Young Leaders FAQs


What is the Young Leaders Program?

The Young Leaders Program provides training and development for young professionals and scholars who endeavor to build a career in the fields of foreign policy, security studies, and international diplomacy. Young Leaders (YLs) are given privileged access to Pacific Forum dialogues and conferences normally limited to seasoned experts, allowing them to witness the policymaking process first-hand.

Who would benefit most from participating in the Young Leaders Program?

Those best suited to participate in the Young Leaders Program are in the beginning stages of their career. They have received a bachelor’s degree and have several years of relevant professional experience in Indo-Pacific security issues, or have completed or are in the process of completing a master’s or PhD degree in a relevant field of study. The ideal age range is from 25-35, but there is flexibility based on the applicant’s demonstrated level of experience. Additionally, those with a desire to broaden their knowledge base, expand their professional network, and strengthen relations between nations are strongly encouraged to apply.

How can I apply to the Young Leaders Program?

Fill out the online application and upload the required documents in PDF format (1-2 page writing sample, CV/resume, statement of interest). Letters of recommendation (optional) may be sent to within one week of submitting the online application. The admissions committee convenes in the fall and spring to review applications after the following deadlines: April 30 and October 31.

Applications submitted between October 31 and April 30 will receive a decision by May 31. Applications submitted between May 1 and October 31 will receive a decision by November 30. Applicants will be notified via email. Questions can be emailed to

What can I submit for the writing sample?

The selection committee uses the writing sample to gauge an applicant’s ability to write clearly and concisely and make sound, logical arguments in English. Please submit an original piece that is no more than two pages, single-spaced, in PDF format. Past academic papers, memos, and briefs are acceptable. Condensed versions of longer papers that summarize the main argument and draw a conclusion are acceptable. Previously published articles submitted as a PDF document are acceptable.

Submitting a full-length thesis, dissertation, or monograph, legislative bills, technical manuscripts, or writing that is found to be plagiarized can result in an application’s rejection.

If my application is denied, can I reapply?

Yes. If your application is not accepted, you are welcome to reapply after one year.

Is there an interview during the application process?

No. Due to the high volume of applications that we receive, we do not interview applicants individually.

What are my financial obligations?

Pacific Forum receives limited support from various sources to subsidize the cost of Young Leader participation in our conferences. The amount of funding available for each conference can vary widely. Young Leaders who come from universities, employers, or other organizations that wish to sponsor the cost of their attendance sometimes have an advantage over those who would require full funding from Pacific Forum, however, you will not be expected to financially support your attendance. Young Leaders who can to self-fund their attendance fully or partially (airfare, accommodations, ground transportation, conference fees, meals) should indicate this when filling out the event application form.

What is the time commitment to be a Young Leader?

You can be as involved as your time permits. Conferences (including travel) are usually 3-5 days and occur as many as 20 times per year. However, while there are 20 opportunities to attend meetings, most Young Leaders do not attend more than one or two annually. There is no maximum or minimum number you can attend. We encourage you to apply to as many meetings as you feel you would benefit from.

How many Young Leaders are selected to attend an event?

There is no regular quota for conference attendance as the topics, funding, expertise, and demographic considerations that affect the make-up of a Young Leader delegation vary from meeting to meeting. In the past we’ve accommodated anywhere from 1 to 15 Young Leaders at an event.

How do Young Leaders apply to attend conferences?

Event applications will open 1-3 months in advance and are announced on the Young Leaders LinkedIn group and in the YL Newsletter. Depending on the type of opportunity, Young Leaders may be shortlisted and contacted directly about applying. If interested in attending a meeting, Young Leaders need to submit their even application (contact info, short bio, head shot, home airport, and 250 words on how you will make a contribution to the meeting and how you will benefit from participating) before the stated due date.

What criteria are considered in selecting Young Leaders to attend events?

YLs are invited to attend Pacific Forum events based on the following considerations:

  • Previous attendance at Pacific Forum events (we try to give all YLs the opportunity to attend a conference);
  • Performance at previously attended events (including if you demonstrated professionalism throughout, made meaningful contributions to the dialogue, met established deadlines, worked well with others);
  • YL provision of partial or full funding from your university, organization, or yourself to cover attendance costs (airfare, accommodations, ground transportation, conference fees, meals);
  • Achieving a balanced representation of gender, nationalities, and academic/professional experience in each delegation (for example, if the meeting is a U.S.-China bilateral relations meeting we will try to invite an equal number of U.S. and Chinese Young Leaders and a couple of “other” nationalities that are interested in or connected with the subject).

What is expected of Young Leaders at conferences?

Young Leaders are expected to hold themselves to the highest caliber of professionalism, founded in universal principles of respect for all individuals regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or personal history. Given the international nature of our work, we expect Young Leaders to possess heightened sensitivities to cultural and language barriers and conduct themselves in the interest of advancing international cooperation.

  • Full participation. Young Leaders are expected to fully participate in all scheduled activities and conference projects as assigned. Outside of scheduled sessions, Young Leader Program agendas can include breakfast meetings, roundtable discussions with experts, and full-day cultural and educational tours.
  • Advanced preparation. A reading list will be provided to you in advance of the meeting. You are expected to complete these readings prior to your arrival.
  • Active and meaningful participation during discussions. You are invited to a conference not only because you have relevant experiences and interests, but also because you have a background that indicates you can make an interesting contribution. We expect you to contribute comments that serve to benefit the group’s collective learning experience, without dominating group discussions.
  • Completion of all Young Leaders assignments. Each conference will culminate in at least one project and/or publication that may be completed individually or in a group, depending on what is assigned. You are responsible for making a meaningful contribution and ensuring that your project is submitted to Pacific Forum by the given deadline.

I submitted the event application form, but no one has contacted me. What should I do?

If you have been selected to attend a conference, you will receive an invitation via email. Due to the high volume of applications, we are only able to respond to those who are selected to attend.

I have applied to the Young Leaders Program but have not been invited to a conference yet. May I still identify myself as a Young Leader?

Once you receive your acceptance letter into the Young Leaders Program, you may begin to identify yourself as a Young Leader. Acceptable position titles are “Pacific Forum Young Leader,” and “Young Leader, Pacific Forum.” Young Leaders who are found to have intentionally misrepresented their affiliation, such as labeling themselves as a “research fellow” when they have not been selected for a fellowship, will be removed from the Young Leaders Program.

I am a Young Leader over the age of 35. What is my designation and how can I remain involved at Pacific Forum?

Once Young Leaders reach 36 years of age, they automatically become Young Leader alumni and are no longer eligible for Young Leader activities. They are welcome to reference their Young Leader affiliation based on their cohort year. One’s cohort is the year they were admitted into the program. A Young Leader who was inducted into the program in 2005 retains a life-long title of, “Young Leader (2005 Cohort).”

Young Leaders who have significant industry experience and are regarded as an expert in their field may qualify to be a senior participant in Pacific Forum’s conferences. Qualified individuals are also welcome to apply to be a Pacific Forum adjunct fellow. Please email the program director and they will forward your inquiry to the relevant Pacific Forum executive.

How can I support the Young Leaders Program?

The Young Leaders Program relies on the generosity of philanthropic organizations and individual contributions. If you are inspired by what we do or want to get further involved, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We welcome introductions to individuals or organizations who might be interested in working with us and financial gifts of all sizes. For more information, contact the program director.

How can I meet other Young Leaders in my city?

Those admitted to the Young Leaders Program can request to join the LinkedIn group where they can see updates, connect with other Young Leaders, and view event opportunities. We also make general updates to the Young Leaders Facebook group.

In 2013 we launched Young Leaders Chapters in key cities around the globe. Chapter events are updated on social media. Should you wish to start a chapter in your city, please contact the program director for guidelines.