Young Leaders Program

Part of the: 
Pacific Forum CSIS

The Young Leaders Program serves as a catalyst for training young professionals in international policy affairs at an early juncture in their careers.

Watch the video from the 2014 Board of Governors Dinner, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Young Leaders Program

The Young Leaders Program was established in 2004 to enhance cross-cultural opportunities for young scholars and foreign policy professionals to improve their policy analysis skills at an early juncture in their careers. Participation in the program affords Young Leaders an unparalleled opportunity to build networks, observe the foreign-policy making process, and voice their generation’s viewpoints within elite circles of policy specialists. They also gain a deeper understanding of serious conflicts and issues in the Asia-Pacific region, learn how experts and leaders deal with these problems, and develop their own perspectives. Our network of Young Leaders who specialize in political and international affairs in Asia continues to grow and now includes nearly 1,000 Young Leaders from 56 countries.

The Young Leaders program has four primary objectives: 

  • To foster education in the practical aspects and complexities of policy-making;
  • To generate a greater exchange of views between young and seasoned professionals;
  • To promote cross-cultural interaction and cooperation among younger professionals; and
  • To enrich dialogues with generational perspectives for the benefit of all attendees.

Program Description

Once selected, Young Leaders will have access to the 25+ conferences and events that Pacific Forum CSIS conducts each year. There is no obligation to attend programs, but we encourage Young Leaders to take the time to interact with one another and the senior experts in these meetings. In addition, Young Leaders will have the chance to publish with their peers and senior experts to Pacific Forum’s distribution list of more than 8000 key policymakers and thought-leaders around the world. Conference applications will open up usually 2-3 months in advance. Once Young Leaders are interested to attend a meeting, they fill out a short application. Pacific Forum CSIS assembles a group of Young Leaders to participate in a particular meeting based on their potential to contribute substantively to the discussion and their demonstrated ability to serve as an ambassador for themselves and our Pacific Forum Young Leaders brand. Attendance at a meeting often requires advance preparation and a group conference project afterward.

Eligibility Requirements

The person best suited to participate in the Young Leaders program is at the beginning stages of his or her career. He/she has received a Bachelors’ degree and has several years of relevant professional experience in Asia Pacific security issues, or has completed or is in the process of completing a master’s or PhD degree in similar areas. The ideal age range is from 25-35, but there is flexibility based on the applicant’s level of experience. We are looking for individuals who demonstrate an aptitude for international diplomacy; an interest in Asia-Pacific security issues; a desire to learn and gain leadership experience; and strong communication and teamwork skills.

For more information, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

>>Apply to the Young Leaders Program


Pacific Forum Young Leaders Program Team:

Ms. Julia Cunico GARDNER is Director of the Young Leaders Program. As Director of the Young Leaders Program, Julia leads Pacific Forum’s efforts to prepare young professionals for careers international policy affairs. Julia is responsible for the daily activities of the program and for developing ways to constantly improve the experience of the young leaders. Previously, Julia held a resident Kelly Fellowship at the Pacific Forum CSIS. Prior to that, she worked as Associate Director for Programs at the Korea Economic Institute (KEI) in Washington, DC, managing the logistics for hundreds of Korea Economic Institute events and coordinating the internship program. Following her tenure at the Korea Economic Institute, she then joined the Columbia University team of Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph Stiglitz as Special Assistant, where she was responsible for coordinating his speaking engagements, travel, teaching, and writing. Julia is a recent graduate of Columbia University’s Masters in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program. Her areas of interest include Korean peninsula security; environmental conflict; and climate change. Ms. Gardner received her BA in politics and Asian studies from Fairfield University in Connecticut.

Ms. Sarah Soo-Kyung HENRIET is the Young Leaders Program Fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS. She assists the director of the Young Leaders Program with daily program activities, conference logistics, and developing strategies to improve the program. Previously, Sarah was a Program Manager at International Student Conferences (ISC), a non-profit organization based in Washington DC. At ISC, Sarah managed the Korea-America Student Conference (KASC), an intense leadership program that organizes month-long conferences in both Korea and the US. In this capacity, she worked with numerous universities as well as private and public sector partners in the US and Korea, and launched a trilateral symposium bringing together KASC and its sister program JASC (Japan-America Student Conference). She also has experience working at the National Assembly in South Korea, an IT company in Beijing, and a non-profit organization based in Honolulu. Sarah earned her BA in International Relations with a focus on East-Asia from American University in Washington DC. Born in France and raised in South Korea, Sarah speaks French, Korean, English, and Mandarin Chinese. She is an avid runner and hiker, and loves traveling the world whenever she finds time!