Could you be a future political, business, or civic leader?

Applications open for fellowship programme described as ‘an opportunity to reimagine leadership’

Fellowship programme launched
First and deputy First Ministers Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly, and Fellowship advisory board chair Darragh McCarthy, launch the 2024/25 Fellowship Programme along with some of the 2023/24 alumni (Kelvin Boyes)

Applications have opened for the fourth year of a fellowship programme introduced to unearth future political, business, and civic leaders in the north.

Run by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB) charity, the programme is widely seen as an opportunity to reimagine leadership, support the peace process, and strengthen democracy.

The seven-month programme will see 24 ambitious leaders seek to support the peace process, foster innovation and capacity building, and encourage collaborative decision-making so that leaders across society are strengthened and equipped to navigate through complexity and deliver real change for the benefit of all.

Among it 70-plus alumni are current Stormont finance minister Caoimhe Archibald, MLAs Deborah Erskine, Cheryl Brownlee and Áine Murphy, and Dorinnia Carville, comptroller and auditor general at the NI Audit Office.

The fellowship programme is supported by the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Irish American Partnership, as well as some of the north’s biggest employers including Allstate NI, Camlin Group, FinTrU, Fujitsu NI, NIE Networks and Ulster Carpets.

Fellowship programme launched
First Minister Michelle O’Neill and deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly with Fellowship advisory board chair Darragh McCarthy at the launch of the 2024 Programme (Kelvin Boyes)

Through bespoke sessions delivered by leaders in the top of their field, including academics and diplomats, applicants are challenged to step outside of their comfort zone and harness the spirit of possibility, tackling important issues such as climate and energy, policy and governance as well as taking part in the popular residential sessions at the University of Oxford and in Dublin.

Fellowship advisory board chair Darragh McCarthy, who is founder and chief executive of FinTrU, said: “The Fellowship Programme speaks for itself as a fantastic platform for ambitious Northern Ireland leaders, as witnessed by the talented group of people at this year’s launch.

“It is brilliant to have the support of the First and deputy First Ministers for this important programme, to recognise the potential in bringing these cohorts together to spark new conversations about the future of Northern Ireland.

“I look forward to seeing what unique and varied skills the next Fellows will bring and how they will shape each other for the better as leaders in society.”

Applications for the 2024/25 Fellowship Programme will close on Wednesday 19 June. To apply or find out more, visit: