William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations
Wildacres Leadership Initiative launched the William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations in 1994. A celebration of relationship and an invitation to dialogue, the fellowship seats North Carolinians in a two-year leadership program inspired by the life and legacy of UNC-system president William C. “Bill” Friday. For the past 25 years, the fellowship has invited cross-sector leaders into a process of relationship building that asks fellows to examine their own - and others’ - lives and leadership practices. As a statewide fellowship invested in the flourishing of all North Carolinians, the Friday Fellowship promotes the transformation made possible when we are present to one another and committed to engaging across difference. The purpose of the Friday Fellowship is to seek and serve a new generation of courageous leaders ready to model civility and collaboration with one another and with communities across the state.
The William C. Friday Fellowship is a nonpartisan leadership development opportunity for North Carolinians prepared to transform their communities by improving human relations. The fellowship centers relationship building across difference and asks fellows to translate courage, curiosity, and creativity into lifelong connections and meaningful collaborations across the state. Friday Fellows are encouraged to lead with courage, speak their truth, engage differences with civility, collaborate to solve problems, and embrace equity and justice.
Since its founding, the Friday Fellowship has graduated over 200 cross-sector leaders. The fellowship understands leadership as a practice that can transform an increasingly polarized North Carolina. Fellowship classes intentionally include representation from different types of leaders and communities. This means that Friday Fellows lead in different ways: some in professional positions of authority and others in community contexts. Coming together across difference, fellows build community with one another and commit to practices of integrity, intention, and inclusion in their lives and leadership.
Candidates for the William C. Friday Fellowship are committed to leadership in North Carolina, model humility and continuous learning, and are courageous risk takers seeking to create innovation through their work in the world.
Candidates for selection must 1) document at least three years of North Carolina residency, 2) model leadership in their communities; and 3) commit to full participation in the two-year fellowship experience. The application process for the 2020-2022 class of Fellows began on November 1, 2019 and closed on January 17, 2020.
William C. “Bill” Friday (1920–2012) was a leader whose impact was measured, in part, by the relationships he built across the state. An exemplar civil servant and adaptive leader, Bill Friday modeled a quality of presence that our fellowship practices and promotes. Today’s leaders face mounting challenges, many of which are rooted in inequities sewn into the fabric of a fraying democratic society. The Friday Fellowship prepares leaders to navigate the differences that divide our communities by embracing adaptability and accountability. Following Bill Friday’s example, the fellowship inspires conversations and collaborations that allow fellows to imagine and create a more inclusive and innovate future.
High Country fellows hosted the most recent additions to the fellowship before the 2017–19 cohort began.
The 2017-2019 class met for six seminars in five different counties across the state, including McDowell County, Durham County, Carteret County, Tyrrell County, and Henderson County.
Seminar I: October 19-22, 2017, Wildacres Retreat Center, Little Switzerland, NC
The next William C. Friday Fellowship class will begin in October 2020. The nomination and application process was open from November 1, 2019 through January 17, 2020.