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Important Update about the LAF Fellowship

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is planning a “Growth and Strategy” year for the LAF Fellowship to strengthen and build upon this signature program.

The 8th cohort of the LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership is underway and will culminate with our June 2025 symposium. For the following fellowship cycle, LAF will take a time-out to further develop ideas about how we can build from this signature program to increase impact. As such, the next year the LAF Fellowship will be offered is 2026-27, and we will begin accepting applications for cohort 9 in summer 2025.

“We believe that the LAF Fellowship, the community we’ve created, and our work to build transformational leadership capacity have even more potential,” said LAF CEO Barbara Deutsch, FASLA. “The ‘Growth and Strategy’ year will allow us to reflect, test, and put structures in place to tap that unrealized value and foster greater impact.”  

Launched in 2016, the LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership was conceived as an opportunity for landscape architecture professionals to take a time-out from the routine of a career to think deeply and pursue a passion project with the potential to bring about impactful change to the environment and humanity. Fellows explore transformational leadership and build their capacity as changemakers.

Over the program’s first 8 years, participants have pursued projects covering a wide range of issues such as artificial intelligence, biodiversity, carbon accounting, K-12 career discovery, and designing with and for marginalized communities. As leaders, the LAF Fellows have gone on to found nonprofit organizations, earn positions with greater leadership responsibilities and authority, publish books, assume pioneering professional roles, and become voices on critical issues. They are leading transformation within the landscape architecture discipline and society.

Since the first cohort began in May 2017, the LAF Fellowship has run on an annual cycle with each new cohort beginning as the outgoing cohort finishes their fellowship year. The overlapping nature of this cycle provides valuable cross-cohort mentorship. However, it leaves little time for LAF to reflect on what we’ve learned from running the fellowship and to nurture emerging ideas – a key underpinning of the LAF Fellowship, itself. Although we’ve incorporated many smaller enhancements and held discussions on what’s next, the “Growth and Strategy” year will give us the time and space to pursue more substantial ideas that build from the fellowship.

During what would have been the 2025-26 fellowship year, LAF will take that time to:

  1. Strengthen. The LAF Fellowship program has evolved considerably over the last 7+ years as we learned, tested new engagement and delivery models during the pandemic, and incorporated input from the participants. In 2022, we conducted a formal program evaluation that yielded additional insights and recommendations. Taking a time-out from continuous program delivery will allow us to formalize and optimize the changes that have been made over time, as well as make additional enhancements.
  2. Leverage. Including cohort 8 currently in progress, LAF has invested in 49 LAF Fellows to date. We’ve seen throughlines within and across cohorts, as well as tendrils that extend into the larger landscape architecture community (and beyond!). LAF plans to explore what additional scaffolding we can provide to help catalyze and bolster these connections.
  3. Build Upon. The LAF Fellows have undoubtedly become transformational leaders on many different levels. By definition, transformational leadership involves inspiring growth and leadership in others, and the LAF Fellows carry this with them throughout their post-fellowship lives. Can LAF do more to support this multiplier effect? Are there other ways, such as additional program offerings, to expand the number of people we can reach? LAF will continue these discussions with the goal of developing and testing options during this time.

We launched the LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership to meet the urgent need for transformational leaders in landscape architecture as the world confronts the increasingly complex and interrelated challenges of the 21st century. LAF is deeply committed to this signature program and is excited for all that will come from our “fellowship” for the LAF Fellowship.

If you’ve considered applying for the LAF Fellowship, you have extra time to think about how you could use the time, funding, and support of this unique program to pursue your big idea. In the meantime, keep an eye on cohort 8!

LAF thanks the 143 donors to the LAF: 50 & Forward Campaign and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Grants for Arts Projects program for their support of the LAF Fellowship. Support for the fellowship and other initiatives that recognize and build transformational leadership capacity is also provided by LAF Leadership Program Sponsors: Landscape Forms and Bill Johnson in tribute to Carl Johnson and Clarence Roy.

LAF is grateful to the many individuals and organizations that provide financial support towards fulfilling our mission to support the preservation, improvement, and enhancement of the environment.

Much of what LAF is able to accomplish would not be possible without the thought leadership and financial investment of our major supporters, including ASLA, which provides over $125,000 of in-kind support annually.