Young Leaders FAQs


What is the Young Leaders Program?
The Young Leaders Program selects up-and-coming young professionals and scholars to participate in Pacific Forum policy dialogues and conferences, which are normally limited to seasoned experts. The program serves as a catalyst for training young professionals in international policy affairs at an early juncture in their careers, while also giving greater voice to the next generation’s viewpoints within the elite circles of policy specialists.

What is the purpose of the Young Leaders Program?

  • To train participants in the practical aspects and complexities of policy-making
  • To generate a greater exchange of views between young and seasoned professionals
  • To promote cross-cultural interaction and cooperation among younger professionals
  • To enrich dialogues with generational perspectives for the benefit of all attendees

Who is qualified to apply to the Young Leaders Program?

The person best suited to participate in the Young Leaders program is at the beginning stages of their career. They have received a bachelor’s degree and has several years of relevant professional experience in Asia Pacific security issues, or has completed or is in the process of completing a master’s or PhD degree in similar areas. The ideal age range is from 25-35, but there is flexibility based on the applicant’s level of experience. We are looking for individuals who demonstrate an aptitude for international diplomacy; an interest in Asia-Pacific security issues; a desire to learn and gain leadership experience; and strong communication and teamwork skills.

How can I apply to the Young Leaders Program?
Fill out the online application form and upload the required documents (short writing sample, CV, statement of interest). Letters of recommendation (optional) may be sent to within one week of submitting the online application. Admissions committees convene in the fall and spring to review applications after the following deadlines: April 30 and October 30. Applications submitted between October 31 and April 30 will receive an admission decision by May 30. Applications submitted between May 1 and October 30 will receive an admission decision by November 30. Applicants will be notified via email. Feel free to email us at with any questions or concerns.

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 varies widely. Young Leaders who come from universities, employers, or other organizations that wish to sponsor the cost of their own attendance may sometimes have an advantage over those who require full funding from Pacific Forum, however, you will not be expected to financially support your own participation. Young Leaders who have the ability to self-fund their partcipation in a conference should indicate this when filling out an event application form.

What are the time commitments to be a Young Leader?
You can be as involved as your time permits. Conferences usually take 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. There is no “typical” conference attendance as the topics, funding, expertise, and demographic considerations all affect the make-up of a young leader group at a meeting.

How are conference participants selected?

  • You must first be accepted into the Young Leaders Program.
  • You must have demonstrated knowledge of and interest in the specific conference topic.
  • You will have to submit a conference application form (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).
  • Evaluations will be based on the following criteria:
    • If you have attended an event in the past, you have demonstrated commitment to the program through active participation during and after the program (this includes: showing proper decorum, contributing creatively to projects, meeting established deadlines, working well with others).
    • Since we operate with limited support, partial or full funding from your university, organization, or yourself is taken into consideration.
    • We seek balance of gender and nationalities in each program (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). We also seek balance of young leaders from diverse backgrounds: academic, private sector, government, NGOs, etc.

    What is the code of conduct and expectations for Young Leaders at conferences?

    Young Leaders are expected to abide by our rules of general etiquette, professionalism, commitment, and participation. In addition, we expect Young Leaders to respect cultural sensitivity and language barriers. Young Leaders are expected to participate in ALL scheduled activities and conference projects as assigned. The Young Leaders Program features several “programs” each year that are attached to senior level conferences held throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Each program may also include Young Leaders breakfasts, meetings, roundtable discussions, and sometimes all-day cultural and educational tours.

    Before joining the Young Leaders program you need to commit yourself to:

    • Active 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 actively comment, without dominating group discussions.
    • Completion of ALL Young Leaders projects. Each conference will result in at least one project and/or publication. You will receive instructions prior to and during the program, and most of the time these are group projects. You will need to collaborate in the writing process and ensure that the project is submitted to Pacific Forum by the given deadline.
    • Readings. For every program, we provide an advance reading list. You are expected to have completed these readings in order to be prepared for the program.

    I submitted my interest for a conference, 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 a conference yet. May I still identify myself as a Young Leader?
    Since ours is a competitive process from the beginning, once you have received a letter indicating you are a member of the Young Leaders Program, you may begin to identify yourself as a Young Leader. Acceptable position titles include: Pacific Forum Young Leader; Young Leader, Pacific Forum; and Young Leader, Young Leaders Program, Pacific Forum. Young Leaders who intentionally miscategorize their affiliation, such as claiming to be a “research fellow” when they have not been selected for a fellowship, will be immediately removed from the Young Leaders Program.

    Am I over the age limit for the Young Leaders Program? How can I remain involved at Pacific Forum?
    Our program goals and objectives are designed for the 25 to 35-year-old age demographic. However, Young Leaders over the age of 36 are welcome to retain the distingished “Young Leader” title. 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 one of 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, we need your help! 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?
    In 2013, Pacific Forum launched Young Leader chapters in key cities around the globe. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for event information. Should you wish to start a chapter in your city, please contact the program director for guidelines.