Greater St. Louis, Inc.’s leadership development program for professionals of color in the St. Louis region is now accepting applications and nominations for its 2021-2022 cohort. The St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative’s (SLBDI) Fellows Experience leadership program is part of Greater St. Louis, Inc.’s Inclusive Business Solutions Initiative, which focuses on developing multicultural and racially diverse business leaders and entrepreneurs. The Fellows Experience (formerly the Initiative Fellows Program) addresses the interests and challenges professionals of color face as they strive to advance their careers.

“We are seeking mid-to senior-level professionals who want to develop their leadership and professional capabilities and capacity in a safe, open, collegial environment where they can not only learn, but also share their experiences, network and grow,” says Rosalind Reese, Fellows Experience Program Director. “Our year-long program focuses on professional development, relationship building and civic engagement.”

Since 2006, nearly 900 fellows have graduated from the program with 70% being promoted within two years of the program. Pat Coleman, who graduated in 2010, is one of them. “In 2012, I was promoted to President and CEO of BHR (Behavioral Health Response) and I know that the skills I attained through the program helped to prepare me for the role,” says Coleman. “In addition, it helped to fill in the gap and decreased the learning curve that I needed to be successful as CEO. I am blessed to have experienced the professional and personal development that I received from the nine months I participated in the program.”

The Fellows Experience Program has also helped entrepreneurs, such as Julio Zegarra-Ballon, owner of Zee Bee Market LLC, achieve their goals. “My involvement with the program made a huge difference in my life,” says Zegarra-Ballon. “My entrepreneurial dream has flourished and grown to where it is today thanks to the Fellows Program.”

Fellows alum Michelle Tucker, who serves on the Greater St. Louis, Inc.’s Integration Advisory Team and is currently President and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis, says intentional efforts to support, develop and retain strong, diverse leaders is key to the St. Louis region’s success. “My experience with the Initiative Fellows program in 2007 was pivotal on my career journey and helped to broaden my network and refine my focus on the local community.”

SLBDI Fellows are ethnically, racially, or gender diverse. To be considered for the program, professionals must have a minimum of seven years employment, community leadership experience and a college degree, or equivalent skill and capabilities.

Greater St. Louis, Inc. is accepting applications here. Applicants must provide a current resume, a 200-word narrative that includes information not highlighted in their resume, and a nomination form from their manager/company.

The deadline to apply for the Fellows Experience is Friday, May 28, 2021.