AAA Leadership Fellows Program

The AAA Leadership Fellows Program provides a unique opportunity for anthropologists early in their careers to learn about leadership opportunities within the association. Each year a group of three fellows will be paired with mentors chosen from among AAA leadership. Mentors provide fellows with an in-depth “behind the scenes” look at AAA’s governance system, offering a clear sense of the range of opportunities for leadership service to the Association, as well as advice on making room for AAA service along with their professional responsibilities and other service to the community and profession. Fellows shadow their mentors at the AAA Annual Meeting in meetings of the Executive Board and Association Committees. In addition, fellows are invited to attend the AAA Donors Reception as well as a Leadership Fellows Reception bringing together past and present cohorts of fellows.

What do past Fellows say about their experience in the program?

I thorough enjoyed the Board meeting! Attending and meeting members brought things into perspective for me — that we all have a role to play in the organization beyond simply being a member. I am definitely considering getting involved in a leadership role. My mentor was especially encouraging, supportive, and helpful in her guidance as well! A fantastic mentor!

– Tracy Samperio, 2019 Leadership Fellow

I plan to get involved in my section as soon as possible. The Fellowship taught me more about the relationship between individual sections and AAA as a whole. Learning how this relationship functioned and attending section events and meetings inspired me to be active and to encourage colleagues who don’t usually attend AAA meetings to become members of the section.

– Matthew Reilly, 2018 Leadership Fellow

I found it most helpful to learn from my mentor’s path and understanding how he was able to make a career and be actively involved in AAA and how those two things served each other in beneficial ways … When it comes to joining something, I think what I learned through the leadership fellows was to speak up and say you want to do something. And then be consistent in your statement about what you want to do. My mentor talked about just doing something because it was the need that needed to be filled. I think for a while, I’d been apprehensive, waiting for the right or perfect opportunity or waiting for someone to invite me. What I learned is how to take that initiative for myself.

– Julia Wignall, 2016 Leadership Fellow


The program is targeted at early-career members, so preference will be given to applicants who have completed their postgraduate education no more than five years ago, or who are in their first three years of stable employment. Master’s degree holders are strongly encouraged to apply, but those with a master’s degree who are currently enrolled in a PhD program are not eligible to apply because they are still working toward their terminal degree. Applicants must be members of the AAA.

Submission Process and Deadline

Awardees are notified in May. Fellows are expected to attend the AAA Annual Meeting of their award year, and receive a $500 stipend to defray costs of travel.

Application Materials

  • Brief online form providing background and contact information
  • Statement describing interest in the program and professional experience, including service (2-page maximum)
  • Curriculum vitae (3-page maximum)

Written materials should be combined and submitted as a single document, PDF preferred. Successful applicants show that they are sufficiently well established in their careers to have time to spare for association service; that they understand the range of service opportunities within AAA leadership, and have a sense where they might fit in; and that they have a history of following through on service commitments they have made.

We’re currently not accepting submissions. Check back for more information.

For questions regarding the program, contact Daniel Ginsberg, Director of Education & Professional Practice.

Past Award Winners

View Past Award Winners