Requirements for the Women’s Leadership Accelerator

Applications for the 2024 cohort are closed. The deadline for submission of all application materials, including recommendation letters, was Friday, March 22, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

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, we highly encourage you to start by seeking your letter of recommendation. The letter of recommendation also must be submitted by the application deadline. 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 upload your resume. These questions help us to learn more about who you are and, if you are selected, your bio will be posted publicly as part of your bio when the 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 and pushing the industry forward. 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, we 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: Example of changemaking

The selection committee is looking for practitioners working in digital media, including freelancers, entrepreneurs and independent journalists who are working to create change within their organizations, and/or ultimately the journalism industry at-large. This means we’re looking for women who not only have an understanding of the digital journalism landscape but who are helping to advance it.

Sharing an example of how you have actively been working to create change in your organization and/or across the industry gives ONA staff and the review committee a unique window into how you envision the future of journalism. This example could include published work/a project done in an innovative way or be in the form of an initiative meant to drive positive change in your organization/the industry at large. If the example involved the work of a team, please be sure to focus on how you individually contributed. (This does not need to be directly connected to the challenge you’ve outlined above.)

Importantly: We know that sometimes traditional, published journalism does serve as a great example of changemaking – but we also know that innovative and changemaking work can be done beyond published bylines and publicly-visible initiatives. In asking for this example of changemaking, we hope to create a space for you to highlight any example, published or not, which helps to give the committee a full picture of your leadership approach and thought process.

Length: 250 words or fewer.

Section 5: Testimonial / letter of recommendation

One letter of recommendation from an employer, professional colleague or business partner outlining your demonstrated leadership ability. Please note we’ve heard this can be one of the more time-consuming aspects of the application, so you’ll want to get an early start on this, as the letter must also be submitted by your recommender by the March 22 deadline at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Length: One typed page, approximately 250 words or fewer.


Please also visit the program overview and FAQ pages. For additional questions, contact Learning Director Kelsey Proud at

The 2024 Women’s Leadership Accelerator is supported by lead funder Dow Jones Foundation with additional support from the Tiffany Shackelford Foundation and Ballard Spahr LLP. We seek funders for each new program. To learn more, contact ONA Head of Partnerships Hanaa Rifaey at

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