Applications open for a virtual 2021 Women’s Leadership Accelerator

ONA’s transformative leadership program goes fully online for 2021

By on October 28, 2020

If you are a woman in digital journalism who is looking for career support this year, I hope you apply to the 2021 Women’s Leadership Accelerator. You deserve a network that understands what you’re working on and can help you as you navigate your career.

Each year, we welcome a cohort of 26 women from a range of backgrounds who are looking for guidance around the challenges they’re facing in their leadership roles. Participants receive intensive training, connections to a robust network of journalism and business leaders and regular coaching on achieving their goals.

One cohort member described her Accelerator experience by saying, “I feel like I just learned that I’d been walking around a construction site with an empty tool belt. Thank you for opening up the world of tools that are available to me. But more than that, thank you for inducting me into this secret world of women helping women. That aspect of it was much more than I had bargained for.”

In 2021, we’ll offer the Women’s Leadership Accelerator fully online for the first time, to account for the ongoing conditions due to COVID19. We hope this expands access to women who have previously not been able to travel to the in-person training. We’ll host our intensive training week March 22-27 and host up to three online sessions between March and October. We’ll finish our programming with a closing workshop in the fall, timed around ONA’s annual conference. As in previous years, all of the participants of the 2021 Women’s Leadership Accelerator will also get free registration to ONA’s annual conference.

We’ve been offering online training for years, and we’re confident the 2021 program will provide all the rich learning experiences and connections the Accelerator is known for. Since 2017, the Accelerator has been hosting virtual workshops to keep our cohorts connected throughout their program year, with regular check-ins helping strengthen connections between a geographically-distributed cohort. In 2020, we pivoted the majority of our programming online as restrictions around the world made it impossible for our group to travel to be together.

We are excited about offering this program online this year not only because we have seen big impacts from the virtual work that we’ve done so far—we’re also excited because it is clear that women need support during this time in which so many people are juggling the intense demands of work, the protracted effects of the pandemic and the rigorous demands of the news cycle.

Over and over again, we’ve heard from women in the program that the year of training from us and learning from their peers has been transformative, both personally and professionally.

Feedback from alumna testifies to the Accelerator’s value and impact: “The program is a transformative experience that offers both professional and personal fulfillment. We’re plugged into a much larger network of newsroom leaders who are eager to learn from each other and help others succeed. Participating in the program is one of the best things a digital journalist can do for herself.”

If you’re considering applying to the program, I highly recommend that you do. If you’ve applied before and not been admitted, please know  that we have accepted people who had applied previously to the program each year since our inaugural program launched. If you’re questioning if you’re qualified, push yourself to apply — both because research shows that women often talk themselves out of applying for things that they are qualified for and because we’ve designed the application to help give you more clarity on what you’re working on now. Even if you don’t get into this year’s Accelerator, we hope that filling out the application itself is a useful exercise for you.

If you have questions, please check out our FAQ or get in touch with us at accelerator@journalists.org.

If you’re looking to support the program, our Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer Jessica Strelitz, jessica@journalists.org, would love to talk with you about it. You’ll join a stellar, global group of sponsors — including our continuing lead sponsor Dow Jones Foundation and supporting funder the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as well as educational programs, nonprofits, technology firms, media companies, journalism fellowships and other brands that help us keep this program 100% tuition-free for women in digital media. Learn more here.


Program Supporters

The 2021 Women’s Leadership Accelerator is supported by lead funder Dow Jones Foundation, and additional support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Dow Jones Foundation

To learn more about supporting the program, contact Jessica Strelitz, Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer, at jessica@journalists.org.

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Jennifer Mizgata

Jennifer Mizgata is Director of Programs at the Online News Association. She focuses on identifying talented digital journalists and innovative journalism projects and providing them with support.