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6 Signs You’re Ready to Apply for the LEE Public Leaders Fellowship

  • Chike Aguh Headshot

The LEE Public Leaders Fellowship (LPLF) is for experienced professionals who have a track record of impact and are interested in moving into a public leadership role in the next one to three years. The skills you learn during the fellowship are designed to support you in implementing systemic change and can be applied to roles in advocacy, policy, politics, and organizing.

I grew in many ways throughout the fellowship — from expanding my professional network to clarifying the impact I want to make on education. Are you ready for your next big move? Read on for six signs that you should apply to LPLF now.

1.  You want to advance in your leadership

Before LPLF, I worked at a global research and technology firm supporting the launch of software to help community college students succeed. However, the longer I was there, the more certain I became that I needed to do something that better aligned with my ultimate purpose: to use education to create social justice. LPLF pushed me to identify how to make the transition into public leadership and deepen my impact for students.

2.  You want to cultivate a professional network

The LPLF alumni community is one of the tightest professional and personal learning communities I have ever been a part of. It is energizing to have a community of people who are smart and eager to change the world — and who deeply trust each other. 
During the first workshop weekend, I decided to leave my job to seek out a higher leadership position. It was the constructive feedback and support from other members of my LPLF cohort that gave me the courage to pursue a new opportunity.

Through LPLF, I was also connected to a mentor in my community — a high-ranking public official. That relationship opened up opportunities for me to serve and become more connected to my community, too.

3.  You are ready to clarify your vision for impact

Completing a leadership plan during the fellowship helped me to identify exactly what work I was uniquely positioned to do. 

Today, I’m the chief executive officer at EveryoneOn. Our organization came out of an FCC initiative to connect underserved communities to affordable high-speed internet. 

My current work brings together the things that I’m most passionate about — using education and advocacy to increase economic prosperity and break cycles of generational poverty. Now I know that every day when I go to work, I am making an impact by helping over 300,000 low-income people get connected to vital information that will lead to better educational outcomes.

4.  You want to help create a more equitable world

LPLF made me consider — who am I here to serve? It can be easy to lose sight of those people who are most impacted by educational inequity, but after the fellowship, I can’t do that. If I don’t do my job right, kids can’t do their homework, students can’t write their papers or even access online classes. The groups of people that I am seeking to serve are constantly on my mind now. I want social justice to be at the core of everything that I do.

5.  You need to challenge yourself 

Friends and family often say things you want to hear, but when I talked to the coaches assigned to me through LPLF, I was pushed to grow in the best way possible. I was asked challenging questions that came from a place of mutual respect and care. My new coaches and peers challenged me to carefully consider all of the trade-offs I had made — including the times that I did not align my values and vision to my work. I learned to make better decisions guided by thoughtful feedback and a clear set of values that I was led to articulate early on in the fellowship.

6.  You are ready to live out your values

Are you willing to be a systemic change agent in your community? Then you have to be knowledgeable about what it means to confront systemic oppression, and you have to build a network of support. Having a clear picture of the problems plaguing my community — even if I don’t have all of the solutions — helped me to identify how I was best positioned to work with others and create change.

During the fellowship, I learned how to build relationships, recognize and confront systemic oppression, communicate clearly, and negotiate effectively. If you are ready to invest your time in attending the workshops, building relationships and examining your personal effectiveness, then LPLF will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for your growth.

The LEE Public Leaders Fellowship is a part-time, six-month program designed for seasoned LEE members who have a track record of making an impact for kids; are actively pursuing senior leadership roles in advocacy, policy, politics or organizing, and have a strong commitment to social justice. Request an application

Chike Aguh (New York, ’06) is a 2015 LPLF alum who lives outside of Washington, D.C.