The Online News Association (ONA) invites interested and qualified women to apply for this year’s Women’s Leadership Accelerator Program. The Women’s Leadership Accelerator is a yearlong intensive program that supercharges the leadership and management skills of women who are pushing digital innovation. Each year they welcome a cohort of women representing a range of backgrounds, expertise and newsrooms around the globe.
The Women’s Leadership Accelerator kicks off at the University of California Los Angeles with an intensive week of mentoring, discussion and learning from some of the top minds in digital media. Participants work closely with mentors on challenges unique to their careers and also receive support and coaching from ONA throughout the year.
The Women’s Leadership Accelerator provides:
- A week of hands-on personal and professional work; candid discussions about leadership, work-life balance and problem-solving in the newsroom; deep dives on developing leadership and management skills; inspiring visits to digital media organizations; and one-on-one mentoring from industry leaders.
- A year of check-ins and practical, targeted guidance and personal coaching on individual challenges.
- Registration, travel and accommodations for the 2020 Online News Association Conference (ONA20) in Atlanta.
- A half-day workshop for women in the program during ONA20.
- The opportunity to be a part of a cohort of peers to serve as a strong career-long support system.
- The Women’s Leadership Accelerator training is tuition-free. They also provide breakfast, lunch and some dinners throughout the week in March. Participants will cover their own travel and accommodation costs. Travel costs will vary depending on your location.
- It’s completely appropriate to ask your employer to cover those costs — employers typically do cover travel costs since they know the program is a great investment. ONA realizes that not everyone has a newsroom to fund them or an organization with a budget for professional development, so they are happy to be able to offer a limited number of travel stipends to participants who need them.
- For the workshop at ONA’s annual conference, registration, travel to Atlanta and lodging (four nights in a shared room at the conference hotel) are included with the Accelerator. Participants will be responsible for their own meals and ground transportation.
Who is Eligible for Online News Association (ONA) Women’s Leadership Accelerator Program?
- Open female practitioners working in digital media, including freelancers, entrepreneurs and independent journalists, who are pushing innovation in digital media. This means they are looking for women who not only have an understanding of the digital journalism landscape but who are helping to advance it in innovative ways;
- Applicants should have leadership experience, which can mean managing people or projects, and be committed to further developing their skills. Innovation means different things in different markets, and they consider that when reviewing applications.
How to Apply
The application has five parts and is due by October 31, 2019. Applications and all submitted materials must be in English. Any links you provide as part of the application must be public, with no password required.
Based on feedback from past applicants, they highly encourage you to start by seeking your letter of recommendation. The coordination required to get a letter often takes time and relies on others to adapt to your schedule. Waiting to start this step has caused many applicants to miss the deadline.
- Section 1: Your bio: Provide name, bio, relevant online presences, photo, job title and relevant professional experience as presented in your resume. These questions help the organizers to learn more about who you are and, if you are selected, your bio will be posted publicly when the 2020 cohort is announced.
- Section 2: Your personal details: Provide details about where you live, how you identify yourself, your phone and email. The answers to these questions are confidential and help ONA staff and the selection committee better understand who applies to our programs, ensure a diverse cohort and that, if selected, you have a comfortable stay with us.
- Section 3: Your challenge: The Women’s Leadership Accelerator is aimed at leaders who are pushing innovation in digital media. In addition to learning leadership skills and tools for navigating change, you will get practical feedback on a challenge specific to your career — a realistic obstacle you’d like to overcome, or an aspirational goal you’d like to achieve, either within your organization or as an independent project. In the application, they ask three questions about your challenge:
- Describe the problem or challenge you are facing. (500 words or fewer)
- Why is it important to solve this challenge? (250 words or fewer)
- What do you hope to personally gain from participating in the Women’s Leadership Accelerator? (250 words or fewer)
- Details about your challenge are confidential and accessible only to ONA staff and select reviewers to understand what you want to get out of the program.
- Section 4: A digital project: The selection committee is looking for practitioners working in digital media, including freelancers, entrepreneurs and independent journalists. This means they are looking for women who not only have an understanding of the digital journalism landscape but who are helping to advance it. Sharing a digital project you have worked on gives ONA staff and the review committee a unique window into how you think. Please provide a link to a project you’re proud of and a brief description of how you were involved. (This project does not need to be directly connected to the challenge you’ve outlined above.) Length: 250 words or fewer.
- Section 5: Testimonial / letter of recommendation: One letter of recommendation from employer, professional colleague or business partner outlining your demonstrated leadership ability. Length: One typed page.