Young Leaders Program

The Foundation’s flagship program brings together an incredible group of leaders from every possible background, all in the name of forging bonds between France and the United States. Where else can you trade ideas with an Olympic athlete, a CEO of a startup, an Air Force pilot, and a member of Parliament all in one setting?

About the Program

Founded in 1981, the Foundation’s flagship Young Leaders program convenes a vibrant and highly selective group of French and American professionals whose common link is their demonstrated leadership and passion for forging bonds in a globalized world. Young Leaders, hailing from a diverse array of sectors, come together to engage in pertinent dialogue around issues of common concern on both sides of the Atlantic. The program is grounded in the belief that informed dialogue across cultures will lead to progress in solving the most pressing issues of our time, and serves to give Young Leaders the tools to both protect the historic French-American relationship and to grow together as leaders in today’s world.

If these past years have taught us anything, it is that we must continue to invest in our relationships with like-minded friends and allies in order to build a more connected, stable and peaceful world. The Young Leaders program of the French-American Foundation does just that.
– Maya Henry (YL ’17), Principal at Blackstone & FAF Board member

How it Works

Young Leaders attend two 5-day seminars over the course of two years, one year in France and one year in the United States, typically taking place in October. Each seminar welcomes a group of 40 to 45 Young Leaders, evenly divided between French and American participants. Participants convene to engage with experts and share ideas that affect leaders in all sectors and develop mutual understanding between France and the U.S.. They also enjoy the chance to step away from their daily routines, travel together, and gain new experiences. The Foundation covers the travel and lodging expenses of the Young Leaders for the two seminars.

After two years as Young Leaders, participants join an active community of alumni who attend and organize events, use the network to develop professionally, and maintain ties across the Atlantic.

I doubt if I could fully explain how useful and stimulating I found the discussions and informal conversation. The specific topics were timely, but, even more important to me, were the various perspectives the participants brought to them.
– Hillary Clinton, (YL ‘83), Former First Lady and US Secretary of State

A Robust Network of Young Leaders and Alumni

Young Leaders belong to – and benefit from – an extraordinary global alumni network: presidents and entrepreneurs, CEOs and scientists, diplomats and educators, military and non-profit leaders. For over forty years, the Young Leaders program has built a corps of citizen diplomats whose work and interests are as diverse as their backgrounds and experiences, and who cut through official channels to exchange ideas and create lasting, global ties.

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This program is the doorway to a dynamic transatlantic network of intellectual, political and business leadership, one that is key not only to developing visions but to successfully fulfilling them.
– Ian Brzezinski (YL ’01), American foreign policy and military affairs expert

We’re proud to name the following leaders as YL alumni in our network:

  • Former President Bill Clinton;
  • 67th US Secretary of State and 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton;
  • 71st US Secretary of State Antony Blinken;
  • Oscar-winning filmmaker Charles Ferguson;
  • Executive Dina Powell;
  • Astronaut Thomas Pesquet;
  • Current French President Emmanuel Macron;
  • Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson.