Make An Impact

Sheila JohnsonThe Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellowship will bring 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 will connect fellows with highly accomplished national and international leaders and provide 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.

What We Offer

The Fellowship will provide full tuition scholarships for a graduate degree program at Harvard Kennedy School, a comprehensive cocurricular program to augment your leadership development, and perhaps most importantly, a network of exceptional peers and mentors who will enhance your ability to impact the communities you serve.

Why Harvard Kennedy School?

First and foremost, students come to Harvard Kennedy School because of their commitment to public service and their desire to lead change at local, national, and international levels. Whether serving in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors, students acquire skills in analysis, management, and advocacy that will strengthen their transformative work.

HKS offers the following two-year degree programs: Master in Public Policy (MPP), Master in Public Administration (MPA), and Master in Public Administration/International Development (MPA/ID). For experienced professionals preferring a one-year, intensive track, the school also offers a Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MC/MPA). Outside the classroom, HKS boasts a lively community in which students immerse themselves in clubs and caucuses, student government, and events hosted by the 11 research centers housed on campus, as well as opportunities at other Harvard graduate schools and Harvard College.

The school attracts an outstanding faculty who shape public policy, advise governments, and exercise leadership roles in a variety of influential institutions. It also attracts an incredibly diverse student body representing over 80 countries from every region of the world. The heart of the school is the JFK Jr. Forum, in which students and faculty eat together, come together for events, and debate with one another the complex issues shaping our world. This is the essence of the Kennedy School: a rich tapestry of students and faculty who seek to translate passion into action.

The Award

Up to ten recipients each year will receive full tuition, health insurance, and a $10,000 annual stipend during their full course of study at Harvard Kennedy School (one to two years).


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.


Applications for the 2015-2016 academic year will be available in the spring of 2015. In the meantime, general application information and guidelines for the Sheila C. Johnson Fellows program can be found here.

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.

Application Process

Step 1:  Apply to Harvard Kennedy School
Deadline: December 2, 2014

For more information on applying to Harvard Kennedy School or to apply online, please visit or contact the Admissions Office directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (617) 495-1155.

Step 2:  Apply for the Fellowship
Deadline February 2015 (TBD)

For more information about applying for the Sheila C. Johnson Fellowship, please contact Sharon Watson Fluker, Fellowship Program Manager at CPL at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (617) 496-3744.