Out of 800 applicants, two Jackson State University professors were among 80 chosen for an 18-month fellowship program by The Center for Creative Leadership and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Dr. Robert Luckett, associate professor of history, and Dr. Byron Orey, professor of political science, were selected for class two of the WKKF Community Leadership Network, a model program for developing local leaders who can unite people to create transformational change toward a more equitable society for all.
“I’m deeply honored to be selected to join this incredible group of activists and scholars as we engage the most pressing issues facing our communities throughout the country over the next 18 months,” said Luckett, who is also the director of the JSU Margaret Walker Center. “The fact that there are two of us on the faculty at JSU recognized with a Community Leadership Network Fellowship is particularly remarkable and something that I am proud of.”
Orey shared similar sentiments, also calling the selection an honor. “I look forward to what I know will be a transformative experience for my life as I work alongside others who seek social justice and racial reconciliation,” he said.
The political science professor said that he is looking forward to partnering with fellows from Mississippi that he has always wanted to work beside. “Lastly, this experience will allow me to apply the knowledge that we have gained in the academic laboratory to the world at large. I am super excited,” Orey said.
According to a press release, the fellowship program brings together dynamic and diverse leaders from across the United States and sovereign tribes. The class is organized into cohorts based in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans – the foundation’s priority places – along with one national cohort.
“We are very impressed with the high caliber of these fellows, and we are excited to work with this talented new class to explore what’s possible for creating equity at the local, state, tribal, regional and national levels,” said CCL President and CEO John R. Ryan. CCL was asked to lead the program based on its 50-year track record of cutting-edge research, practice and training that develops leaders for the benefit of society.
Fellows come from all walks of life – tribal leaders, elected officials, health practitioners, youth advocates, educators, businesspeople, attorneys, civil rights activists, conservationists and faith leaders. The class includes a state senator, pediatric dentist, comedian, street food entrepreneur, doula and civil rights historian.
The inaugural class was held from 2014 to 2017.
Through hands-on training, mentoring and practical experience, the fellowship prepares leaders to rise to the challenges of our time. The program offers opportunities to understand the embedded racism in our systems and learn practical approaches to heal and unite communities around solutions.
“Our founder understood that visionary leaders have the power to bring communities together and create lasting change for children,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation. “Class Two is part of our legacy of developing local leaders. They join a network of thousands of fellows that spans decades of work in communities. Their ideas, passion and wisdom are crucial to creating equitable opportunity for children and families.”
Fellows go on to lead meaningful change in their communities. Several have run for elected office, including the mayor of Albuquerque and a city councilwoman in New Orleans, to create more equitable policies and foster economic growth that benefits the whole community. Alumni are also engaging Latino families to improve early childhood education in Michigan and advancing racial justice for African Americans in Mississippi.
In addition, fellows become part of a vast network of 1,700+ alumni through the Kellogg Fellowship Leadership Alliance, who collectively are working to effect systemic change.
The first fellows’ gathering will be held in Battle Creek, Michigan, in March 2019, where they will begin to get to know each other, explore their individual leadership styles, learn ways to be agile in leading change and practice communicating with vision and purpose.
For more about the WKKF Community Leadership Network with the Center for Creative Leadership and a complete list of fellows, visit wkkfcln.org.