The 2023 Leaders USA Program

Q: What is the 2023 Obama Leaders USA program?
The Leaders USA program is a six-month leadership development program for emerging leaders who are passionate about making a positive impact on their communities. The program will run between June 1 and November 17, 2023 with an average time commitment of 8-12 hours per month. The Leaders USA program will bring together a 100-member cohort from across the United States. Participants, known as “Obama Leaders” or “Leaders,” will take part in weekly sessions that include:

  • Practical tools and training for deepening values-based leadership
  • Individualized coaching
  • Community groups
  • Conversations with thought leaders
  • Cultural programming that showcases the richness of diversity in the region
  • Curated spaces for deep personal reflection and interpersonal learning with peers

Upon completion of the program, Obama Leaders will become part of the Obama Foundation’s leadership network—a growing community of civically active, positive role models who are creating tangible solutions to the greatest challenges of our time.

Q: What kind of sessions should I expect as part of the program?
The Leaders program is designed to build connection and community within the cohort by enabling Leaders to reflect on their own values and activate shared values. The cohort will meet virtually over Zoom for an average of four times per month, engaging with trainers, subject matter experts, and their peers to deepen their leadership practice. Each session will last approximately two to two and a half hours. Sessions will primarily be held at times convenient to the majority of participants in the region, as well as Foundation staff.
Additionally, there will be a mandatory participation in one hour of coaching and one hour of small community group discussions per month.
There may be occasional optional sessions that highlight special and or timely opportunities. In total, Leaders can expect to dedicate an average of 8–12 hours per month over the course of the virtual program.

Q: What if I need to miss some sessions?
To participate in a Leaders program, we ask that you make every effort to attend all of the Core Program (approximately one session per week, 8-12 hours per month, with several sessions falling on the weekends). We understand that the program requires a significant and extended time commitment, and that both personal and professional circumstances may occasionally prevent you from joining sessions. Participants should not miss more than three sessions over the course of the six-month program.

Q: Will there be additional work required outside of the program sessions?
Occasionally, we may ask you to do some preparatory or follow-up work for a session. However, we understand that many Leaders are working full-time and/or have other personal and professional commitments. We will try to keep additional work to a minimum.

Q: When will we receive the program calendar?
The Leaders USA program will run between June 1 and November 17, 2023. Candidates selected for the 2023 cohort will receive a detailed program calendar prior to the start of their program.

Q: I have a disability. Will the Foundation make accommodations to ensure that I can fully participate in the program?
We are committed to making this program accessible to Leaders with disabilities. We are able to accommodate certain technical accessibility needs throughout the length of the program. More information will be provided to finalists once invited to become Leaders; in the meantime, please contact us at [email protected] with any questions about accommodations that may help you determine whether or not to apply.

Q: I don’t have a laptop or reliable Internet access. Will I be able to fully participate in the program?
You will need access to a computer with a camera and a reliable internet connection to fully participate in the program. We are able to accommodate certain technical accessibility needs throughout the length of the program. More information will be provided to finalists once invited to become Leaders.

Q: Will Leaders be paid a stipend?
No, Leaders will not be paid a stipend.

Q: Will the Obama Foundation offer grants or other types of financial support for my work?
No, the Obama Foundation does not offer grants or financial support during the program term.

Q: Will we have the opportunity to meet in person?
The 2023 program will be mostly virtual. Our intention is to include an in-person convening (public health, safety, and security conditions permitting) in the late fall. Participants should have no more than three absences in order to attend the convening and complete the program.


The Application Process

Q: Are there geographic eligibility requirements to participate in the Leaders USA program?
Leaders can come from all 50 states; the District of Columbia; and United States territories including: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands, Minor Outlying Islands, Bajo Nuevo Bank, Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, and Palmyra Atoll.

Q: Who is eligible to apply for the program?
ALL of the following eligibility criteria must be met by applicants in order to be accepted into the Leaders program.

  • Citizenship/Residency: You must meet one of the criteria below. :
    • You are a citizen of the United States AND you currently reside in the United States or a United States territory OR
    • You currently reside, and have resided for the last 5 years, in the United States or a United States territory.
  • Geographic Focus: Your current and future work is geographically focused on creating positive change for your local community (rural or urban) and/or the broader region.
  • Leadership Experience: You can demonstrate at least three years of relevant experience in your issue area.
  • Age: You will be between 24- and 45-years-old on December 1, 2023.
  • Language Proficiency: You are professionally proficient in English (spoken and written).
  • Political Campaigns: You will not be engaging in an electoral campaign for political office between the date you submit your application and December 1, 2023.
  • Program Commitment: You can commit to fully participating in the entire duration of the program between June 1 and November 17, 2023, which may include an in-person convening (public health, safety, and security conditions permitting) in November, and up to 12 hours of live virtual programming per month. Participants should have no more than three absences in order to attend the convening and complete the program.

Q: What type of person is an ideal candidate for this program?
Aside from the specific eligibility criteria listed above, the ideal candidate:

  • Has a clear issue of focus and can describe the impact they have made: The ideal candidate has been working to advance positive social change on a specific issue or set of issues for at least the last three years and can demonstrate that their work has had a measurable impact in advancing progress on their issue.
  • Demonstrates distinct leadership in their changemaking work: The ideal candidate demonstrates distinct leadership in a civil society organization (community groups, non-profits, labor unions, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations), start-up or business, the public sector, or the media. This could be someone who is the founder or head of an organization, but it could also be someone who leads positive change from within an organization through influence rather than positional power. Candidates do not have to be engaged in this work full-time.
  • Stands out for their integrity and values-driven approach to leadership: Ideal candidates demonstrate a deeply ethical, values-based, and collaborative approach to leadership. They are generous leaders, eager to share opportunities and open doors for others. They bring a strong commitment to equity, to inclusion of communities that have been historically marginalized, and to working together to build a brighter future.
  • Demonstrates a willingness to learn: Ideal candidates have a keen sense of how much they can learn from others, regardless of their experience level. They bring genuine curiosity and an open mind and are willing to share their experiences and knowledge with their cohort.
  • Demonstrates a desire to connect with other changemakers: Ideal candidates seek to collaborate with others in the larger Obama Foundation leadership network in order to have a larger impact.

  • The Application Process

    Q: What is the deadline for submitting my application?
    The 2023 Leaders USA application will close at 12:00 PM U.S. Eastern Time on Friday, February 3, 2023. In order to avoid technical glitches or other problems due to issues such as internet access, we strongly advise you to complete the application early. Due to the number of applications we receive, the Obama Foundation cannot be responsible for applications that are not submitted on time, regardless of the reason.

    Q: I am having technical issues submitting my application. What can I do?
    If you have questions about the program, please email [email protected].
    If you need help with using the application software, please visit Survey Monkey Apply FAQ section.
    If you are experiencing technical issues with the site, please fill out a support request form. You access the form by clicking here or through the information drop down menu located in the upper right hand corner of the application home page.
    For all other inquiries, please email [email protected].

    Q: What happens if I am unable to complete my application before the deadline?
    Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications after 12:00 PM U.S. Eastern Time on Friday, February 3, 2023.

    Q: Is there an education requirement for admission?
    No, there is no education requirement for admission to the Obama Foundation Leaders programs.

    Q: Does my social impact work have to be my full-time profession to be eligible?
    No, candidates do not have to be doing their social impact work full-time or as their main profession to be eligible. Ideal candidates have a clear issue area of focus and can clearly illustrate the impact of their work.

    Q: I have reviewed the application requirements, but I’m still unsure if I’m eligible to apply for the program. What should I do?
    We encourage you to begin the application! As you answer the questions honestly and thoughtfully, we hope it will become clear if this program is right for you. If you have questions about a specific eligibility requirement, please email [email protected]. Due to the high volume of applications, you might experience a delay in response, so please contact us well before the deadline.

    Q: If I apply this year and my application is not selected, can I apply again in future years?
    Absolutely! We welcome applicants who are not selected this year to apply again in the future, as long as you still meet the eligibility criteria.

    Q: I am a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, but don’t currently reside there. Am I eligible to apply for the program?
    No. Applicants need to reside in the United States for at least the last five consecutive years to be eligible for the program. Applicants are not required to be a United States citizen or permanent resident to apply.

    Q: How are Leaders selected?
    The selection process will take place from January to April 2023. We carefully review every application and do additional research to verify information included. Finalists will be invited for virtual interviews in April 2023 with Obama Foundation staff and program alumni.

    Q: Will the Obama Foundation contact my references?
    The Obama Foundation will reach out to references on a case-by-case basis. We ask that references do not contact the Obama Foundation.

    Q: How will I find out if I have been selected for the Leaders program?
    All applicants will be notified of their status via email by early May.


    The Obama Leadership Network

    Q: What is the Obama Foundation’s alumni network like? How can I stay involved after completing the program?
    Once you complete the Leaders USA program, you will become part of the Obama Leadership Network, a global community of values-driven leaders. As of January 2023, there are more than 850 alumni in the Obama Foundation’s network. They include participants from other Obama Foundation programs and regions.
    Network members have access to a range of Obama Foundation support. The alumni experience includes opportunities to meet alumni from other regions and programs, invitations to Foundation events, a regular alumni newsletter, and more.
    As we continue to grow and build out alumni offerings, we hope that you will remain engaged with the Foundation and its global network.
    Thank you for your interest in the Obama Leaders USA program! If you have any additional questions, please contact us: [email protected].

Top