Mongolia’s young, emerging leaders to be empowered

The Mongol Messenger
2016-09-23 09:45:52

LEAD Mongolia program launched, applicants invited

Try clapping your hands with just the pinkies.  It is as good as mute.  Now try adding your ring and middle fingers.  You could hear something, but not as audible as you would like.  Now clap with all five fingers as you usually do.  We get a noise which is usually made when people express their appreciation and enthusiasm.  The LEAD Mongolia program intends to achieve the same result by building Mongolia’s next generation of democratic leaders.

On September 21, a launch event took place at Corporate Hotel & Convention Center to celebrate the program’s inauguration and encourage interested emerging leaders to apply. US based nonprofit organization 'World Learning' officially launched its new Leaders Advancing Democracy (LEAD) – Mongolia project in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development.

'World Learning' is working to promote leadership, empower people and strengthen institutions through education, sustainable development and exchange program in more than 75 countries, has been active in Mongolia since 2000 through its Experiment in International Living, SIT Study Abroad programs and international exchanges.  Other partners in the program include the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonprofit organization founded in 1983 and began working in Mongolia in 1992 to provide parliamentary development assistance, support civil society organizations, and the Center for Citizenship Education (CEE), a Mongolian nonprofit organization established in 1992 with a mission to produce knowledgeable, skilled and active citizens in a democratic society.

Mongolia’s youth encouraged to engage

LEAD Mongolia was introduced to support US Ambassador to Mongolia Jennifer Zimdahl Galt’s initiative to support the country’s next generation of democratic leaders.  The program didn’t just fall from the sky, it was previously announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Mongolia on June 5 as he encouraged young Mongolian leaders to use their voice to further their country’s democratic efforts. 

Ambassador of the United States to Mongolia Jennifer Zimdahl Galt

Ambassador Galt began her speech saying, “Since my arrival in Mongolia in September 2015, one of my priorities has been to engage with young people across this country.  I am truly excited at the opportunity to deepen our engagements with Mongolia’s next generation of democratic decision makers through LEAD Mongolia project”.  She continued, “For more than 25 years, Mongolia has served as the model of a peaceful and successful democratic transition.  Today, Mongolia is well-positioned to share its experiences with other emerging democracies and serve as a role model in the region”. 

“Since I arrived in Mongolia last year, I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of speaking with many young people who are dedicated to ensuring a positive future for Mongolia.  We’ve heard you say that your voices are not heard, or heeded.  But Mongolia’s emerging, young leaders need more opportunities to engage in decision making, to find opportunities to bring about the change you seek.  This is where the Lead Mongolia project comes in”, Ambassador Galt remarked.  She concluded with a note that the US and Mongolia will celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations next year, and said “I am confident that our close cooperation will continue to expand”. 

The next speaker was Carol Jenkins, President of World Learning who travelled from Washington, DC to attend the event.  “We are honored to partner with USAID on this important initiative.  Our project creates a partnership whereby Mongolia’s best and brightest emerging leaders are given a unique opportunity to breathe life into their own vision of positive change.  This is accomplished through a variety of leadership programs, international exchanges, and civic education activities”, she said.  She encouraged visionary young Mongolians to apply for the program, and urged the disabled community to also take part without hesitation.

LEAD Mongolia is the fruit of a productive partnership

LEAD Mongolia targets to strengthen leadership development and provide opportunities for Mongolia’s up-and-coming democracy advocates to pursue positive change.  The program is made up of three components, each reinforcing the next.  First, a US-Mongolia Emerging Leaders Exchange Program with 90 young leaders from a variety of sectors; Second, LEAD Mongolia Alliance, which will connect Mongolian young leaders with counterparts in the region; and third, development of civic education curriculum for teachers with the aim of encouraging civic engagement on the high school level, including sponsored competitions in which students take action to improve their schools and communities.  The US Exchange Program is an essential component to expose emerging leaders to American leaders and organizations that have experience advocating for positive change in these three areas. 

Over the next two years, Lead Mongolia will work with chosen participants from different sectors – civil society, media, government, private sector and academia.  Through projects and other activities, the participants will focus on three important policy themes – environment and urbanization, poverty alleviation and unemployment and transparency and anticorruption.   At the conclusion of LEAD Mongolia, these young leaders will have the requisite skills, knowledge, and networks to engage constructively with the government and community organizations, as well as other key institutions in order to improve democratic outcomes. 

Drawing on its strong regional presence and experience, IRI will provide opportunities to use new knowledge, create an international youth-led network, leverage Mongolia’s expertise as a regional mentor, and build connections with emerging democracies.  As a Mongolian organization, CCE provides an understanding of the local context, offers extensive experience in civic education, and will develop a new curriculum for high school students across the country.  “I am very grateful that our organization was selected for this program.  It shows that Mongolian NGOs are now capable of working with international organizations on big projects”, said R.Narangerel, Executive Director of CCE. 

In the framework of its mission, CCE published and circulated handbooks reflecting the core principles of democracy such as responsibility, justice, individual involvement and power for pupils of primary and secondary schools in Mongolia.  In frames of LEAD Mongolia, the organization is set to publish these books for high school students, train facilitators, organize trainings and workshops for the teaching of these publications and implement its ‘Project Citizen’. 

90 leaders will emerge to make positive change

LEAD Project Director Adam LeClair

“Right now, Mongolia is the only LEAD country”, LEAD Project Director Adam LeClair said.  And as the program progresses, the leaders from Mongolia will be connected to like-minded peers from other countries.  “The emerging leaders here are standing, they have a lot of experience, and there is a new generation here that’s growing up with democratic systems, and they could share their experience with those of other democracies”, he explained.

He introduced the criteria for the candidates for us.  Applicants should be of age 25-40 with at least 5 years of professional or volunteer experience.  “Our vision is to take people who are already demonstrating leadership potential and we want to provide them the opportunity to bring them up to the next level of leadership”, he said.  The candidates should have a unique vision for positive democratic development in Mongolia and be committed to dedicate time and efforts for their vision to materialize.  “The program involves a US exchange so they need to speak fluent English.  We need people through the application process to articulate that they’re committed to positive reform, change, human dignity; we really want to hear people’s ideas”, he said. 

The application deadline is October 14, and the first 30 participants will be selected by November this year.  From January to February, the participants will attend the exchange program in the US after which the real challenge and work will come.  Next year, the program will select 60 leaders half of whom will be following the same procedure as the first 30.  The selection process of the remaining group of 30 won’t be restricted to language requirements as the group will be doing activities in Mongolia.  For more information about the program and to apply, interested people need visit   


Photography: N.Batbayar


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