Lenfest Constellation News Leadership Initiative

The Lenfest Constellation News Leadership Initiative is a program designed to provide career development support to mid-career media professionals of color.

This seven-month fellowship will support mid-career media makers of color in the Greater Philadelphia area with world-class training from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, mentorship from Executive Advisors who have advanced to positions of leadership in news enterprises, and career coaching from Crawford Leadership Strategies, a Black-owned leadership development firm. The program is open to candidates who work in editorial, product, business, or technology at  media Philadelphia-area news media enterprises. 

Who is the Constellation Initiative for? 

This initiative is catered to people of color who work in a media organization in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware countries in Pennsylvania; Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester counties in New Jersey; and New Castle County in Delaware. The program is open to candidates who work in editorial, product, business, or technology at a media organization. Participants are expected to have some professional leadership experience. Participants with strategic leadership responsibilities but no direct reports will also be considered.

How do I apply? 

We are currently accepting applications for Fellows here. The deadline to apply is July 17 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Can I apply to be both an Executive Advisor and a Fellow?

We recommend applying either as an Executive Advisor or a Fellow but not as both. Please note that Executive Advisors will also be invited to attend all training sessions.

In order to be considered as an Executive Advisor you should lead a desk, department, or news organization. If you don’t lead a desk, department or news organization but have leadership experience we recommend you apply as a Fellow. 

Can I still apply if I’ve already been a previous Lenfest grantee?

Yes. Receiving previous support from Lenfest will not affect your eligibility for this program.

How will the training, mentorship and coaching take place given the uncertainty with COVID-19?

We are currently planning to host the first in person in October with most other subsequent training taking place virtually. We are closely monitoring health and safety guidelines, and will keep all participants up-to-date if we have to change our plans. 

The first session will take place over two days: Friday and Saturday morning. All virtual training will happen in two-hour increments on Fridays and Saturdays. All in-person gatherings will follow local and CDC guidelines on social distancing and other health and safety requirements.

We will be recommending that all meetings between Executive Advisors and Fellows take place virtually. All career coaching will also take place virtually.

When will I find out if I’m accepted?

All applicants will be notified by early September.

Other questions?

We hosted a webinar on June 30 at 1pm EDT to answer any questions you may have. You can watch the recording below:

Fellows

What are participating fellows’ responsibilities?

Fellows will be responsible to attend all training and complete any pre-work assignments over the course of the program. They will also be required to meet monthly with their Executive Advisor and Career Coach.

What is the cost and time commitment of being a Fellow?

Participation in the grant-funded program is free for Fellows. The program will run from October 2020 through April 2021, and Fellows should expect to commit between 20-25 hours per month to the program.

What are you looking for in a Fellow?

We’re looking for people that meet the following criteria:

  • Participant is a person of color who works in a media organization in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester in NJ & New Castle County in Delaware.
  • The program is open to candidates who work in editorial, product, business, or technology at media organizations.
  • Participants are expected to have some leadership experience. Participants with strategic leadership responsibilities but no direct reports will also be considered.
  • Participant should have aspirations of advancing in their career with the ultimate goal to run a news desk, department, or news enterprise.
  • Participants should have a desire to learn, be coached, mentored, and have an understanding of the core competencies they’d like to improve on over the course of this program.
  • The participant keeps it real and is willing to have difficult conversations when needed — especially around issues of equity and pushes for progress, developing creative and innovative solutions while being reflective and rooted in past context. The participant handles these conversations with a balance of grace and accountability.

What can a Fellow expect to gain from being a part of this program?

Fellows will take courses on how to identify and serve audiences, build successful products, develop new business opportunities, manage teams and lead an organizational transformation process. They can expect the following outcomes from completion of the program:

  • Gain a thorough understanding of product thinking and how to create and execute a product strategy.
  • Understand the market forces impacting the business model of journalism and learn about new revenue models.
  • Learn how to create workflows and processes to create an audience-centric news organization.
  • Understand best practices in change management and strategic planning.
  • Strengthen leadership skills to attract and retain diverse talent and manage interdisciplinary teams.
  • Become more effective in how to drive change and manage transformation in their news organization.
  • Gain skills to navigate and advance in their careers, and to provide strategies to manage feelings of burn-out and fatigue that often befall leaders.
  • Obtains clear direction to positions that could match their interests and skills/competencies.
  • Build lasting relationships with their cohort, the Institute, and the Philadelphia news ecosystem.

What will I be asked in the application process?

  1. Background Information: Name, contact information, social handles, demographic information
  2. Leadership: What leadership are you currently taking in your newsroom, in the Philadelphia news ecosystem or nationally? How will participating in this program help to increase your leadership capabilities? What are your ultimate career and leadership goals? How will this program help you to achieve some of your projected career goals?
  3. Programmatic Support: What makes you a good candidate for this program? What are you hoping to gain from taking part in this program? What are the top skills and competencies that you want to cultivate?
  4. References: Letter of recommendation from a supervisor or someone who works closely with you who can speak of your work and leadership. Examples of your work product. Recommendations are due by August 1.

Will I be guaranteed a spot if I apply?

No, space is limited and space will be given to applicants that show the most signs of readiness.

When is the deadline? 

The deadline to apply is July 17 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Executive Advisor

What is the role of an Executive Advisor?

Executive Advisors are responsible for the following activities:

  • Meets for 1-2 hours monthly with the Fellow.
  • Through open discussion, clarifies the needs of the Fellow. Reviews the Mentoring Plan elements the Fellow has completed and suggests challenging assignments for the Fellow that present opportunities to learn new skills/competencies.
  • Assists the Fellow in plotting a career path for both present position and future desired positions.
  • Identifies and models key expected behaviors.
  • Works with the Fellow on specific skills/competencies and effective behaviors needed to function in journalism leadership.
  • Provides opportunities for the Fellow to interact with different contacts in the ecosystem.

What are you looking for in an Executive Advisor?

We are looking for desk, department and news organization leaders that are willing and able to mentor Fellows in this program. We’re looking for adaptive leaders with strong coaching skills that can support a Fellow with setting and meeting their goals. This leader will be adept at influencing and motivating people, have strong listening, relationship building and interpersonal skills and be a strong communicator. Leaders should also be competent in at least one of the following areas:

  • Organizational Leadership: This competency is about managing people, projects, self and organizations. It includes skills such as conflict resolution, developing staffers, strategic thinking, change management, critical thinking, gaining and managing influence, accountability and resiliency. 
  • Reporting & Editing: This competency is about overseeing the content being produced. It includes skills such as identifying content that is of interest to the community, developing journalists’ stories and work-product, team leadership, organizational skills, critical thinking, & goal setting.
  • Audience Development, Data & Metrics: This competency is about understanding our audience and community to be able to meet information needs and increase the number of loyal audience members. It includes skills such as community engagement and listening strategies, developing metrics to determine effectiveness, gathering and understanding user data and creating audience-centric news organizations.
  • Product Management and Development: This competency is about creating and managing current and prospective product ideas to delight your audience and increase loyalty. It includes skills such as creating and executing a strategy, managing interdisciplinary teams, design-thinking, and user research.
  • Revenue Models & Business Models for Journalism: This competency is about building sustainable practices that ensures organizations can continue to function and thrive. It includes skills such as business planning, identifying strategic opportunities, understanding of various various revenue models and project management.

We will be prioritizing Executive Advisors of color but are open to applicants from all backgrounds.

What is the time commitment of being an Executive Advisor?

Executive Advisors should plan to spend between 1-4 hours a month mentoring their Fellow. Executive Advisors will be paid a $1,000 honorarium for their services.

What can an Executive Advisor expect to gain from being a part of this program?

Some of the benefits that Executive advisors can expect to gain from taking part in this program include:

  • Provides ability to know different high-performing mid-career media professionals in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
  • Supports increased equity in the Philadelphia news ecosystem by contributing to the growth and development of diverse leaders.
  • Enhances leadership and management skills including feedback, communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Opportunities to gain new skills in training in both being an effective mentor and in specific competencies needed within media organizations.
  • Stipend of $1,000 for sharing your time and expertise.

Will I need to apply?

All individuals interested in being an Executive Advisor will be required to apply through a short application. The following questions will be asked:

  1. Background Information: Name, contact information, social handles, demographic information
  2. Competencies: Questions about the expertise you have in certain areas, how you demonstrate that expertise and how you’ve used it in the past.

Will I be guaranteed a spot if I apply?

No, space is limited and Executive Advisors will be chosen based on the needs of the fellowship cohort.

When is the deadline? 

The deadline to apply is July 17 at 11:59 p.m. EDT