The Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School

As part of a series on fellowships available to HKS-ers we’ve compiled all of the information for the Sheila C. Johnson Fellowship into one convenient place (just for you!).

(Note: We are not affiliated with Harvard in any way, and make sure to double check any of the information posted here. Sometimes things change, don’t make use your only source!)

Here is the information you need to know from the website!

Sheila C. Johnson Fellowship at HKS

The Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellowship brings together diverse and talented emerging leaders working to address disparities in predominantly underserved communities through efforts in health care, education, economic development, public policy, criminal justice reform, social entrepreneurship, and a variety of other fields. The program connects fellows with highly accomplished national and international leaders and provides them with the skills to:

  • Foster sustainable change in communities,
  • Build cross-sector partnerships and collaborations, and
  • Inspire new ideas and innovative change in programs and policies that serve communities.

We need committed people working to achieve social change despite significant odds. We need emerging leaders who want to strengthen their ability to transform communities. We need you.

If you want to take a look at the recipients of the fellowship, please look in the 2015 – 2016 Harvard CPL profile book..

How to Apply

Step 1: Apply to Harvard Kennedy School: Application deadline is December 1, 2015.

Step 2: Apply for the Fellowship: Application deadline for the Johnson Fellowship is February 25, 2016.

To apply for the Johnson Fellowship please visit the Student Financial Services web site.

  1. Resume or Curriculum Vitae, not to exceed 2 pages in length.
  2. A document containing written responses to the following two prompts:
    1. Please discuss a topic you are passionate about and its personal significance (1,000 words or less).
    2. Please discuss briefly your interest in the fellowship and how your experiences and goals have motivated you to apply (200 words or less).
  3. Two letters of recommendation specifically supporting your candidacy for the Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellowship. The letters must be in PDF form, signed by the referrer and on letterhead indicating the referrer’s institution/organization.


Finalists for the Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellowship will be asked to come to Harvard Kennedy School (if in the US) or call in for a phone interview with members of Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellowship Selection Committee.

Program Information

  • Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellows are awarded a full tuition scholarship and health fees for up to two years, depending on the length of their graduate degree program.
  • Fellows are eligible for a stipend up to $10,000 for up to two years depending on their graduate degree program.
  • Applicants will be considered based on their excellent academic credentials and a demonstrated interest in developing leadership skills focused on reducing disparities in underserved communities in the United States.
  • Fellows will participate in a robust cocurricular program offered by the Center for Public Leadership.
  • This fellowship is open to applicants entering their first year of study in any of the Harvard Kennedy School’s masters’ degree programs. Students pursuing a joint degree at HKS and another Harvard graduate or professional school or those in concurrent programs at other approved universities or schools may also apply.
  • The fellowship will be open to all admitted master’s degree program students and will not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, or national origin. Domestic students from under-represented groups are encouraged to apply.

Applicants will be considered based on their excellent academic credentials and a demonstrated interest in developing leadership skills with a focus on reducing disparities in underserved communities.


The Fellowship is open to all admitted degree program students at Harvard Kennedy School. Domestic students from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply, including students also pursuing degrees in areas such as business, medicine, law, education, and public health.

Applicants will be considered based on their excellent academic credentials and a demonstrated interest in developing leadership skills with a focus on reducing disparities in underserved communities.

The Fellowship Experience

Fellows will participate in a yearlong cocurricular program designed by Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. This not-for-credit program is intended to inspire, to provide concrete opportunities for leadership skill-building, and to connect fellows with an interdisciplinary network of like-minded peers and mentors that will last a lifetime.

The Fellowship cocurricular program will include weekly dinners, an annual retreat, and robust field experiences grounded in discussions with visionary leaders whose work has had significant impacts in marginalized communities. The program will also focus on strengthening core competencies that are central to public leadership, such as promoting strong moral character and ethics, mastering the arts of persuasion and negotiation, leading effective teams and organizations, and fostering sound decision making.

Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellows will create a vibrant network of students and alumni committed to advancing knowledge, collaborating on solutions to pressing problems, and building leadership capacity in their communities, their nation, and the world.

About Sheila C. Johnson

Sheila Johnson is CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, a hospitality company she founded in 2005. She is President and Managing Partner of the WNBA Washington Mystics and the first African-American woman to be an owner or partner in three professional sports teams: the Mystics, the Washington Wizards (NBA), and the Washington Capitals (NHL).

Johnson has long been a powerful influence in the entertainment industry, starting with her work as founding partner of Black Entertainment Television (BET). She has served as executive producer of four documentary films, and her newest film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, opened fall 2013.

Johnson FAQ

Does the fellowships selection committee have access to my Harvard Kennedy School admissions materials?

The Sheila C. Johnson Fellowship Selection Committee does not see the personal statements, transcripts, or letters of recommendation submitted to the HKS admissions committee, only the documents submitted on this form.

May I apply to more than one fellowship?

Students may apply for multiple fellowships at CPL, but we encourage applicants to think about which fellowship aligns with his/her experience and goals.

Where do I send my fellowship application materials? Where do I send my fellowship recommendations if sent separately by the referrers?

All students’ application materials go to the Financial Aid office; any questions regarding the Financial Aid site or general application should be directed to Student Financial Services. CPL may only accept those letters sent separately by recommenders.

Please Note: the fellowship/scholarship review process requires that we be able to electronically compile your submitted materials into a single document. It is imperative, therefore, that none of the documents you submit be protected by passwords or any other means. For example, documents submitted as PDFs should be configured to permit edits, changes and copying. If the fellowship/scholarship for which you are applying requires you to submit a letter from a recommender, please remind your recommender not to protect these documents. If you do submit protected documents you risk not being considered for the fellowship/scholarship for which you have applied.

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