2015 New Leaders Council Pittsburgh Cohort.

Looking to lead in Pittsburgh? The New Leaders Council is opening applications for its newest cohort. Started in Pittsburgh earlier this year, the New Leaders Council, NLC, is a nonprofit with 35 chapters nationwide.

Erin Belitskus, co-founder and director of the NLC Pittsburgh, started the chapter after boomeranging back to Pittsburgh from Cambridge, Massachusetts. “When I came back to Pittsburgh for work, I got here and it seemed like a ripe opportunity to start a chapter here.”

The NLC accepted their first Pittsburgh cohort of 13 and began their training in January. “We do training for young progressive leaders who are typically between the ages of 25 and 35,” explains Belitskus. “They go through a competitive application process, and we choose the fellows based on the achievements thus far—usually based on leadership, whether that’s leading a board of a nonprofit or their own startups.”

The Fellows dedicate one weekend a month to the program from January to May. While the content of each workshop varies, all the sessions are taught by local experts. Joanna Huss, founder and president of Huss Communications, taught a course on communications, and Matt Merriman Preston, a political consultant, gave a crash course on polling. Other sessions provided training on skills such as event planning, budgeting and fundraising.

“We take these people from different sectors, bring them together, and provide training where they can really reflect on their values and think about where they want to go next and how they want to make their impact,” says Belitskus.

At the end of the five months of training, the fellows put their skills to use by having an annual fellows fundraiser. The capital generated at the fundraiser pays for the next cohort’s programming. Through the fundraising of the previous class, there is no cost to fellows entering the council.

Since completing the program, the 2015 cohort is working on building an alumni network in Pittsburgh, and applying their newly acquired skills in day to day life. With over 3,000 alumni nationally, the fellows can participate in both regional and national events.

NLC Pittsburgh is opening up the application for the 2016 cohort in August. Fellows come from a variety of backgrounds, but they all have leadership experience. “[They] self-identify as progressive,” Belitskus explains. “That’s a term that we actually don’t define. It’s something we discuss during the interview process, but also during the institute itself.”

“Personally and professionally, I have been able to meet and be friends with an amazing group of talented individuals who not only are visionaries but put their ideas into action and implement them effectively. We’re all doing different things, and it’s great to see and to know that we have people who are like-minded and doing all this great work everywhere.”

Belitskus encourages interested applicants to visit the NLC site, Facebook and Twitter or reach out to her with additional questions. NLC Pittsburgh will post the 2016 Fellow application on its site at the beginning of August.

Emma Diehl

Emma Diehl is a writer, blogger, and social media marketer working in tech and startups in Pittsburgh. She loves local craft beer and a well-crafted pun.