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ADL and the Aspen Institute Announce CEG Executive Director Sadia Sindhu Among New Class of Civil Society Fellowship

Published: Nov 17 2020


ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and the Aspen Institute today announced the Class of 2020 and 2021 of the Civil Society Fellowship: A Partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute. This Fellowship, part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, aims to prepare and engage the next generation of community and civic leaders, activists and problem-solvers from across the political spectrum.

Among those inducted into the new class is Sadia Sindhu, executive director of the Center for Effective Government at the Harris School of Public Policy, which works to strengthen the institutions of democracy and improve the capacity of our government to solve public problems, where she co-leads strategic planning, operations and development for the Center. Before joining CEG as its founding executive director, Sindhu has served in a variety of strategic roles in the public and private sectors. Most recently, Sadia was the Director of the UChicago Civic Leadership Academy.

"I’m incredibly honored and humbled to join the Civil Society Fellowship Class of 2020, a partnership of The Aspen Institute and the Anti-Defamation League," said Sindhu. "We're living in a moment that calls for rebuilding and imagining anew. What a group to do this work with!"

“No one is more deserving of this fellowship, or stands ready to put it to better use, than our very own Sadia Sindhu,” said CEG Director William Howell, Sydney Stein Professor of American Politics at Harris Public Policy. “We couldn’t be more proud of her; and we can’t wait to see where this adventure leads.”

The Civil Society Fellowship, launched in 2019, is tripling its capacity after seeing significant interest in the program, and a heightened need to bring our nation’s future leaders together from across the ideological spectrum to hone their leadership skills and build relationships. As we witnessed in the Presidential election, the country is seeing unprecedented division across political and ideological lines and civil discourse is needed now more than ever to bring our future leaders together to generate the broad-based solutions that our country needs.

The two new classes include 49 Fellows, selected from a pool of approximately 200 nominees from across the country. The Fellows reflect a diverse mosaic representing a broad geographical, political and ideological swath of the United States. The new Fellows include conservatives and liberals and include mayors, chiefs of police, professors and educators, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, journalists, lawyers, poets, athletes and activists. All are proven leaders who have reached an inflection point in their lives where they are ready to apply their talent and skills to build a more civil society. Civil society requires the participation and mutual understanding of all, regardless of political affiliation. The Fellowship is intended to ground Fellows, all between the ages of 25 and 45, with a foundation to work toward a more civil society and discourse. They join 20 inaugural Fellows in the Civil Society Fellowship and the 3,000+ Fellows in the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Civil Society Fellows will spend five weeks over the course of three years in structured retreat in the U.S. and abroad – exploring their leadership, core values and visions for a more free, just and equitable society, as well as their desired legacies. Seminars created in text-based dialogue and experiential engagement will take place virtually until in-person seminars can safely resume. Each Fellow will launch a leadership venture tackling a societal problem of their choosing that will stretch them and make a positive impact on their communities, their country and the world.

In the first year of the Civil Society Fellowship, the inaugural Civil Society Fellows were on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, engaging in the effort to protect and support their communities. Joseph Kunkel, Executive Director, SNC Design Lab, MASS Design Group, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, developed affordable housing solutions to fight COVID-19 within Indian Country. Blair Milo, Secretary of Career Connections and Talent, State of Indiana, assisted with supply chain management to rapidly acquire desperately needed personal protective equipment for the state. Shawn Barney, Managing Director of real estate development firm CLB Porter, launched a series of virtual lunches with New Orleans public and private sector leaders to discuss a post-COVID #hardreset informed by lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina’s uneven recovery. Lauren McCann, Vice President, Stand Together, helped launch #givetogethernow, an initiative in partnership with the Family Independence Initiative, which served to funnel funds directly to families and individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis and raised over $14 million in commitments. These are just a few examples of how Fellows have led, and continue to lead, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the aftermath of the Presidential election, the Civil Society Fellows are hosting a Town Hall on Friday, November 20th at 12pm EST to engage in a national conversation about the state of the United States. Civil Society Fellows will serve as hosts of a series of short conversations with key community members and elected leaders from Appalachia to California; from the Southwest to Michigan; from Florida to New York. These discussions will engage Americans from across the political spectrum asking questions such as: “What is your dream for America?” “What is a good society?” and “What does America mean to you?” Registration for the Town Hall is free and open to the public.

“In this moment of crisis, we've seen that cooperation can be the difference between chaos and order, fear and calm,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “We are proud to meet the challenge of this particularly divisive era by engaging twice the number of Fellows as last year, bringing people together across political, ideological and geographical divides to work toward developing innovative strategies and solutions to our country’s most serious problems.”

“The Aspen Institute, along with ADL, is honored to welcome our 49 new Fellows, each of whom has demonstrated the capacity and potential to drive impact and unite our country,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “This Fellowship cultivates the next generation of purpose-driven, values-based leaders—exactly what America needs right now.”

“2020 has blown away old norms, and given the urgent conditions in our country, we were inspired to increase our commitment to a healthy civil society by announcing two classes of stellar Civil Society Fellows,” said Nike Irvin, Managing Director of the Civil Society Fellowship. “We are answering the heightened need for values-based leadership at this history- making time in our country and society.”

“The leadership journey of a social entrepreneur can have periods of great challenge and tumultuous change,” said Civil Society Fellowship Advisory Committee member Shamina Singh, President of the Center for Inclusive Growth and Executive Vice President of Sustainability at Mastercard. “As a Henry Crown Fellow, I’m delighted that ADL and Aspen collaboratively support emerging leaders from across the political, geographical, gender, and racial spectrum. At this period of intense reckoning and brinksmanship, we need to be supporting more and more inclusive and civil discourse.”

“No one is more deserving of this fellowship, or stands ready to put it to better use, than our very own Sadia Sindhu. We couldn’t be more proud of her; and we can’t wait to see where this adventure leads.” - CEG Director William Howell

A full list of new Fellows, along with their photos and bios, is available here.

An Executive Committee is charged with oversight of the program; an Advisory Committee of national leaders representing diverse perspectives helped in sourcing nominees for the cohort. The combined approach of both committees ensures the non-partisan nature of the Fellowship in keeping with the Aspen Institute’s tradition of values-based leadership development.

The Fellowship welcomes interest for future nominations at

About the Civil Society Fellowship

The Civil Society Fellowship is a leadership development program preparing the next generation of community and civic leaders, activists and problem solvers from across the political spectrum. The Fellowship provides participants the opportunity to engage in experiential learning and text- based dialogue, build trust among a diverse cohort of leaders based on shared insights and mutual respect, and put ideas into action through a required leadership venture. The Fellowship is a partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute.

About ADL

ADL is a leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. ADL is the first call when acts of antisemitism occur. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online, ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.

About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.


The announcement above was originally published by the Harris School of Public Policy.