Introducing the Encore Public Voices Fellowship

The Encore Public Voices Fellowship is a prestigious year-long initiative to accelerate the ideas and impact of 20 new and necessary thought leaders working at the intersection of aging/longevity, intergenerational connection and social justice.

Many parts of the world are rapidly aging. In the United States, we have added more than 30 years to life expectancy in the past century, but not across the board. Whites live longer than people of color. Women live longer than men. And the richest Americans live 10-15 years longer than the poorest. In 2019, for the first time ever, there are more people over the age of 60 than under the age of 18. The ripple effects of these shifts will affect every aspect of society.

We need better and faster ideas from a more diverse set of people of all ages, including those who are most impacted by the uneven implications of these realities, and thus most likely to see new solutions and envision a more just future. The Encore Public Voices Fellowship is a collaboration among The OpEd Project,, and Ann MacDougall and is part of The OpEd Project’s national Public Voices initiative to change who writes history.

Participants will receive extraordinary support, skills and mentoring to ensure their ideas shape the greater public conversation. All participants will publish at least two written pieces (hopefully many more) during their fellowship. Read this summary oped to learn how the first 20 fellows are changing the national conversation. 

After a highly successful pilot year, we are looking for community and business leaders, activists, entrepreneurs, writers, educators, researchers and other thinkers. We are committed to building a cohort that is inclusive across all identities and backgrounds. We will take into account a variety of factors, including but not limited to race/ethnicity, geography, age, gender and area of expertise. During our pilot year, over half of the cohort consisted of people of color. is an innovation hub and catalyst, working to realize the potential of longer lives and intergenerational connection to solve our most pressing social problems.

The OpEd Project is a think tank and leadership organization that expands history by accelerating the ideas and public impact of new and necessary voices, including women of all backgrounds.

Ann MacDougall, former president of, serves as a senior advisor to the Encore Public Voices Fellowship.

Our Advisory Council is comprised of a small group of outstanding social innovators and media professionals. Members include Ellen Goodman (Chair), Sylvia Brown, Mary C. Curtis, Ken Dychtwald, Raymond Jetson, Katie Orenstein, Trabian Shorters and Lester Strong. They will advise on strategy, recruitment of candidates and fellow selection, and may participate as guest speakers.


The Public Voices Fellowship is part of an ambitious national initiative to change who writes history. Launched by The OpEd Project in collaboration with a core group of institutional partners, including Yale, Northwestern, the Ford Foundation and a dozen others, we have had extraordinary success accelerating the ideas and impact of new and necessary voices at the highest levels in their fields, including women of all backgrounds. Watch this short video to hear how last year’s fellows describe their experiences. 

Fellows will be chosen through a competitive selection process. The 2019-20 fellowship targets leaders across all fields and generations who are working somewhere in the intersection of aging, longevity, intergenerational connection and social justice. We strongly encourage people in adjacent fields to apply provided they have a clear and demonstrated desire and ability to contribute to the public dialogue on these issues. Areas of focus could include intergenerational activism, ageism, encore careers, financial security/insecurity, climate change activism as a “legacy” to our descendants, outdated retirement policies, etc.

Selection criteria includes work history, professional track record, and desire to help change the cultural narrative.


  • Year-long program
  • Up to 20 fellows
  • Four interactive day-long seminars in NYC designed to expand thinking and deepen expertise (dates are: September 26-27, 2019; December 3, 2019; March 6, 2020; and May 8, 2020)
  • Dedicated editors (top journalists) to provide regular, hands-on, one-on-one support/editing/coaching  
  • Access to ongoing mentoring for the fellowship year
  • A limited number of travel stipends for those who need them


Guided by the belief that the aging of America is every bit as much an opportunity to be seized as a problem to be solved, tells a new story about the possibilities of an older America, creates new ways to enable people of all ages to contribute more fully to their communities, and seeds a movement built around these ideas. We hope to change both the conversation and reality around the years after 50, not just for the enormous cohort of baby boomers, but also for generations to come.

There are barriers to this exciting vision. Ageism remains pervasive. Neither government nor big business have been especially innovative or supportive of policies or programs to prepare experienced people for new roles. And there are scant pathways and opportunities for individuals to get from their midlife work to a new chapter, often called an encore career. Many people in this life stage find themselves in difficult financial circumstances, without the resources to weather later life. And sadly, some low-income communities are missing out on these “bonus years” altogether. has been a leader in this space for the past two decades, working to normalize the idea of people in this life stage as a force for social good. Scores of leaders (the vanguard of an emerging encore movement) are now engaged in thought leadership in this area, but this issue has not yet become part of a mainstream, public conversation. Rather, it is driven by a small chorus of people who are not reflective of the diversity of our population.


We are not interested in providing a service, as much as creating an outcome. Our goal is 100% success: we envision that every participant will produce tangible pieces of thought leadership in influential places (which may include op-eds, speeches, radio/TV appearances, proposals for new initiatives or businesses, and more), and that these will greatly accelerate their impact as thought leaders shaping history. Longer term, we aim to build a thriving and connected community of Encore Public Voices Fellows across cohorts.  


These FAQs relate to all Public Voices Fellowships managed by The OpEd Project.