What is an ALI Fellow?

To answer the question directly, an ALI Fellow is a woman between the ages of 18-25 pursuing a career in the arts.She is creative, passionate, and, after her year-long fellowship with Women’s ALI, she is one step closer to making her dreams a reality. In the most basic of terms an ALI Fellow benefits from:

  1. Attending our four-day Summer Leadership Intensive, created specifically for her, that focuses on various aspects of essential business and leadership skills for the arts.

  2. Being paired with a professional mentor through our Mentor Alliance Program for individual guidance in her specific field.

  3. Additional educational sessions throughout the year of her fellowship that are based on her requests.

  4. Connection and a community with generations of working women and other female artists from Utah universities and beyond

This list describes what an ALI Fellow is, but to be an ALI Fellow means so much more.

Remember when you were in Kindergarten and would race your friends around the swings, play hopscotch, and even make super-secret clubs? My club was a group of six girls called the Spy Kitties and our entire goal revolved around saving the world from the Evil Pizza Man. I don’t remember much about the Evil Pizza Man, or even why he was so evil, but I do remember the name of each and every one of my fellow spies because working together to achieve a common goal made us closer friends. We would share resources (pokemon fruit snacks) and help each other accomplish difficult missions, like getting across the entirety of the monkey bars. We would even collaborate on hard coloring assignments so that we could get out to recess and save the world together.

Being an ALI Fellow is a little bit like being a Spy Kitty but the grown-up, actually important version where the Fellows around you help you with things a lot more essential to your dreams than keeping each other awake during counting exercises. No Evil Pizza Man is going to take over the world but you still need to prepare yourself and ensure that you have the skills to be the successful woman you want to be in your field of choice. Your mission? To give yourself, and your art, the best possible advantage.

Camille Jensen Weber, 2020 ALI Fellow
Camille Jensen Weber, 2020 ALI Fellow

Meet Camille Jensen-Weber, a former ALI Fellow who wanted to publish a piano book that gave students learning the instrument some variety in their choice of pieces. Particularly, she wanted a book that would, “explore historical female composers, specifically1925 and before, so that piano students can play pieces by women in these historical eras.” She further explained her goal as follows, “When piano students... are learning how to play they play a lot of Bach, a lot of Beethoven, a lot of Mozart, a lot of these dead old men and I think it is so valuable for them to see representation and see themselves...so they can hear different voices than the ones they have heard a million times over”.

So Camille got to work! She began by compiling appropriate pieces for children that were written by women from 1600 to 1925, then she carefully graded them by student level. Her completed work should be published into editions for teachers and piano students within the next year. Women’s ALI connected her to Milton Laufer, pianist and Director of the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University, as part of the Mentor Alliance. His experience in preparing Albéniz’s works for publication made him the perfect fit to coach her on necessary skills such as how to talk to publishers, the ins and outs of effective copyrighting processes, and generally how to get her work ready for publishing. She talks about her experience working alongside the renowned editor with a smile, “He’s been wonderful and supportive and just a doll of a person.”

The opportunity for individual mentoring with a professional in your respective field through the Mentor Alliance is just one of the many benefits of being an ALI Fellow. Our Summer Leadership Intensive focuses on helping you gain the leadership skills and business acumen you need! Along with curriculum adjusted each year to ensure the most relevant and up-to-date experience, we also provide baseline know-how such as communication skills, grant writing, effective leadership styles, Microsoft Office proficiency, and navigating workplace dilemmas. Additionally, being an ALI Fellow gives you access to interactive workshops, roundtable discussions, keynote speakers, panels, and more. The ALI Fellow experience aims to empower its artists with the skills to succeed regardless of the path that life decides to take you on!

Kira Sincock, game animation, 2020 ALI Fellow
Kira Sincock, 2020 ALI Fellow

Meet Kira Sincock, a 2020 ALI Fellow who is pursuing a career in game design. Kira found the same gap in her field that Women’s ALI wants to help close across the whole of the arts industry, “Female representation is something that is very important in the arts because the arts industry is often male-dominated… [and] that’s definitely the case for the games industry. Many games are made by men for men, so women kind of get left out of the narrative.”

Sketch by ALI Fellow, Kira Sincock
Sketch by ALI Fellow, Kira Sincock

She further explains that when women are included in gaming narratives they are often, “used like objects to move the story along, [are mere] supporting characters, or are hyper-sexualized. That’s not a fair representation of women... There is a large population of women that play games so to see them so misrepresented isn’t fair.” Furthermore Kira found that there is a large discrepancy in the percentage of women that have a say in what is being created.

“I think female representation [is important] to make more authentic and real stories that cater to wider audiences, and I hope I have the opportunity to help change that narrative to inspire other girls to play games as well as inspire them that they can work in the games industry.”

“The Summer Leadership Intensive brought up a lot of topics I feel are important for artists to know,” but her biggest takeaway “related to how I want to run my art businesses. [Being an artist] is like being the CEO of your own business. You’re an artist but you also need to do the business side as well, [Women’s ALI helped] shift my mindset to that.”

The ALI Fellow experience is about connection, learning, and growing beside other women in the arts who have similar goals so that everyone can learn and grow with, and from, each other. One of our 2020 ALI Fellows, Hanna Willis, said,

“Being a woman in the arts empowers me to encourage self-confidence in my ballet students and offer them the advice I wish I heard. I built such a great network of women through Women's ALI, that I feel I can reach out to for advice, collaboration, or just a friendly call!”

This isn’t a silly kindergarten club--engaging in community partnerships and dialogue for change is a part of the Women’s ALI identity! And much of our success and accomplishment is due to the ALI Fellow’s passion and hard work. Together we are truly able to make a lasting difference.

2020 ALI Fellows still able to connect via Zoom
2020 ALI Fellows via Zoom

For details on qualifications for ALI Fellowship, participation scholarships, application instructions, and more, visit our FAQs page.

This post was written by Emily Dunn-Lawrence - intern at Women’s ALI and a senior at Brigham Young University. She spends much of her limited free time writing the next big YA fantasy and coercing her two cats into being loved.