The Academy’s most distinctive feature is its membership of nearly 1,000 Fellow. These Fellows are public managers and scholars, business executives and labor leaders, current and former cabinet officers, members of Congress, governors, mayors, state legislators, and diplomats. Individually, Fellows provide unparalleled insight and experience. Collectively, they are the Academy’s primary vehicle for addressing current and emerging issues and contributing to the intellectual and popular discourse on government. Fellows elect new members of the Academy each year.
Current Fellows nominate candidates in the Spring of every year. A Fellows Nominating Committee reviews all nominations and determines which candidates will be voted on by the current Fellowship. A candidate must receive 35% of the vote to be inducted at the Academy's Fall Meeting, which is normally in November of every year.
Participation in the Academy's work is a requisite of membership, and Fellows provide their experience and knowledge on a largely pro bono basis. The Academy Bylaws state that one criterion for election as an Academy Fellow is "...willingness and ability to participate in and contribute to the work of the Corporation."
Fellows may participate in Academy work by serving on:
Time involvement varies by Committee. For example, the Board meets five times a year whereas the Directors Nominating Committee will meet only one time. Board of Directors (3-year term)
These panels provide a focus for the development of Academy initiatives and monitor developments in the field of public administration. Five such panels are:
These panels conduct studies under contract with government agencies or with the support of foundations, corporations, and associations. Participation on project panels includes developing a project plan, reviewing its progress, and review and approval of the final report. Each project entails 4 to 5 meetings of not more than a few hours, typically virtually. If in-person meetings are required, travel for out-of-town Fellows and an honorarium of $400 for each day in attendance are provided
Through these programs, the Academy shares the results of studies and sponsors issue-oriented symposia and workshops to improve the quality of government.
Fellows are asked to participate in evaluating candidates for the awards and proposing the winners.
From time to time, depending on issues that arise, meetings are called of Academy Fellows with relevant backgrounds to discuss particular issues of the day and propose an Academy response. These meetings are very often one-time events lasting 3-4 hours. Academy projects may develop from some of these sessions.