The Unity Fellowship will begin training its second cohort of Triangle nonprofit Executive Directors and social impact professionals starting this January, preceded by an announcement of the cohort’s participants on December 15th. ReCity held a Kickoff Breakfast to introduce Cohort 2 this week.
The Unity Fellowship is a capacity building and strategic leadership development program for nonprofit leaders designed to address the over-saturation and underdevelopment of the Durham non-profit community. The goal of the Unity Fellowship is to train nonprofit leaders in key organizational practices that promote long term organizational stability, while elevating key leadership skills that are specifically calibrated to Durham’s local context. Unity Fellows receive training in the following areas:
● Organizational Identity Development
● Financial and Other Systems Administration
● Strategic Planning
● Long Range Fundraising
● Annual Operational Planning
● Board Development
● Staff Development and Organizational Culture
The Unity Fellows program is the brainchild of Julie Wells, who has been a social impact leader in the Triangle for 25 years. Wells currently serves as the Executive Director of Partners for Youth Opportunity in Durham. She knows from experience what it’s like to feel overwhelmed while leading a nonprofit. “When you work particularly in a small nonprofit, you feel like you are in survival mode,” she explained. “You can’t look forward because you’re constantly looking up; you’re trying to hold your head above water.”
Wells’ interactions with other nonprofit leaders with similar experiences inspired her to create the Unity Fellowship in 2017 with the encouragement of her mentor, the late Phail Wynn, of Duke University’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs. According to Wells, “the Unity Fellowship is an opportunity for nonprofit leaders to focus on their own leadership as well as the organizational stability of the nonprofits they oversee.”
The Unity Fellowship graduated the first cohort of nonprofit professionals in December 2017, and they have great things to say about the program. “Every day, I put out fires and solve problems,” says 2017 graduate and Executive Director of the Helius Foundation, Geraud Staton. “This fellowship let me look at the landscape as opposed to only being in the middle of the chaos. I can now see how to avoid the crisis or at least move through it more efficiently.” Staton’s classmate, Reynolds Chapman, Executive Director of Durham Cares, agrees. “I really believe any non-profit leader could get something from this opportunity. A lot of times executive directors can find themselves in isolation and yes, you get a lot of skills from the experience, but the relationships that you build and what you learn from other leaders is invaluable.”
Want to read more about the program? Visit our Unity Fellows page for cohort bios and more information.