About the ASG Rising Leaders Program


The Aspen Institute has earned a reputation for gathering diverse, nonpartisan thought leaders, creatives, scholars, and members of the public to address some of the world's most complex problems. But the goal of these convenings is to have an impact beyond the conference room. They are designed to provoke, further, and improve actions taken in the real world.

As part of the Aspen Institute, the Aspen Strategy Group and Aspen Security Forum have been strongly committed to cultivating the next generation of leaders in national security and foreign policy, formally and informally, since their inceptions. Historically, Aspen Security Forum Scholars have gathered in Aspen once a year for the in-person Aspen Security Forum. Now that we have pivoted to virtual gatherings — with a view to in-person events recommencing when safe in 2021 — we offered the opportunity to young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35 and/or within the first 5-10 years of employment to participate in the inaugural Aspen Strategy Group Rising Leaders Program. Hailing from diverse backgrounds and sectors, all Rising Leaders have one thing in common – their passion for national security and foreign policy. 


Participants contribute to the conversation on critical foreign policy issues while honing their leadership skills in the prestigious setting of the non-partisan Aspen Security Forum. The 10-month cohort for 2021 began in late March.

As a group, Rising Leaders exchange ideas with: world leaders; senior government officials; members of Congress; journalists; prominent thinkers and practitioners in academia, policy, and business; and Aspen Strategy Group members. This offers an unparalleled opportunity for participants to learn from key decision makers—and each other—under the aegis of the Aspen Strategy Group. The curriculum includes work on group and/or individual papers to be published on our website and newsletter. The Rising Leaders will also become part of a lifetime network of alumni, which offers the chance to further connect with other bold thinkers in national security. Over the course of their careers, Rising Leaders will be considered for Forum participation, partnership opportunities, and have a lasting affinity to our public and policy programs. In line with the Aspen Institute’s mission, they will ultimately drive change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the greatest challenges of our time.

Why join the Rising Leaders Program?

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Over the course of the program, participants will:

  • Develop and hone their leadership skills

  • Participate in breakout conversations and monthly meetings with high-level officials

  • Attend special workshops and trainings with Aspen Strategy Group members

  • Contribute to the conversation at the Aspen Security Forum

  • Have the opportunity to engage with world leaders, senior government officials, members of Congress, journalists, prominent thinkers and practitioners in academia, policy, and business

  • Present and publish a relevant policy paper

  • Join a lifetime network of Rising Leaders alumni, which offers the chance to further connect with other bold thinkers in national security

  • Have a connection to the Aspen Strategy Group and be considered for partnership opportunities throughout their career

Questions about the program? Please contact Kathleen Shea at AspenStrategyGroup@AspenInst.org

Questions about sponsorships? Please contact Deb Cunningham at Deb.Cunningham@AspenInst.org.


Do I have to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to be considered for the program?

Yes. Members of the Class of 2021 were required to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. However, this may change in the coming years. We encourage interested non-U.S. applicants to keep apprised of our future programming.

I am not within the age range and/or 5-10 years of employment. Can I still apply next year?

We will take the preferred qualifications into consideration; however, anyone may apply.

Is there a fee to participate?

No. If you are chosen to be a member of the ASG Rising Leaders Program, there is no fee required to participate. However, if you are a U.S. citizen/permanent resident currently abroad, only domestic airfare to the Aspen Security Forum (if in-person) will be paid for by the program.

​Are full-time employees, including journalists, active-duty military, and government employees eligible to participate in the program?


Can previous Aspen Security Forum Scholars or people involved in other Aspen programs apply?


When will you announce the application process for the Class of 2022?

More information on the application process and program for the class of Class of 2022 will be announced in fall/winter 2021. You can subscribe to our newsletter for early access to further updates.