The Philadelphia Fellows Program

The Philadelphia Genership Institute Fellows program will build a new ecosystem of local leaders in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods of color. The Institute will strengthen creativity and leadership from within economically and socially challenged communities, leading to transformation and breakthrough progress on our community’s most difficult social problems. The program will identify and recruit individuals with emergent genership skills, nurturing and strengthening these skills through training and relationship building. Over time, the initiative will build a web of creative, socially engaged leaders who will transform the traditional practice of leadership focused on politics, power and ego to one that celebrates creative collaboration.

The genership strategy for creating a pathway to social equity arises from four fundamental insights –

  • Sustainable progress within communities arises from individual initiative and creativity nurtured through self-directed individual and organizational development.
  • Authentic organizational and community development is not linear. It cannot be programmed, processed, mass-produced or scaled through external interventions. It is not a function of applying tested and scientifically-validated best practices engineered in external laboratories, but rather a function of contextual trial-and-error, local experiment and adaptive engagement within evolving local systems.
  • A vibrant community emerges from the efforts of a network of creative leaders engaged in collaborative, autopoietic activities; it does not result from regulation within an externally defined or remotely managed hierarchy.
  • The subjective evaluation of the people engaged in an activity carries more weight than external measures of progress defined and assessed without the direct engagement of those most deeply affected.



By focusing on creative leadership and social entrepreneurship, the Genership Institute Fellows program will open a new pathway through which to assist low income individuals communities in strengthening their productive engagement with their communities. The Fellows program is grounded in a different question about community progress: “What works?” as opposed to “What is broken?” When we look to find the sources of success and promise within communities suffering with high levels of poverty and inequality, we find emergent leaders and social entrepreneurs experiencing varying levels of success.






Genership Institute Fellows will be equipped with: (1) leadership skills that encompass and intertwine the interpersonal and the creative dimensions of leadership, (2) knowledge and information regarding the nature of public and private systems, (3)  technology proficiency, (4) foundational knowledge of social entrepreneurship, and (5) systems thinking and design thinking skills.


In an unprecedented initiative, the Genership Institute Fellows program will combine training in creative leadership and social entrepreneurship to equip participants with the practical knowledge and skills required to achieve sustainable equity and, in the process, to fundamentally improve their communities for future generations