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The Challenge

The Challenge

The City of Poughkeepsie is located 68 miles north of New York City and is situated within Dutchess County and the Mid-Hudson Valley region. Famously known as, “The Queen City on the Hudson,” it is a place of great historical significance, experiencing a rapid urban revitalization that provides a once-in-a generation opportunity to catalyze a renaissance rooted in principles of equity and inclusion. The nonprofit architecture firm MASS Design Group has labeled Poughkeepsie a “fringe city” due to its size, racial and socioeconomic disparities and unique challenges in recovering from the scars of urban renewal. Lead for Poughkeepsie strives to shift this narrative and transform our image from a ‘fringe city’ into a demonstration city. 


Despite the pioneering and enterprising history of the Hudson Valley (and the City of Poughkeepsie in particular) the region is experiencing an outflux of educated young professionals that threatens the social, civic, and economic future of the region. Data from the nonprofit think tank Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress show that between 2000 and 2017 the number of jobs held by 22-45 year olds declined by 9%. By sector, the number of jobs held by 22-45 year olds declined by 30% in Public Administration between 2000 and 2017. 


Moreover, the impact of these trends is amplified in Poughkeepsie relative to the larger region and Dutchess County, as Poughkeepsie experiences severe economic, educational, and political disparities compared to neighboring communities. In the 2018-19 academic year, the Poughkeepsie City School District reported a 54% high school graduation rate compared to a rate of 85% in Dutchess County. The household median income in Poughkeepsie is $42,296 compared to $78,028 in Dutchess County, where 73% of public school students are from economically disadvantaged households. Additionally, home ownership rates in the City of Poughkeepsie are 34% while the rate is 69% in Dutchess County. 

Lead for Poughkeepsie aims to address these opportunity gaps by spearheading the development of a place-based movement that empowers young people in Poughkeepsie to tackle pressing public problems in our City in collaboration with nonprofits, government agencies and other social impact organizations.


Our Vision


That Poughkeepsie becomes a place that is:

A vibrant and inclusive place to live

A city that has a robust pipeline of public leaders and entrepreneurs 


Serves as a convening place for people from around the region and the world.

About LFPK

Our Mission

To advance a citywide movement of civic renewal that focuses on: 

1) Attracting and retaining talent across all sectors in the greater Poughkeepsie region and training that talent to be civic leaders.


2) Creating new public narratives that position Poughkeepsie globally and connect its emerging leaders to local, regional and national social change ecosystems, resources and organizations.

3) Collaborating with local school systems and higher education institutions to develop customized civic engagement and leadership programming that increases students’ involvement in the community and desire to stay and/or return after graduation.

Our Approach

Our signature program is the LFPK Hometown Fellowship. We recruit, train, and place young leaders with ties to the City of Poughkeepsie in two-year paid hometown fellowships in mission-driven organizations with bold visions that often lack the capacity to attract and retain the next generation of civic leaders to carry it forward. Learn more about our LFPK Fellowship Program and how to apply to be a fellow here.


LFPK is a local affiliate of Lead for America (LFA), a national 501c(3), sharing national recruitment, operations and programmatic support. We are working towards place-based revival through the three Lead for America pillars of Education, Pathways and Systems Change.

​LFPK Fellows are part of LFA's national movement of changemakers. They attend the annual Changemaker Summit, build an intimate network of locally-rooted leaders, engage in the wide breadth of LFA programming across core pillars, and have access to LFA's national network of leading mentors - which includes mayors & elected officials, Nobel Peace Prize nominees, scholarly experts, and community leaders.

Become a Fellow
Co-Created Project Scope
Each Fellow's Project Scope is generated by the local community and adapted to take advantage of the Fellow's unique skills, passions, and talents. Fellowship applicants can initiate project scope and hosting conversations with a potential host in their hometown, and therein co-design a unique project scope that activates the passions of the Fellow as well as respond to a significant challenge facing the community. In pre-confirmed placements, Fellows work on community challenges specifically crafted by the Host Community for the purpose of the fellowship, and is further refined through a joint Envisioning Meeting between the Host and Fellow.

Entrepreneurial Community Venture
Fellows conduct a Listening Tour of their community within the first quarter of their Fellowship, which inspires them to launch a Community Venture that is led by the Fellow and supported by community leaders. The Venture can be tangential to their Project Scope, or completely different. Fellows receive mentorship, inspiration, and model play-books from the LFA network to kickstart, implement, finance, and sustain their own Venture. Though localized to specific contexts, every Venture is designed with the aim of building relational and civic capacity within their community. Across the Project Scope and Community Venture, Fellows are empowered to do meaningful, imaginative, and transformative work.  

By Year 2 of the Fellowship, each Fellow is expected to recruit an additional 5-10 young leaders to return, move to, or become activated to serve in their home community. This can look like attracting additional young leaders to apply for the Fellowship, get involved in your Community Venture, take on a full-time employment role in your community, bring their business to Poughkeepsie, etc. 

Training + Education
Fellows receive training that grounds the fellowship in the relational foundation of community renewal & innovation. The Catalyst Institute partners with higher education institutions including Harvard Kennedy School, Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University and other Lead for America institutional partners. Additionally LFPK Fellows will participate in local City of Poughkeepsie trainings and programming with leading social impact organizations and civic leaders from the Mid-Hudson Valley Region. 

National Network
Fellows are part of a national network and movement of bright young leaders from across the country. In addition to being together for the Changemaker Summit and Catalyst Institute, they share learnings, challenges, and support one another through pod calls, retreats, fellow exchanges, and the building of lifelong friendships. 


Become a Fellow

Host a Fellow

Host a Fellow

Welcome Diverse, Trained Talent
Fellows possess extraordinary integrity, drive, and commitment to public service. Each has access to a variety of mentors, trainings and conferences. Fellows receive a world class education in public administration and civic leadership from faculty from top institutions of higher education and local civic and corporate leaders, helping bolster their ability to contribute.

Address Immediate Workforce Challenges
Our training is designed to make our Fellows real contributors in your organization from the start. You should challenge the Fellows to tackle significant, tough problems.​ For outstanding host organizations that cannot pay for the full cost of the Fellow's scholarship, we may be able to work with your organization to raise funds through community philanthropies.

Make a Long-Term Investment 
Fellows are encouraged to work with partners in the community, including public institutions, small businesses and community-based nonprofits for four of the next seven years. Some will also be helping mentor, teach, or otherwise engage high school students. ​Fellows are selected for their demonstrated commitment to the community or region. 

Connect With Civically-Minded Organizations
We believe it is important that we connect our host institutions and organizational partners to one another. As such, all hosts are invited  to join our online community of forward-thinking community organizations. All hosts will also benefit from the resources of our higher education partners. 
Our Staff

Our Staff


Lead For Poughkeepsie,


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Lead For Poughkeepsie,


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Lead For Poughkeepsie,

Deputy Program Director

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Lead For Poughkeepsie, Program Director

Our Partners

Our Partners

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