National Urban Fellows -- Developing Leadership for a Changing America
Urban Fellows is the only program in the country where individuals receive both an advanced degree and essential leadership experience. The 14-month, full-time graduate degree program comprises two semesters of academic course work and a nine-month mentorship assignment. The program culminates with a Master of Public Administration Degree (MPA) from Bernard M. Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, of the City University of New York. After graduation, alumni work in public service, government and nonprofit leadership. Today, 40 years later, National Urban Fellows has graduated well over 1,100 men and women of color who hold policymaking positions as mayors, city and county managers, commissioners and officers of major nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in urban areas across the country.
National Urban Fellows announced the 2010 commemoration of its 40th anniversary, including: the establishment of national government and leadership advisory councils, and the announcement of the results of its leadership diversity research study. The organization also announced plans to celebrate the milestone year, with a call to action, challenging national community leaders across the nation to take a leadership stand to help create a pipeline of leaders of color who are ready to step into positions of power.
The Civil Rights era was the socio-political cause for the formation of National Urban Fellows. Communities throughout the U.S. were experiencing the results of discrimination, segregation, poverty, unemployment, poor housing and police brutality. The National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, confronted with the escalating civil disorder began looking for solutions. In 1969, in partnership with The Ford Foundation, New Haven’s Community Action Institute and Yale University, a program was designed to bridge the existing gap between city governments and minority communities. The solution became National Urban Fellows (NUF). The NUF program provided local minority leaders with the education and experience to manage city governments.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the country is becoming more and more diverse. One-third, or 34%, of the United States is comprised of people of color, who are expected to become the majority in 2042, with the nation projected to be 54% minorities in 2050. In addition, the Office of Personnel Management, Retirement Projections advises that in the next 10 years (FY 2009 through 2018), federal agencies will lose over 575,000 employees -- more than a third of their current full-time, permanent workforce -- with over 100,000 of those employees coming from supervisory ranks.
Furthermore, in 2008 the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted 8% growth in state and local government jobs between 2006 and 2016 -- equivalent to 160,000 jobs annually. Finally, it is estimated that, over the next 10 years, the nonprofit sector will need a minimum of 330,000 new senior managers to fill vacated and new leadership openings.
National Urban Fellows is filling these impending leadership gaps. Benjamin Reyes, chairman of National Urban Fellows, stated, “With 39 years of experience and a solid track record of creating leaders of color and women behind us, we look forward to our 40th year and our next 40. Thanks to the visionary leadership of our board of directors this organization has experienced increasing success.”
“I have experienced and witnessed the leadership-development movement of National Urban Fellows, and I am proud to be a member,” said the Honorable Harvey Johnson, the first African-American mayor of Jackson, Miss., and National Urban Fellow alumnus. “For 40 years, NUF has created the opportunity, visibility and recognition for people of color and women to hold public office and to manage programs that enhance the lives of communities throughout the country.”
Commemorating 40 Years as a leadership development organization, National Urban Fellows will launch the following initiatives in 2010:
40th Anniversary Leadership Advisory Councils
Two leadership advisory councils have been established in honor of the 40th Anniversary. The Government Leadership Advisory Council comprises nationally elected officials at the federal, state and local government levels. The Leadership Advisory Council is a national group from the nonprofit sector that endorses the mission and work of National Urban Fellows, and allows NUF to seek strategic advice and recommendations on both the current leadership development programs, as well as new program initiatives.
40th Anniversary Leadership Diversity Research Study
National Urban Fellows conducted a leadership diversity research study to identify the factors that contribute to the successful leadership of people of color and women in the government and nonprofit sectors. The study is sponsored by National Urban Fellows and was led by Dr. Ryan Smith, associate professor of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs and Micheline Blum, distinguished lecturer and director of Bernard M. Baruch College Research. A published report of the study’s findings will be publicized later this spring.
National Urban Fellows Call to Action
The nation’s changing demographics and the nation’s challenges require the creativity and talent of leadership representative of the changing country. Based on the findings of the NUF Leadership Diversity Research Study, National Urban Fellows has prompted a Call to Action, urging the support of national and community organizations and leaders to join together to create a pipeline of leaders of color who are ready to step into positions of power.
“Since 1969, National Urban Fellows has recognized the country’s ultimate need for leaders of color and women, and has been breaking down the racial and gender barriers that have prevented them from attaining leadership power and influence. Forty years later, our mission is more relevant than ever. Today we have graduated over 1,100 men and women, 50% of whom hold executive leadership positions in government and nonprofit sectors,” said Paula L. Gavin, president. “We will employ our Call to Action, in this, our 40th Anniversary year, to further impact diversity leadership in the nation.”