Lutheran Services in America Lived Voices Fellowship


Apply today to this inaugural, transformative leadership development experience intended to support and elevate people with lived experience working to empower children, youth, families and communities.

About the Fellowship

The Lived Voices Fellowship, a program of the Lutheran Services in America Faith, Families and Community Partnerships Initiative (a collaboration with ELCA World Hunger), is a transformative leadership development experience designed to amplify the unique perspectives and experiences of people who have navigated public systems (e.g., anti-poverty programs, child welfare, public housing, etc.) and are poised for expanded leadership in their organization and/or community.

This immersive nine-month program (March – November 2024), targeted to leaders in the Lutheran Services in America and ELCA World Hunger communities, goes beyond traditional leadership development by centering on the lived experiences of participants and emphasizing a healing-centered approach.

At the heart of the fellowship is the vision of creating a space where experiences and voices that have often been marginalized in practice and policy can take center stage, including through influence on the broader Lutheran Services in America community of 300 nonprofit organizations working in 1,400 U.S. communities.

Fellows will emerge with both expanded leadership capacity and a more robust professional network to support their efforts to drive positive change within systems of care and beyond.

Program Highlights

There are three core program elements to the fellowship:

  1. Healing-centered Exploration: Fellows will be guided to engage with a Healing Centered Engagement (HCE) Team of other fellows. The HCE goal is to develop a liberatory culture within the fellowship that enables their leadership journey and communal aspirations.
  2. Community-building and Village Creation: Through group activities, professional exchange with the Lutheran Services in America network and collaborative projects, fellows will forge deep connections, creating a supportive network that extends beyond the program and serving as a source of strength, encouragement and wisdom.
  3. Grassroots Leadership Development: The program is crafted to strengthen the skills and knowledge needed to expand fellows’ grassroots leadership. Workshops and skill-building focus on strategies such as community organizing, advocacy, and the development of sustainable initiatives aimed at addressing housing security, family resilience and raising cultural awareness.

Fellowship Activities and Obligations

Fellows commit to four (4) hours of scheduled leadership development per month, as well as one two and a half-day meeting in Washington, D.C. and occasional professional exchange meetings. 

Fellows are specifically committing to attend:

  • Monthly obligations (4 hours per month):
    • 3-hour virtual fellowship meetings from March – November 2024 (8 sessions)
      • For required dates, please see the table at the end of this webpage
    • 1-hour small group Healing Centered Engagement Peer Coaching (7 sessions)
  • In-person fellowship gathering (2.5 days):
    • Two and a half-day interactive in-person convening in Washington, D.C. August 7-9, 2024 (all travel, lodging and incidentals costs covered by Lutheran Services in America)
  • Other meetings:
    • Coaching/interaction with fellowship facilitators (occasional, but including a 30-minute introductory coaching call at the launch of the fellowship)
    • 1-hour meetings, three times during the fellowship, to build relationships with leaders in the Lutheran Services in America network (3 meetings)

Fellowship Facilitators

Dr. Denicia Carlay currently serves as co-founder and co-CEO of Village is Possible. Denicia is a community healer, complex trauma survivor, scholar, practitioner, and village keeper. Denicia roots her practice in love and restoration of inner light. She specializes in embodied, healing centered engagement with children, youth, and families. Denicia has served foster care and juvenile justice impacted youth in various capacities as a social worker, consultant, clinician, and facilitator in the field of child welfare for 16 years. She holds a Doctorate of Educational Leadership in Social Justice, Licensure in Clinical Social Work, and Pupil Personnel Services Credential, but with all these degrees and things Denicia just hopes to someday be the “hood mama” for her entire village and anyone in need of community.

Shannon Scott is the founder of Our Lived Experience (OLE) and J8 Consulting. Her experience includes both U.S. based and international not-for-profits. Shannon began her career in education as a teacher with Teach For America and continued her work in education reform in the Teach For All network. She was the founding Leadership Development Officer at Teach For Malaysia and launched the first leadership development continuum for Teach For America’s work in the Mississippi Delta. For the last six years, she’s run a national leadership development fellowship in child welfare, working in 15 different states, DC, and Puerto Rico. Shannon deeply values adult learning and leadership development.

Who Should Apply

To be eligible for the Lived Voices Fellowship, applicants must be either employed or serving in a volunteer capacity for an organization in the Lutheran Services in America community or with an ELCA World Hunger grantee or the ELCA itself.

In addition, applicants must be seeking an opportunity to tap into their own lived experiences to create positive change. While there is no one type of lived experience that is a requirement for the fellowship, applicants are expected to have lived experience navigating public systems. Given the focus of the Faith, Families and Community Partnerships Initiative, relevant lived experience would be experiences with poverty, housing insecurity or homelessness, food insecurity, child welfare involvement, carceral system (juvenile justice involvement) and economic insecurity.

Given the intensity of the fellowship and the purpose, ideal applicants will have a demonstrated commitment to the organization and/or initiative for which they currently work or volunteer.

Is the Fellowship Paid?

No, the fellowship is not paid, but does come with a professional stipend directly to the fellow of $2,000 to offset various costs of participation (e.g., child care, supplies, etc.).

How to Apply

To apply, prospective Fellows must submit an online application here no later than February 9, 2024. After review by Lutheran Services in America staff, candidates who successfully move through the application stage will proceed to a virtual interview. After each stage of review, fellows will be promptly notified of their status and any potential next steps in the process. Final fellowship decisions are expected to be made no later than March 1, 2024.

In the application, fellows are expected to attest that their organization, whether employed within or as a volunteer, is supportive of their participation and will enable participation during traditional work hours. fellows will be required to provide an organizational contact as a reference.

Fellows will also be required to attest they can attend and participate in all required activities and complete the full fellowship.


Explore frequently asked questions by visiting our dedicated FAQ page.

If you have additional questions about the fellowship or would like to discuss the opportunity prior to the application, please reach out to Renada Johnson.

Required Monthly Meeting Dates and Date of In-Person Convening

March 2024

Thursday, March 14 @ 1-4 PM ET

Week of March 18 – Peer Coaching Session

April 2024

Thursday, April 11 @ 1-4 PM ET

Week of April 15 – Peer Coaching Session

May 2024

Thursday, May 9 @ 1-4 PM ET

Week of May 13 – Peer Coaching Session

June 2024

Thursday, June 13 @ 1-4 PM ET

Week of June 17 – Peer Coaching Session

July 2024

Thursday, July 11 @ 1-4 PM ET 

Week of July 17 – Peer Coaching Session

August 2024

Wednesday, Thursday, and ½ day Friday, August 7-9

In-person convening in Washington D.C. (2.5 days)

September 2024

Thursday, September 12 @ 1-4 PM ET

Week of September 16 – Peer Coaching Session

October 2024

Thursday, October 10 @ 1-4 PM ET

Week of October 14 – Peer Coaching Session

November 2024

Thursday, November 14 @ 1-4 PM ET


Renada Johnson
Senior Director of Children, Youth and Family Initiatives