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Pahara Fellows are exceptional, values-driven education leaders with demonstrated commitment to transforming public education, and to serving students, families, and communities throughout the United States.

We aim to select leaders who:

  • have a track record of leadership in successfully impacting students and families not served well by our public education system and a desire to continue to take action towards future impact; 

  • are creative and entrepreneurial, imagining and realizing new possibilities and pathways personally and in collaboration with others; 

  • are on a journey to understand the effects of their lived experiences, including aspects of race and privilege, and how their identity shapes their leadership and the way they walk through the world; 

  • hold a breadth of experience and maturity gained from overcoming hardship;

  • are between the ages of 25 and 60, and feel reflection on their leadership and vision for the future is timely;

  • don’t have it all figured out and are oriented towards listening to and learning from others with different perspectives, and can do so with self-awareness, vulnerability, levity, curiosity, and empathy; and

  • are eager to build relationships and bridge gaps across political lines of difference.

We curate cohort communities that are vibrant spaces of curiosity, reflection, and learning and include leaders holding multiple differences in background, experience, perspective, and orientation. 


We’ve learned over time that this environment is fostered by participants’:

  • dedication to their personal learning journey; 

  • commitment to suspend judgment on what they believe to be true;

  • value for interdependence and desire to build durable bonds across lines of difference;

  • ability to stay in inquiry, holding complexity and discomfort with openness and resilience; and

  • skill to self-regulate and navigate differences in values when activated.


We care deeply about leaders and their well-being. In order to create the most productive experience, one’s ability to adhere to our Pahara Community Commitments is required. If you desire a space where everyone shares your worldview, this is not the right experience for you. If your personal experiences or needs warrant more than can be reasonably managed in a group of 24 leaders, please assess if the timing feels right for you to apply.

*Note that the selection cycle timeline is subject to change throughout the year. Please check our website regularly for timeline updates.

MARCH 4, 2024

Call for Nominations: We will accept nominations through April 19, 2024.

MARCH 18, 2024

The application opens.

MAY 1 - SEPTEMBER 30, 2024

Candidate interviews.


Cohort curation.


Status updates shared.

EARLY 2025

Selected cohorts announced.


Cohort seminars launch

Our selection process is designed to help us get beyond surface-level information about individuals and their organizations and really get to know candidates and their outstanding work in service to students and families. We take a relational approach involving the following key phases:

    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.





  • Leaders can apply with or without a nomination

  • Nominations of exceptional leaders accepted year-round





  • Inclusive of the breadth of our humanity across multiple domains of difference​



  • Candidates notified of their status in December 

  • Candidates not selected may choose to opt-in for future consideration

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