Illinois Early Childhood Fellows, which prepares diverse new leaders for the field of early childhood policy in the state, has opened competition for the 2013-2015 Fellows. “We’re looking for talented, committed people with leadership skills, a background in early childhood, and an understanding of the big picture: how public policies and systems shape the life chances of children,” said Edith Njuguna of Grand Victoria Foundation, who co-chairs the program. “The Fellows Program offers an outstanding opportunity for people to use their skills to ensure that all Illinois children get a strong start in life.” Applications are conducted online and must be submitted, along with two letters of recommendation, by midnight, Central Standard Time, February 15, 2013. Potential applicants are invited to attend one of two information sessions: a call-in session scheduled for January 14, 10:30 a.m. CST, and an in-person session scheduled for January 16, 5:30 p.m. CST, in downtown Chicago. Interested parties should register by sending an email by January 13 to email@example.com; call-in and address information will be sent by return email. Four or five Fellows will be selected to start a two-year term in July 2013. People of color are strongly encouraged to apply. Specific qualifications include:At least five years of professional experience, at least two of which must be in early childhood.Interest in public policy, advocacy, and systems building and their impact on the lives of young children and families.Demonstrated leadership talent.Graduate degree preferred. “Our goal is to strengthen the field of early childhood in Illinois by offering a broad range of experiences to prepare people for a leadership role,” said co-chair Phyllis Glink of the Irving Harris Foundation. Fellows have a two-year paid placement with significant responsibilities in a leading public policy, advocacy or systems building organization, and are mentored by early childhood leaders. They learn from experts and practitioners in a bimonthly seminar organized by Erikson Institute, and pursue their own professional development through conferences and workshops, as well as networking with public officials, philanthropic and community leaders, agency heads, and policy experts. Previous Fellows have worked with Ounce of Prevention, Act for Children, Latino Policy Forum, HealthConnect One, and Positive Parenting DuPage, and have gone on to various positions related to the field of early childhood. The next class of Fellows will be announced in May 2013. Illinois Early Childhood Fellows was created in 2008 by six leading Illinois funders. It continues to be supported by The Boeing Company, Grand Victoria Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation, McCormick Foundation, and J. B. and M. K. Pritzker Family Foundation.