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Autry Fellowship

Former Autry Fellows Anna Shelton-Ormond (left) and Joshua Mbanusi (right), and current Autry Fellow Elsa Mota (center)

Applications for the 2017-2018 Autry Fellowship are now open! The application and FAQs can be found at the bottom of this page.

Mission & Vision

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 and are ready to learn about the unique features of this region;
  • 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 proficient 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.

Compensation Package

  • $30,000* stipend
  • 10 days of paid vacation leave
  • Includes subsidized medical insurance
  • Competitive 401(k) retirement plan with a generous employer match

*Significant work experience to be taken into consideration.

Application Process

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.

The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, January 9, 2017, by the close of business, 5 PM EST. For more information about the Autry Fellowship, contact Elsa Mota, 2016-2017 Autry Fellow, by phone at 919.381.5802 ext. 388 or by email at You can read more about Elsa Mota in her staff profile or on the Autry Fellows page. 

The Application

Applications for the Autry Fellowship are due on Monday, January 9, 2017, by the close of business, at 5 PM EST.


Applicants must either be in their final year of undergraduate studies or have graduated within two years from any four-year college or university (class of 2015-2017).


Applications must be received by 5pm EST on MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 2017. MDC staff will notify all candidates of their initial status within four weeks, and choose the Fellow immediately following an interview day in late February/early March. The Fellowship will begin in the summer of 2017, with the start date to be negotiated.


All applications are to be submitted electronically, by Google Form, linked here, and also embedded on this page, below.

In addition, we require that you send a resume, no more than two pages in length, as a PDF document in the format Last Name_First Name_Resume (example: Mota_Elsa_Resume) and sent to the current Autry Fellow, Elsa Mota, at For more information, contact Elsa by e-mail or at 919-797-2903 x 388.

We are providing a worksheet that can be used by applicants to prepare materials, particularly in drafting responses to the essay questions that are a central component of the application. You may access that worksheet here.




I’m not from the South, can I still apply?

Absolutely! We are looking for candidates that are committed to equity issues in the South. This can be (but is not limited to) lived experiences, internships, or your field of study.

What are the qualifications of a typical Autry Fellow?

Our 17 Autry Fellows have come from diverse backgrounds. There is no one major, GPA, experience, or background that is best suited for a strong application. We will be looking at applicants holistically that have demonstrated leadership potential and passion for social change. 

I graduated college three years ago, can I still apply?

All applicants must have graduated college no earlier than December 2014.

How competitive is the application process?

In the past we have received more than 100 applicants for the Autry Fellowship position.  4-5 finalists will be invited to Durham for interviews and asked to provide two references. There are three rounds of interviews with MDC board members, former Autry Fellows, and staff members.  

How do I apply? 

You can find our online application here . Once you have submitted that, please email a PDF copy of your resume and any additional items you would like to submit (such as a thesis, photo, video) to You will receive confirmation that all items were received within the week.

Can you describe the application process?

The application deadline is Monday, January 9th, 2017 5 PM EST. Semi-finalist notification occurs in early February. Finalists will be invited to interview in early February, with interview dates to be determined by schedule alignment, though we expect they will occur in the last two weeks in February and first two weeks in March.

Is this a paid fellowship?

Yes! Our mission toward economic mobility and our belief that the Autry Fellow’s time is valuable is evident in our compensation package outlined below. 

Compensation package:

  • Salary to be paid bimonthly starting at $30,000, with significant employment experience taken into consideration
  • 10 days of paid vacation, as well as sick days and personal days
  • Medical and dental benefits (optional)
  • Competitive retirement plan (optional)

How long is the fellowship?

Your tenure as the Autry Fellow will last one calendar year.

I am undocumented, can I still apply?

Applicants must have U.S. residency in order to apply.

What does an Autry Fellow do?

The Autry Fellowship is designed to create meaningful work that is coordinated between with the Fellow and their supervisor. Fellows will work on a variety of projects working with education, employment, and economic security. This work includes—but is not limited to--  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. Although there is one Autry Fellow, you will have the support of many people on MDC’s staff and work with different program teams. Every Autry experience varies based on interests.  Stay tuned for our “A Day in the Life of an Autry Fellow” video coming soon!

Is there travel involved?

Some projects require travel within North Carolina or other states. In such cases, MDC will cover associated costs (fuel, flight, hotel accommodations, etc.).