Millennium Leadership Program

Shaping innovative leaders for unprecedented times.

The retirement of the baby boomer generation will precipitate the largest generational shift in leadership the world has ever seen. Millennials and Generation Z are the two largest generations in human history. Fostering the next group of global leaders to shape a more free, prosperous, and just world has always been one of the defining challenges of the Atlantic Council; in 2020 it became one of the defining challenges for the world. The unprecedented events of 2020 highlighted that the next generation of global leaders must be equipped with the skills and values to lead, manage, and solve complex challenges in uncertain times.

As the global community contends with an unprecedented myriad of global challenges, there has never been a more urgent need for brave, skilled, and committed leadership.

The 2020 Millennium Leadership Program’s cohort of fellows included twenty-one individuals under the age of thirty-five selected from nearly 1,300 applicants across more than one hundred countries. The fellows represent a wide range of perspectives from across civil society, government, and business.

From civil society, the Millennium Fellows included a Venezuelan nonprofit founder feeding tens of thousands of children across his country, a Zambian thought leader exploring the evolving relationship between China and Africa, an Iraqi-Kurdish civil society leader advancing women in government, and the director for science and policy at the Infectious Diseases Society of America driving policy on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

A research scientist works inside a laboratory of India’s Serum Institute on vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pune, India in 2020. REUTERS/EUAN ROCHA

From government, they included the director of special projects at the Brazilian Ministry of Economy guiding Brazil’s transition to e-government amid the pandemic, the presidential spokesperson for the Government of Ukraine, and the deputy mayor of Budapest leading environmental and political reform in Hungary.

From the world of business and finance, the cohort included principal economists and C-suite executives at multilateral investment institutions managing the global response to the economic collapse.

Due to the pandemic, the Millennium Leadership Program adapted the education, coaching, and leadership development that is the cornerstone of the fellowship curriculum to a virtual setting. The curriculum included core adaptive leadership training accompanied by bespoke executive coaching, small group leadership consultation, and a series of Atlantic Council Master Classes featuring former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Advisors Stephen Hadley and General James Jones.

Millennium Fellows also attended Atlantic Council flagship convenings throughout the year including the Global Energy Forum and the Council’s first virtual gala dinner—the Distinguished Leadership Awards.

The capstone of the Millennium Fellowship remains the international study tour, which allows fellows to explore hands-on leadership at the front lines of global challenges. Past study tours have explored the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, the refugee crisis in Turkey and Greece, and the peace process and Venezuela refugee crisis in Colombia. Due to travel restrictions, the 2020 study tour will occur in 2021.

To fulfil the goal of fostering the next generation of global leaders, the Millennium Leadership Program has also served as a thought partner in improving the Council’s internal programs to develop the leadership capabilities of Atlantic Council staff—notably the Young Global Professionals Program and the Training & Learning Tiger Team.

The Young Global Professionals Program is a paid internship program that provides intellectual entrepreneurs hands-on experience working at the Council on the forefront of global engagement. The Training & Learning Tiger Team, made up of young Atlantic Council staff members, embraces an internal consulting model to catalogue the Council’s professional development opportunities and curate a custom leadership incubator based on substantive training, individualized mentorship, and guidance from senior members of the Atlantic Council network.

2021 will see the selection of the seventh cohort of Millennium Fellows, an international study tour, and a continued commitment to equipping and empowering the next generation of global leaders, including within the Atlantic Council itself.

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