods for Single Stop sites. At the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, Sherry managed public and private relationships and provided the project management required to bring the multi-year Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) initiative to fruition.

ProInspire Fellows Andrew Wu, Sherry Ezhuthachan and Adrienne Gvozdich

ProInspire Fellows Andrew Wu, Christine Wang, Sherry Ezhuthachan and Adrienne Gvozdich

It was great to meet so many Fellows and great partner organizations that work with ProInspire.  Check out their programs – the ProInspire Fellowship and Managing for Success.  Applications for 2015 programs will be out in December!

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The 2013 Baltimore Mayoral Fellows

The 2013 Baltimore City Mayoral Fellows

Seeking a summer policy fellowship in city government? The Baltimore City Mayoral Fellowship provides a 10-week full-time placement in a mayoral office or Baltimore City agencies, during which Fellows are placed in agencies based on their background, interests, and the needs of the agencies and departments. Under the direction of senior level government officials, Fellows are assigned to projects that focus on myriad public policy issues and challenges. Mayoral fellows also participate in weekly brownbag lunches with officials and community leaders, to discuss issues such as business development, housing, crime, civic engagement, education, health, and community redevelopment. Fellows also participate in teambuilding, networking, and social activities throughout the summer. Eligible applicants must have completed the junior year of their undergraduate degree by the start of the fellowship program. Fellows receive a stipend of $4-5,000. To learn more about this unique program, we asked recent Mayoral Fellow Michelle Rau about her experience on the fellowship and her fellowship application tips.

1. What inspired you to apply for the Baltimore City Mayoral Fellowship?

I applied for the Baltimore City Mayoral Fellowship to explore a city planning career on the east coast. I discovered my passion for urban policy as I embarked on a college career in Eugene, Oregon, a small college town bent on the Willamette River, Douglas firs, vintage Shwinns and local everything. I grew up in Los Angeles, the city of sprawling freeways, tract homes and not enough aqueducts. It wasn’t until leaving my hometown that I realized the immense amount of strategy and decision making required to support millions of people’s every day and community needs. I received my first internship in the City of Eugene Planning Department where I got my first insights on economic development, transit-oriented development and community engagement. Post internship, I decided to follow my lifelong dream of discovering east coast cities with a focus on public policy. I saw the Baltimore City Mayoral Fellowship as an exciting challenge as the city is on the cusp of overcoming a myriad of challenges that can be solved through strategic policy-making.

2. What are the benefits of the fellowship?

Baltimore City Mayoral Fellow Michelle Rau

Baltimore City Mayoral Fellow Michelle Rau

The Baltimore City Mayoral Fellowship was an incredible opportunity because the program offers much more than a valuable professional experience. Primarily, fellows are handpicked to take on high profile policy issues the city faces and offer compelling and actionable solutions. Fellows dive in to the issues with full support from their agencies and experience firsthand challenges and triumphs working in local government. Fellows have the unique experience of being both a fly on the wall, gathering any and all information, and an active agent of change putting together research and analysis on a 10-week deadline. Throughout the program, fellows are encouraged to reach out to high level decision makers for project support and ultimately present their findings and policy recommendations to the Mayor and senior staff.

In addition, fellows have weekly opportunities to meet with the city’s senior staff and agency heads, corporate executives and community leaders to engage in conversation about the city’s top initiatives. Some of my favorite events were a tour of the city’s past and present via bicycle, a tour of the iconic Domino Sugar Factory and an all-night police ride-along. Lastly, fellows experience the fellowship as a cohort of young, driven and talented 20-somethings from the region and beyond, striving to make the City a better place. Having moved from across the country for the fellowship, I was thrilled to get to know the other fellows I found so inspiring and make long lasting friends and memories.

Lastly, the objective of the Mayoral Fellowship is to acquire and retain young talent working for Baltimore City. For individuals seeking careers in public service, the Mayoral Fellowship is the ideal platform to get your foot in the door. Some fellowship alumni that have continued to work for the city are amongst the most influential people in the city.

3. What tips would you give others applying to the fellowship?

To others seeking the Baltimore City Mayoral Fellowship, I would advise that applicants have strong skills in research, policy analysis and most importantly, garnering support amongst stakeholders. In local government, it’s all about relationships. Anyone interested in breaking onto the scene is going to need some skills in navigating the political scene, so it’s critical to make connections and foster relationships. Applicants should focus on experience with project management and decision making, whether in the local government field or not, in their application and interviews. While fellows will focus on a single issue, coordination and managing priorities are essential skills for the fellowship. Above all, prospective fellows should be passionate about local public policy issues and eager to embrace a new challenge. A shout-out to the Ravens or Orioles will probably also go a long way!

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Michelle Rau has a passion for urban policy. After studying planning & public policy at the University of Oregon, she spent nearly a year with the City of Eugene to implement key economic development initiatives in the city’s newly adopted 20-year plan, Envision Eugene. Since her Baltimore City Mayoral Fellowship, she has continued to work for the City of Baltimore as an Analyst for the Department of General Services.

© Victoria Johnson 2014, all rights reserved.

Carleigh Morgan, 2013-14 Fulbright ETA in Turkey

Carleigh Morgan, 2013-14 Fulbright ETA in Turkey

The Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) is a unique opportunity for recent college graduates and young professionals to spend 6 months to 1 year in schools overseas, where they supplement local English language instruction and to provide a native speaker presence in classrooms. The age and academic level of the students varies by country, ranging from kindergarten to university level. In addition to providing language instruction, ETAs serve as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. In most cases, Fulbright ETAs are placed outside of capital cities and are integrated into the host community, often an area with limited access to native English speakers and that may not have interacted with Americans before. To learn more about the experience abroad on this particular Fulbright grant, we caught up with Carleigh Morgan, a recent Fulbright ETA in Turkey.

1. What inspired you to apply for the Fulbright ETA in Turkey?

The landmass of Turkey has historically been a site of confrontation, invasion, occupation, and conflict. Since the earliest civilizations imprinted their mark on the area known today as Turkey, the region has witnessed thousands of years of culture gestate, grow, decline, and fade into memory preserved in the crumbling or partially excavated relics that dot the countryside. I have an academic interest in the way that emerging political identities position themselves to this multitudinous historical narrative, particularly since so many of the civilizations that have left their impact in Turkey were historically at odds or in direct opposition as competing cultural influence. As far as nations go, Turkey is a unique model of an industrializing nation that is still grappling with its own historical legacy. Turkey is struggling to reconcile a deeply entrenched nationalism with connectedness to an international political community.  I wanted to teach in an area of the world that operated within this complicated and dynamic sense of history and that was still figuring out how to position its larger cultural identity into the framework of a global community that so often has looked at Turkey as the “bridge” between East and West. I especially wanted to investigate how Turkey acts as an unpredictable or irregular pendulum between East and West, rather than as a static open link allowing for an equitable exchange of tidy cultural customs. The prospect of visiting Turkey’s spectacular museums and historical sites, particularly Pergamon and Efes, was a compelling reason for me to go there because I have a longstanding interest in art and architecture, and the opportunity to explore the artistic legacy of Minoan, Phrygian, Lydian, Greek, and Roman culture was too enticing to ignore. I also have a particular fascination with St. George, and the larger-than-life legend of his mission to proselytize in Cappadocia, which led me to visit the underground cities, fairy chimneys, and gorgeous carved churches of one of Turkey’s most breathtaking regions during my fellowship. Ultimately, my main objective was to teach English. I had the tremendous opportunity to establish and expand Usak University’s first intensive English language program for engineers and university faculty. Teaching basic English was a chance for me to refine my teaching skills, gain work experience, and contribute substantially (both personally and professionally) to developing teaching programs abroad and encouraging intercultural awareness and curiosity.

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2. What has been the most eye-opening experience during your fellowship?

Turkish hospitality has a particular reputation, and from my experience, it is well earned. I was invited to strangers’ homes for chai on a regular basis, and though I arrived not knowing any Turkish, by the time I left I was saying farewell to a network of friends and colleagues whom I consider family. The most significant difference between Turkish values and American values deals with timeturkey10 management, specifically where people and goals intersect. Part of the reason that Turkish hospitality is so famed is because the social network is a fundamental part of workplace culture, so people and conversation are prioritized over accomplishing long-term goals or short-term tasks. In this case, I had to reevaluate my own values as an American and respect the Turkish way, which seemed to be an inversion of the social code I had been raised in and was accustomed to. Whereas prior to arriving I would have found it strange to delay pressing tasks with an immediate deadline, once in Turkey I learned that flexibility is crucial, spontaneity and innovation in the workplace is a necessity, and that people are always more deserving of your attention than paperwork. It encouraged me to slow down my working pace in order to develop more substantial relationships with colleagues, strangers, friends, and students. The ritual of preparing tea and sipping it together slowly over the course of several servings is a rite that binds and fortifies social relationships in Turkey, and I learned to savor the slowness of everyday life and the rich, rustic flavor of tea as red as the Turkish flag.

3. What tips would you give other candidates about adjusting to life abroad?

If you’re interested in some tips that I have exclusively for adjusting to Turkey, feel free to check out my post on the education blog Melibee Global. If you’re looking for more general advice, I can say two things. First, be prepared to radically reorient your sense of personal space and private boundaries. You will develop relationships with people and interact with strangers everyday who have lived steeped in social traditions different from your own, whether that difference is slight or severe. If you are travelling alone, you tend to be much more approachable and should learn to maintain your composure and warmth when people cross into your personal bubble. By no means lower your guard or become overly inviting, but learn to recognize when the cultural tenants of your native culture create friction with the cultural tenants of your new home, especially where boundaries of personal space are concerned. As an American with an inherited sense of individualism, I had to shrink my personal boundaries for space when I arrived to Turkey because the notion of self-identity and integration is much more communal.

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The second main point is this: never be afraid to advocate for yourself, even if you think no one can understand you. As a single, foreign female living in a remote Turkish village, I was the only native English speaker and my Turkish was non-existent at the beginning of my teaching fellowship. I learned to exercise my agency, claim my space, and advocate for myself in English knowing that my messages would disintegrate at the language barrier but that my tone, facial cues, and body language would adequately speak for me. Don’t ever give up your personal power or relinquish control in unsafe or uncomfortable situations just because you think someone won’t understand your words. In fact, I highly recommend learning a few commanding words, like “stop” or “help” or “police” in a second language so that you can navigate questionable situations and compensate a little bit for the linguistic disadvantage. Expressing your discomfort, fear, or concerns is a far better thing to do in your native language despite the misunderstandings that might occur than to remain silent and expose yourself to harm.

 Carleigh is a falconry-obsessed artist who loves testing the permeable boundary between adventure and danger. She holds honors degrees in English Literature and Philosophy from Wake Forest University, and will continue her education at King’s College, London in the fall of 2014. When she’s not scrubbing ink off her nose from having it pressed into the crinkled pages of an old book, she explores open-air museums and archaeological excavations, hikes, creates hip-hop choreography, and studies Gaeilge and Spanish.

© Victoria Johnson 2014, all rights reserved.