top of page


Key Findings from the 2021

Pahara Network Survey

Earlier this year, the Pahara community completed our first all-Network Survey. 

Informed by our leaders' responses, we are better positioned to support and sustain our community. Read on for key findings!

Thank you to our Fellows for engaging.

Survey Goals

Better understand the nuanced identities of Pahara Fellows

Learn what Fellows need, and what

they'd like to offer

Uncover how members of our community

are connected

Hear how Fellows want to be represented on the Pahara website

83% of Pahara Fellows completed the survey!



So that we are best positioned to sustain our leaders, we wanted to understand what Fellows view as the biggest challenges in the education sector and where their greatest leadership needs exist.

Biggest Challenges in Education Today

Pahara Fellows named the following as the top challenges they face in their work:

Systemic Racism





So that Pahara is prepared to support Fellows with these challenges, we asked what our network's greatest needs are. Top leadership needs named by Fellows include:

Succession Planning


& Scaling

1st Time

CEO Support



What is one of the biggest challenges you face in education today?

“How to enact equity leadership as a whole human (knowing for some that may mean stepping down to create space for others to lead). How to take advantage of this truly extraordinary moment in time to fundamentally reimagine, re-architect, and re-envision the future of learning in this country.” - Pahara Fellow




Together, Pahara Fellows form a beautiful tapestry threaded by diverse lived experiences and identities. This is a small snapshot of our Fellows' unique perspectives that also highlights where we can increase representation.
Network Survey Data Analysis 9.2_edited.jpg


To better understand the connections that exist to the students and communities served, we gathered information about Fellows’ childhood contexts.

Childhood Socioeconomic Status


Special Needs Designation

special needs.png

Key Findings: Overall, 5% of Fellows who answered the question grew up with a special needs designation. Special needs designation was evenly distributed across racial / ethnicity lines.

English Learner Status


Key Findings: 32% of Hispanic or Latinx Fellows who answered the question had English Learner status.16% of Asian Fellows who answered the question had English Learner status.

ADDITIONAL CHILDHOOD experience data (use dropdown arrows)

    Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis and, while they are not required for entry into the Fellowship, they are critical to our ability to identify exceptional leaders from across the education ecosystem. Ideally, a nominator knows enough about the leader’s work to share their thoughts on why they would be an excellent choice for the Fellowship. Each nominee is notified and invited to submit an application for consideration. We believe that a broad, diverse coalition is needed to reimagine the role and manner of education in society. While the Fellowship is open to all education leaders who meet our selection criteria, we are particularly seeking to identify innovative leaders of nonprofit schools and from organizations serving nonprofit schools, and leaders bringing perspectives from across the political spectrum. We are sensitive to the ways sponsorship practices can disadvantage women and Black, Indigenous and leaders of color who are less likely to have sponsors. When thinking of incredible changemakers to bring to our attention, we encourage nominators to consider leaders from within and outside of their close circles.
    Leaders who meet our program criteria are welcome to apply to the Fellowship, with or without a nomination. The application is an essential and required part of the process, and allows candidates to share information about their work and leadership, alignment with our selection criteria, and how they most hope to benefit from participation in this powerful development experience. For applicants advancing beyond this stage, this information serves as rich background information on which to base deep, reflective dialogue during interviews taking place during candidate consideration. While the Fellowship is open to all education leaders who meet our selection criteria, we are particularly seeking to identify innovative leaders of nonprofit schools and from organizations serving nonprofit schools, and leaders bringing perspectives from across the political spectrum.
    During this stage, we seek to understand candidates’ motivations and challenges, learn more about their background and leadership journey, and determine candidates’ willingness and ability to negotiate the multiple domains of difference that contribute to the tapestry of Pahara cohorts. Candidates participate in a 90-minute virtual interview with a Pahara Fellow or a member of Pahara staff via Zoom. This conversation also provides candidates an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the Fellowship. The interview is followed by referencing carried out by our team. This includes reviewing feedback provided by the three references named by the candidate, and checking for potential conflicts of interest amongst candidates being selected into the same cohort. We may also reach out to Fellows in our community who are familiar with a candidate’s work to understand the full scope of their leadership. Given the degree of openness and vulnerability expected in this phase of our process, information shared with us by candidates or in the reference process is held with the highest degree of confidentiality.
    Once we have identified a pool of values-driven leaders who have demonstrated readiness throughout the selection process, we begin the careful, complex process of curating cohorts. We aim for cohorts that are inclusive of the breadth of our humanity across multiple domains of difference, including socioeconomic background, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, religious affiliation, and political ideology. Cohorts are also distinctive in their inclusion of leaders from various organization models, multiple sectors in education, different geographic regions, and various leadership roles. This careful cohort curation is critical, as the cohort is the container within which the personal and professional transformation Pahara is most known for occurs. Cohort dialogue is confidential and both professional and personal in nature. We seek to foster an environment that celebrates the lived experiences of all of our Fellows.
    We strongly believe curating a myriad of perspectives in each group is a vital component of the program’s value and impact on participants. We receive many more nominations and applications than we have available seats in each cohort, and because of this level of demand, we are sometimes unable to select leaders who meet our selection criteria. When a candidate meets the selection criteria but is not placed, we encourage them to opt-in to be considered for a future cohort, which can take time. It is not uncommon for a Pahara Fellowship candidate to be considered for a few years before being selected or released.

"A few months ago, I completed a Pahara survey that I thought was really powerful. It was the first time I was asked to answer questions that I thought painted a strong picture of who I am… Often, as a Person of Color, I don’t get to share my fullness and this really allowed me to do just that..." - Pahara Fellow

Option 2_edited.jpg



The Pahara community is close to 850 Fellows strong across 37 cohorts. Through the Fellowship experience, many leaders have developed lifelong relationships. We learned there is already strong connections across cohorts and much more possibility for how we can generate Network Effect.


Fellow-to-Fellow connections highlighted in survey responses


Average number

of connections

per Fellow


Percent of Fellows actively connected to at least one other survey-taking Fellow

Fellows named the following as the top reasons for connecting within and across cohorts:

Wellness & sustainability check-ins

General catch-up

Feedback/thought partnership on a topic

Feedback/thought partnership on a leadership decision





Growing My Network



Fellows are already leveraging the network. However, there are more areas in which they'd like support. The top ways Fellows want to leverage the Pahara Network include:

How do you want to leverage the Pahara Network?

“For support. The pandemic has magnified my feelings of loneliness as a leader. Now and again I’ve leaned into the Pahara network for support. Each time I feel uplifted. I need to do that more.” -Pahara Fellow





Following the survey, we have a stronger understanding of our network's collective profile, and where we can increase representation.
We have incorporated findings into recruiting efforts for the new Pahara Fellowship cohorts (launching in 2022) and will continue to do so.
Thoughts or

We're grateful for your engagement and would love to hear from you! Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or reactions.

bottom of page