Application for the 2018-2019 Fellowship is closed. 

From left, current Autry Fellow Rishi Jaswaney, and former Autry Fellows Elsa Mota, Anna Shelton-Ormond, and Joshua Mbanusi.

MDC each year recruits a talent, passionate recent college graduate to work for one full year as a staff member at MDC.

Mission and Vision

The Autry Fellowship provides the opportunity for a talented, passionate recent college graduate to work as a paid staff member for one year, addressing pressing issues of inequity in the South.

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 provides Fellows 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. He led MDC for 32 years with a passion for improving opportunities for people and places struggling to keep pace with economic and social change.


  • Commitment to equity issues in the South and ready to learn about the unique features of this region.
  • Meaningful direct experience with communities that are struggling.
  • 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.
  • Eager to apply knowledge and lived experience to efforts for social and economic equity.
  • Ability to communicate and work with people of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Commitment to MDC's mission.
  • Demonstrated leadership potential.
  • Excellent communication, writing and oral presentation skills.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Excel.
  • S. residency.
  • In final year of undergraduate studies or have graduated within the past two years.


Your fellowship time will be spent learning MDC's strategies for promoting economic and social justice by participating in a variety of project teams.

Fellows have a unique opportunity to devote a significant portion of their 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 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 approach enables Fellows to work within their specific areas of interest while becoming engaged with a variety of issues related to education, economic development and labor force preparation, income enhancement, and poverty reduction.


  • Stipend based on work experience
  • 10 days of paid vacation leave
  • Subsidized health insurance
  • Competitive 401(k) retirement plan with generous employer match


Applicants must be U. S. citizens in their final year of undergraduate studies or have graduated within two years from any four-year college or university.

Application Process

The application process is competitive.

A panel comprising members of MDC’s staff, Board of Directors and the Autry family reviews applications and awards the fellowship. References will be asked of finalists who are invited to interview for the fellowship.

MDC staff will notify all candidates of their initial status within four weeks of the application closing date and choose the Fellow immediately following an interview day in late February/early March. The Fellowship begins in the summer of 2017, with the start date to be negotiated.


Contact Rishi Jaswaney, 2017-2018 Autry Fellow, at (919) 381-5802 ext. 388 or