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Friday Fellowship Assembling Its Fall 2017 “Cohort”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Minda Brooks
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Friday Fellowship Assembling Its Fall 2017 “Cohort”

Problem solving through civil dialogue and mutual respect is aim of visionary

Wildacres Leadership Initiative program


RALEIGH, NC (June 20, 2017) – For almost three quarters of a century, the Wildacres Retreat in North Carolina’s far west has been a gathering place for thoughtful people seeking ways to better the lives of their fellow Tar Heels. On its 50th anniversary, it celebrated by creating the prestigious Friday Fellowship for Human Relations named for legendary North Carolina educator and public figure William C. Friday. Today, in 2017, its 200 graduates include recognized North Carolina leaders such as News and Observer publisher John Drescher, John Hood of the John Locke Foundation and U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross.

Abdul Rasheed, who pioneered the Community Development Corporation (CDC) movement and transformed neighborhoods across North Carolina, now heads Wildacres Leadership Initiative, which sponsors the Fellowship and is working diligently to assemble a class of 24 Friday Fellows for this fall. Rasheed said the Fellowship is looking for a group of diverse, emerging North Carolina leaders who wish to develop skills that enable them to work more effectively for the betterment of the state and its people. Once selected, this new group of participants—Rasheed refers to the groups as “cohorts”—will gather for six extended weekends over two years for a unique human relations experience.

Applications and nominations are due by July 31 to participate in the 2017–2019 class of Friday Fellows. There is no cost. Candidates for selection must be North Carolina residents and have at least five years of leadership experience in the private, public, and/or nonprofit sectors.  To be considered for the Fellowship, candidates must complete an application as well as be nominated by someone who is meaningfully connected to their work in the world.

The Fellowship is casting a broad net by inviting nominations for the first time from the general public and seeking out people who show potential as extraordinary William C. Friday Fellows.  “The concept is fairly simple,” said Rasheed. “Friday Fellows from broadly diverse backgrounds gather to engage in civil dialogue about a wide range of issues and ultimately take back home with them the ability to use the skills they have developed for the betterment of their communities across North Carolina. 

“As a people we are divided today in more ways than you can count,” said Rasheed. The Friday Fellows program seeks to bridge those divides. “We start by being as inclusive as possible and assuring through our selection process that we have a highly diverse group that  represents different races, political affiliations, religions, careers, educational backgrounds and who come from all parts of our state—both urban and rural.

“The Friday Fellowship is not for the faint hearted. Gatherings can and do get heated,” said Rasheed. “Members have viewpoints, and we want them to be bold and forthcoming with them,” he said. “However, members also are expected to be tolerant and exercise patience—that’s the way we can begin to bridge the divides. Gridlock is probably the greatest single impediment to 21st-century problem solving, and our position is that it doesn’t have to happen if we have mutual respect and a common value system.” Through their mutual experiences, Friday Fellows become a part of a substantial statewide network, and their impact expands exponentially as they share their experiences with others and put them to use in civic, professional and political leadership. 

“Years ago Mr. Friday said, ‘The greatest need in our state and country is for a generation of leaders with moral principles and ethical standards…with an unshakeable commitment to courage and fairness with grace and courtesy and decency.’ I don’t know how you can say it any better than that,” Rasheed said. “This year, we are looking for leaders as we raise the visibility of the William C. Friday Fellowship, broaden its reach, deepen its impact, diversify our supportive partnerships and create a meaningful, civil statewide dialogue.”

For additional information about selection of Friday Fellows, to nominate or apply, please contact: The William C. Friday Fellowship, 9121 Anson Way, Suite 200, Raleigh, NC 27615, call (919) 987-1842 or visit


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Wildacres Leadership Initiative is connected with Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, NC.