May 27, 2015

Picture this:  College graduation, the stage, the special dinner with the family, the after party with friends and now…the reality.  What was an all-time high for you and loved ones has dwindled down to a low-speed wind of progress.  Nearly every job posting you’re applying to suggests nearly 3-5 years of experience. You finally manage to find that experience and put in your five years.  Suddenly the urge to keep advancing your professional journey increases but job postings are asking for yet another few years of “progressively responsible LEADERSHIP experience.”  You’re at a standstill and are trying to find the right avenue to build your leadership skills among other critical skills in professional advancement such as project management, teamwork, and operational management.

During a casual lunch meet up, a colleague mentions a fellowship program that is selective but truly cultivates people and their potential for leadership and their commitment to the greater good.  The colleague goes on to share that the program encourages a mutual dialogue of knowledge, insight, and comprehension about issues of great concern to communities.  What’s more, this program exposes one to valuable resources such as a network of other community, business, and civic leaders as well as an impressive layout of professional and leadership development.  At last, the colleague shares that this fellowship program, Leadership Newark, is based right in the heart of Downtown Newark, NJ.

Leadership Newark has cultivated over 500 leaders to contribute to the Greater Newark area. The seventeen year-old organization prepares them with the appropriate tools and resources to take on what is considered a more progressively responsible LEADERSHIP experience. The official Leadership Newark website states that “[t]he impact our fellows have on the Newark community lasts long after their involvement in the program ends. We help create the leaders of tomorrow by immersing our fellows in public policy enriched, hands-on experiences.”  Led by Chief Executive Officer Celia M. King, Leadership Newark’s fellows can be seen making great progress in the Greater Newark region and beyond.  Some examples include Baye Adofo-Wilson, the City of Newark’s Director of Economic and Housing Development, Ronald C. Rice, Jr., Former City of Newark’s West Ward Councilman and Senior Director for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, located in Washington, D.C., Irene O’Brien, current board chair of Leadership Newark and Rutgers University-Newark’s Vice Chancellor for Development, and Elizabeth-Rose Amidjogbe, legal consultant for the Ministry of Agriculture in Liberia.  Without a doubt, Leadership Newark has a global reach!

Programs and services that the organization offers for professional advancement include a 2 year public policy fellowship program, where fellows “deliberate, discuss, and debate public policy issues (Source:  In addition, through case studies, simulations, and month seminars, fellows are enlightened on critical policy issues impacting Newark.  Moreover, during their second year, fellows participate in an intensive consultancy role, better known as the Community Leadership Initiative (CLI).

The CLI ultimately has four goals 1) to provide leadership capacity to the fellows, 2) to provide skill development in group dynamics, 3) to provide fellows an opportunity to make meaningful and authentic relationships with community partners and 4) to provide fellows a tangible opportunity to resolve challenges affecting the greater Newark community.  The fellowship program also offers a board service training program, that provides a comprehensive overview on important principles for board leadership and development.  Leadership Newark recently held a training and will be offering another session in the fall of 2015.  Lastly, Leadership Newark hosts a biennial public policy summit which aims to bring stakeholders together to address policies impacting New Jersey’s largest city.  This year, the Summit will be held at Rutgers University- Newark.  It will provide an open dialogue and interactive and solutions-oriented workshops to address both education and public safety policies.  Tickets are available at

In all, Leadership Newark has provided emerging leaders the appropriate tools to grow in their respective fields.  Applications for the Class of 2017, beginning this FALL 2015, are now being accepted.  The deadline is July 10.