Business and Society Program

First Movers Fellowship Overview

First Mover

The First Movers Fellowship is offered by the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program whose mission is to equip business leaders for the 21st century with a new management paradigm – the vision and knowledge to integrate corporate profitability and social value. 

The Fellowship is for exceptional institutional intrapreneurs – accomplished innovators recognized as top performers in their companies – who have a compelling idea about a new product, service, business process or model they urgently want to implement that will drive social and environmental innovation to unlock enterprise value. Great candidates come from all areas of a company: Business development, talent management, marketing, R&D, investor relations, legal and many more. 

The First Movers Fellowship experience offers these individuals a chance to become part of a growing community of innovators who share a passion about their work and belief in the new possibilities for business. It also serves as an innovation lab where Fellows develop the skills to make their innovations real and successful in their organizations. 

Why A Fellowship Program?  

Intrapreneurs can be found in many companies -- large and small, and across industries.  We believe that these innovators have the potential to develop the ideas and approaches that will help their own companies, and the business community as a whole, live up to its full potential as a vehicle for positive social change.  But realizing their potential requires investment and nurturing.  By identifying these First Movers, offering them the skills to be as effective as possible, connecting them with others to fuel their passion and courage, and learning from their experiences, we will generate a critical mass of business leaders who, over the longer term, will help companies integrate social value, along with financial value, as core strategic priorities.  


“The big change for me was that the Aspen Institute really opened up a new world of possibility.  I am able to take that enthusiasm and that confidence to do the type of work I want to do within my organization.”  

- Erin Bina, GE Power, Fellow since 2012 


First Movers Fellowship Timeline (for the 8th Class of Fellows)

December 15, 2015: Nomination period opens for 2016 Fellows.  

February 29, 2016: Nomination period closes for 2016 Fellows.

December, 2016 - March, 2016: Phone interviews with promising candidates.

June, 2016: Class of 2016 Fellows announced.

June - July, 2016: Fellows refine Fellowship projects.

July 24 - 27, 2016: Fellows convene in Aspen, Colorado for the first seminar.

August - November, 2016: Fellows develop projects with coaching from Fellowship staff and in collaboration with their Thought Partners.

November 15 - 18, 2016: Fellows convene in Wye River, Maryland for the second seminar.

November, 2016 - April, 2017: Fellows continue work on projects.

April 25-28, 2017: Fellows convene in New York for the third seminar to complete the official phase of the Fellowship and join the global network of First Mover Fellowship graduates.

The Fellowship Financial Commitment

The Fellowship is a program of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program. Fellows' companies pay a participation fee of $26,800, payable in two installments.  The first payment of $23,900 is due July 1, 2016.  It covers program delivery costs, as well as accommodations and all meals during the three First Mover seminars in Colorado, Maryland and New York.   The second payment of $2,900 is due February 1, 2017.  This payment covers post fellowship follow up, including check-ins on project progress; ongoing program evaluation; and introduction of new Fellows into the broader Aspen First Movers community.  

The Nomination and Selection Process

Candidates must be nominated by peers, leaders in their industry or our academic partners. (Self-nominations are not accepted.) Nominators are asked to submit a nomination form stating their reasons for recommending the candidate and a résumé indicating the candidate's name, physical address, email and phone contacts, educational background, career path, current position, and any additional information that help us evaluate their qualifications.

Interviews with promising candidates will continue through March, 2016. Candidates selected for the second round are invited to complete an application form that includes a description of the idea that they want to turn into action if selected to be a First Mover Fellow.

The First Movers Fellowship staff select the finalists who are presented to the First Mover Design Team in April, 2016. Those selected to be in the 2016 Class of Fellows by the Design Team are notified in early May, 2016. The public announcement of the next class of Fellows is scheduled for early June, 2016. 

The official nomination period is now closed. However, we are always on the lookout for First Movers. Know someone who would make a great candidate? Let us know!