Vol 1, Issue 4 April, 2019

Since 1999, New America has nurtured a new generation of policy experts and public intellectuals, and core to that vision is our support of independent-minded storytellers able to enrich Americans' understanding of pressing societal challenges through their deeply-researched work.

To date, the Fellows Program has supported more than 200 National Fellows, resulting in the publication of more than 100 books (two recent books are currently on the New York Times bestsellers list).  Fellows have also advanced their work in influential news media and other forms of storytelling—including films, long-form essays (one Fellow just received the National Magazine Award), and VR journalism.

Deeply-researched journalism, books, and films have a way of connecting with readers in a manner that can spark new conversations about—and enhance our understanding of—the most pressing issues of our day.

Please take time to review our "20 years of impact" brochure highlighting our first 100 books as well as other notable achievements.

Awista Ayub
Director, Fellows Program, 2017-present

Peter Bergen
Director, Fellows Program, 2014-2017

Andrés Martinez
Director, Fellows Program, 2008-2014

20 Years of NA

Three questions with...
new america CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter

Since 1999, the Fellows Program has supported over 200 Fellows who have gone on to publish more than 100 books. Why do you think the program has remained successful both in the selection of new Fellows, as well as with the publication of high-impact books? What are the qualities of those books that stand out to you?

The key to the program, in my view, is that we look for a combination of a big, important public problem and the ability to write, film, narrate, compose, or otherwise tell a story about it in a way that will engage a much larger audience than "policy books" usually do. At the same time, we look for rising stars and new voices. When we see an application of a person who is not well-known but has evident talent, we know that we can make a difference in that person's life by making them a member of a Fellows cohort.

A Fellows book is a book that I put on my bedside table and actively want to read, not because public policy is my job, but because I am caught up in the story and fully engaged with the characters and the problems they are facing. I always use the example of Sheri Fink's Five Days at Memorial, which reads like a thriller as you wait for Hurricane Katrina to bear down in all its fury on New Orleans and meet the staff and critically ill patients at Baptist Memorial Hospital. The book ultimately raises critically important questions of life, death, euthanasia, and personal and public responsibility in the face of a natural and human disaster, but those questions are much harder to resolve precisely because Fink puts you right there—in the shoes of the people who had to confront them.

The culture of New America is one of independence, opportunity, camaraderie, and a striving spirit to create lasting impact. How has the organization fostered that culture among the community of Fellows since our founding? How has the program—its fellows and their interests—changed since its inception?

The Fellows Program has gone through a number of different phases with a number of terrific directors. At its best, it combines material support with a strong sense of belonging to a cohort, a group of fellow creators who are struggling with their projects just as you are struggling with yours, whom you can ask for help and learn from no matter how different the subject matter or perspective on that subject may be.

What has stayed the same is the vision of New America's founders that the Fellows should represent a new generation of public intellectuals. But whereas they focused above all on political diversity, the program has steadily evolved in the direction of many other types of diversity as well: race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, class, and geography. We aim to reflect every dimension of the America that we are becoming, while also being open to applications from outside America.

Looking ahead, what do you hope the Fellows Program will accomplish as we support New America’s mission?

My greatest hope for the Fellows Program is that we can support more National Fellows, although never too many to form a cohesive group, and that above all, we can find ways to make the program a "lending library" of great talent to some of the nation's big public universities whose students do not have regular access to the range and quality of creative writers, film-makers, and other story-tellers we support. We currently partner with Arizona State University and Southern New Hampshire University, who both provide financial support and benefit in various ways from being able to invite Fellows to visit campus to teach or speak. The age and prestige of the National Fellows program serve as a beacon for talent; we have refined our selection process and built up our capacity to support a Fellows cohort throughout a year. It would be great if we could then help students and faculty across the country benefit from interacting with our fabulous Fellows.

Read more in Anne-Marie's article on New America's 20th birthday in the Weekly.

Hot Off The Press

Read our "20 years of impact" brochure highlighting the accomplishments of the Fellows Program that includes: 100 books + films + longform storytelling + VR journalism.

Learn More

Learn more about the impact of our first 20 years highlighting 10 big ideas that demonstrate the breadth and impact of New America’s work.

Learn More

Two Cents

Our Fellows describe the impact of New America on their work

1: New America bestowed the greatest gift that can be given: time. With the support of my New America Emerson Fellowship, I've been on leave from my day job with the New York Times since January to work full-time on my book project. That luxury has ended the immense frustration of building up a head of research steam during weekends and vacations only to see the momentum screech to a halt once I return to work. That feeling of being overwhelmed by the need to do too much in too little time is slowly subsiding.  — Kevin Sack, Class of 2019

2: I had not written a proposal yet for my forthcoming book (The Optimist's Telescope) when I became a fellow, and it gave me the time to actually write one instead of just thinking about writing one as I had for 2 years before. It also gave me some validation in those early days when the book was just a germ of an idea that it was worth doing. — Bina Venkataraman, Class of 2016

3: To be surrounded by amazing, creative, passionate storytellers—namely, the other Fellows—has been a real gift for someone coming from government and seeking to write for a broader audience. — Joshua Geltzer, Class of 2018

Two Cents

Katie Engelhart wrote for the California Sunday Magazine about a woman who chose assisted suicide over losing herself to dementia.

Melissa Segura wrote for BuzzFeed News about the abuse and manipulation used by the Chicago police to obtain false testimony.  

Taylor Lee Nagel's television pilot, "Lady Liberty," will screen as a part of Tribeca's "Pilot Season" program highlighting independently-produced television pilot episodes that aspire to become full series.

Two Cents
Go To This

4 New America events we recommend you check out. Now.



State Capture: How Conservatives Claimed Power and How to Restore Balance

Join the Political Reform Program for a discussion with issue experts on the rise of conservative cross-state groups. Learn More


How Will Climate Change Transform American Democracy?

David Wallace-Wells, Class of 2019, will discuss his New York Times bestseller The Uninhabitable Earth and the unforeseen impacts of climate change. Learn More


Reniqua Allen: It Was All A Dream

Reniqua Allen, Class of 2013, examines how Black millennials are searching for a better future in spite of racist policies in her new book It Was All A Dream. Learn More


The Terrorist Threat to Multinational Corporations: Challenges and Opportunities

Join the International Security Program to discuss how corporations can secure themselves agaisnt terrorist threats. Learn More

Reading this month

Five Days at Memorial is a masterful work of reporting and storytelling. It wrestles with big policy issues, yet has a narrative that unspools like a good thriller. 
— W. Ralph Eubanks, Class of 2008

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Automating Inequality is the best book out there about how technologies are used in high-stakes decision-making. Virginia manages to write so clearly and sensitively about these systems in ways that lay bare the impact they have on peoples' lives. 
— Karen Levy, Class of 2019

Learn More

The Chickenshit Club is both fascinating and infuriating, offering insight after insight into the Justice Department and the inner workings of investigations of corporate crimes.
Josephine Wolff, Class of 2016

Learn More

Free Swag

Fill out this tiny form for a chance to win one of five copies of It Was All A Dream by Reniqua Allen, Class of 2013!

(Please submit by COB Monday, April 8 to be considered)

Get swag!

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We are storytellers who generate big, bold ideas that have an impact and spark new conversations about the most pressing issues of our day.

The three who put this together

Clarke Reeves + Catherine York + Awista Ayub

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