Maria Whelan Leadership Institute Early Childhood Emerging Leaders Fellowship

Maria Whelan Leadership Institute (MWLI) Early Childhood Emerging Leaders Fellowship

Thank you for your interest! The MWLI Emerging Leaders Fellowship is designed for mid-level early childhood education and care professionals who seek to advance their leadership professionally and civically. Accepted applicants will engage in a nine-month fellowship along with 20 fellows from around the state, which will include monthly facilitated sessions by experts that focus on leadership development, professional skills, as well as advocacy and systems change skills.

We are seeking equity-minded applicants from diverse backgrounds and communities in Illinois for our second cohort. All fellows will receive a stipend for their participation. The Fellowship will run from June 2023 to February 2024.

An ideal candidate for the Early Childhood Emerging Leaders Fellowship:

  • Is currently an ECEC mid-level professional in Illinois with at least three years of professional experience (examples of professional titles include, but are not limited to: ECEC Coaches, Assistant Directors, Educator Coordinators, Non-profit, school district or Government Associate/Manager-level roles, Infant/Toddler Quality Specialists, Head Teachers and Educators, Family Childcare Providers)

  • Has a strong desire to grow his/her/their career, and improve the Illinois ECEC system through advocacy

  • Has about 10 hours a month to commit to the fellowship

  • Has the support of a supervisor who will allow fellow to take Friday afternoons to engage in the program

  • Has a bachelor’s degree

  • Identifies with or works in a community that is historically underserved, including but not limited to professionals who identify as Black, Latino/a/x and/or Hispanic, Indigenous, People of Color, first generation college graduates, and those living and/or working within communities with limited to no access to economic resources in rural, urban, or suburban geographic communities

Have questions about the Fellowship? Check out the recorded information session hosted by Senior Vice President, Shauna Ejeh from April 17, 2023.

Please note, applications for the 2023 Fellowship Program are now closed.

To apply:

  1. Submit the following application form; AND

  2. Email your resume to

Explore More

Learn more about the Maria Whelan Leadership Institute (MWLI), created to honor her life and legacy, and the first initiative of the Maria Whelan Legacy Fund.