About the Food Leaders Fellowship

Program Overview

Food & Society’s Food Leaders Fellowship unites the country’s most promising early-stage food system leaders to ignite personal transformation, cross-sector collaboration, and scalable change. Drawing on the Aspen Institute’s history of successful leadership and policy fellowships, the Food Leaders Fellowship is becoming the foremost community of emerging leaders dedicated to changing our food landscape toward sustainability, food justice, and good health. Combining personal reflection with discussion, learning, mentorship, and action, Food Leaders Fellows work individually and collectively to realize a better food system.

Applications for the 2022 cohort are closed; the inaugural cohort was announced on July 14, 2022. This cohort’s seminar dates are: August 22-26, 2022; April 27-30, 2023; and February 1-4, 2024. The program plans to launch a cohort each year. If you are interested in receiving information on future application cycles, sign up here.

The Fellowship Experience

Over the course of 18 months, the Food Leaders Fellowship uniquely combines the lifelong community bonds Aspen fellows form with the pragmatic and tactical expertise of real-world practitioners who will serve as sounding boards and mentors for years to come. Every aspect of the program is built to support, enhance, and scale fellows’ capacity for change. A central tenet of the fellowship experience is the design and implementation of an action plan. Building on the work fellows are already engaged in, action plans sharpen and enrich fellows’ goals through the reflection, deep understanding, knowledge, mentorship, and peer support they gain.

Through the Aspen Institute’s time-tested seminar method, fellows step back from their day-to-day work to critically examine their beliefs and personal mission as they work to identify and hone their ability to make significant change. The first seminar of five days takes place on the Aspen Institute’s Aspen, Colorado, campus. This seminar provides the personal and professional bonding experience only Aspen—the place and the Institute—offer. Two subsequent four-day seminars each focus on workshopping the action plans that fellows begin to develop at the first seminar. These seminars also include experiential field visits to a fellow or fellowship advisor’s organization, production facility, startup, or farm. All seminar and accommodation expenses are covered by the program.

Between seminars, the Food Leaders Fellowship draws from its extensive networks to connect Fellows with food industry experts excited to serve as mentors, teachers, and partners, and who join cohorts for regular virtual gatherings to discuss pressing food industry topics. Mentors also serve as a main source of support for fellows as they continue to evolve and implement their action plans. These relationships—as well as opportunities to connect and collaborate with the Institute’s global community of values-based leaders across dozens of programs—create ample opportunities for fellows to refine, adjust, and scale their ideas in real time.

The fellowship opportunity and commitment lasts far beyond the program’s 18-month period—the Food Leaders Fellowship is a community of changemakers leaders join for a lifetime. With each new class, this source of support, learning, deep connection, and collaboration only grows stronger. Like the best Aspen fellowships, the Food Leaders Fellowship creates lifelong bonds and working relationships that will cultivate meaningful change for decades to come.

Join the Fellowship Community

Food & Society invites you to guide and support the fellows as an active mentor—or consider applying for the next cohort! Stay up to date on the next application cycle and other Food & Society news and activities here.