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AAA Leadership Fellows Program

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The AAA Leadership Fellows Program provides a unique opportunity for anthropologists early in their careers to learn about leadership opportunities within the association. Each year a group of three fellows will be paired with mentors chosen from among AAA leadership. Mentors provide fellows with an in-depth “behind the scenes” look at AAA’s governance system, offering a clear sense of the range of opportunities for leadership service to the Association, as well as advice on making room for AAA service along with research, teaching, and other service to the community and profession.  Fellows shadow their mentors at the AAA Annual Meeting in meetings of the Executive Board, Association Committees, and Section Committees. In addition, fellows are invited to attend the AAA Donors Reception and a Leadership Fellows Social bringing together past and present cohorts of fellows. 

What do past Fellows say about their experience in the program?

Being able to go to the business meetings with my mentor at the AAAs was great. I was able to see how things work and get a better understanding of how the different layers of leadership work within the organization. – Courtney Kurlanska, 2016 Leadership Fellow

I found it most helpful to learn from my mentor’s path and understanding how he was able to make a career and be actively involved in AAA and how those two things served each other in beneficial ways ... When it comes to joining something, I think what I learned through the leadership fellows was to speak up and say you want to do something. And then be consistent in your statement about what you want to do. My mentor talked about just doing something because it was the need that needed to be filled. I think for a while, I’d been apprehensive, waiting for the right or perfect opportunity or waiting for someone to invite me. What I learned is how to take that initiative for myself. – Julia Wignall, 2016 Leadership Fellow

It was empowering to attend sessions with the executive board because it demystified the decision-making processes that shape my experiences as a member of the AAA. As a junior scholar it can be intimidating to even consider nominating oneself for a leadership position; however, now having met members of the executive board and finding them so welcoming, I am strongly considering running for a position. I also appreciated the opportunity to take what I learned about how the Association works back to my own students. The particular group of students I worked with last semester were very concerned with activism and policy change, so I was thrilled to let them know that members of the executive board are actively working to improve the visibility of our discipline.  

I also appreciated the opportunity to meet former fellows at the cocktail reception. As a visiting assistant professor who is currently on the job market, it was valuable to discuss career trajectories with former fellows who had recently been in my shoes. The idea of “networking” is not one I find particularly appealing, so I appreciated that the fellowship program created a space in which this could happen (almost) naturally. The advice former fellows gave me about being more strategic at conferences, developing research collaborations, and carving out a niche within my area of specialization will be extremely useful at this stage in my career. – Lauren Miller Griffith, 2013 Leadership Fellow

See the complete list of Leadership Fellows Past Award Winners


Applicants should have completed their postgraduate education at least three and no more than five years ago. Master's degree holders are strongly encouraged to apply, but those with a master's degree who are currently enrolled in a PhD program are not eligible to apply because they are still working toward their terminal degree. Applicants must be a member of the AAA. 

Submission Process and Deadline

The application is available online. Applications for the 2019 fellowship are due by April 13, 2019. Awardees are notified in May and announced in Anthropology News. Fellows are required to attend the AAA Annual Meeting of their award year, and receive a $500 stipend to defray costs of travel. 

Application Materials


Written materials should be combined and submitted as a single document, PDF preferred. Successful applicants show that they are sufficiently well established in their careers to have time to spare for association service; that they understand the range of service opportunities within AAA leadership, and have a sense where they might fit in; and that they have a history of following through on service commitments they have made.

Questions regarding the program should be addressed to Daniel Ginsberg, Manager of Education, Research & Professional Development:

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