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Bold leadership, ground-breaking ideas, unparalleled passion …

For almost a decade the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme has brought together the brightest minds and outside the box leaders to put their innovative thinking to work at building a more forward-thinking Europe that is a global champion for a better world. The European Young Leaders represent a new generation of leaders, able to tackle the increasing disconnects between citizens and political elites, to rebuild the trust that is vital to democracies.

These promising and established leaders come from a variety of backgrounds including politics, business, civil society, arts, science and the media.

The 2020 Class of European Young Leaders:


Tune in to the EYLs on Friends of Europe’s Leading Views podcast

Joss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?

Leading view

Joss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?

Joss Garman

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Negar Mortazavi on Europe's role in the US-Iran dispute, the Trump factor and the role of media

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Negar Mortazavi on Europe's role in the US-Iran dispute, the Trump factor and the role of media

Negar Mortazavi

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Una Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change

Leading view

Una Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change

Una Mullally

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Continue to Meet the EYL

Meet the EYL40

Victoria Herrmann
Victoria Herrmann

President & Managing Director of The Arctic Institute, 2017 North American Young Leader

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“Victoria Herrmann is the President and Managing Director of the Arctic Institute. Her
research and writing focus on climate change, community adaptation, human
development, and resource economies, with a particular focus on Arctic oil and gas.
Herrmann previously worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s
Energy and Climate Program. She was awarded a Eureka! Prize from the Baker
Institute for Entrepreneurship in 2012 and a Fulbright Scholarship to Canada to
pursue Arctic research in 2013. She is the author of Arctic Melt: Turning Resource
Extraction into Human Development (2015). She has been published in many peerreview
journals and appeared on BBC and CNN, among others. In 2016, Herrmann
travelled across the United States for the National Geographic-funded book on
climate change stories America’s Eroding Edges. She is a Gates Scholar at the
Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, where she is pursuing
a PhD in Political Geography of the Arctic.”

Derek Johnson
Derek Johnson

Executive Director Global Zero, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Derek Johnson is the Executive Director of the Global Zero, the international movement for a world without nuclear weapons. As a creative strategist working on the front lines of catalytic advocacy, foreign policy and social change, Derek has spent the last seven years positioning Global Zero as a highly credible source of policy analysis and thought leadership, a trusted intermediary among nuclear-armed states, and a provocative advocacy operation in key regions. He has a knack for identifying strategic opportunities and the right tactics that can push the message into the mainstream in order to shine a spotlight or apply pressure. In addition to developing organizational strategy, overseeing day-to-day operations, and leading fundraising efforts, Derek also spearheads special projects — from coordinating sensitive track-1.5 initiatives to producing viral and award-winning digital content.

Before taking the helm at Global Zero, Derek worked to advance interfaith dialogue and cooperation on social issues at the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions and helped organize its flagship convening in Melbourne, Australia. He also worked to enhance access to justice, human rights and rule of law at JUSTICE, the British section of the International Commission of Jurists in London, and worked as an attorney for several years in Boston.

Derek is a graduate of Cornell College and Boston College Law School, with an academic background in English literature, philosophy and international law. He is also a member of the Munich Young Leaders group of rising experts in foreign and security policy, jointly organized by Körber Foundation and the Munich Security Conference, as well as the European Young Leaders group organized by Friends of Europe.”

Photo of Meghan Milloy
Meghan Milloy

Co-Founder Republican Women for Progress, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Meghan Milloy is the co-founder of Republican Women for Progress (RWFP) and was previously the Chair of Republican Women for Hillary (RWFH). She is currently the Director of Strategic Communications at the Institute of International Bankers. Prior, she was a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow working in both the German public and private sectors focusing on trade issues. As Director of the think-tank Financial Services Policy at the American Action Forum (AAF), she managed the entirety of AAF’s activity in its financial services and housing finance policy portfolios. Previously she was a Presidential Management Fellow working at the Small Business Administration and later at the House Committee on Small Business. She was an intern at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and in the George W. Bush White House. She also worked in the office of Majority Leader Trent Lott and has volunteered on the campaigns of Haley Barbour, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton.

Anita Sarkeesian
Anita Sarkeesian

Founder of Feminist Frequency, 2017 North American Young Leader

Show more information on Anita Sarkeesian

Anita Sarkeesian is an award-winning media critic and the founder of Feminist Frequency, an educational non-profit that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Her work focuses on deconstructing the stereotypes and tropes associated with women in popular culture as well as highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces. Sarkeesian has featured in publications such as The Guardian, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and The Wall Street Journal. She was named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people in 2015 and was the recipient of the 2014 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award. Sarkeesian has spoken to TEDxWomen, XOXO Festival and the UN Broadband Working Group on Gender. She also appeared on The Colbert Report discussing her experiences of harassment and improving gender inclusivity in gaming culture and the media.

Photo of Robert Shirkey
Robert Shirkey

Executive Director of Our Horizon, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Rob is a recognized authority on the subject of climate change risk disclosures or ‘warning labels’ for gas pumps. He has given lectures on the topic across North America and has been featured in media all over the world. Rob is a recipient of Canada’s 2017 Clean50 Award and was also named a 2016 Agent of Change by the Centre for Social Innovation and Green Shield Canada Foundation.  Rob is a lawyer from Toronto, Canada. Prior to founding Our Horizon and launching its unique approach to addressing climate change, Rob operated a private practice in downtown Toronto. He also has experience as an Assistant City Solicitor and Prosecutor.

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Continue to Selection process

Selection process

Due to Covid-19, no European Young Leaders class will be selected for 2021. Application for the class of 2022 will open in the spring of 2021.

The EYL40 programme is a unique, multi-stakeholder programme which aims to promote a sense of European identity by bringing together forty of the brightest European leaders every year and engaging them in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future. We aim to select 40 European Young Leaders of diverse backgrounds in order to enable a broad exchange of ideas, creating the basis for a new generation of engaged European leaders. Additionally, in 2020, the programme will include 6 Young Leaders from the Western Balkan region. In doing so, we aim to promote structural dialogue across the continent that will foster better mutual understanding.

Since the launch of the programme in 2012, we have gradually taken steps to ensure the diversity and exceptional quality of its selection process. We have made sure that its comprehensive and competitive nature ensures the identification and selection of remarkable individuals. Candidates can either apply or be nominated for the selection process of the programme.

Selection criteria:

  • Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age;
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state or of one of the 6 Balkan states currently on the path to EU integration (Serbia, Kosovo*, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro);
  • Candidates should have established themselves the highest levels of their chosen profession, or be on track to do so;
  • Candidates must be committed to serve society at large through noteworthy contributions and have demonstrated a record of significant achievements and outstanding professional experience;
  • Candidates are also evaluated based on their ability to contribute to the enrichment of the programme as a whole;
  • Candidates are required to be fluent in English as it is the working language of the programme;
  • Candidates must commit to participating in at least one seminar during the programme year.

*references to Kosovo in this document are used without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244/99 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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