Passing the Torch: Drexel Public Service Leadership Program Grads Spark Change, Welcome Incoming Fellows

After 12 months of study, Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business’ first group of Fellows participating in Leading for Change: A Fellowship Program for Leaders in Public Service graduated in January 2015.

“Drexel’s Leading for Change Fellowship program provides today’s experienced and emerging public servants with the tools, knowledge, and understanding to better serve the City in their current roles and for decades to come,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “I’d like to thank John and Leigh Middleton for their generous support of this program and thank Drexel University for its continued partnership with the City of Philadelphia.”

The fellowship program is part of a $16.2 million investment from the Middleton Foundation to support education and training in Philadelphia. The Fellows participate in an intensive and experiential leadership development program integrating business, leadership, public policy and innovation to build and strengthen leadership capacity and networks among leaders in public service. The Leading for Change Fellowship exists to measurably spark system change work that leads to beneficial cross-sector collaborative social change in the Philadelphia region.

“I am honored to be a part of the inaugural Drexel Leading for Change Fellowship,” said Maia Jachimowicz, director of policy for the City of Philadelphia. “The Fellowship is a unique opportunity to receive valuable professional development training together with a motivated group of civic minded leaders. I believe our city government is stronger as a result of the fellows who were able to participate in the program and transfer the knowledge they gained in the classroom to the office.”

The inaugural fellows spent nine months attending custom learning modules designed by Drexel LeBow Corporate and Executive Education on topics such as leading teams, analytical tools and strategies for decision-making and public policy lessons from other cities. During the last three months, they applied their learning to practicums that charged them with thinking of innovative ways to improve city operations, which they presented to Mayor Michael Nutter and others at the end of the fellowship.

Dean Frank Linnehan congratulated the Fellows during the award presentation. “We are honored to be able to deliver this important program to such an impressive group of professionals, and to be a part of the continuous improvement of this great city,” he said.

The Fellowship partners with the LeBow Institute for Strategic Leadership, the School of Education, the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, the Center for Public Policy and the Center for Labor Markets and Policy to deliver this robust custom program.

Keith Orris, Drexel’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Relations and Economic Development, who sat in on the groups’ presentations to the Mayor, offered the fellows high praise as well as motivation for bringing their ideas to life. “You’re not talking about the impossible. You’re talking about realism – changes that can be made. The work you did here isn’t just for the future of Philadelphia. The new, improved Philadelphia starts today.”

Second Cohort Enrolling Now

Now, the inaugural fellows are ready to pass the torch to 30 of the city’s top emerging and established governmental administrators, foundation and nonprofit leaders with the second cohort launching this summer.

Fellowship alumna Erica Atwood, director of black male engagement in the Office of the Mayor, says she hopes this fellowship will become a national model for professional development for public service. “We need to learn, and we need that to be a priority. If you look at other municipalities across the country, the investments in professional development are not made.”

Beth Gonzales, Drexel LeBow’s director of public sector leadership development, says “Drexel’s plan to be the most civically engaged university includes being the hub of public service leadership development and thought. With a nationally and locally recognized speaker series, renowned faculty and experience collaborating in a section of West Philadelphia selected as a promise zone by President Barack Obama, this cohort will focus on income inequality, and the Fellows will get to see first-hand how the Leading for Change Fellowship will shape the future of the public sector and improve the overall well-being of the city … and hopefully be an example for the country.”