Addressing racial wealth gaps

Our Commitment

Anita Patel

Anita Patel: What makes a Bush Fellow?

March 19, 2019

We are excited to celebrate the 2019 Bush Fellows and the hundreds of others who took the chance to deepen their leadership vision by applying for the Fellowship. We are often asked what makes it clear that someone is a Bush Fellow — why was this group of 24 selected out of all of the applicants? The answer lies in the power of applicants' perspectives and reflections.

The criteria for the Fellowship fall into three categories: track record, potential and plan. What sets future Fellows apart is their ability to powerfully reflect on these criteria in ways that are deep and nuanced. They clearly link their track record to their vision for the future. They explore and explain the pivot points in their life that led to who they are today, the community change they care about and how they want to be stronger tomorrow. They understand that link and can convey it to others.

When it comes to potential, many applicants talk about their development with regard to an issue they care about. In contrast, successful applicants focus on their personal growth. They take a nuanced look at what has made them effective agents of change, how they can build on those strengths and what they need to fill their own gaps that may be holding them back. Often, those who become Fellows have engaged deeply with those around them to not only ask "What am I great at that I should do even more?" but also "Where do you think I hold myself back? What would help me to soar as a leader in service to my community?"

Finally, the difference between a good plan and a great one comes across in a few areas. Future Fellows have thought about not only going out to gather new ideas and connections, but also how to understand large-scale systems change and what they need to build within their own leadership to galvanize their community around those new ideas. Additionally, Fellows are clear about why the components of their plan are the exact right components for them. There is no one definition or type of leader, so Fellowship plans are wildly varied. What is true across the board is that Fellows push themselves to reflect deeply beyond what they ever imagined for themselves. We honor the vulnerability and vision that each applicant shares and appreciate the strong leadership we encounter all across the Bush Foundation's region.