You aren’t doing your job if you’re not thinking about engaging, mentoring, and supporting the people who will do it when you are gone. That’s why I’m on the Houston executive board for New Leaders Council. The mission:
New Leaders Council (NLC) is a 501(c)(3) that works to recruit, train and promote the progressive political entrepreneurs of tomorrow — trendsetters, elected officials and civically-engaged leaders in business and industry who will shape the future landscape.
I’d like to tell you a bit more about it, and ask for your help building it.
NLC chapters—ours is the first in Texas, but there are 39 other chapters around the country—select a fellowship class each year to take part in our leadership and political entrepreneurship institute. Fellows spend one weekend each month for the first half of the year engaged in a curriculum that gives them a deeper understanding of progressive policy and history which enables them to participate more effectively in civic and political life.
It isn’t a candidate training school, or exclusively for people who want to work in politics or policy. Instead, NLC fellows are recruited from all sectors and industries, because progressive policies need advocates in boardrooms, power plants, and union halls just as much as we need them in classrooms, hospitals, and state houses.
Our executive board recruits a class of people from all backgrounds who stand out for their expertise and accomplishments, accelerating and encouraging their development. It isn’t just a group of individuals who happen to be in the same room at the same time, however, because we also select a fellowship class with an eye toward how they will work together and teach each other.
What’s a political entrepreneur? Here’s a longer discussion, but think of what frustrates you about politics today, like partisanship over progress or poll-driven incrementalism, and then consider an alternative driven by principles of disruptive innovation backed by a commitment to progressive ideals. It is hard to bottom-line it, but that’s a start.
I encourage you to read more on the New Leaders Council website. The Houston page won’t go live until our first fellowship class is announced in December, but the site gives you the big picture.
Here’s how you can help now. Nominate potential fellows and encourage them to apply. Who are we looking for? A few parameters I suggest:
- People in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who are on track to become leaders in their profession or area of passion.
- Progressives who value diversity and approach social issues with an intersectional lens.
- Dynamic participants in civic life who vote, follow the news, move through the world with compassion, and aren’t too cynical to wonder what they can do for their country.
Does that sound like you? Or who you are becoming and who you’d like to spend time with? You should apply!
Now, of course, there’s a cost. Good news, though. There’s a $30 application fee, but fellows, rather than pay tuition, work with the executive to raise the funds that support the program. In a city where some leadership programs cost around $4,000 …
If you’re tired of politics as usual, and want a more progressive and prosperous future for our state, I encourage you to take ownership of the challenge to engaging younger generations to help make that happen. It won’t all happen through New Leaders Council, but we’re a key part of it, so let’s get to work.