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In response to the need to reinforce the centuries-old ties between France and the United States, in 1981, the Foundation launched its first Young Leaders program under the direction of Ezra Suleiman, Professor of Politics at Princeton University. At the program’s cornerstone was the strong belief that fostering a deeper understanding of the bases upon which a society acts, among individuals who demonstrate the potential to play a significant role in the economic, political and cultural leadership of their countries, will strengthen present and future relations between French and American societies.
The Young Leaders program is a joint effort of the French-American Foundations in the U.S. and in France and has become one of the most well-regarded of its kind. In this two-year program, alternating each year between France and the U.S., groups of carefully selected up-and-coming leaders – in government, business, media, the military, and the cultural and non-profit sectors – spend five-days discussing issues of common concern and, most importantly, getting to know one another.
After thirty five years, the purpose of this flagship program remains the same, to provide a forum for the dissemination of knowledge concerning France and the U.S.; to develop a formal and informal network of present and future leaders in each country; and to open a useful dialogue that will bring to light innovative means to address common problems and to alleviate misunderstandings. Through organized reunions and symposia, the Foundations in the US and in France work to consolidate the program’s success and encourage an active alumni association to strengthen and renew contacts and the friendships forged through program participation. Former Young Leaders are also frequent participants in other French-American Foundation programs.
Among the Young Leader alumni figure more than 525 presidents and statesmen; ministers, secretaries and military leaders; elected officials; CEO’s of global corporations and financial institutions; entrepreneurs; prize-winning journalists and editors; award-winning writers, composers, choreographers and directors; directors of public agencies, think tanks and research centers. These include prominent Americans such as President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mayor of LA Eric Garcetti, Senators Evan Bayh and Bill Bradley, General Wesley Clark, former White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, former World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Oscar-winning filmmaker Charles Ferguson, and business leaders Frank Herringer (Transamerica Corporation) and John Thain (CIT Group).
Several Young Leaders served in the cabinet of French President François Hollande, himself a Young Leader in 1996. Past French participants also include former Prime Minister Alain Juppé, Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Health Marisol Touraine, former Ministers of Defense Alain Richard and François Léotard, and several business leaders, including Henri de Castries (AXA), Alexandre de Juniac (Air France-KLM), Anne Lauvergeon (former Chair & CEO of AREVA), and Michel Bon (former CEO of France Télécom).
The 2017 Young Leaders application process is now open. For more information contact Emeline Foster at [email protected].
2015 Young Leaders welcomed by the Governor of Colorado