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Humphrey Fellows Fall22 Group

DC Forum Primes Fellows for Global Leadership

November 21, 2022

When this year’s international cohort of Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows arrived at the Maxwell School this fall, they came hungry for opportunities to develop the leadership skills and connections that would help them drive positive change around the world. The 14 fellows, midcareer professionals from 13 countries, had the chance to pursue those goals in a big way when they attended the four-day U.S. State Department Global Leadership Forum in October in Washington, D.C.

The forum is an early highlight of the 10-month Humphrey Fellowship, for which Syracuse University is one of 13 host campuses. Sponsored by the State Department and administered by the Institute of International Education, the program draws applicants from emerging democracies and developing countries to pursue professional development, graduate study and cultural exchange at a U.S. host campus.

During their fellowship year, the fellows—who this year include 157 midcareer professionals from over 90 countries—explore critical global challenges of the 21st century and gain insights from one another’s diverse perspectives. Fellows also secure a professional six-week internship related to their professional goals.

The annual Global Leadership Forum supports those goals on the national stage, convening the full cohort of fellows in Washington, D.C., to engage with one another and with leaders across government, multinational organizations and the private sector.

“These are people from all around the world, all committed to making the world a better place, and we want them to learn from and build relationships with one another and with our U.S. organizations that will continue after they go back home and resume their work,” says Margaret Lane, director of Maxwell’s Humphrey Fellowship program.

Fellows heard presentations on election transparency and accountability, data literacy and disinformation, among other topics. They also engaged with State Department representatives on regional policy issues. Lane hosted a reception for the Syracuse cohort to network with Maxwell School Executive Education and Humphrey program alumni.

One of the featured forum speakers, Julio Herrera Toledo, is a Maxwell Humphrey alumnus. Toledo gave the alumni keynote address, which focused on the work of his Guatemala-based nonprofit, Red Ciudadana, to foster citizen engagement and government transparency. He also spoke as a panelist on his internship experience with the Tech Garden, a Syracuse-based technology incubator, during his fellowship year.

“The Humphrey fellows are all agents of change, and they already have important work that they are doing,” Toledo says of the fellowship experience. “And to come together in the United States and connect with others and their work—it really allows us all to keep growing, to think in different ways, and to set bigger goals.”

Yuliia Fediv, of Ukraine, attended as part of the Maxwell cohort. She says it was “an excellent opportunity to meet all the Humphrey fellows from all over the world, exchange our ideas and experience, and gain new contacts for future professional development.” She also valued discussing potential professional opportunities with program alumni. While she says the schedule was quite full, she adds that she would have welcomed even more presenters because “The best way to improve yourself is through learning from the best, the existing role models.”

Lane, who accompanied the Maxwell cohort, says each Global Leadership Forum leaves her inspired. “It’s amazing to be together with 157 professionals from around the world, all of whom are invested in improving the lives of others, who come here to learn from each other and then go back to work on implementing solutions,” she says. “You leave with such a sense of optimism, with a bounce in your step, and with the feeling that we’re really going to be OK.”