Celebrating, connecting, and advancing extraordinary leaders.
The Barr Fellowship celebrates exceptional leaders, investing in them and their organizations, and cultivating a network of civic leaders committed to Greater Boston.
Six times since 2005, a diverse group of nonprofit and public sector executives has received an invitation to become a Barr Fellow. Selected for their significant leadership and contributions at their organizations and across our community, Barr Fellows participate in a two-year program, including a group learning journey, a three-month sabbatical, and facilitated retreats with their class of Fellows. Their organizations also receive a significant grant to support leadership and organizational development, and exploratory projects.
To date, the Barr Fellowship has recognized, supported, and connected 70 exemplary leaders from many backgrounds, organizations, and fields.
Meet the Barr Fellows Class of 2017
The Barr Fellowship reflects our core value of investing in effective, visionary, and collaborative leaders who motivate others, drive change, and produce results. Through the Fellowship, the Barr Foundation seeks to advance three goals:
- Recognize, reward, and support accomplished leaders by providing an opportunity for personal and professional rejuvenation.
- Strengthen organizations by providing resources to develop and enhance leadership across Fellows’ organizations.
- Build civic leadership for the region by fostering a strong network of leaders.
In each class of Fellows, the Foundation strives to include a diverse group of leaders whose roles span multiple fields, communities, and types of organizations. Barr Fellows share the following experiences:
- A ten-day group Learning Journey designed to immerse fellows in a collective, challenging growth experience, build relationships among Fellows, and offer inspiration through exchanges with leaders working to improve lives in another country.
- A three-month personal sabbatical during which Fellows are asked to disengage completely from their organizations.
- A series of facilitated leadership development retreats with their class over two years, designed to help Fellows bridge silos of experience, develop new skills and perspectives, and cultivate deep understanding and collaboration across sectors to advance civic leadership.
- Significant grant funding to support exploratory projects, professional and organizational development, and organizational costs, as appropriate, associated with each Fellow’s sabbatical. During the Fellows’ sabbaticals, each organization is asked to name an interim leader (or leadership team) who takes on increased responsibility during the Fellow’s absence and beyond. The Foundation offers coaching and collaborative learning retreats for these interim leaders.
“The investment in me, my staff, and IBA during my three years, especially the sabbatical, were invaluable for the growth and stabilization of IBA.” –Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, Barr Fellow Class of 2009
The Fellows Network
At the end of the two-year Fellowship period, each class is integrated into the Barr Fellows Network, an ongoing forum through which participating leaders continue to learn from each other, deepen relationships, and potentially create collaborations that benefit the city as well as their organizations.
Since 2005, new relationships and connections among Barr Fellows have sparked a number of innovative collaborations. As one example, it was a group of Barr Fellows who conceptualized and mobilized to create the Margarita Muñiz Academy, the first dual-language high school in Boston, named in honor of Margarita Muñiz, member of the Barr Fellows Class of 2007.
2017 Selection Committee
Amos B. Hostetter, Jr.
Co-founder and Trustee, Barr Foundation
Barbara W. Hostetter
Co-founder and Chair, Barr Foundation
James E. Canales
President and Trustee, Barr Foundation
CEO, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción
Barr Fellows Class of 2009
Reverend Dr. Ray Hammond
Co-founder and Pastor, Bethel AME Church
Vice President, Strategy and Growth, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Elizabeth B. Smith
Former Executive Director, The Hyams Foundation
Lisa M. Wong, M.D.
Associate Co-director, Arts and Humanities Initiative, Harvard Medical School
Barr Fellowship Criteria
The Barr Fellowship is open to leaders of organizations located in or primarily serving Boston. In particular, the Foundation seeks to include leaders and organizations serving underrepresented communities.
Fellows are selected on the basis of their exemplary leadership, organizational impact, and track record of partnership and collaboration.Learn more
Our first five Fellows classes included 58 pioneers and champions in education, community development, the arts, immigrants’ rights, youth development, environmental sustainability, and more.Meet our alumni
The Barr Fellows Team
In 2013, we shared the theory of change, strategy, evaluation methodology, and results of the Barr Fellowship and its first four classes in an article in The Foundation Review, titled “Only Connect: How an Investment in Relationships Among Social Change Leaders Is Changing Them, Their Organizations, and Their City.”
A case study published in the Summer 2012 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review featured the Barr Fellowship. It explored the idea that the relationships of trust and respect forged among Barr Fellows have become the “currency of social change” in Boston.
In 2009, Barr and several other funders that offer sabbatical programs for nonprofit leaders commissioned TSNE and Compass Point to study and document the benefits of such programs for individual leaders, organizations, and funders.