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Harvard’s Institute of Politics announced Thursday its inaugural cohort of Emerging Leaders, a new IOP initiative that will bring seven young “changemakers” to Harvard for a multi-day program in April.
The selected members — Batouly Camara, Kellen Hoard, Zoë Jenkins, Marcus McNeill, David Nelson, Anna Siegel, and Lily Joy Winder — champion a variety of issues ranging from climate justice to military family support to Native activism. The cohort will discuss their work and connect with each other, Harvard students, faculty, and seasoned political organizers during their time at the IOP.
IOP Director Mark D. Gearan ’78 said in a press release that he looks forward to welcoming the group to Harvard.
“Our IOP Emerging Leaders are an extraordinary group of young leaders from diverse backgrounds in public service, advocacy, and politics, but with a shared passion and commitment to tackling the challenges facing our country and world,” he said.
Former IOP Vice President Kevin L. Ballen ’22, who organized the Emerging Leaders program, said he is enthusiastic about the group’s diversity.
“What makes me so excited about this cohort is just that amazing array of experiences, issue [areas], approaches to social change work,” he said. “But it’s all sort of connected by this passion, and motivation, and drive to do important things for the world.”
Ballen said the initiative was inspired by the IOP’s resident fellows program and an IOP forum with the Parkland students who would go on to form the March For Our Lives organization.
The Emerging Leaders is “a way that we could kind of combine the magic of that visit and some of the magic of our fellows,” he said.
Ballen said the program aims to benefit both the cohort of young leaders and Harvard students.
“The goals, of course, are to celebrate, and elevate, and uplift incredible young people from across the country,” Ballen said. “But also to inspire folks on campus as well.”
McNeill, a high-school student from Boston chosen to participate in the program, said it was a “huge honor” to be selected.
“When I initially applied for the program, I kind of fell in love with really what the Emerging Leaders program was about,” he said.
McNeill became the youngest person to serve on a mayoral transition committee in Boston, when Boston Mayor Michelle Wu appointed him to the position following her election.
He said he and his peers will learn from each other through the program.
“If I have a certain skill that someone else as part of our program might not have, I can offer my expertise or vice versa,” he said.
McNeill praised the IOP for acknowledging the efforts of young activists and leaders.
“It’s really important to highlight the good work that these people are doing,” he said. “There are a lot of young people out there doing amazing work, and oftentimes those people don't get recognized.”
“It’s a bold move by the Institute of Politics to really realize that young people are the future,” he added.
Ballen said the plan is for Emerging Leaders to become an annual initiative.
“We hope that the program is something that we can continue doing in the future,” he said.
—Staff writer Miles J. Herszenhorn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MHerszenhorn.
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