Emerson Collective

Encouraging individuals of exceptional talent and creativity to advance bold new projects in education, immigration, the environment, social justice, media, and health.

Visionary individuals from across disciplines pursuing bold new projects.

Arekia Bennett
Democracy Cohort
Civil Rights Activist

Arekia Bennett is the Executive Director of Mississippi Votes, a youth-centered organization fighting for electoral justice in a state known for especially strict voting laws. By establishing a training ground for young organizers, she’s helped to build Mississippi’s largest youth movement mobilizing the vote since Freedom Summer in 1964.

Vanessa Charlot
Democracy Cohort
Documentary Photographer

Vanessa is an award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker whose work explores the intersection of race, politics, culture, and gender expression. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker.

Shari Davis
Democracy Cohort
Participatory Budgeting Advocate

Shari Davis is the co-executive director of the Participatory Budgeting Project, a nonprofit that’s empowering everyday citizens to make decisions about how to spend public funds in more than 29 cities across the US and Canada.

Valeria Fernández
Democracy Cohort

Valeria Fernández is a journalist who’s reported for The Guardian, Associated Press, PRX, and more, and co-directed the documentary Two Americans. She is the Managing Editor of palabra., a digital news outlet covering stories from marginalized communities that have been disregarded in larger news outlets.

Eitan Hersh
Democracy Cohort
Political Scientist

Eitan Hersh studies voting and civic participation as an Associate Professor at Tufts University. His first book, Hacking the Electorate, explores the impact of campaign targeting and his second, Politics is for Power, serves as a handbook for any citizen wanting to engage in the political process.

Henry Honorof
Democracy Cohort

Henry Honorof is an organizer who tackles social problems in creative ways. As a young advocate in Oregon, he spearheaded the passage of America's first automatic voter registration law, and as Senior Housing Fellow at Data for Progress, he advised national campaigns and congressional offices on how to combat rising housing costs.

Justin Hendrix
Democracy Cohort

Justin Hendrix is the CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a nonprofit media venture exploring the impact of technology on democracy. He previously spent a dozen years at The Economist and eight years running NYC Media Lab. He’s also an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

Theodore R. Johnson
Democracy Cohort
Author & Political Scientist

Theodore R. Johnson is an author and political scientist exploring the complex interplay of race, identity, and democracy in the U.S. A former officer in the US Navy, he’s now director of the Fellows Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

Brianna Lennon & Eric Fey
Democracy Cohort
Election Administrators

Brianna Lennon is the County Clerk and Election Authority in Boone County, Missouri, and Eric Fey is the Director of Elections in St. Louis County. Together, they host the podcast High Turnout Wide Margins, in which they interview other election officials and experts about their work.

Tatenda Musapatike
Democracy Cohort
Digital Strategist

Tatenda Musapatike is the founder and CEO of The Voter Formation Project, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing participation in local, state, and national elections through digital ads and communication.

Peter Pomerantsev
Democracy Cohort

Peter Pomerantsev is a Soviet-born British author and the Director of Arena, a research program dedicated to understanding how to overcome disinformation and build a new democratic public sphere. He’s the author of two books on the topic: Nothing is True and Everything is Possible and This is Not Propaganda.

Shanna Singh Hughey
Democracy Cohort
Voting Rights Advocate

Shanna Singh Hughey is the founder of ThinkTennessee, a think tank working to protect voting rights and change systems that trap Tennesseans in poverty. Previously, she helped establish Nashville’s first Mayor’s Office of New Americans and worked for two U.S. Senators.

Robert Stewart
Democracy Cohort
Sociological Criminologist

Robert Stewart, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland, where he studies disenfranchisement, educational access for those with criminal convictions, and sentencing reform. He was previously the Director of Research for the Minnesota Justice Research Center.

Wendy Red Star
Democracy Cohort
Visual Artist

Wendy Red Star is a multimedia artist whose work offers accounts of American history that broaden flawed narratives about Native people. A member of the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe, she has exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MASS MoCA, Portland Art Museum, and many others.

Rev. Michael W. Waters
Democracy Cohort

Rev. Michael W. Waters is the pastor of Abundant Life African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas, where he uses the pulpit to champion civic action. He also serves as an adjunct professor at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

Chuck Yarborough
Democracy Cohort
History Teacher

Chuck Yarborough is a history teacher at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. Over two decades, he’s helped hundreds of students see the complex layers of history around them through innovative research projects and performance programs.

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Senior Fellow

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio is a writer from New York City whose work explores complex, stereotype-defying themes of migration, mental illness, beauty, and intergenerational drama.

Reginald Dwayne Betts
Senior Fellow
Poet & Lawyer

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and lawyer whose work explores the impact of violence and incarceration on American society. He is the Director of the Freedom Reads, an initiative to radically transform access to literature in prisons.

At Emerson Collective, we believe that individuals have the power to untangle hard problems with ingenuity, to excavate human truths through art, to bring justice to our most calcified systems. We believe that an individual voice can inspire us, unite us, and show us the way forward.

We also believe that such individual innovation requires both support and freedom to flourish — so that individuals can follow their creative instincts, take risks and make big bets, and set off on paths with unknown destinations.

Emerson Collective supports visionary individuals to pursue such intellectual, creative, and professional ambitions through the Emerson Collective Fellowship. Each Fellow’s work and projects advance the public understanding in Emerson Collective’s priority areas, creating new avenues for progress.

Often structured as one year of direct support, the Emerson Collective Fellowship is designed to help a remarkable individual advance a new project. With minimal ongoing programming, the fellowship gives individuals the autonomy to advance their current work, pursue exciting new chapters with unknown destinations, and make lasting breakthroughs. Emerson also works directly with Fellows to help their work reach greater exposure and impact.

Fellows are selected through an invitation-only application process. We select Fellows based on an established track record of excellence and originality; a deep engagement in education, immigration, social justice, the environment, and health; and the potential to pursue vital new work with the support of a fellowship.

Occasionally, an Emerson Collective Fellow will return as a Senior Fellow to pursue a new project or body of work over the course of 12 months. Emerson Collective Senior Fellows engage deeply with the extended Emerson Collective network, and their insight, creativity, and expertise help inform our priorities.

Emerson Collective Dial Fellowship
Equipping remarkable social entrepreneurs with new communications tools to strengthen their voices and extend the impact of their work.
New America Fellowship
In collaboration with New America, supporting writers, journalists, and storytellers in completing ambitious new book projects.