Cahn Fellows Program

The Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Public School Principals at Teachers College, Columbia University (Cahn Fellows Program) is a national fellowship for principals from New York City, Chicago and Newark, NJ. The program aims to strengthen public school systems by investing in its most effective school leaders through best-in-class leadership and professional development.

Since 2003, the Cahn Fellows Program has admitted an annual cohort of 20-25 principals. The Fund’s investment will expand the cohort to include eight Chicago principals for its 2016-17 cohort, up from the one to two that the program has typically accepted in previous cohorts.

Through the fifteen-month program, each Fellow chooses an “ally” – an assistant principal or teacher who aspires to be a principal – to participate in the program with them. Fellows and their allies attend an intensive summer institute in New York, weekend retreats and faculty study groups. Teachers College faculty conduct regular visits to each Fellow’s school to offer on-the-ground support. Additionally, each Fellow implements a leadership project over a period of nine months.

Principals in the program commit to continuing to lead within Chicago’s public schools for at least three years following their participation in the program.


  • 15 high-performing principals from Chicago’s public schools were selected for the Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Public School Principals.

Meet the Fellows