The flagship Leadership Program of the Aspen Institute Romania for the last 13 years, the fellowship based Young Leaders Program, has reached its 14th edition. The 2020 Young Leaders Program will bring increased regional and sectorial participation and create additional diversity and relevance for a growing Network of Aspen Fellows already covering 31 countries.

What is it about?

The Young Leaders Program gathers each year 20-25 high profile regional young leaders with a clear two-fold goal: to promote and advance progressive leadership within society; and to develop the regional network of Aspen Fellows, based on shared values and common interests.

The program consists of four modules taking place in Romania and is designed for people who have the potential, interest and determination to exercise leadership to the highest standards of civic and corporate responsibility and according to the ethical values on which Aspen is based. For this reason we offer a program which challenges people to think about the fundamental concepts on which our society is founded. It also makes participants reflect on the challenges and conflicts that leaders must face in deciding policies and strategies for their organizations and their communities in today’s world.

After the end of the program, the participants will become part of the community of Aspen Fellows and are expected to be actively involved in the activities and events of the Aspen Institute Romania, Aspen Fellows Network and Aspen International Network.

Who can participate?

The Program addresses people between the ages of 25 and 35, having achieved significant professional positions and accomplished results within their area of activity. Candidates should have demonstrated leadership potential, a record of initiative and entrepreneurship and a proven civic interest. We welcome candidates from: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Kosovo, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Participants are required to have a high level of English fluency, as it is the working language of the program.


The Institute will offer accepted candidates a scholarship covering the costs of accommodation, meals, moderation, reading materials and group transfer between Bucharest and the location of the seminar. The participants will only cover their transportation expenses between their places of residence and Bucharest (Romania).


Nominations can be made by submitting the following documentation in English:

  • The Nomination Form filled in and scanned, together with the ”Agreement to the processing of personal data”, signed by both the candidate and the nominator;
  • A letter of recommendation from the nominator;
  • The candidate’s CV (not longer than 3 pages);
  • The candidate’s letter of motivation (maximum 1 page long).

Incomplete documentation will not be considered for evaluation.

The documents are to be sent to Mr. Mihai Cucu-Dumitrescu, Leadership Programs & Community Engagement Officer, at, in PDF format, by March 10th, 2020. Interviews will take place between April 6 – 16, 2020 in Bucharest. For candidates not residing in Bucharest, the interviews can be conducted via Skype.


Module I: “The Aspen Seminar” (May 18 – 24, 2020)

Module I is a 7-day seminar modeled on the Aspen Institute Seminar, in which participants discuss the concepts of political and economic thinking that have shaped modern open societies.

Our proven method of text-based dialogue, used for more than 60 years around the world, offers participants a debate forum that guides their reflection on values and solidarity into successful and valuable action, as the main thrusts of societal progress. The readings spark discussions and an interest in exploring and debating topics of liberty and equality; ethics and responsibility; faith and spirituality or freedom and dissent – to name just a few.

The texts and the discussions that will emerge, moderated by Dr. Todd Breyfogle, Managing Director of Seminars from the Aspen Institute (USA) and co-moderated by Mădălina Mocan (Aspen fellow, Associate Teaching Assistant at Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca), will contribute to enhancing the ability of the participants to analyze and tackle with increasingly complex and global situations. In the process, the relevance of these ideas for modern, sustainable, values-based leadership of organizations will also be discussed. Stepping out from the realm of debates, during the 1-week module the participants will also be involved in a challenging outdoor exercise.

Module II: “Modern Leadership” (June 29 – July 5, 2020)

The second module aims at facilitating the understanding of diverse leadership styles and group synergies, but at the same time providing tools for focus, execution and productivity. The module encompasses practical discussions on communication, project management and community engagement techniques, but also outdoor activities. All the above, interlinked with a series of Socratic debates on topics of high relevance for today’s state of the world, helping the participants gain more self-awareness of their potential and role as young leaders of their communities.

Module III: “Leadership Challenges Today” (September 20-26, 2020)

The third module aims at offering participants a broader understanding of their role as leaders in contemporary society and a higher awareness of societal problems and possible ways to create positive change through various tools. It does that through a series of debates on specific topics, moderated by participants themselves and through a hands-on exercise in a disadvantaged community in Romania. During this module, participants will attend sessions designed to help them bring their community service projects one step closer to the implementation stage, with the help of skilled facilitators.

Module IV: “Community Service” (December 10, 2020)

Participants are expected to create or endorse an original community service project that they will further develop, individually or in groups. This type of involvement will illustrate the participant’s talent for creativity, persuasion, planning and delivery, team work and overall leadership. Projects may be developmental, communitarian, educational, or environmental. They should not be linked with any single political party initiative. Participants are invited to present their projects to Aspen Romania Members, Fellows, Alumni and guests at the end of the year.

The Aspen Leadership Awards and Gala Dinner (December 11, 2020)

The Aspen Leadership Awards and Gala Dinner is our most special annual event, an occasion for the members of the Institute and for the beneficiaries of the Aspen programs, especially our young leaders, to come together and to reflect on the impact that the Aspen community has on the development of the region.

For the current generation of Aspen Young Leaders Program, the Gala stands as an occasion to celebrate the end of an exceptional yearlong leadership journey and to formally welcome them in the extended Aspen community.


  1. Which are the requirements regarding the affiliation of the nominator?

The nominator should be familiar with the professional background of the nominee, entitled to outline the candidate’s suitability for the program, in terms of accomplished results in their field of activity, demonstrated leadership potential and proven civic interest.

  1. Should the letter of recommendation come from the nominator or from a third party referee?

The letter of recommendation and the Nomination form should be signed by the same person.

  1. Are there any CV formats preferred?

There are no CV formats preferred. However, please note that the CV should have no more than 3 pages.

  1. Are the 4 documents (Nomination form, letter of recommendation, letter of motivation and CV) supposed to be sent by the applicant in one file or should the nominator send the Nomination form and/or letter of recommendation separately?

The application file (consisting of all four documents, in PDF format) should be sent in one e-mail, either by the person making the nomination or by the candidate.

  1. Which are the stages of the selection process?

The selection process for candidates having submitted their application files involves the following steps: the documents’ screening phase and the interviewing phase. Firstly, all submitted files will undergo a screening phase, in which members of the Aspen community will analyze the candidate’s overall leadership potential, motivation, vision and record of initiative. Candidates who successfully pass the document screening phase will proceed to an interview with the Aspen Selection Committee, consisting of Aspen Members and Aspen Fellows.

  1. Are the participants expected to participate in all 4 modules?

The selected candidates are expected to fully take part in all four modules of the program and also to attend the Aspen Leadership Awards and Gala Dinner at the end of the year. Please be advised that for the selected candidates an attendance commitment is required.

  1. In the evaluation process, will it be taken into consideration the age of the candidate at the time of the submission of the nomination or at the beginning of the program?

A nominee must be between 25 and 35 years old at the time of the submission of the nomination.

  1. Can I still submit my nomination to Aspen Young Leaders Program if I was already granted a scholarship to another Aspen Institute Romania leadership program?

You cannot submit your nomination to Aspen Young Leaders Program in case you were already granted a scholarship to another Aspen Institute Romania leadership program being implemented in the course of the year 2020.

  1. Do I have to be a resident of one of the eligible countries in order to apply?

No, we accept applications from all citizens of the above-mentioned countries, regardless of their current place of residence.