The Leadership Fellows Program: City of Sacramento Mayor’s Office

When people think about typical destinations for HBS students, a few cities come to mind: New York, San Francisco, London to name a few.But.Sacramento, California?

For an increasing number of HBSers, the capital city of the eighth largest economy in the world is becoming a coveted destination.

The reason? NBA All-Star, HBS case protagonist, and current Mayor Kevin Johnson.

Known across the globe for his twelve seasons as an acclaimed point guard for Phoenix Suns, Kevin Johnson has built and equally impressive resume since he retired in 2000. First nationally-acclaimed education reformer, now rising political star, Johnson has attracted seven HBS students to Sacramento since winning office in a 2008 landslide.

The first was Kunal Merchant (HBS 2007E) who left a consulting job in New York City in December 2008 to become the Mayor’s Chief of Staff.

Johnson attracted six more HBS students to Sacramento to serve as Summer Mayoral Fellows in 2009 and 2010.ÿ Stipends were provided by the HBS Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Fund.

Participants offer universal praise for the experience.ÿ

Some enjoyed the high level of ownership. “We were given a tremendous amount of responsibility from day one,” explains Andrew Rosskamm (HBS 2010).

Others appreciated the direct access to the Mayor himself. “We were fortunate to watch him up-close and interact with him on a daily basis,” writes Mohit Bathija (HBS 2009). “His leadership skills are unparalleled.”

Merchant, who developed the program, sees Sacramento as a the perfect-sized “enterprise” for an HBS mind to take on. “It’s a big enough city where scale matters, but also small enough where a group of young, idealistic, and hard working reformers can have a significant impact.”

Next up for Mayor Johnson? The Leadership Fellows Program.ÿ HBS recently chose the Office of Mayor Kevin Johnson for the select group of 2011-2012 host organizations.ÿ The deadline to apply is October 13. Merchant will visit HBS on November 1 for interviews.

“The Mayor and I are really looking forward to it,” explains Merchant. “The summer program has exceeded everyone’s expectations; we can’t wait to develop a Fellowship extending over a full year.”

Johnson’s accolades are familiar to students in the second year Entrepreneurship in Education Reform.ÿ Since 2007, the class has featured a case on St. HOPE, the nonprofit Johnson founded as a second year NBA player to revitalize his neighborhood. Johnson is expected back next April to discuss case again.

For more information on Mayor Johnson, visit of