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Fellowship Experience

The Friday Fellowship Experience

The William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations believes that connections forged across lines of difference have the capacity to transform lives and communities across the state. A nonpartisan leadership development opportunity for North Carolinians, the Friday Fellowship transforms communities by improving human relations. The fellowship centers relationship building across lines of 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.

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 lines of difference, fellows practice being present to one another.

The core of the Friday Fellowship is a two-year journey structured into six residential weekend experiences. Traveling together across the state, Friday Fellows commit to growth and learning in the context of relationship building. Fellows from all walks of life and all corners of the state are invited to stretch their capacities to see, hear, and learn from other perspectives. A regional selection process intentionally brings together a class of Fellows representative of the state’s many counties and communities who may not have otherwise met or engaged with one another.



Common Friday Fellowship Class Experiences 

While each class moves through a curriculum tailored to the needs of individuals and cohorts, Friday Fellows share the following common experiences: 

  • Through a statewide selection process, the Friday Fellowship seats classes of North Carolinians with the curiosity, courage, and creativity to explore what it means to connect across lines of difference.
  • The Friday Fellowship experience includes six residential seminar experiences scheduled over a two-year period. Twenty-four individuals from across the state are invited to learn with and from one another. 
  • Once selected, Friday Fellows - with the support of their families and colleagues - to full participation in all seminar convenings.
  • The fellowship curriculum invites fellows into a collaborative learning circle. Together, fellows look at their own - and others’ - lives and leadership practices as a way to learn and unlearn together. Each class practices listening and learning across lines of difference.
  • Each fellowship class moves through readings and exercises tailored to individual and group needs. Friday Fellows work individually, in small groups, and in the full cohort to workshop dynamic listening, learning, and leadership skills.
  • Between seminar weekends, Friday Fellows are invited to engage facilitators and the larger fellowship network. These connections integrate fellows’ learning into their lives and communities and can take the form of social gatherings, paired visits across the state, and electronic check-ins.
  • The fellowship experience encourages the nurturing of lifelong relationships across the state. Throughout the fellowship experience and beyond, Friday Fellows are called to promote and practice civil dialogue and to collaborate across lines of difference for the betterment of North Carolina.
  • After completing the two-year program, Friday Fellows graduate into a fellowship network that includes over 200 cross-sector leaders representing a wide variety of backgrounds from nearly all North Carolina counties.
  • Friday Fellows share commitments to improved human relations across the state and are known by their integrity and authenticity. Fellows report that their fellowship experience equips them to navigate hard conversations, practice adaptive leadership, and to sustain relationships across lines of difference.

High Country fellows hosted some area members of the 2017-19 cohort before their fellowship experience began in 2017.


The 10th Friday Fellowship 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
Seminar II: February 15-18, 2018, Avila Retreat Center, Durham, NC
Seminar III: July 12-15, 2018, Trinity Center, Salter Path, NC
Seminar IV: October 25-28, 2018, Eastern 4-H Environmental Center, Columbia, NC
Seminar V: February 21-24. 2019, Avila Retreat Center, Durham, NC
Seminar VI: June 21-24, 2019, Kanuga Retreat Center, Hendersonville, NC

The 11th William C. Friday Fellowship Class will begin in October 2020.
Applications are not yet being accepted for the 12th Class of Friday Fellows.
Information about the next application cycle will be posted on the website.

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