About

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.


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

Leading view

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

Photo of Wajahat Ali
Wajahat Ali

Journalist, Author and Playwright, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Wajahat is an award-winning playwright and TV host of Pakistani descent. At Affinis Labs, he works to create social entrepreneurship initiatives that have a positive impact for marginalised communities and to empower social entrepreneurs and communities to come up with innovative solutions to tackle the world problems. Wajahat is the author of The domestic Crusaders, which was the first major play about Muslim Americans published after 9/11. He is also the lead author of the investigative report about anti-Muslim discrimination Fear Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America from the Center for American Progress. He also previously worked as the co-host of the Al Jazeera American Network.

Terry Beech
Terry Beech

Parliamentary Secretary for the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Terry is an accomplished and experienced entrepreneur and advocate for access to education and the expansion of entrepreneurship. He entered public service in 1999 when he was elected to the Nanaimo City Council, becoming British Columbia’s youngest-ever elected official. A former Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, Terry is the author of The In-Credibility Factor, which highlights his desire for Canada to become a global leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. Terry was the founder and CEO of HiretheWorld.com and of Twinbro, a non-profit organisation that has helped over 25,000 students obtain millions of dollars in scholarships and financial aid. He is a past board member of Lift Philanthropy and worked with entrepreneurs to launch and grow businesses at Beech Partners.

Ruth Ellen Brosseau
Ruth Ellen Brosseau

Member of the Canadian National Parliament, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Ruth Ellen is a Member of Parliament in Canada. Since her surprise election, she has quietly evolved into an effective and highly regarded politician. During the 42st Canadian Parliament, she was the Deputy agriculture critic in Thomas Muclair’s shadow cabinet and the New Democrat Party’s Vice-Chair. She has extraordinary grit and determination, ferocious work ethic and humility. At 16, she got pregnant, continued to attend school, earned her high school diploma and went to college in Kingston Out. Always considered as the ultimate black horse, she is a feminist, and an advocate for reproductive choice and affordable day care. Since the 2011 federal election, she represented the riding of Berthier-Maskinonge in the Canadian House of Commons. She became a popular local MP and won re-election in the 2015 federal election. She thought of becoming the lead of the NPD but during the summer of 2016, she finally decided to give more care to her family life and defend the interest of her riding.

Alex Budak
Alex Budak

Executive Director of the University of California, Berkeley, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Alex Budak is a serial social entrepreneur, Executive Director of the UC Berkeley Center for Reinventing Leadership, and a firm believer that anyone can be a changemaker. Alex co-founded, and now advises, StartSomeGood.com which has helped 700+ social impact organizations in 50+ countries raise $7M+. He is a mentor, coach and adviser to social entrepreneurs around the world, most recently running Scandinavia’s leading social impact incubator, Reach for Change, in Stockholm, Sweden. Alex has given talks on the topics of leadership and social innovation in venues ranging from Ukraine to Cambodia; LA to the Arctic Circle; and at both the World Bank and White House. His writing has been published in FastCompany, The Guardian and Huffington Post.

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.”

Sabrina Hersi Issa
Sabrina Hersi Issa

Chief Executive Officer Be Bold Media, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Sabrina Hersi Issa is the CEO of Be Bold Media, a digital agency for global advocacy that notably produces a hackathon series to build and improve technology tools used for humanitarian relief and refugee services. She is the co-founder of End Famine, a campaign dedicated to developing sustainable solutions to hunger, food security and humanitarian assistance. Hersi Issa organises Rights x Tech, a gathering for technologists and activists, and runs Survivor Fund, a political fund dedicated to supporting the rights of survivors of sexualised violence. She currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, where she leads research on journalism ecosystems and how philanthropy can support efforts to build diverse, inclusive media ecosystems. In addition, she curates New/s Disruptors, a project working to re-frame the narrative of digital disruption in journalism to champion the experiences and contributions of diverse voices. Sabrina is a former fellow of the Roosevelt Institute where she worked on issues related to technology, human rights and humanitarian disasters. She has also worked for Afghans for Civil Society, Oxfam America, NBC News and National Public Radio.

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.”

Sarah Jones
Sarah Jones

Journalist & Producer, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Sarah Jones is an award-winning all platform journalist with a passion for attracting
young audiences to hard news. Over 67,000 people are supporters of her Sarah
Jones Reports on social media. In 2013, she moved to New York for a full-time
news gathering position with Al Jazeera America. She left her job two years later to
pursue a fellowship with the International Reporting Project where she was given
the opportunity to report on health and development in the Philippines. In 2016, she
was selected as one of the top one thousand most influential Twitter profiles from
across the worlds of marketing, advertising, digital and media. Prior to joining Al
Jazeera America, Jones was freelancing as an International Assignment Editor for
CNN at its headquarters in Atlanta; as an online and print journalist for Gulf News
(Dubai); and as an online journalist for ITN’s Channel 4 (UK).”

Adele Luta
Adele Luta

Scientist, Eleda International, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Adele is an expert in strategic cognitive skills, advanced theory of mind, and applied physics. Her research focuses on operators in time-limited, life-critical, restricted communication environments and how they employ Theory of Mind (ToM) in their mission. Adele’s previous experience includes working as a NASA Flight Controller/Astronaut Instructor, in which role she provided support for over 90 US Space Shuttle, International Space Station (ISS), and Russian spacewalks, and trained five Shuttle crews and two ISS increments in Extra Vehicle Activity (EVA). In addition to her current work as a Research Affiliate at MIT, she has also recently been appointed by the United States of America as a technical team member to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Science and Technology Organization through its Collaborative Support Office.

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 a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow where she is working in both the German public and private sectors focusing on trade issues. Before that she was the Director of Financial Services Policy at the American Action Forum (AAF), a think tank where 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.

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar

U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Ilhan Omar the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district. She is first Somali-American, first African-born American, and one of the first two Muslim American women elected to serve in the US Congress. Prior to her election to the US Congress, she was the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives for the 60B district.  Omar was also the Director of Policy Initiatives at Women Organizing Women, where she empowered East African women to take civic leadership roles in their community. Born in Somalia, Omar and her family fled the country’s civil war when she was eight. The family spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States in 1990s.

Sam Rasoul
Sam Rasoul

Delegate for the 11th District Virginia House of Delegates, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Sam Rasoul is the Democratic Party Member of the Virginia House of Delegates for the 11th district. He was born in Ohio to a Palestinian immigrant family. After college, he became the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of a non-profit healthcare firm. He channelled his passion for healthcare reform into finding more compassionate ways to care for seniors and helping with maternal and child health in East Africa. Rasoul currently has his own small business which helps organisations become more successful through developing better business plans and through investing in their employees. He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2014. He is the only Muslim member of the Virginia General Assembly.

Anita Sarkeesian
Anita Sarkeesian

Founder of Feminist Frequency, 2017 North American Young Leader

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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

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 towards EU integration (Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, 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.

The deadline for nominations and applications for the 2020 European Young Leaders class has passed. We are currently reviewing the candidates and aim to announce the 2020 class before the end of 2019. We will open the application and nomination period for the class of 2021 in the spring of 2020.

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