Collegiate Scholars director Ransom earns fellowship for work with students

Kim Ransom, founding director of the University of Chicago Collegiate Scholars Program, has been named a 2011 Chicago Community Trust fellow, in recognition of her work with top Chicago high school students.

Through Collegiate Scholars, Ransom helps high–achieving Chicago Public School students learn their educational options and obtain the tools to excel at the next level. More than half of all Collegiate Scholars are first–generation college students, and more than 80 percent are minorities.

“The fellowship could not have been awarded to a more deserving person,” said Sonya Malunda, Associate Vice President in the Office of Civic Engagement. “I look forward to witnessing how this leadership experience will help Kim strengthen and enhance the success she has already achieved with the Collegiate Scholars Program.”

Ransom is one of 10 fellows chosen from nearly 100 nonprofit applicants for their demonstrated leadership and commitment to their field. Founded in 1915, The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation helping donors support local organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago through the arts, basic human needs, community development, education and health.

“The community fellowship selection committee was very impressed with Ms. Ransom’s commitment to help public school students succeed at the top–tier universities,” says Ngoan Le, vice president of programs at the trust. “She also proves to have great potential to be a strong leader who can create greater positive impact for young people and the community.”

Ransom will receive $30,000 to fund professional development activities throughout 2011, resources she will use to explore the technical aspects of leadership — including organizational behavior, team development, strategic planning and capacity building — as well as what she calls “the spirit of leadership.”

“The spirit of leadership is what I call the ‘poetic thingamajig‘ that makes great leaders want to lead,” said Ransom. “It is the seed that lives inside them that drives them.”

As part of her leadership journey, Ransom will shadow five nonprofit leaders working on youth, education and health issues and eight Collegiate Scholars alumni; attend a series of executive leadership courses; and work with an executive coach.

Ransom, a Chicago native, will document her year through film, prose and poetry, culminating in a performance and presentation of her work to inspire other emerging leaders. She also looks forward to using the experience of her fellowship year to identify ways of enhancing education, particularly with the CPS.

“My hope is that I will be changed as a leader and that I will better know how to use my own gifts to make an even stronger impact on the work of helping Collegiate Scholars gain access to top universities but, even bigger than that, to help me understand how to build leadership in our young people,” Ransom said.