Gleitsman Leadership Fellowship

Gleitsman Leadership Fellowships are funded through an endowed gift to CPL from the estate of Alan L. Gleitsman. These fellowships provide significant financial support and a robust cocurricular experience to promising Harvard Kennedy School master's degree students interested in social change.

Gleitsman Fellowships recognize Harvard Kennedy School students for their background or potential as activists. With the income generated by a $23 million endowed gift from the estate of Alan L. Gleitsman, CPL launched the Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change (GPLSC) in 2007. It was Mr. Gleitsman's hope that if the world knew of the accomplishments of social activists, others would be inspired by their stories and would fight to correct some of the other problems facing the world, thereby improving the quality of life for all of us.

"There is a common thread of purpose, activism, and fire that weaves through the Gleitsman Fellows. They have an unstoppability to them that reinvigorates me and inspires me to give my all to the most disadvantaged communities."

-Ivan Rahman, MPA '19


Step 1: Apply to Harvard Kennedy School: Application deadline is December 3, 2019.

Step 2: Apply for the Fellowship: Application deadline for the Gleitsman Fellowship is February 3, 2020.

To apply for the Gleitsman Fellowship please visit the Student Financial Services web site.

Applicants must submit:

  1. A biographical profile, not to exceed 150 words. (This profile should be short, concise and in the third person.)  Please include the following highlights: an introductory sentence including your name; the degree you are pursuing at Harvard Kennedy School in addition to any joint degree at Harvard or concurrent degree program at another graduate or professional institution; where you are from and where you currently reside; an overview and highlights of your relevant work/professional experience; significant leadership achievements including awards or certifications; and educational credentials with the degrees earned and institutions attended.

  2. A document containing written responses to the following two essay prompts: 1. Please discuss your passion and commitment to social activism. Please indicate specific experience/s that demonstrate leadership in that sphere, including challenges and how you've confronted them, to bring about social change. (750 words or less) 2. Please discuss briefly your interest in the Gleitsman Fellowship and how your leadership goals have motivated you to apply. (200 words or less)


Finalists for the Gleitsman Fellowship will be interviewed in February, 2019 by members of the Gleitsman Fellowship Selection Committee.

Please visit our Fellows FAQs page for more information.

Program Information

  • Gleitsman Fellows are awarded a scholarship up to full tuition and health fees for up to two years, depending on the length of their graduate degree program.

  • Successful applicants will demonstrate their potential as emerging social activists and innovators and interest in pursuing a career with transformative impact on society, as well as demonstrating strong character and excellent academic credentials.

  • The Gleitsman Fellows are part of the Center for Public Leadership's community of graduate fellows and will participate in an enriching co-curricular experience designed to enhance their skills and engage their development as the next generation of public leaders. The co-curricular program typically includes a welcome retreat, a weekly series of speakers, workshops and seminars, a leadership field experience (a multi-day trip to a major U.S. city), and opportunities to connect with other Center for Public Leadership fellows and alumni.

  • Welcome Retreat: CPL Fellows interact with and get to know one another and begin the process of supporting one another's aspirations as leaders.

  • Leadership Discussion Series: The Fellows engage one another as well as eminent practitioners and local and national leaders on topics of service and leadership during their sessions.

  • Field Experience: Fellows, along with selected students from the broader Kennedy School community, take a multi-day trip to a major U.S. city and meet with area leaders in order to gain an understanding of the deep rooted problems of society and innovative approaches to resolving them.

  • Connection with CPL and Gleitsman Fellows Network: Fellows engage with these other emerging leaders as they begin their careers through opportunities like roundtable discussions, mentoring experiences with fellowship alumni, leadership skills workshops, and networking events.


Award decisions will be primarily merit based but with a consideration of financial need as determined by the HKS Student Financial Services. Both domestic and international students are eligible to apply. Active participation in the weekly co-curricular program is a requirement of all fellows for the duration of their award.

Commitment to Nondiscrimination   

As a matter of commitment, policy, and law, Harvard Kennedy School does not discriminate on the basis of gender, gender identity, color, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, intellectual focus, disability, or veteran status. The School strongly believes diversity enhances the value of all its activities, from research and teaching to degree programs and public events. The School encourages applications from candidates who are interested in careers in public service and acknowledges a special responsibility to train effective leaders in public policy and management.

Alan L. Gleitsman, was a successful entrepreneur in the television industry for more than three decades and the founder of The Gleitsman Foundation, which he established in 1989 to honor individuals who have initiated social change. Mr. Gleitsman "wanted to recognize people who make a difference, tell their story and make other people aware of what one person can do."

In addition to the Foundation, Mr. Gleitsman initiated a scholarship program at UCLA designed to help attract outstanding medical students to the field of geriatrics; was honored by the University of Southern California for his contributions to cancer research; participated in the International Peace Walk in the Soviet Union; and established a scholarship program at the high school he attended in Great Neck, New York that is awarded annually to the school’s most outstanding graduate.

Mr. Gleitsman began his business career in sales for Sterling Television, a television program distribution company that later became The Walter Reade Organization. In 1970, he started Alan Enterprises, Inc. in Los Angeles, specializing in the syndication of television programs in the United States. By the time he sold the company in 1986, he had acquired the rights to a substantial library of motion pictures, cartoons and series, and was actively involved in distribution to television and video throughout the world.

With the income generated by a $20 million endowed gift from the estate of Alan L. Gleitsman, CPL launched The Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change (GPLSC) in 2007. It was Mr. Gleitsman's hope that if the world knew of the accomplishments of social activists, others would be inspired by their stories and would fight to correct some of the other problems facing us, thereby improving the quality of life for all of us.

The GPLSC's three principal components are:

  • The Gleitsman Leadership Fellowship Program, which provides significant financial support and a robust co-curricular experience to promising students interested in social change;
  • A set of programmatic initiatives, including visiting practitioners and curriculum development, through which CPL plays a catalytic role in the School's (and Harvard's) efforts to better prepare students as leaders for social change, whether through activism, social enterprise, or other strategies for change; and
  • The Gleitsman Citizen Activist and International Activist Awards, each of which carries a $125,000 cash prize and enables students and the greater Harvard community to learn from the presence of an extraordinary change agent when she or he visits campus.