Meet the 2020 Fellows


Lead For Minnesota


... are the next generation of Minnesota's locally-rooted, systems-oriented changemakers. LFMN Fellows return to their hometown, region, or state to strengthen our public institutions, revitalize our local communities, and cultivate the next bench of transformational civic leaders. They bring added capacity to resource-strapped communities - particularly rural, tribal, and economically distressed urban neighborhoods - often working at the intersection of key "magic wand" interventions that, with added capacity and talent, would transform the community.

We look for Fellows who are committed to building a more just, prosperous, and caring Minnesota for all. Who are eager to build a relational foundation of care to drive their service in Minnesota communities. Who are inspired to plan from the future. Who see their communities from places of abundance over scarcity. Who are ready to catalyze change. Who have a genuine excitement to co-create and be part of a larger movement of "homecoming" - particularly to places where the narrative of success so often means "leaving and never coming back."

Fellows agree to serve 4 out of the next 7 years in a role that centers their community’s wellbeing. You can apply for a pre-confirmed host site, or suggest your own. Check back in November 2020 for a list of 2021 pre-confirmed host sites.


Fellowship Components 

Co-Created Project Scope
Each Fellow's Project Scope is generated by the local community and adapted to take advantage of the Fellow's unique skills, passions, and talents. Fellowship applicants can initiate project scope and hosting conversations with a potential host in their hometown, and therein co-design a unique project scope that activates the passions of the Fellow as well as respond to a significant challenge facing the community. In pre-confirmed placements, Fellows work on community challenges specifically crafted by the Host Community for the purpose of the fellowship, and is further refined through a joint Envisioning Meeting between the Host and Fellow
Entrepreneurial Community Venture
Fellows conduct a Listening Tour of their community within the first quarter of their Fellowship, which inspires them to launch a Community Venture that is led by the Fellow and supported by community leaders. The Venture can be tangential to their Project Scope, or completely different. Fellows receive mentorship, inspiration, and model play-books from the LFA network to kickstart, implement, finance, and sustain their own Venture. Though localized to specific contexts, every Venture is designed with the aim of building relational and civic capacity within their community. Across the Project Scope and Community Venture, Fellows are empowered to do meaningful, imaginative, and transformative work.  
By Year 2 of the Fellowship, each Fellow is expected to recruit an additional 5-10 young leaders to return, move to, or become activated to serve in their home community. This can look like attracting additional young leaders to apply for the Fellowship, get involved in your Community Venture, take on a full-time employment role in your community, bring their business to your town, etc. 

Fellow Benefits 

Compensation + Financial Accessibility
Fellows receive a monthly scholarship that is calibrated to their community's average cost of living. LFMN anchors the base monthly scholarship off of the AmeriCorps Living Allowance guidelines per county. On top of the Living Allowance, Fellows are also guaranteed housing and health insurance. Opportunity for additional financial aid is available on a case-by-case basis. LFMN is also actively pursuing opportunities to provide education loan forbearance and financial awards to go towards loan repayment or future study. 
Training + Education
Fellows receive training that grounds the fellowship in the relational foundation of community renewal & innovation.  The Catalyst Institute partners with higher-ed institutions Harvard Kennedy School, Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts,  the University of Minnesota Morris, Crookston, and Twin Cities - the Humphrey School and College of Design, and White Earth Tribal College. They receive technical & mentorship support from faculty and community organizations like Rethos MN Main Street, Dept. of Public Transformation & Voices for Rural Resilience. Each region focuses on a pillar of LFA's Convergent Leadership model, equipping Fellows with the conceptual and practical frameworks to bring to convergence the pillars of Foresight, Innovation, Service, and Justice within their change-making work.   
National Network
Fellows are part of a national network and movement of bright young leaders from across the country. In addition to being together for a month of the Changemaker Summit and Catalyst Institute, they share learnings, challenges, and support one another through pod calls, retreats, fellow exchanges, and the building of lifelong friendships. 
In addition, Fellows belong to the Luminary Network, an intimate community of dedicated mentors which include community development experts such as the New Localism's Bruce Katz, mayors and elected officials such as Ithaca, NY's youngest and first African American mayor Svante Myrick, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Founder of RISE, Amanda Nguyen, and visionary social entrepreneurs like Baltimore Corps CEO Fagan Harris and Community Renewal International Founder, Mack McCarter. Mentors intimately support Fellows in launching their Community Projects, supporting the Project Scopes, and grounding Fellows in the larger call to holistic and transformative community and relational renewal.  

Pre-Confirmed Sites

Host sites are selected through two processes: Pre-Confirmed & Fellow-Led.

Pre-confirmed hosts are communities that have applied to be a host, developed a project scope, and confirmed preliminary funding and structure to host. LFMN then geo-targets our recruitment process to find Fellows to fill those placements. Fellow-Led placements are communities initiated by an applicant. LFMN works with the candidate and proposed host to develop a match and structure for hosting. 

Click on the locations in the map below to learn more about the project scopes and host institutions in each place. Return periodically to see new sites added!


2019 Sites

2020 Sites

2021 Sites: Coming Soon

Want to become a host site?

Let's talk!

Don't see your hometown here?

Initiate a Fellow-led placement. 

Andrea Duarte Alonso presenting at Changemaker Summit

Andrea Duarte Alonso presenting at Changemaker Summit

Suidi Hashi, Minnesota Fellow

Application Process

Click on each phase for more info.

Submit Application


Finalist application + interview with Lead For Minnesota.

Endorsed Finalists

Interview + match with your host.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Application FAQ

Do I need to have experience with policy or government?

No! You don’t have to be a policy expert or a political science major to be a great Fellow—all kinds of skills can translate to success in a community organization as long as you’re ready to work hard, exercise humility, and learn on the go. If you’ve been a leader on campus, gained skills at internships or jobs, and care about finding a career where you make a real impact day-to-day, you might be a great fit!

Can international residents apply?

Unfortunately, due to the hiring restrictions of many of our community partners, Lead for America may only accept U.S. citizens, nationals, or legal permanent residents for admission into the Fellowship. DACA recipients are eligible for the fellowship.

Can I apply to be a Fellow if I already have a graduate degree or am in the middle of a graduate program?

Yes. Folks who have earned or are in the process of earning graduate degrees may apply for the Fellowship so long as they earned their bachelor’s degree no earlier than 2011, are between the ages of 21 and 30, and are legally authorized to work in the US. Applicants who are in the middle of a graduate degree program must be prepared to take a two-year sabbatical from their graduate studies to participate in Lead for America.
Please note: the compensation package is the same for all Fellows in a given city, regardless of whether or not they earned a graduate degree before beginning their Fellowship term.

Can I apply to work in a specific area even if it's not on the pre-confirmed site list?

Yes, if you would like to work in your hometown or have a specific reason for wanting to go to a specific location, you are welcome and encouraged to propose going there in your application. However, if you want to work for a host that Lead for America does not have a pre-existing relationship with, you will be given support by LFA to advocate for yourself to your proposed host during the Finalist and Endorsed Finalist stages of the application. A Fellow can only be confirmed when both an Endorsed Finalist and the proposed host officially approve of the match.

Can I apply to work at the state level?

Lead For America aims to cultivate outstanding recent graduates to be leaders in their hometowns or places they have strong personal connections. We believe this element of "place" is very important to help revitalize communities that struggle to retain talent because our Fellows serve as a role model for youth and others in the community to reframe the narrative of success from "leaving and never coming back" to one of serving home. For these reasons, our program generally focuses on service in local organizations (governments at the municipal, county, tribal, or COG level, or community-rooted non-profits or businesses).

However, if a candidate proposes a state-level role that has a compelling connection to a community they are strongly rooted in, exceptions may be possible.

Can I apply to multiple application cycles?

Yes! If you do not receive the fellowship during an earlier application cycle you are welcome to apply again at a later deadline, but you must fill out the application again to signal that you would like to be reconsidered.

When will I be notified if I was selected as an endorsed finalist?

Cycle 1: January 7th, 2021 Cycle 2: March 22nd, 2021 Cycle 3: May 24th, 2021 Note that Endorsed Finalists are not guaranteed a fellowship until they are matched with a community institution that agrees to host them. However, a vast majority of those who are named Endorsed Finalists ultimately receive the fellowship.

Can I apply for both the hometown fellowship and a state-based fellowship (Lead For Minnestota or Lead For North Carolina)?

For those who have strong ties both to North Carolina or Minnesota as well as to another community somewhere else, we ask that, for the first round application, you choose just one fellowship track. However, if in later rounds you would like to switch your application preference to a different track, you may do so by emailing

Do I need to have talked to my proposed host organization before submitting the first round application for the "Fellow-Led" track?

If you are applying for the "Fellow-Led" track, you are welcome to let proposed host community stakeholders know of your interest in serving them, but this is not required. If applying for a preconfirmed placement, you will be introduced to your potential host during the Endorsed Finalist stage, and if applying for a non preconfirmed placement, you will be introduced at the Finalist stage. If you would like to reach out to potential hosts at an earlier stage on your own terms, it is important to ask them what their most pressing needs are and their potential financial capacity to host a Fellow. You can share with them what LFMN is and that we are here to serve as a pipeline to train young leaders interested in helping strengthen their local communities.

How should I send my recommendations?

Recommendations are not requested until the Finalist round. At that time, we prefer that the recommendation be uploaded with the rest of your application. The recommendation need not be confidential. However, if your recommender prefers to keep the recommendation confidential, they can submit it directly to us via e-mail: We do not accept recommendations through the mail.
If your recommender submits their recommendation directly, please make sure that they: (1) include your name in the subject line, and (2) state your full name and your school in the recommendation to help us match it to your file. We strongly encourage you to submit the recommendation with the rest of your application. Well-intentioned as your professors and supervisors may be, they are also incredibly busy. While we do not seek to penalize applicants for circumstances beyond their control, it does not change the fact that, if your recommendation does not arrive on time, our application readers will not have access to a key component of your application. If you ask a recommender to submit a recommendation directly, you should do so understanding that we may not be able to consider the recommendation if it does not arrive before the application deadline.

What happens during the finalist interviews?

The interview's intent is to more deeply understand the Finalists' background, relevant experiences, values, and connection to community. In all cases, the interviews will assess the Finalists' level of long-term commitment to their proposed community, region, state, or issue area. All interviews will happen via Zoom.

How do I know you received my application?

If you received the confirmation email, then we received your application. If you did not receive a confirmation email in your inbox or in your spam folder within 24 hours of submission, then email letting us know.

What is the difference between an "Applicant-Led" and "Pre-Confirmed" placement?

Application are now open for Applicant-Led Fellows. Lead For Minnesota works with these applicants to confirm a Host Placement based on the connection that the applicant has to that community and proposed Project Scope. They may propose a community to which they'd like to serve in the application. Lead For Minnesota will work with the candidate to facilitate an introduction to the potential host supervisor and build a fellowship placement in the proposed community or region. Pre-Confirmed placements are those communities that reach out to Lead For Minnesota wanting to host a Fellow. They have defined their project scope and confirmed the structure and funding support to host a Fellow. LFMN then recruits candidates to serve in these communities working on these project scopes. If you are interested in applying for a Pre-Confirmed site, check back here early 2021.

Do I apply for LFA or LFMN?

If you are interested in serving in Minnesota, you will apply to serve as a Lead for Minnesota Fellow here. To apply for the National Hometown Fellowship, you can apply here. Lead For Minnesota Fellows are Lead for America Fellows, but will have state-specific training, programming, staff support, and Fellow network.

What does the application process entail?

First Round In the first round of the application, you will first complete a two-page application with your demographic and academic information, a resume/CV, your placement preference, writing sample, and a 250 word short answer response focused on your interest in or connection to the proposed host community. Finalist In the Finalist round, you will submit a public narrative video ( see here for more details), a 250 word short answer response focused on your integrity and character, 2 letters of recommendation, and an interview with the Lead For Minnesota team. Endorsed Finalist Endorsed Finalists will have been given an unreserved endorsement by Lead For Minnesota, and will partake in a matching process that involves and interview with their potential Host. Pending a successful interview, funding, and confirmation by a host organization of interest, the Endorsed Finalist will be named a Fellow. For pre-confirmed placements, funding has already been secured, so as long as both the host and Endorsed Finalist are happy with their match after an interview, the fellowship can be confirmed. A significant majority of Endorsed Finalists ultimately are confirmed as Fellows.​

Fellowship FAQ

What will I be doing during the fellowship?

Fellowship roles are not meant to replace existing entry-level jobs, but rather are original and customized positions meant to address a complex and urgent problem facing the community that the community organization lacks the bandwidth to fully address. These roles will be structured around a small number of tangible project-oriented goals, where the Fellow will be expected to take on major project management responsibility, to think on their feet, and to innovate in collaboration with their team. Fellows can apply for a certain track (General, Main Street, Civic Artists, Rural Resilience & Propose-Your-Own) to indicate a specific interest of the kind of work they would like to do. Each Track will have their own locally-specific goals, but will have the supportive framework of the organizational partners under which they are jointly run. See the Fellow Profiles of the two inaugural LFMN Fellows for examples of work they are doing.

When does the Fellowship start?

Our Fellowship begins in Summer of 2021. Check back here for more information.

How do you select what community organizations to work with?

We partner with forward-thinking organizations whose leaders are eager to find new ways to engage young talent in solving key local challenges and are serious about mentoring, empowering and investing in that talent. We collaborate closely with our Fellow hosts to identify meaningful, high-impact work for Fellows. All of our Fellow hosts invest significant money and time in our program and in our Fellows. The placements will represent a mix of urban, suburban, rural locations - with a particular focus on rural and tribal communities.

Can my project scope be partisan?

LFA is a nonpartisan fellowship program, which means that we do not choose our placements or our Fellows to cater towards any partisan agenda. That being said, our Fellows are permitted to engage in political partisan activity on their own personal time when not officially representing Lead for America or their host placement. We also promote the International City/County Management Association Code of Ethics (though are not bound to it), which states that its members should "refrain from all political activities which undermine public confidence in professional administrators." While this tenet is targeted specifically at local government employees, particularly city/county managers, we welcome discussion with Fellows and their Hosts together about what honoring and interpreting this guideline would look like for each particular placement.

Can I have other employment during the fellowship?

Generally, we do not allow employment outside of the Fellowship during the years of service. Because the fellowship experience is very intensive and we hope that Fellows can focus as much of their time as possible on impacting their communities, Fellows will be asked to refrain from holding simultaneous employment, including part-time jobs. The living scholarship, housing scholarship, and other Fellowship benefits are calibrated to cover all living costs during the Fellowship experience. Additional financial scholarships are also available in exceptional circumstances.

Can I attend school during the fellowship?

Fellows may decide to complete additional certification programs or courses through one of our academic or strategic partners. This may include working towards an online MPA program or any number of weekend part-time training courses. That being said, Fellows are expected to consult both their host government and Lead For Minnesota before making this decision. You may apply for graduate school during the Fellowship, but you may not matriculate into a graduate degree program until after your Fellowship ends.

Will any travel be required?

As part of the Fellowship experience, LFMN Fellows will travel to a week-long Changemaker Summit and will be traveling across the state of Minnesota for an additional three weeks as part of the Summer Catalyst Institute. Fellows will also travel to several other locations across the country for all-Fellow retreats. All Catalyst Institute and retreat travel will be paid for by LFA.
The dates of the trips are determined during the Fellowship year, in consultation with the Fellows. While most work placements are not expected to require substantial travel, Fellows will be expected to undertake travel appropriate to their jobs when and if requested by their work supervisors.

Do I get time off as a Fellow?

Yes. Fellows get a reasonable number of personal days similar to the number of days given to regular new employees of their city, town, or county (in addition to the 13 regular holidays). However, Fellows are expected to attend all Fellowship trainings & retreats, will be given opportunities to attend other conferences, and are thus expected to plan their time off accordingly.

As a Fellow, what will my training and support look like?

You will begin your fellowship with all the LFA Fellows during the Changemakers Summit. You’ll learn alongside professionals, academics, and social sector leaders across a multitude of fields, and receive leadership development, equity, and character-building training. While we look for Fellows who are self-starters and who have personal connections to the communities in which they are serving, we understand that being the only Fellow in a community or region can be slightly daunting and overwhelming. As a result, we organize annual retreats among all Fellows, as well as check in biweekly or monthly to ensure that your experience is fulfilling to you. Lead For Minnesota Staff are actively working to secure graduate school accreditation from university partners for Fellows who complete the Catalyst Institute and two-year fellowship. Fellows in each track will also receive tailored training relevant to their track, provided respectively by our organizational partners.

What benefits do Fellows receive? How much are they paid?

Lead For Minnesota is a State/National AmeriCorps Program. After consulting with dozens of peer service year programs, we have concluded that the AmeriCorps stipend can be very challenging for some young individuals to live on when they must also pay for housing and health care costs. To ensure that our program is financially accessible for young leaders of all income backgrounds, we provide the equivalent of an AmeriCorps stipend as a baseline scholarship, and also pay for the costs of housing and health care for those Fellows who are not able to cover those costs through in-kind support, such as living with family, parental health insurance, etc. To calculate the baseline scholarship, we first take the equivalent of the AmeriCorps VISTA living stipend by county (we multiply the biweekly stipend from this chart by 26). Then, for those Fellows who are unable to secure in-kind housing (e.g. from parents, their host, etc.), we add in the Housing amount estimated for that city on the MIT Living Wage Calculator (if the city is not listed on the MIT Living Wage Calculator, we use the amount listed for the county where the city resides). For those Fellows who are not on parental or spousal insurance and need to pay for their own medical costs, medical expenses will be reimbursed up to the amount estimated for Medical Expenses for that city/county on the MIT Living Wage Calculator. For those with children, LFA will work with them to provide an additional financial scholarship based on that candidate's needs. Finally, Lead For America reserves a pool of funding for Fellow financial scholarships, which is used each year to cover financial scholarships for Fellows who need more than the typical scholarship amount for additional expenses. Lead For America strives to provide all Fellows with the funds needed to ensure that the program is sustainable for people of all incomes, and we are committed to working thoughtfully and compassionately with all candidates who need more support to see what is possible within the constraints of our financial scholarship fund. On top of the scholarship, Fellows also receive an all expenses paid trip to a four week leadership and graduate-level public administration training, three complimentary all-Fellow retreats to locations across the nation, biweekly calls with an LFA staff member for professional and emotional support, a mentor tailored to their personal needs and aspirations, alumni opportunities including graduate scholarships and job opportunities (including a scholarship to the Carnegie Mellon Heinz School of Public Policy for all Fellow alumni), online trainings, complimentary attendance at relevant conferences, and a community of the most talented, passionate, and dynamic peers in the country. For specific questions about Fellow scholarships, please feel free to reach out to Reed Shafer-Ray, Director of Recruitment and Selection, at




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