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The Susan L. French Emerging Leader Fellowship Program

Now Accepting Applications Through June 3

Fill out this form to apply to be a 2024 fellow with the Susan L. French Emerging Leader Fellowship Program. Applications must be received no later than Monday, June 3, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. Central.

About the Fellowship Program

The Susan L. French Emerging Leader Fellowship Program was originally established by GLJ Benefit Consultants in memory of former ALA President Susan L. French. Susan’s commitment to professionalism, dedication to the advancement of law firm administration, development of future leaders and record of long-term service to ALA is truly the foundation of this program.

In 2019, the fellowship program was developed to assist ALA members who have a strong desire to enhance their personal and professional leadership skills. The first year of this two-year fellowship program provides a registration and travel stipend to ALA’s Chapter Leadership Institute; a personalized series of leadership-focused coaching sessions with Judy Hissong, CLM, PCC, a distinguished leadership consultant; and a six-week educational session focused on enhancing communication style with Debbie Foster of Affinity Consulting Group. Program participants will have an assigned mentor for the first year and will be expected to assume a mentorship role to a future fellowship recipient in the second year of their fellowship.

These opportunities include an expectation of full engagement and participation by the fellowship recipient. After completion of the first year, fellows will have a formal check-in with Foundation Trustees to assess how they are developing in their leadership roles and with their mentors. If the first-year program requirements are met, a complimentary registration and travel stipend to the second year's Chapter Leadership Institute may be extended to recipients. In addition, the second year will help fellows continue their leadership path with the opportunity to participate in an additional interactive, leadership-based program.

Thank you to GLJ Benefit Consultants and Affinity Consulting Group for supporting this program!

Program Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for this opportunity, applicants must:

  • Be an ALA member in good standing.
  • Demonstrate emerging leadership qualities as outlined here.
  • Include two references, each with a letter of recommendation, one of which must be from an ALA leader at the chapter or Association level.
  • Be willing to be interviewed by Foundation Trustees at the Foundation’s request.
  • Be able to commit to the two-year program, including projects as assigned by the leadership consultants and mentors, as well as mentor a future fellowship recipient the year after their fellowship.
  • Be able to attend the Chapter Leadership Institute (CLI) for year one and potentially year two to participate in a live presentation at CLI conference in the second year.

Selection Process

Applications are submitted to ALA headquarters staff via an online form.

In order to avoid bias (conscious or implicit), ALA staff removes any identifying information from the applications, including the applicant’s name and contact information, the name of any educational institutions or employers, etc.

ALA headquarters sends the redacted applications to the Foundation Board of Trustees for review and consideration.

Only after the Foundation Board of Trustees have made their selections are full details of the applicant shared by ALA HQ staff.

The Foundation of the Association of Legal Administrators is seeking emerging leaders who are interested in a unique leadership development opportunity.

Are you an emerging leader? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you an ALA member with limited leadership experience?
  • Are you a legal management professional who wants to enhance your personal leadership skills and get more involved in ALA?
  • Are you committed to servant leadership, contributing to the good of the profession?
  • Are you the sort of person who finds more joy in the journey than the destination?
  • Are you the kind of person who persists in the face of resistance?
  • If you said yes to these questions, you might be a strong candidate for the Susan L. French Emerging Leader Fellowship Program.

Leadership is a choice. It is not related to age, title, authority, natural-born characteristics or any other arbitrary quality. Leadership happens when people choose to behave in ways that make them effective in guiding others.

Qualities that may identify you as an emerging leader:

  • You informally influence others. In our social circles and workplaces, there are always people who rally or inspire us. We may not know why or how they do this, especially if those individuals aren’t appointed to do so. The result is that we follow them. Therefore, they are leading.
  • You supervise others. Management titles are often confused with leadership skills. Those are two entirely separate things. However, it is reasonable for people to look to their supervisors for leadership. Anyone who is a supervisor or manager should seriously consider becoming a leader, too.
  • You are open to learning, failing and growing. Leaders experiment, take risks, fail forward and try again. They seek opportunities to be challenged and to challenge others.
  • You have strong people-building skills. Leaders build other leaders. Hoarding talents, tasks or knowledge creates an unsustainable workload and deprives others of development.
  • You are centered by your core values. Leaders know who they are and what they stand for. They make decisions based on their core values and are clear and consistent in aligning their actions with those values.
  • You see the possibilities for a better future state. Leaders are not satisfied with the status quo. Managers may be, but leaders are interested in taking people somewhere new.
  • You unite others and help them see new possibilities. Leaders have followers. When an individual (regardless of title or position) brings others together, inspiring and encouraging them, that’s a sure sign of leadership.
  • You want to become a leader. This may be the most important one of all. Your desire to become a leader requires learning about leadership, developing the behaviors of a leader, and staying committed to your own continual development.

Traits of exemplary leaders:

Creating value: Leaders who create value constantly examine the needs of their organization and the people they serve. They are enterprising, persistent and willing to be bold.

Executing accountably: Leaders who execute accountably build from idea to concrete action to desired outcome. They equip others with clear expectations and specific accountability. They see obstacles as a challenge, rather than a roadblock. They set goals, commit, follow through and persevere.

Applying learning: Leaders who apply learning are attentive and curious. They learn from experience, share that learning and bring others with diverse experience on board. They read the terrain, see the oncoming challenge and remove obstacles. They seek learning from many sources in service of a quicker, better decision.

Making meaning: Leaders who make meaning understand that “why” is important. They engage in the vision, share the big picture and find ways to make the vision meaningful for others. They are committed and inspiring.

Continuously reinventing: Leaders who continuously reinvent are actively looking for a better way. They are not content with “good enough.” They do not resist change.

Cultivating talent: Leaders who cultivate talent are passionately focused on the growth of others. They support, develop and expect each person’s best. They place the right people in the right roles and address that which is not working. They recruit for the future, for the emerging needs of their program and for the organization.

Acting together: Leaders who act together suspend self-interest, invite others’ ideas and balance process with the need to move forward. They cultivate relationships and build trust.

Leading “me” is where I begin: Leaders who do this take responsibility for how they show up as leaders. They are open to feedback, mindful of personal strength and weakness, and willing to change. They are seekers who choose to build self-awareness, shrink blind spots and strive for authenticity.

If this sounds like you, consider applying next year for the Susan L. French Emerging Leader Fellowship!

Congratulations to Our 2023 Fellows!

Ericka Brundage, Legal Assistant Support Manager at Merchant & Gould, PC, and Joanna Hurt, Office Manager at McCarter & English, LLC.

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