Pahara Fellows are high-integrity, values-driven education leaders with demonstrated commitment to dismantling inequitable systems impacting vulnerable students and communities throughout the United States.

We aim to select exceptional leaders who:

  • have a track record of leadership in non-profit schools or organizations successfully impacting students and families from communities of color; 

  • are creative and entrepreneurial, and who think beyond traditional boundaries to forge new pathways personally and in collaboration with others; 

  • are on a journey to understand the effects of race and privilege on their identity formation, and how their identity shapes their leadership;

  • acknowledge and have examined the impact of inequity, with a specific focus on racism in their organizations and can reflect on the corrective steps they’ve personally taken, but know there is more work they can do;

  • 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 humility, vulnerability, curiosity, and empathy; and,

  • are eager to engage in dialogue and build community with leaders across the political spectrum.



Open call for applications and nominations


Candidate consideration begins

LATE 2021

Candidate consideration completed

LATE 2021

Selection decisions shared with candidates

LATE 2021

Selected cohorts announced

EARLY 2022

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, including but not limited to human capital, college access and success, juvenile justice, youth services, policy and advocacy, workforce development, mental health and wellness, technology and innovation, and elected and appointed federal, state, and local leaders. Nominees who meet our program criteria are invited to apply for consideration. When thinking of incredible changemakers to bring to our attention, we encourage nominators to consider leaders from within and outside of their close circles. 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.


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, their commitment to racial equity, and how they most hope to benefit from participation in this transformational development experience. For applicants advancing beyond this stage, this information serves as rich background information to base deep, reflective dialogue during interviews taking place during candidate consideration.


During this stage, we seek to understand candidates’ motivations and challenges, learn more about their equity journey, and determine candidates’ willingness and ability to negotiate the multiple domains of difference that contribute to the tapestry of Pahara cohorts. We conduct a 90-minute Zoom interview with candidates. This interview is followed by referencing carried out by our team. Given the degree of openness and vulnerability expected in this phase of our process, information shared with us by candidates or in reference interviews is held with the highest degree of confidentiality.


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.


We typically receive many more nominations and applications than we have available seats in each cohort. We strongly believe that creating the ideal blend of perspectives in each group is a vital component of the program’s value and impact on participants. Sometimes, compelling leaders whose background and experience strongly meet the Fellowship criteria may be waitlisted for a future cohort as we work to develop the ideal cohort mix. Candidates who are waitlisted are usually selected within one year and notified at the end of the selection cycle. Candidates we are unable to select are notified and given an opportunity to apply again in the future.





  • Leaders can apply with or without a nomination

  • Nominations of exceptional leaders accepted year-round



  • 90-minute Zoom interview + Referencing



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



  • Candidates not selected are waitlisted for up to one year, or notified and given an opportunity to apply in the future