Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership Announces Inaugural Class of Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellows

Contact: Doug Gavel
Phone: (617) 495-1115
Date: July 29, 2014

Cambridge, MA -- The Center for Public Leadership(CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced today the inaugural cohort of Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellows. The 10 fellows, selected for their outstanding potential and dedication to working in African American and other underserved communities in the U.S., will begin pursuing graduate degrees at HKS in the upcoming 2014-15 academic year. Some will also pursue joint or concurrent degrees at other Harvard graduate schools.
“We are elated by the quality and quantity of applications the Kennedy School has received for this new fellowship,” said David Gergen, Public Service Professor of Public Leadership and CPL co-director. "Sheila's fellowship has clearly stirred the hearts of young people, and we are proud to welcome the first 10 fellows into our midst; they represent a highly promising generation of new leaders to advance the common good."
The fellowship, created by Sheila C. Johnson in October 2013 with a $5 million gift, will provide full tuition, health coverage, and a generous stipend to 50 fellows over the next five years. CPL, led by co-directors David Gergen and Max Bazerman, and executive director Patricia Bellinger, will serve as a home base for the fellows on campus, providing leadership development and co-curricular programming to complement their academic work. Sheila C. Johnson, a member of CPL’s Leadership Council and the Executive Committee of HKS, is eager to see the fellows linked closely with an extensive network of alumni, mentors, and practitioners around the world.
The second year of Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellowships will be awarded for the academic year 2015-16. Students who are interested must submit applications to enroll at HKS before the applications deadline of December 2, 2014.
The inaugural cohort of fellows will include:
Jennifer Angarita(M.P.P.) has worked for the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) for the past four years, most recently serving as National Worker Center Partnership Coordinator. She graduated with honors from Yale University with a B.A. in Anthropology.
Xevion Baptiste (M.P.P.) is an analyst for the Calvert Foundation investment team, where she manages a large portfolio of equity investments and loans with affordable housing developers, small business leaders and microfinance providers. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Macaulay Honors College & Hunter College, CUNY, where she received a B.A. in Economics and Political Science.
Kimberly Branch (M.P.P.) is the director of Recruitment at Tennessee Achievement School District, a statewide, turnaround school district initiated through Race to the Top. A Gates Millennium Scholar, she received her B.A. from Duke University in Economics.
Michael Clegg(M.P.P.) has served as a Teach for America elementary school teacher in Camden, NJ since 2012, where in his first year he was named his school’s teacher of the year, and where he is currently a finalist for Teach for America’s corps member of the year. He is a graduate of Occidental College with a B.A. in Politics.
Kimberly Dowdell (Mid-Career) is a project manager and director of business development for Levien & Company, a real estate project management company based in New York City. She received her bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning.
Derwin Dubose(Mid-Career) has served as principal consultant at Next Generation advocacy, a fundraising and communications consultancy for organizations supporting underserved communities in Durham, NC, since August 2011. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar, with a B.A. in American History.
Vedette Gavin(Mid-Career) is a St. Luke’s Foundation Francis H. Beam Community Health Fellow at the Case Center for Reducing Health Disparities at Metro-Health in Cleveland, OH where she has, among other accomplishments developed and implemented a place-based model for community health improvement. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park with a B.S. in General Biology, and she received her M.P.H. from The Ohio State University.
Brandon Hoffman(M.P.A.) is an M.B.A. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where is a recipient of the Joseph Wharton Fellowship. He is a cum laude graduate from California State University at Fullerton with a B.A. in Business Administration.
Abdulaziz Said (M.P.P.) is an Ed.M. candidate at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, where he is a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Syracuse University with a B.A. in International Relations & Public Studies.
ImeIme Umana(M.P.P.) is a senior at Harvard College, where she is the president of the Institute of Politics, chair of its Community Action Committee, a member of several of its programs, student representative to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Standing Committee of Public Service, and Director of Scholars and Fundraising for Harvard Model Congress San Francisco. A joint concentrator in Government and African American Studies, she will graduate this spring.
About Sheila C. Johnson
Sheila Johnson is CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, a hospitality company she founded in 2005. She is President and Managing Partner of the WNBA Washington Mystics and the first African-American woman to be an owner or partner in three professional sports teams: the Mystics, the Washington Wizards (NBA), and the Washington Capitals (NHL).
Johnson has long been a powerful influence in the entertainment industry, starting with her work as founding partner of Black Entertainment Television (BET). She has served as executive producer of four documentary films, and her newest film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, opened fall 2013.


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