Hutchinson Named Obama Fellow

Hindman Settlement School’s Executive Director Selected for Obama Foundation Fellowship

Dr. Brent Hutchinson among diverse set of 20 civic innovators from around the world to scale impact of community-driven work

Dr. Brent Hutchinson

Today, Hindman Settlement School’s Executive Director, Dr. Brent Hutchinson, was selected by the Obama Foundation to join the second ever Fellows class. Selected among a global pool of applicants, Brent will join a two-year, non-residential program that brings together 20 leaders representing 10 countries and five continents who are creating transformational change on many of the world’s most pressing problems. The Obama Foundation selected Dr. Hutchinson to continue Hindman Settlement School’s work on honoring the past, improving the present, and planning for the future of central Appalachia.

“The Obama Foundation Fellowship is the paramount experience in leadership immersion, strategic visioning, and networking for civic innovators, and this opportunity for a guy born and raised in eastern Kentucky is both humbling and deeply stirring,” Dr. Hutchinson said. “With the Obama Foundation Fellowship, this opportunity to lift up the good work of Hindman Settlement School in helping new and future generations of Central Appalachians thrive where they live is unmatched. I could not be more honored or thrilled.”

From re-investing in homegrown agriculture in rural areas, to strengthening black and native communities’ role in combating the effects of climate change, these civic innovators will work with the Obama Foundation on ways to scale their work and inspire others to engage in their communities. The Fellowship offers hands-on training, leadership development, and a powerful platform for Fellows to amplify the impact of their work and inspire a wave of civic innovation. These rising leaders join the current class of 20 Obama Fellows selected in 2018.

“The 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows are tackling big, complex issues in unique and inspiring ways but all share the common practice of making positive change in their communities,” said David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation. “After welcoming a historic inaugural Fellows class last year, we are excited to bring together a new group of civic innovators and amplify their work. These leaders are taking off, and I look forward to working with this remarkable group and watching them transform the world for the better.”

Over the course of the two-year program, Obama Foundation Fellows will participate in four multi-day gatherings to develop key skills, connect with thought leaders and potential partners, and collaborate with one another. The first Fellows gathering will be in Washington, D.C., in May and will also include the members of the 2018 inaugural Fellows cohort.

Each Fellow will develop and pursue with the Foundation a personalized plan to leverage the Fellowship and Obama Foundation resources to take their work to the next level. As Fellows put their plans into action, the Obama Foundation will assist with access to mentors, coaches, and additional resources and opportunities. These offerings have helped the first Fellows class build their organizational capacity, overcome leadership challenges, and work with new partners to deepen their impact.

The work of the 2019 Fellows will support the Obama Foundation’s broader mission to inspire, empower, and connect the next generation of civic leaders. Geographic location, community engagement, commitment to the Obama Foundation’s values, and proven impact all factored into the selection process.

To learn more about the Obama Foundation Fellowship and the 2019 Fellows, please visit A list of 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows can be found below.

  • Bella Alexandrov
  • Dedo Baranshamaje
  • Colette Pichon Battle
  • Derrick Braziel
  • Ciara Byrne
  • Johnny Chatterton
  • Tarun Cherukuri
  • Charles Daniels
  • Shari Davis
  • Aimée Eubanks Davis
  • Mario Fedelin
  • Seema Gajwani
  • Brent Hutchinson
  • Joseph Kunkel
  • John Leong
  • Esther Mwaniki
  • Hue Thu Nguyen
  • Alessandra Orofino
  • Tania Rosas
  • Ayman Sabae


Hindman Settlement School, located in the heart of Appalachian Kentucky, was founded in 1902 as the first rural social settlement in the United States. Since its founding, the Settlement has sought to provide education and service opportunities for people of the mountains, while keeping them mindful of their heritage. While our mission has remained the same, our programs have evolved over time to meet the changing needs of the region. The Settlement’s major work today includes education and service programs that address critical educational needs of the region’s youth, promote cultural awareness, and address emerging issues of health and food insecurity through increased access to nutritious, locally-grown foods. For more information, visit