The Fellowship Experience
Through this innovative research partnership and fellowship program, five women of color community leaders became community researchers to explore opportunities and challenges for women of color in political and public leadership. For well over a year, these research fellows were actively engaged in learning about the purpose and conduct of research, identifying research questions, as well as designing and carrying out studies. Yet the fellowship program provided much more than training, skills, and knowledge. It created fellowship among the women and helped sustain them professionally and personally. It also compelled the women to continue and even expand upon their efforts to diversify the political leadership in the Commonwealth.
The research fellows journeyed together as researchers, community activists, and political leaders. Sharing and reflecting on their experiences became an integral part of their fellowship experience. This helped bolster their confidence and led to insights and inspiration that will have a long-lasting influence on the fellows.
The fellowship experience:
Provided an opportunity to grow professionally and personally
Affording women of color the time, space, and support to consider their own skills, strengths, identities, and leadership approaches allowed the fellows to focus on their goals, needs, and strategies to advance themselves both professionally and personally.
Empowered women of color in politics
Through this project, the fellows engaged in a deliberate and sustained practice of self-reflection and often shared such reflections with other fellows. For those running campaigns, this practice of self-reflection and analysis made them more mindful as leaders, especially as they navigated the political landscape and their own political campaigns.
Offered a safe space for reflection, sharing, and analysis
Regular meetings and activities afforded a unique opportunity for these women to reflect upon, share, and analyze their own experiences as they engaged in efforts to represent their communities by being active participants in community organizations, serving in elective office, and/or an appointed position.