Senior Fellows Network

The Senior Fellows Network is comprised of distinguished international civil society leaders committed to collaborative efforts that address the underlying causes of poverty and inequity.

Launched in 1999, the Senior Fellows program links extraordinary civil society leaders in a worldwide learning, service and action network. The network aims to strengthen the capacity and opportunities for these leaders to be catalysts and play a major role in partnerships that address the systemic causes of poverty and promote sustainable social change.


2009 Global Senior Fellows meeting in New York City.

Through the three-year fellowship, Fellows have the opportunity to enhance their skills, knowledge, and experience through peer-to-peer learning, annual and regional meetings, learning journeys, workshops, and contact with eminent persons. They exchange innovative ideas, models, and tools in the development field, which Synergos distributes to a wider audience. The Fellows also have opportunities to connect and collaborate with other distinguished change makers in the development field aligned with Synergos, including philanthropists and foundations, non-governmental organizations, businesses, governments, global institutions and academics.

The Senior Fellows program is administered in partnership with The Synergos Institute Canada and is made possible in part thanks to support from Kim Samuel Johnson.

Who Are the Senior Fellows?

“Synergos has deepened my commitment to the development sector. It has inspired me when I felt like throwing in the towel and it has rejuvenated me when I felt depleted from my work. Other Senior Fellows have guided me when I have asked for support and ideas.” Afsaneh Tabrizi, Chief Operational Officer, Shisaka Development Management Services, South Africa

Senior Fellows are individuals who:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to changing the systems that perpetuate poverty and social injustice.
  • Possess a compelling vision about solving complex, systemic problems of poverty, inequity and social injustice.
  • Are leaders who believe in the power of partnerships and exhibit that belief in the way they conduct their work.
  • Recognize the importance of tapping the wisdom, knowledge, views, and experience of all stakeholders in identifying and solving problems.
  • Are viewed as a respected leader and advocate by those who are poor and/or marginalized.

There are 144 current and alumni Synergos Senior Fellows from more than 50 countries.

Network Activities and Benefits

Program Activities and Expectations
  • Attend Senior Fellows global, regional, and country events
  • Participate in peer consulting or learning exchanges with other Fellows
  • Connect to people, ideas, and other resources through Synergos' global networks
  • Contribute to Synergos’ body of shared knowledge by the means of research, articles, and tools

The Senior Fellows Network seeks to increase individual and group effectiveness of the Fellows through peer learning and service, global networking, convening and collaboration, and knowledge creation and dissemination.

As a result of these activities Fellows develop communities of practice on issues impacting poverty, share models that address poverty in systemic ways, generate inclusive partnerships, enhance their “bridging”leadership capacity and deepen their connection between personal and social transformation.

Peer Learning and Service

Senior Fellows develop knowledge, skills and institutional capacity to engage viably and substantively in multi-stakeholder partnerships that address the systemic causes of poverty and promote sustainable social change.

Fellows sharpen their leadership skills, share knowledge of models and strategies and draw upon the experience of their peers to learn new competencies to take back to their organizations.

Senior Fellows also provide strategic and technical advice to one another and, on occasion, to third party civil society organizations through peer consulting sessions, exchanges and field assignments in their area of expertise. These exchanges and assignments not only grow the capacity of others, but also expand the Fellow’s own networks and skills.

Global Networking, Convening and Collaboration

“Fighting poverty involves facilitating attitude changes. We constantly search for the ways and tools to do that and that search cannot be realized without feedback. Synergos Senior Fellows are the world in its diversity and wisdom, and by blending various experiences it provides the answers we seek. I am privileged to be a part of this world.”Vadim Samorodov, Program Manager, Global Fund for Community Foundations

Synergos has established an active global network to enable social activists, social entrepreneurs, social investors, and key partners to exchange expertise and experience, form inter-institutional linkages, gain a deeper understanding of how they can be more effective in their work, and, where desired, collaborate. Through this process, we are creating a reliable support and exchange system that allows civil society leaders to draw upon peer assistance over the long term. Fellows also gain international exposure, perspectives, and camaraderie.

Synergos also connects Fellows to far-reaching networks, including the Global Philanthropists Circle.

Our networking and convening activities include annual global meetings, regional and issue meetings, retreats, speaking engagements and access to our online network and resources.

Knowledge Production and Dissemination

All papers, presentations, models, tools, and studies created by Fellows are collected, organized and disseminated. Knowledge products explore practical, theoretical and conceptual topics. Distribution is made to the Fellows’ institutions and many organizations worldwide.

From Fellowship to a Lifelong Network

The Fellowship lasts three years, and the Fellows take part in activities while performing their full-time professional responsibilities. Senior Fellows attend global and regional events, are available for peer consulting, exchange and field service opportunities, and contribute to the advancing of knowledge in the development field. Synergos covers all the costs of these activities during the three years of the program, but Synergos Fellows remain part of the Fellows Network and are encouraged to continue their participation in events, call on their colleagues, and receive their support thereafter.

Becoming a Senior Fellow

Synergos recruits a new class of Senior Fellows every year. Applications are open to individuals in civil society organizations from anywhere in the world who possess exceptional leadership qualities and are committed to working across sectors to make a positive contribution in addressing issues of poverty alleviation, equity or social justice.

Major Funders

The Senior Fellows Program has been supported by donors including American Express, Deutsche Bank, International Development Research Centre of Canada, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Lavender Funds with the Community Foundation of Louisville, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Kim Samuel, and Shell.

For More Information

Please contact:
Senior Fellows Program
Tel +1-646-963-2199
Fax +1-646-201-5220
apply@synergos.org