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Advancing Change, Building Leadership: Reflections on the Emerging Leader Fellowship

By Stoneleigh Foundation | May 18, 2020

Since 2007, Stoneleigh has awarded nearly 40 Emerging Leader Fellowships to early career professionals working to advance systems change in Greater Philadelphia. We asked a few of our alumni to reflect on their Fellowship experiences and share the lessons they learned, the accomplishments they are most proud of, and how this opportunity has shaped their careers.


The Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellowship was my first job after law school, and it gave me a unique opportunity to establish expertise in a specific area early on in my career. In my field of legal aid, it’s common to have high caseloads. The Fellowship allowed me to keep a smaller caseload and focus most of my time on big picture, systemic change and achieve national policy change with a large impact. I have continued working in the same field, and the Fellowship set me up with a strong foundation to take a leadership role in my work. It also provided incredible professional development opportunities and access to the Stoneleigh Foundation’s network of experts and leaders. I recommend the Fellowship to anyone who is passionate about systemic change and is interested in taking a leadership role in their field.

Claire Grandison, JD
Community Legal Services
Emerging Leader Fellow 2014 – 2015


For me, the most valuable aspect of the Emerging Leader Fellowship was that it provided me with both the time and the support I needed to contribute to work aimed at improving education in juvenile justice facilities. Rather than simply leaving me to my own devices, the Fellowship provided extensive support through my host organization, Stoneleigh’s own staff, and the extended network of Stoneleigh Fellows and alumni. Without this support, I would not have been able to contribute so immediately. And, the fact that I have been able to continue working to improve juvenile justice education four years after my Fellowship is proof of the success of the Emerging Leader program.

Roger Chu, MSEd
Research for Action
Emerging Leader Fellow 2015 – 2016


The most valuable aspect of my Emerging Leadership Fellowship was the opportunity to learn through doing. It is quite rare that early in your career you will be given the resources and the latitude to act as a social change leader in your community; however, the Fellowship provided me with that opportunity. During my time as an Emerging Leader Fellow, I was able to confidently push myself to the edge of my capabilities because I always knew that I had a robust support network to help guide me when I needed them. Completing the Fellowship helped me clarify my professional goals and gave me opportunities to practice skills that I would need for the remainder of my career. I also had the opportunity to work with national-level changemakers every day that I respect and still communicate with regularly. These individuals helped me clarify my social justice agenda and have supported me in accomplishing those goals in a multitude of ways, through letters of recommendation, referrals, and encouraging words. I genuinely don’t think I would be where I am today without having had this fantastic opportunity. I’m thankful for it every day.

Dominique Mikell, AM
Juvenile Law Center
Emerging Leader Fellow 2016 – 2018


This Fellowship granted me the opportunity to intersect with major players in the youth-serving and social service sectors in Philadelphia. I am very proud of my evaluation of Philadelphia Youth Network’s post-secondary bridging pilot, a program that helps build college- and career-ready skills among 16-to-24-year-olds who are neither in school nor working. This work played a significant role in the development of a 2020 Request for Proposals for the city’s neighborhood-based E³ Centers, which support education, employment, and empowerment for young people.

Amber Wool, MSW
Philadelphia Youth Network
Emerging Leader Fellow 2017 – 2019


Applications for organizations interested in hosting a 2021-2023 Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow are now open. Learn more about the Fellowship, Eligibility Requirements, and Frequently Asked Questions.