What is Bingham Fellows?
The Bingham Fellows is the leadership-in-action arm of the Leadership Louisville Center. The Bingham Fellows program annually brings together about 40 experienced Louisville leaders to address one of the region’s most critical issues. A diverse class of participants is selected following a competitive application process to ensure the class has content expertise and unique voices representing all parts of the community. As part of the program, this cohort of professional peers meets with local stakeholders and receives training in social innovation. As their program year progresses, they put into practice skills that credential them as a leader of leaders.
How did the Bingham Fellows program come about?
More than 30 years ago, the Leadership Louisville Center’s board of directors recognized the potential of program graduates coming together around a particular issue in the community to make positive change. The Bingham Fellows program was created as a result of this awareness and through the vision of Mary and Barry Bingham. A $500,000 endowment from the Mary and Barry Bingham Sr. Fund allowed the Bingham Fellows program to be created in 1988.
What are some of the outcomes from prior Bingham Fellows classes?
Recent Bingham Fellows projects include the West Louisville community development organization OneWest, the creation of the Opportunity Network at the Louisville Metro Criminal Justice Commission to provide support and service to those involved with the criminal justice system, helping a pediatricians dream be realized with the opening of the Smoketown Family Wellness Center, a sustainable model for neighborhood ‘Little Free Libraries,’ and City Champs, a talent attraction and retention program now managed by Greater Louisville Inc. The impact of the Fellows goes back to the 1990s with the creation of The Housing Partnership, construction of the Presbyterian Community Center, growth of local farmers’ markets, and numerous other positive outcomes.
How is the topic selected each year?
The Leadership Louisville Center staff spends a considerable amount of time determining the topic for the Bingham Fellows each year. Staff members meet with key community leaders to identify the most pressing challenges facing our region, and also solicit recommendations from previous Bingham Fellows classes and the Leadership Louisville Center board of directors. Twice in the program’s history, the Leadership Louisville Center has turned to the community at large for ideas and inspiration.
Topic selection is based on a variety of criteria:
• Importance – is the challenge of importance to the community?
• Urgency – is action, or are solutions, needed now, or can they be delayed?
• Necessity – will other organizations carry the responsibility once the program year concludes?
• Cost-benefit – is the estimated impact of project teamwork worth the amount of time required? Are the projects/initiatives of manageable size for the program year?
• Creativity/Innovation – will the Bingham Fellows have the freedom to complete their work by tapping into creative solutions brought about by their innovative thinking?
What is the topic for the 2021 Bingham Fellows?
The topic for 2021 focuses on studying what it will take to overcome the legacy of racial inequality and bias in our city, with the theme: “Belonging: Building a Culture of Inclusivity.” Click here for more on the topic.
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What do the Bingham Fellows hope to accomplish?
Specific outcomes are difficult to predict from the outset because the Bingham Fellows’ accomplishments are based upon the collective wisdom, work, and inspiration of the participants themselves. What we do know is that the Bingham Fellows have a long history of success due in part to their ability to cross traditional boundaries and gather stakeholders and resources.
What is the Bingham Fellows program experience like?
The Bingham Fellows is a 12-month long program that takes place from January – December. The program year begins with a mandatory opening session in February, and a mandatory two-day overnight retreat in May. During the program year, the class meets once a month at varying locations.
During these program days, participants meet and work with key leaders and decision-makers in the community or participate in experiential learning around the topic as they explore solutions and pathways forward.
Outside of the program days, from May through graduation in December, participants will work in teams on different projects to address the topic. These project teams will meet, typically weekly, and develop their solutions independently. Some work will take place during business hours and some will take place outside of business hours. Beginning in May, a portion of program days will be set aside for additional group work. Participation on a project team is required.
Participants come away with new tools for facilitating change as well as the opportunity to put leadership skills into practice that credential them as a leader of leaders.
Why should I get involved?
The Bingham Fellows program offers a one-of-a-kind leadership development experience, one where participants work with peer leaders to develop dynamic and innovative solutions to our community’s most pressing challenges. Individuals selected for the program will gain an insider’s view of the topic and will meet and work with the area’s top experts and key players. Participants come away with new insights, connections, and unmatched training in social innovation.
What does my business gain from my participation?
Businesses gain advanced leadership experience in change management and influencing behavior as well as the opportunity to highlight your company’s interest in the local community and commitment to its positive growth. Your organization also benefits from new relationships with other local and regional leaders who are passionate about and driven by these community issues. Not only will you receive an insider’s view into the problem, but your company will also enjoy recognition as part of the solution.
Who should apply for Bingham Fellows?
The Bingham Fellows program is considered our most advanced leadership course. We encourage graduates of our other programs (Leadership Louisville, Ignite Louisville, and Focus Louisville) to apply for the Bingham Fellows as the next step in their personal leadership journey, but prior participation in one of these programs is not required. Individuals who are passionate about civic engagement and/or a particular topic are also welcome to apply if they are interested in the advanced leadership development opportunity and the ability to make a positive difference on the topic.
What are the time commitments involved?
The development of a successful class takes time and commitment. You must be there for the experience and for your voice to be heard. That’s why your attendance will be closely monitored. The attendance policy is as follows:
Bingham Fellows program staff must be notified in advance of any absence. However, notifying us does not absolve you of your responsibility to attend. The opening session in February and the two-day retreat (which may be overnight depending on COVID-19) are mandatory in their entirety. For all other program sessions, two excused absences, or equivalent hours, are allowed. A third absence will result in review of your continued participation by the Leadership Louisville Center Board of Directors. At that point, you must petition the Board to review your status. Three consecutive absences will result in automatic dismissal. Coming and going from program days is discouraged, and any hours away from sessions will be tracked and can add up to an absence.
Additionally, a considerable amount of time is spent outside of the program days in small groups to further explore the topic and implement solutions. This amount of time varies depending on specific project objectives.
What is the cost?
Bingham Fellows program tuition is $4,500, which includes meals, transportation, parking, and materials.
If tuition is a barrier for me, are resources available?
The Leadership Louisville Center believes in the collective power of diverse voices, perspectives, and backgrounds. We have tuition support funds designated specifically for diversity in all its forms and for those to whom our program costs would be a barrier to participation. Requests for support are not shared with the selection committee and will only be considered only after the class selection process is complete. You can request any amount, but understand that to serve as many needs as possible, the Leadership Louisville Center cannot provide the full amount of the tuition. Our awards typically do not exceed 50 percent of the program cost (which would be $2250), but you may request more if needed to enable your participation.
How many people are invited to participate each year?
The typical class size for the Bingham Fellows program is approximately 40 participants.
I’m interested, but I don’t know if my employer will support me. What should I do?
Talk to the decision-makers in your company or organization. Besides providing advanced leadership experience in change management and influencing behavior, participation in the Bingham Fellows program highlights your company’s interest in the local community and commitment to its positive growth. Your company will also benefit from in-depth relationships with other local and regional leaders who are passionate about and driven by these community issues. Not only will you receive an insider’s view into the problem, but your company will also enjoy recognition for its dedication to the improvement of our community. If you need additional assistance, contact the Leadership Louisville Center and we’ll be happy to help.
How do I submit an application?
Applications are taken online. In addition to the online application, candidates must also submit a photograph suitable for print and online use. Candidates who are not graduates of Bingham Fellows, Leadership Louisville, or Ignite Louisville, are also required to submit two (2) letters of recommendation. An in-person interview is optional.
Here are all the details on how to apply.
What can I do to strengthen my application?
Participating in Focus Louisville can strengthen your application. Focus Louisville is a 2 1/2 day activity-filled program that offers everyone from newcomers to native Louisvillians a fascinating “insider’s” look at our community. It’s all designed to give attendees a more complete view and understanding of Louisville along with a better sense of how to put leadership into action.
What happens after my application is submitted?
Once you have submitted your application form and all other components, your application will be considered complete. A Leadership Louisville Center Selection Committee will determine who will be invited to join the class. Applicants are generally notified of selection decisions in early December.