Debrief of the 2019 Young Leaders Program

November 4, 2019

In mid-October, the French-American Foundation’s annual Young Leaders program welcomed the classes of 2018 and 2019 in Chicago, Illinois for a week-long seminar of discussion and team building. Topics ranged from leadership and diplomacy to Chicago’s history and grassroots organizing.

The Young Leaders program is the flagship initiative of the French-American Foundation. Alternating each year between a city in France and the United States since 1981, the program is composed of carefully selected participants between the ages of 30 and 40, based in both countries, who demonstrate strong leadership capacity in their respective fields. Through an intensive week of learning and networking, our mission is to strengthen the transatlantic relationship by advancing dialogue between up-and-coming leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.

On a local level, Young Leaders had the opportunity to learn about the city of Chicago throughout the week. The group met with representatives from Youth Guidance’s award-winning Becoming A Man Program, the former Deputy Mayor of Chicago Stephen Koch, the president of the Civic Federation, and a representative of Chicago Cares. They also learned about the city’s culture on guided tours of its history and architecture, a lunch with the President of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a comedy show at The Second City.

To develop a better understanding of business and policy from a transatlantic perspective, the group met with Chicago-based experts who spoke candidly about the challenges they faced in their careers. They attended panels and lectures with Ambassador Bruce Heyman, former US Ambassador to Canada; Sam Yagan, Co-Founder of OKCupid; and John List, economist at the University of Chicago.

Above all, the program focused on generating dialogue within the group. At the core of the French-American Foundation’s mission is the goal of equipping leaders with pragmatic tools to engage in international dialogue. Young Leader-led discussions addressed medicine and biotech, challenges facing artists in the US and France, creating effective work cultures as leaders, and socioeconomic inequality from a transatlantic perspective. Young Leaders had the opportunity to develop lasting ties with peers in different sectors that will continue to grow as they join a network of alumni around the globe.

Thank you to Board member Anne Dias, the Young Leaders alumni community, and the people and organizations in Chicago who made the 2019 program a success. The French-American Foundation’s US leadership would also like to thank the French-American Foundation – France. We value the longstanding collaboration of both foundations and look forward to the program in 2020. Until next year in France!

Learn more about the Young Leaders program