Offered with support from the American Express Foundation, the IGNITE Fellowship is a nine-month program that each year will focus on 35 mid-career women of color in nonprofits across the US.

IGNITE Fellowship to Strengthen Women of Color at Leading US Nonprofits

The Research Center for Leadership in Action at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (RCLA) is announcing the launch of the IGNITE Fellowship for Women of Color in the Social Sector, an initiative that will celebrate and cultivate the leadership skills of women of color at major nonprofit organizations.

Offered with support from the American Express Foundation, the IGNITE Fellowship is a nine-month program that each year will focus on 35 mid-career women of color in nonprofits across the US. The Fellowship will provide fellows with exposure to best practices, processes for building personal and organizational leadership, opportunities to build and strengthen core management capacities, and a national network of women of color who are leading their organizations.

“Women of color who are heading up nonprofits are doing some of the most groundbreaking, complex and too often, under-recognized, work in the field. We are thrilled to support them at this mid-career stage, giving them space to reflect back on what they have accomplished and equipping them to reach the next level of impact going forward,” said RCLA Executive Director Bethany Godsoe.

The IGNITE Fellowship begins with a five-day Institute in New York City. During the Institute, Fellows will meet with innovators in the nonprofit arena, learn from these and other experts in leadership and management, and participate in action-oriented, peer-to-peer, and experiential learning sessions. They will also have space to step away from day-to-day management duties to engage in reflection and rejuvenation. Over the ensuing nine months, Fellows will participate in peer mentoring, coaching, and webinars to advance their personal and professional leadership goals with the support of cohort members and Fellowship managers.

“American Express has long invested in developing robust and diverse nonprofit leadership,” said Timothy J. McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation. “We are excited to continue our commitment to celebrating and enhancing the critically important work spearheaded by women of color across the social sector.”

Applications for the IGNITE Fellowship are being accepted online through noon EST on Friday, May 24, at

The Fellowship is a program of RCLA’s People of Color Leadership Network, which aims to strengthen communities of color by supporting leadership by and for people of color. This work in part seeks to address the dearth of positions of authority held by people of color in contrast to major demographic and workforce shifts. People of color make up one of every three people living in the US, a figure projected to increase to more than one of every two in the coming decades. Recent research data show that only 10 percent of nonprofit and foundation CEO positions are held by people of color.

About the Research Center for Leadership in Action
The Research Center for Leadership in Action builds knowledge and capacity for leadership to transform society. Housed at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, a nationally top-ranked graduate school, RCLA conducts breakthrough research on leadership for the public good and offers customized leadership development and capacity-building programs. Over the last decade, a cornerstone of RCLA’s research and programming has been recognizing and developing diverse and inclusive leadership at all levels of public service organizations. Learn more at

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at

American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow
One of American Express' three platforms for its philanthropy is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit sector, American Express is making grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century.

Press Contact

Robert Polner
Robert Polner
(212) 998-2337