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Autry Fellowship

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

Thank you for your interest in the Autry Fellowship. The application period for the 2015-2016 fellowship is now closed.

The Autry Fellowship is a competitive fellowship program for talented and ambitious recent college graduates. It provides an opportunity to work for one year as a full-time, paid staff member at MDC. The Autry Fellowship supports the mission of MDC—to help organizations and communities in the South close the gaps that separate people from opportunity—by developing 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.

The ideal Autry Fellow is open-minded and compassionate, curious and reflective, and deeply committed to advancing social equity and opportunity.

Qualifications include:

  • a commitment to equity issues in the South
  • the capacity to understand complex economic and social issues and communicate those issues clearly and persuasively
  • the ability to communicate and work with people who have diverse backgrounds and experiences
  • a commitment to MDC's mission
  • prior work or study 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
  • demonstration of leadership potential in the areas of interest
  • excellent communication, writing, and oral presentation skills
  • proficiency in Microsoft Office Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel
  • United States residency
  • candidates must be in their final year of undergraduate studies or have graduated within two years

To date, there have been fifteen 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 works collaboratively across all areas of MDC to advance MDC’s mission and to ensure that organizational goals are achieved. This 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. Additionally, the Autry 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 strategy allows the Fellow to continue working within his or her 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.

The application period for the 2015-2016 Autry Fellowship is now open. Download an application here.

For more information about the Autry Fellowship, contact Joshua Mbanusi, 2014-2015 Autry Fellow, by phone at 919.381.5802 ext. 310 or by email at