Skip to main content
Newsroom Press release

Open Society Foundations Announce 2019 Leadership in Government Fellows

NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations are pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of the Leadership in Government Fellowship, an initiative supporting seasoned public servants chosen from the senior ranks of federal, state, and local government who have advanced economic and social justice.

Recipients come from diverse communities across the country and are working on a wide range of issues. Among the projects fellows will undertake: an effort to bring truth, reconciliation, and healing principles to Native American communities; a book investigating the impact of consent decrees on police departments and the neighborhoods they serve; and studies on the impact of public cultural institutions on policy and narrative change, how employment contracts exploit low-wage workers, which tools help bring about the release of people serving long-term prison sentences, and how policy change can help reduce the impact of “climate gentrification” on marginalized populations.

“Public service, at all levels of government, is an honorable and challenging mission. We are glad to support such leaders transform their experience into new ways to advance justice,” said Tom Perriello, executive director of U.S. Programs and D.C. Advocacy at the Open Society Foundations. “We need those who have done the difficult work of governing to remain a force for progress and a bulwark against corruption, incompetence, and division. I am excited to see what they accomplish, during the course of their fellowships and in the years to come.”

The program, now in its third year, is intended to help fellows build on their time in the public sector and to develop ideas and strategies that advance the values of an open society. Fellows are also encouraged to reflect on their public service as they decide on the next steps in their careers and share insights, with advocates and others, about how to make policy change during a time when public confidence in government has reached historic lows.

Grantees and staff from Open Society also have the opportunity to learn from the fellows about how, in a time of rising authoritarianism in the United States, to better navigate government and leverage its resources to advance and defend economic and social justice.  

“We are thrilled with this class of Leadership in Government Fellows’ range of talents and interests,” said Elizabeth Guernsey, a program officer with U.S. Programs who oversees the fellowship program. “I look forward to their contributions, and I expect great things as they share their knowledge with one another and Open Society in the cause of justice.”

Awards for the fellowship range from $100,000 to $133,000 to facilitate projects lasting between 12 and 18 months. Fellows will devote up to 32 hours per week to their projects.

2019 Leadership in Government Fellows

Frances Colón will work to catalyze policy change to counter the effects of climate gentrification on vulnerable communities of South Florida.

Hillary Blout will work for the release of individuals serving long-term sentences through education campaigns, the implementation of new California law, and the development of tools to empower communities to advocate on behalf of incarcerated loved ones.

Jane Flanagan will address employers’ increasing use of exploitative employment contracts that restrain low-wage workers’ labor market mobility as well as their access to meaningful employment rights enforcement.

Kevin Davis will write a book critically examining the history of federally mandated consent decrees and the extent to which they provide necessary reforms for troubled American police agencies and the communities they serve.

Kevin Killer will work to bring truth, reconciliation, and healing principles to Native American communities in the United States by using collaborative partnerships with the indigenous community and its allies.

Masum Momaya will explore how cultural workers and artists in museums, libraries, national parks, and other public institutions work with social movement leaders and policymakers to bring about the narrative and cultural change necessary for political and policy change.

Sign up for updates on Open Society’s work around the world