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Autry Fellowship

(From left to right, former Autry Fellows Joshua Mbanusi, Alyson Zandt, Max Rose, and Beth Caldwell)

A big welcome to our 2016-2017 Autry Fellow, Elsa Mota!

You can read more about Elsa Mota in her staff profile or on the Autry Fellows page. 

Applications for the 2017-2018 Autry Fellowship will open in fall 2016. Stay tuned!

The Autry Fellowship provides an opportunity for talented and passionate recent college graduates to work for one year to address pressing issues of inequity in the South as a full-time, paid staff member at MDC. The ideal Autry Fellow is deeply committed to advancing social equity and opportunity and is eager to support the mission of MDC—to help organizations and communities in the South close the gaps that separate people from opportunity.

MDC believes that each Autry Fellow has something unique and fresh to bring to MDC’s work, and in turn the Fellowship is designed to provide the Fellow with an experience that will enhance their understanding of social change and help place them on their own aspired path to promoting equity. In this way, the Autry Fellowship advances MDC’s tradition and vision of creating a cadre of young leaders who have experience promoting economic development, increasing equity and excellence in education, building inclusive civic cultures, and who are poised and ready to apply their new learning to benefit the region.

The Autry Fellowship celebrates the life and perpetuates the work of the late George B. Autry, founding president of MDC. For 32 years, he led MDC with a passion for improving opportunities for people and places struggling to keep pace with economic and social change.

We invite you to apply for the Autry Fellowship if you…

  • Are committed to equity issues in the South;
  • Have had meaningful direct experience with communities that are struggling;
  • Have had prior work, study, or personal engagement in a variety of relevant areas, including public policy, education, economic and workforce development, poverty alleviation, sociology, political science, Southern studies, community development, leadership development, or a similar field;
  • Are excited to apply both knowledge and lived experience to efforts for social and economic equity;
  • Have the ability to communicate and work with people who have diverse backgrounds and experiences;
  • Are commited to MDC's mission;
  • Demonstrate leadership potential;
  • Have excellent communication, writing, and oral presentation skills;
  • Are proficienct in Microsoft Office Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel;
  • Have United States residency; and
  • Are in your final year of undergraduate studies or have graduated within the past two years.

To date, there have been sixteen Autry Fellows. The Fellow's time will center on learning MDC's strategies for promoting economic and social justice by participating in a variety of project teams. The Fellow has the unique opportunity to devote a significant portion of time to a collection of projects determined jointly by the Fellow and MDC. This allows the Fellow to work collaboratively across all areas of MDC to advance MDC’s mission and to ensure that organizational goals are achieved. This work includes conducting research; supporting data collection and analysis; writing blogs, proposals, and grants; managing projects; facilitating dialogue among community members; leading on-site interviews; and strategic planning.

This strategy provides space for the Fellow to continue working within their specific area of interest while becoming engaged with a variety of issues related to education, economic development and labor force preparation, income enhancement, and poverty reduction. To learn more about the possibilities for the Autry year, read this “day in the life” blog post by 2012-2013 Autry Fellow, Beth Caldwell.

The application process is competitive. A panel comprising members of the MDC staff, Board of Directors, and the Autry family will review applications and award the fellowship. References will be asked of finalists upon invitation to interview for the Fellowship.

Once the application period opens in fall 2016, the deadline for applications will be mid-January 2017. 

For more information about the Autry Fellowship, contact Anna Ormond, 2015-2016 Autry Fellow, by phone at 919.381.5802 ext. 371 or by email at

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