Our History

A look at the evolution of the National Urban Fellows organization

Since 1969, National Urban Fellows has developed programs that give emerging leaders the skills they need to succeed.

Through the years, National Urban Fellows has developed programs that give emerging leaders the skills they need to succeed: 

  • The National Urban Fellows’ signature MPA program has graduated 45 classes since its inception with various academic institutions including Yale University, Occidental College, Bucknell University, and over the last 32 years with the CUNY Bernard M. Baruch Austin Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. 

  • The establishment of the National Rural Fellows program from 1979-1989 with support from the U. S. Department of Agriculture and a graduate degree by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 

  • The Corporate Executive Fellows program developed in partnership with the Graduate Schools of Business at Columbia University and Stanford University offered a 2-year Master’s degree from 1983-1996.

  • The Environmental Science & Management Fellows program was founded with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1990-2000 and offered a 2-year Master’s degree from Tufts University and Duke University’s Nicolas School of the Environment. 

We are now witnessing the fruit of our investment in the next generation of leaders. These include Denise Pease (’83) appointed by President Obama to serve as regional administrator for the US General Services  Administration’s Northeast and Caribbean Region, Dr. Debra Joy-Perez (’97) Vice President Research, Evaluation and Learning at The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Michelle J. DePass (’98), Dean of the Milano Graduate School at The New School, Ron Kim (’05) 40th District State Assemblyman and the first Korean-American ever elected to the New York State Assembly, Trey Martinez-Fischer (’95) Texas State Representative House District 116, Duncan Harrison (’09) the youngest elected City Council Member of Trenton, NJ, and Melissa Mark-Viverito (’95) who made history as NYC’s first Latina City Council Speaker.

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1979

By 1979, the Vietnam War had ended and the era of social revolution took hold.  For people of color, the goals of equality and justice were always in sight.

During this period, Philadelphia native Ron Walker joined NUF.  While in pursuit of his second Masters degree, NUF placed Walker in Boston, Massachusetts.  At his placement site, Walker worked on social impact projects designed to desegregate all black and all white schools.  It was through his NUF experience that Walker realized the impact of critical issues surrounding education.  Following his fellowship, he became a principal and later, the leader of a school improvement organization. 

Currently, Walker serves as the Executive Director and founding member of the Coalition of Schools  Educating Boys of Color.  In the past, he was invited to President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Forum.  In addition to an array of community groups, Walker has gained recognition for his service in education by Boston Public Schools, Boston College School of Education. and Temple University – School of Education.  The foundation of his first book, Solomon’s Plan: The Gift of Education from a Father to His Son, draws upon his NUF Capstone experience.  Throughout Walker’s journey as an educator, principal, author, and Executive Director, his mission remains: provide high quality education to underserved populations and children, particularly boys and young men of color. 

1969

At the height of the Civil Rights Movement in 1968, the country’s urban centers were in crisis. Cities across America struggled to cope with pervasive violence and social unrest, the outcome of years of social injustice. Communities were  challenged by the results of discrimination, segregation, poverty, unemployment,  as well as poor housing and education. Mayors, confronted with the escalating civil disorder, began a collaborative process to determine possible solutions.  It was in this context that the National Urban Fellows (NUF)  program was founded, laying the groundwork for what would become a 50 year success story.

NUF’s first class was comprised of 26 professionals, two of which were women.  Yale University was their academic home, made possible through funding from the Ford Foundation and the National League of Cities.  On June 30, 1970, the National Urban Fellows graduated the first class in the organization’s history. 

History

1989

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History

1999

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History

2009

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2019

Georgetown University, McCourt School of Public Policy become our new academic partner.

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