Giving Priorities

Society Of Presidential Fellows

Society of Presidential Fellows

“This fellowship has not only alleviated daunting financial obligations, but also has given me additional time because I no longer have to work multiple jobs. I can be involved with the community, pursue projects more earnestly and immerse myself in RISD.”


The Society of Presidential Fellows program endeavors to dramatically enhance RISD’s competitiveness in recruiting and retaining its most sought-after students. These students work with faculty on research and creative projects, elevate the educational experience for all students and enhance the reputation of RISD’s graduate programs.

Presidential Fellows are selected through a highly competitive process and receive full-tuition funding for the duration of their graduate program. They also participate in special programming designed to enrich their studies and advance their careers, including opportunities to connect with RISD alumni mentors who are creative thought leaders.

2020 Presidential Fellows

Aaron Christopher Jelinek MARCH 23

Aaron Christopher Jelinek MARCH 23

Jelinek earned a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley and is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Building Design and Construction accredited; Construction Documents Technology certified; and a member of the Construction Specifications Institute. His personal life experiences have disrupted old ideas as to what constitutes architecture, and he is interested in exploring architecture beyond the physical life of structures. Jelinek is excited about rigorous studio work where he will have the opportunity to test his ideas, to try and to fail, and to grow as a spatial designer. He is interested in sustainability and passive design as well as finding new channels to harness creative energy.

Jellinek’s fellowship is supported through the generosity of anonymous donors.

Lilly E. Manycolors MA 22 GAC

Lilly E. Manycolors MA 22 GAC

Manycolors holds a bachelor’s degree of Individualized Studies in Decolonization from Goddard College and was a finalist in 2019 for Wellesley College’s Prilla Smith Bracket Award and recently received a grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts: Creative City Boston, NEFA 2020. Her two signature projects for 2020 include The Return of First Womxn, a mixed-media performance series throughout Boston and Providence that tells the Indigenous story of First Womxn’s instructions upon her return to earth, and MISODOODISWAN Red Lodge: Witnessing/Healing of MMIWG2s, an installation at the Boston Common of a sculptural rendition of a sweat lodge made from red dresses that address the need for acknowledging murdered and missing Indigenous Womxn.

Manycolors’s fellowship is made possible by the Hillary Blumberg 92 FAV Graduate Fellowship Fund.

Zoe Pulley MFA 23 GD

Zoë Pulley MFA 23 GD

Pulley earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in Fashion Design from Virginia Commonwealth University and is a two-time recipient of a Cotton Inc. Scholarship and a recipient of a Cooper Union Summer Scholarship. She was recognized by Ink magazine in 2016 as part of their designer spotlight series. Her interest in telling stories of Black experiences is reflected throughout her work and extends to Gran Sans, a jewelry brand that is an extension of generational practice in making work inspired by her grandmother, Sandra, the project’s namesake, where she is a designer and producer—as well as her most current project called Black Joy Archive, a collection of crowd-sourced images accessible online and in a limited print book release. Pulley believes it is crucial to create opportunities that encourage people of color to tell their stories within design spaces, without the obligation that the stories have a certain look or feel.

Pulley’s fellowship is made possible by the Hillary Blumberg 92 FAV Graduate Fellowship Fund.

Diana Sanchez MFA 22 Digital + Media

Diana Sanchez MFA 22 D + M

Sanchez earned a master's degree in Design, with a focus on Social Innovation and Design Research, at the University of Los Andes. She is an artist, designer and computational poet from Bogotá, Colombia. She has a background in poetic computation, creative writing and research, and her work bridges art, design, science and technology. She is the founder of Correo Patafísico, a project that inspires young girls to explore the world through scientific and technological activities with an artistic approach. This project has been featured at different conferences, such as New Direction in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania and Cumulus Letters to the Future in Bangalore India. Sanchez led a talk on botanic interfaces at the Design Science Symposium, Inclusive Narratives from Nature at the Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab in September 2019.

Sanchez’s fellowship is supported through the generosity of anonymous donors.

Tzyy Yi Young MFA 22 Furniture Design

Tzyy Yi Young MFA 22 FD

Young holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in Three Dimensional Forum from the University of Washington and has participated in several residencies and workshops including the Murano Residency, Pilchuck Glass School/ Laguna B, Murano Italy. In 2019 she was an artist in residence at Pottery Northwest in Seattle, Washington and the Advanced Sculpting in Glass Workshop at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. Although her focus has been on ceramics and glass, she wants her work to embrace people and therefore is studying furniture design to explore how function, interaction and aesthetics come together.

Young’s fellowship is made possible by the Hillary Blumberg 92 FAV Graduate Fellowship Fund.

Endow a Presidential Fellowship Fund

Society of Presidential Fellowship Fund – $1,000,000

The Society of Presidential Fellows was launched in 2019 as a direct line of support for improving RISD’s recruitment and retention of highly talented graduate students, many of whom have been opting for competing institutions that offer more generous financial aid packages. Our goal in the next five years is to secure funding for RISD’s top 50 graduate students.

Endowed Society of Presidential Fellowships fund a student's full tuition for one to three years of study, depending on the length of their academic programs. Fellows apply to programs through existing processes; department heads and deans then select their most exceptional applicants and final selections are made by the President and Provost. The society is simply a way to guarantee that resources are made available to our most promising applicants.

In addition to providing financial support, the Presidential Fellowship is a notable award that adds to each recipient’s professional credentials. Fellows receive a special certificate signed by the President emphasizing the prestigious nature of the award and identifying the benefactor responsible for their award. Presidential Fellows are also invited to participate in special events throughout the academic year with creative thought leaders, and each Fellow is assigned an alumni mentor for the duration of their studies.

As an endowment donor, you will receive annual stewardship reports, which include a financial statement, an overall endowment performance update, biographies on all students in the cohort, an invitation to the annual fall induction ceremony and communications from named fellow(s).

Get in touch

You can learn more about the nomination process on

If you are interested in contributing to the Society of Presidential Fellows Fund please contact Joanne Ferchland-Parella, Senior Executive Director of Development, at or call 401 454-6431.

Other opportunities to give

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