2016 Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows

2017 Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows Announcement


The Early Childhood Leadership Academy (ECLA) is a signature initiative of Erikson Institute that provides knowledgeable leaders with dynamic, collective learning experiences to enhance their capacity to influence early childhood policy leading to positive outcomes for young children and their families. Erikson Institute, which houses the nation’s premier graduate school in child development, works to ensure that all children have equitable opportunities to reach their potential through education, research, service, and advocacy.

Erikson Institute is pleased to offer the Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows program, a leadership opportunity designed to enrich the perspective and enhance the capacity of diverse child advocates who want to ensure early childhood policy leads to positive outcomes for young children and their families. The program will equip program and policy leaders with content knowledge, tools for assessing public policy levers, and hands-on practice to make a positive impact in early childhood policy.

Fellows can expect an engaging, rigorous, and reflective experience with a thoughtful balance between theory and practice. Special attention will be given to navigating policy systems, cultivating a critical lens with respect to diversity and equity, and fostering an enduring network among fellows.

Guest lecturers will draw from a variety of policymakers and advocates who will share their knowledge and experience in the field of early childhood policy. Monthly sessions will build upon each other and embed applied learning projects to maximize the ability for fellows to analyze critical issues, expand skills, and cultivate a broader understanding of how policy and systems impact children and families in Illinois.

Click here to meet the 2017 Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows. 

Who should be nominated?
What are the program requirements?
What is the process and timeline for nominations and applications for the next class of fellows?
What are the learning features of the fellows program?
What will fellows and their sponsoring organizations gain from the program?
Where and when will the seminars take place?
What costs are involved for fellows and sponsoring organizations?

Who should be nominated?

The Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows program seeks child advocates with an interest in early childhood who work in nonprofit organizations or government agencies in Illinois. Throughout the program, fellows will remain in their full-time positions and use their work environments as a context for reinforcing their understanding of important leadership and policy issues in Illinois.


Nominees should:

  • Be a full-time employee of a nonprofit organization or government agency with an interest in early childhood


  • Have at least three years professional experience in a position with influence within their organization
  • Demonstrate a strong track record of leadership, innovation, and high performance
  • Obtain approval by their supervisors for release time to fully participate in program components


To nominators:

If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you may proceed with your nomination:

  1. Is the candidate employed in a full-time position?
  2. Is the candidate in a leadership position with influence (see guide below) in his or her place of employment?
  3. Does the candidate have at least three years of professional experience?


Job Title and Roles Guide

Job titles for non-profit nominees could include chief executive officer, chief operating officer, executive director, senior administrator, associate director, deputy director, regional director, program director, school principal/assistant principal, program officer, and senior program manager.

Job titles for government nominees could include deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner, director, budget director, and chief of staff.

Roles for nominees could include strategic management, resource development and distribution, program development and administration, advocacy strategy and execution, grant making, fostering and sustaining external partnerships.

Successful Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows are:Erikson_Bowman_Fellows_20160610_209

  • Intellectually curious
  • Self-reflective
  • Ambitious
  • Innovative
  • Open and flexible
  • Committed to racial equity and positive change for young children and families

What are the program requirements?

  • Fellows will be required to secure the consent and support of their employer or sponsoring organization for admission.
  • Fellows are expected to attend and actively engage in all of the monthly seminars and activities over the course of ten months.
  • Fellows will research and complete a policy memo and present it to an identified stakeholder group.

What is the process and timeline for nominations and applications for the next class of fellows?

The nomination and application process for the 2017 cohort of the Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows has closed and will reopen in 2018.  

All applicants must have a nomination completed on their behalf, and acceptance into the program will be contingent upon supervisor approval by a qualifying organization.

What are the learning features of the fellows program?

The Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows program will offer a comprehensive approach to knowledge and skill-building through a carefully crafted array of learning and application opportunities intended to build on existing knowledge and experience. Particular focus will be placed on reflective leadership as a strategy to increase self-awareness, challenge one’s own thinking, and cultivate a critical lens with respect to diversity and equity.

Core components of the program include full day (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) seminars every third Friday of each month June 2017 through March 2018, coaching, applied learning, and professional networking.

  • Seminars
    A total of ten full-day monthly seminars will be offered. Sessions will combine presentations of research and examples of actual practice with an emphasis on applied learning, using interactive discussions and case study analyses to expose fellows to effective tools and strategies to steer change within early childhood policy. Throughout the program, seminar content will be supplemented with digital resources. The curriculum will cover the following topics:

    • Public policy life cycle
    • Types of policy and assessing levers for change
    • Advocacy versus lobbyingErikson_Bowman_Fellows_20160610_274
    • Federal and state early childhood policy
    • Early childhood systems building and coordination
    • Child development and brain science
    • Adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress
    • Workforce implications
    • Child and family programs and services
  • Professional Coaching

    Fellows will have access to a cadre of coaches — experienced leaders who understands early childhood policy and advocacy — and will receive ongoing and targeted support.20170208-DSC_1515 Coaches also will play a role in making sure that participants have access to an extensive network of nonprofit, public, and private sector leaders who can help guide them through the thought process for the policy memo. Additionally, fellows will have access to allies, previous fellows including those from programs formerly known as the Illinois Early Childhood Fellows and Senior Leaders, as well as key advisers, who are executive level early childhood professionals.
  • Applied Learning
    Leaders learn best by doing. Over the course of the program, fellows will be expected to develop a policy memo 3rd PD Session - debateand practice delivering testimony or drafting a op-ed piece for a media outlet. Program seminars and coaching sessions will expose fellows to the analytical skills and content knowledge needed to assess and develop policy recommendations for a current early childhood issue. Additionally, an experienced policy consultant will be on hand to provide writing consultation for the policy memo. Policy memos will define a real-time problem, identify the cause, propose a solution, and articulate the outcome of the proposed solution.
  • Networking, External Outreach, and Engagement
    Each new class of the Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows immediately joins a larger community of professionals that includes other classmates, former fellows, executive staff of partner organizations, seminar presenters, Erikson faculty and staff, and program funders. Fellows will have the opportunity to interact with this community through the duration of the program and continue their engagement by joining the online Community of Practice hosted by Erikson.

What will fellows and their sponsoring organizations gain from the program?

Fellows will develop:

  • Broader and deeper understanding of the public policy making process and navigating systems
  • Increased knowledge of key federal, state, and local early childhood policy issues
  • The ability to frame policy issues and develop recommendations to strengthen child and family well-being
  • Informed leadership knowledge and practice
  • A critical analysis lens with respect to diversity and equity
  • The ability to respond to the cultural dynamics of the communities they serve
  • Targeted communication skills
  • An expanded network of professional colleagues

Partnering organizations will benefit from:

  • Leaders with greater understanding of early childhood policy and advocacy
  • Leaders with enhanced capacity for leadership opportunities
  • Culturally responsive leaders who promote diversity and equity in leadership
  • Expanded access to leaders and influencers who shape early childhood policy

Where and when will the seminars take place?

In-person seminars will take place at Erikson Institute, located in downtown Chicago at 451 N. LaSalle St., and easily accessible by public transit.

Fellows will be invited to participate in a special program launch on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 from 8:30-10:00 a.m. Monthly seminars will commence June 2017 through March 2018 on the third Friday of every month from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

2017 Dates

  1. June 16
  2. July 21
  3. August 18
  4. September 15
  5. October 20
  6. November 17
  7. December 15

2018 Dates

  1. January 19
  2. February 16
  3. March 16


What costs are involved for fellows and sponsoring organizations?

All costs associated with the learning experience, materials, networking activities are generously funded by a gift from the Irving Harris Foundation. There are no direct costs for fellows. Partnering organizations are required to provide release time for fellows to attend seminar and coaching sessions. Fellows are responsible for their transportation and related expenses.

If you have questions or would like additional information about Erikson’s Early Childhood Leadership Academy or the Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows, please contact Penny Smith, Associate Director, Early Childhood Leadership Academy, at 312-460-3856 or by email at [email protected].


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