This article was originally published on BLAC Detroit.

The HBCU Executive Leadership Institute (HBCU ELI) at Clark Atlanta University is accepting applications for its second class of Community Fellows, with an October 25th, 2021 deadline. 

The first-of-its-kind program launched its first cohort in April 2021 that included a roster of 58% women, making it the nation’s most diverse cohort of future HBCU leaders. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was named the program’s first honorary fellow.

Funded in large part by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), the program seeks to identify qualified candidates to fill vacant HBCU presidencies and other executive leadership positions. 

Slated to begin its second cohort in January 2022, ELI’s best-in-class program continues to serve as an incubator for recruiting and developing the next generation of leaders for over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), with fellows receiving coaching and mentorship from past and present HBCU leaders. Interested participants may apply online today. 


HBCU ELI launched its first cohort in April 2021 that included a roster of 58% women, making it the nation’s most diverse cohort of future HBCU leaders. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was also named the program’s first honorary fellow. 

ELI’s robust curriculum immerses qualified candidates in the various competencies of effectively leading an HBCU. This includes operations, budgeting, academics, fundraising and development, as well as board governance, and racial and social justice. Several inaugural cohort fellows offered the following reflections on their ELI experience:

  • “You will quickly find yourself in a professionally supportive space to explore and advance your leadership attributes such as crisis management, institutional advancement, and board governance, while also acquiring a keen understanding of how these multifaceted aspects of leadership can be successfully navigated as an HBCU President.” – Fellow Dr. Ann Lampkin-Williams, University of Michigan, Dearborn.  
  • “The ELI program has challenged me to become a better leader and helped me better understand board governance and relationship issues.” –  Fellow Dr. Rochelle Ford, Elon University. 
  • “I have gained valuable information that has proven to be useful. I know will be of value as I continue my leadership journey in higher education.” – Fellow Dr. Gwynth Nelson, South Carolina State University.

Participating mentors, speakers and past HBCU presidents added:

“America needs the human and financial capital that HBCUs have produced for nearly two centuries. Our HBCUs need talented, visionary institutional leaders who have integrity, competence and imagination to sustain that amazing track record of excellence.”  

— Dr. Robert M. Franklin, President Emeritus of Morehouse College and HBCU ELI Seminar Speaker. 

“The ELI is expanding and accelerating that pipeline by offering a high-impact leadership formation experience— rich in theory and practice—that is provided by an impressive ensemble of experienced mentors. I much enjoyed participating in the development of these new leaders and engaging with them in a stimulating exchange.”

 President Reynold Verret, Xavier University.

“We look forward to preparing the second cohort of fellows for the next generation of leaders for HBCUs,” said Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, Executive Director of the HBCU Executive Leadership program.

Before the Civil Rights movement, HBCUs offered Black Americans one of their only routes to a college degree. These institutions helped Black people pursue professional careers, earn graduate degrees, and advance their education. ELI helps preserve and strengthen HBCUs as a hub for education, opportunity and uplift in the communities they serve. 

In addition to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the effort is supported by the ECMC Foundation, Microsoft, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Toyota, The Rich Foundation, Inc., United Methodist Church, and more.

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