American Express NGen Fellows Program

Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations or applications for the 2018 NGen Fellowship program! We will be reviewing applications and following up about selection decisions in coming weeks.

The American Express NGen Fellows program provides changemakers, 40 and under, an exceptional opportunity to strengthen their leadership capacity and grow their personal and professional network.

The Fellows program advances Independent Sector’s mission to improve lives, heal our natural world, and strengthen democratic society by ensuring a continued wellspring of next-generation changemakers rise to meet today’s toughest challenges.

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Why become a Fellow?

Becoming an American Express NGen Fellow will help you develop your leadership capacity and enhance your personal and professional network. Specifically, Fellows will engage in a development program that will emphasize values-based leadership, systems thinking, adaptive leadership, advocacy and policy, data-driven decision making, racial equity, and human-centered design. Fellows will also join a supportive and powerful community of next generation leaders that can help them gain access to the people, knowledge, networks, and resources they need to be successful.

What do the Fellows do?

Fellows participate in a nine-month leadership development program (April – December 2018) that includes three in-person gatherings, six monthly virtual convenings, workshops, assigned readings, facilitated discussions, peer coaching, and practice assignments. Fellows must attend three in-person convenings that will take place in Washington, DC, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Travel and lodging support for these in-person gatherings are available.

What is the selection criteria?

We are looking for highly talented, diverse changemakers from the nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, for-profit companies, and the government/public sector, who are working to address critical societal challenges, but also want to expand their leadership capacity and grow personally and professionally. Fellows should be mission-driven changemakers who:

  • Demonstrate passion and leadership in addressing society’s toughest challenges
  • Show self-awareness and an openness to learning
  • Value partnership and collaboration
  • Value diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Enjoy connecting and working with other next generation changemakers

How do I apply to be a Fellow?

If you are a next generation changemaker or know of someone who would be a great fit for the 2018 American Express NGen Fellows program, complete this short nomination form. Nominees will then receive an email with more information about the program and a link to an online application.

When is the nomination deadline?

The nomination and application deadline is 11:59 PM PT on Monday, March 5, 2018. Submissions will be reviewed by a selection committee that includes staff from both Independent Sector and partner organizations, as well as NGen Fellowship program alumni. Applicants will be notified of their selection status the first week in April 2018.

Is there a cost associated with participation in the program?

Thanks to the generous support of American Express, acceptance into the Fellowship includes all fees, materials, and supplies related to the leadership development curriculum. Fellows also receive complimentary registration and hotel accommodations for Upswell, a three-day gathering of changemakers from November 14-16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

Fellows are responsible for the following travel and accommodation expenses:

  • Travel and two nights hotel accommodations for each of the in-person cohort meetings:
    • April 30-May 2, 2018 in Washington, DC
    • July 11-13, 2018 in Chicago, IL
  • Travel to Upswell, November 14-16, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA

Please note that nominal stipends are available on an as needed basis to help offset travel and hotel accommodations for the April and July in-person meetings.

What is the schedule for the 2018 program?

Three in-person convenings:

  • April 30 – May 2 | Washington, DC
  • July 11 – 13 | Chicago, Illinois
  • November 14 – 16 | Los Angeles, California (Upswell)

Six virtual convenings (via phone and video) will take place from 2 – 4 pm ET on these dates:

  • May 15
  • June 19
  • August 21
  • September 25
  • October 23
  • December 18

What have past Fellows said about their experience?

“I will give props to the selection committee/team for picking an excellent cohort that was very diverse, driven, and bonded so well. We are all so different, but we all connected in our desire to learn, lead, and support fellow leaders. Bonding with peers from different backgrounds is so key for professional, sector, and self development.”

“Participation in the NGen Fellows program gave me an opportunity to learn from other peers working in different parts of the sector.”

“The exposure helped me build relationships with senior leaders and funders through the Independent Sector Conference. I also gained skills around adaptive leadership which are helping me grow my organization’s impact.”

“The Fellows I met in my cohort and subsequent cohorts became my ‘kitchen cabinet’ once I took on my first executive director role. They were the first people I would reach out to when I had a question, felt in over my head, or needed a pep talk. I’m forever grateful to the NGen Fellows program for providing me with that. My executive director experience would have been so much lonelier without it.”

“I believe that the fellowship was instrumental in me obtaining my new role. The Board of Trustees were impressed that I was selected, talked to me a great deal about my experiences, and believed that the networking and leadership work I conducted  as a Fellow would be an asset to my new organization.”

“I think the credibility of a national fellowship helped me obtain my new position. My understanding of adaptive leadership helped in both interviewing for new job and doing my last job well.”

“I think participating in the program gave me the national contacts, understanding of the sector, and visibility that the selection committee found valuable for my new position.”

“It provided me a higher profile in the organization to help me make the changes.”

“I am a better, stronger, more self-aware leader with a more competent and comprehensive grasp of capacity building, cross-sector collaboration, and adaptive leadership.”


Projects from Previous Program Years

2017: NGen Speaks

NGen Speaks, the 2017 American Express NGen Fellows' project, is a podcast series featuring emerging nonprofit leaders grappling with complex, sometimes controversial issues. Each leader brings an authentic voice to the conversation, based on personal views and lived experience.

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2016: Gender Equity in the Charitable Sector

As part of their collaborative project, the 2016 American Express NGen Fellows wrote Gender Equity in the Charitable Sector, a guide designed to be used to understand the issue of gender equity in the charitable sector, reflect on what gender equity means for the future of the sector, and act from a personal, organizational, and sector-wide level to support and promote gender equity.

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2015: The Necessary Challenge

The 2015 American Express NGen Fellows cohort explores the difference between the belief in transformative innovation both within and through the social sector, and the reality of attempting to create and maintain a culture of innovation in the (mostly) nonprofit space in The Necessary Challenge. The report includes findings and recommendations on how the social sector might mitigate barriers and encourage stronger, more sustainable innovation within the sector.

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2014: Strategies for Talent Diversity

The 2014 American Express NGen Fellows partnered with the National Audubon Society to refine and improve the organization’s diversity and inclusion goals of attracting, retaining and advancing leaders of color. They documented the effort in a case study, Strategies for Talent Diversity

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