The Inaugural Class on their Year as Fulcrum Fellows

Our first class of Fulcrum Fellows concluded their fellowship this fall. They reinforced our belief that when leaders collaborate across silos and move away from “business as usual” thinking and practices, they can change how community investment is organized and deployed. We will continue to work with our first cohort as they transition into alumni and look forward to seeing the change they will continue to create in their communities.

Here are some of their thoughts on their Fulcrum Fellow experiences:

What was the most valuable thing about the Fulcrum Fellowship?

Damon Burns: “The other Fellows in the program - meeting them, learning about their challenges, and getting to know them as people. I had a chance to spend two days with fellows who were visiting New Orleans; [we’ve built] relationships in which we not only support each other professionally, but also enjoy one another outside of the program.”

Nora Bloch: “I didn’t know there were different ways to think about deals, especially systems-level approaches. It has stretched my brain a lot, in a new way, to think about systems rather than just reacting to events.”

Monica Mitchell: “I’ve learned a lot from other people’s successes and failures. I appreciated getting direct feedback on my work during the critique sessions. I was able to unpack and understand things in a way that I don’t think I would have otherwise. This is a unique program. The combination of completing a project, participating in leadership development, and engaging in a peer network makes for an unbeatable experience.”

What impact has the Fulcrum Fellowship had on you?

Ja’Net Defell: “The Fellowship forced me to take a step back and look at the entire ecosystem and the system change that is needed for me to be successful. Prior, I was a very transaction-focused person with a background in real estate and urban planning, but [being successful] requires so much more.”

Chris Story: “I was feeling stuck. Spartanburg had put in place best practices, picked the low hanging fruit, and made efforts to move the needle on poverty but we were not getting progress. I was searching for deeper impact and to figure out my role. The Fellowship was a great way to clarify those things.”

Rudy Espinoza: “The Fellowship created a space for me to think more creatively and more expansively about my work. I think one of my lasting memories will be the encouragement of my colleagues there who posed big questions that forced us to imagine bigger, more transformative solutions beyond what we're normally used to thinking about.”

Advice for the next cohort:

Rudy Espinoza: “Bring your whole self. If you bring your personal self along with your professional self, you'll get a lot more out of it. Also, get ready to work. Robin and Marian don't play!”

We say goodbye to the group with deep appreciation and gratitude for their time with us, and look forward to seeing all the great things they do in the future.


cohort 1

Transforming investment in communities


CCI is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and The California Endowment.

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