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The Fellowship Experience

    The Wildacres Leadership Initiative launched the William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations in 1994, with the first class beginning in the fall of 1995.  We are committed to inspiring a new generation of courageous leaders for North Carolina that model Mr. Friday’s civility, transparency, and collaboration across divergent ideas and identities.  As an organization, we believe that leadership must be a lifetime practice, not dependent on the skills, virtues, or vision of any single person, but upon shared power and mutual responsibility in our various communities and roles.  The William C. Friday Fellowship hosts six leadership development seminars with cross-sector leaders across the state of North Carolina in two-year cohort cycles.  The purpose of the William C. Friday Fellowship is to build leadership that reflects Mr. Friday’s human relations values and practices and that generates social innovations throughout the state.


    Mr. Friday was an exemplar of adaptive and complex adaptive leadership through his quality of presence and the relationships he built in service to our state.  Modeling civility, transparency, and collaboration in today’s world remains an urgent necessity as we face dramatic demographic, environmental, economic, cultural, and democratic challenges.  Individual and collective adaptability are core leadership capacities in the life of leaders and organizations operating in complex community environments.  The art of deliberation is a foundational aspect of individual and collective adaptability.  We are facing a time of deep paradox, inertia, and general confusion about how to update deliberative models to make work a democracy initially grounded on inequity that now models inclusion, innovation, and prosperity.

Please read this brochure to learn more.

The Fellowship begins with a series of six, experiential seminars over two years. Twenty individuals from all over the state, who might otherwise have never met, are chosen for each class of fellows.



Through a careful and competitive selection process, candidates must demonstrate a capacity for humility and honesty, and unquenchable curiosity, and the courage to risk being wrong in the companies of their peers.



Once selected, Fellows pledge- with the support of their families and professional colleagues- to full participation in the program over the two year period. 



They work with the guidance of the program's faculty, following a curriculum that requires regular reflection and writing.  Together, the group practices collaboration and authentic dialogue on the human relations' challenges facing our state.

They study a range of readings and engage in small group exercises and projects. 


In addition, each Fellow has the unique benefit of monthly professional coaching to integrate the work of the Fellowship into their individual leadership lives.


The goal is the development of sustaining, lifetime relationships and the continuous improvement of each fellow's leadership skills. Ultimately, Fellows are expected to promote civil dialogue and collaborate intentionally with other Fellows for the betterment of North Carolina. 


 These Friday Fellows are now members of an unparalleled, statewide network of leaders who represent a wide variety of backgrounds from our state's rural and urban communities. In addition to their cultural differences, the Friday Fellows practice leadership in disciplines across all sectors (public, private, and nonprofit). They span the political spectrum from conservative to liberal ideology, and all share a strong commitment to improved human conditions for all.


Fellows who have completed the two-year introduction to the Fellowship have reported that they are better able to lead with integrity and authenticity, negotiate tough conversations, and facilitate decision making processes. 

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