Duration: October 2015 to September 2017
Funder: U.S. Department of State
Over a period of two years the US State Department-funded Leaders for Democracy Fellowship (LDF) program aims to support 100 civil society leaders from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to more effectively address current political and social challenges in their communities. A US and Lebanon-based yearly fellowship combines five weeks of academic learning with a nine-week practicum where Fellows gain knowledge, skills, and experience needed to address complex local economic, environmental, political, and social challenges and cultivate professional ties with US and MENA institutions. LDF also creates opportunities for information sharing and collaborative projects through a dynamic alumni network in order to sustain and build upon this learning.
Photo: Omar Chatriwala/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND
A mirrored academic component is implemented in Lebanon in partnership with the American University of Beirut (AUB) and in the US in partnership with the University of Virginia (UVA). Fellows spend the first five weeks at their respective university completing practical coursework in thematic areas of leadership, communication, advocacy, peace and conflict transformation, democracy, and change management. Self-reflection assignments, one-on-one advising and group discussion throughout the five weeks help Fellows link their academic coursework to their program objectives and longer-term professional goals.
Following the academic component, a nine-week practicum in Lebanon takes place in Beirut, while the practicum in the US takes place in Washington, DC. During the practicum each Fellow is placed in an organization aligned with his/her interests and provided the opportunity to apply their academic learning in a practical setting while working on a mutually beneficial project with the organization they are placed with.
Throughout the program LDF supports current and new alumni by developing and providing a platform for the network of alumni practitioners to maintain contact, share resources and information, and collaborate on joint initiatives across the MENA region. Additionally online and in-person activities are conducted to assist with the professional development of the alumni and the network itself.