Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship Selects Inaugural Class of St. Louis Fellows

January 26, 2017

24 area youth ages 16 – 20 will make up the inaugural St. Louis cohort of Aspen Young Leaders Fellows.

James White
The Aspen Institute
202-297-3990 |

Becky Rasmussen
FOCUS St. Louis
314-657-4027 |

WASHINGTON, DC, January 26, 2017 – The Aspen Institute’s Youth & Engagement Programs today announced the selection of 24 area youth ages 16 – 20 for the inaugural St. Louis cohort of Aspen Young Leaders Fellows. The first new undertaking of The Aspen Institute’s Youth & Engagement Programs, Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship (AYLF) will develop values-driven young leaders and enable the next generation of citizens. With the help of AYLF, the 24 young people who make up the inaugural cohort of St. Louis Aspen Young Leaders Fellows will develop the skillset necessary to drive action in their communities for generations to come. They exude hope, optimism, and a commitment to leading the change they want to see in St. Louis.

The Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship is a new, place-based initiative of The Aspen Institute’s Youth & Engagement Programs that will develop the next generation of local, purpose-driven community leaders. In accordance with The Institute’s commitment to values-based, action-oriented leadership, AYLF will foster substantive thought around the values and perspectives necessary to face the challenges in urban and rural communities across America. Cohorts will meet over the course of two years, a portion of which will be dedicated to Fellows building the skills necessary to engage effectively with their communities, and a portion of which will implore Fellows to use those skillsets to take action to solve critical issues facing the St. Louis region.

The 24 young people who make up the inaugural cohort of AYLF St. Louis Fellows bring together athletes, future doctors, social activists, musicians, theologians, inventors, entrepreneurs, and world travelers. They represent a diversity of genders and racial and ethnic identities, are high school students, college students, and hold part-time jobs. “We are excited about the opportunity to launch our inaugural cohort in the St. Louis region in partnership with FOCUS-St. Louis. I’m inspired by the commitment and passion exhibited by these young people, and I look forward to learning more about the region through their experiences,” said Zakiya Reid, Director of AYLF.

In St. Louis, MO, AYLF is partnering with FOCUS St. Louis, a locally based leadership organization with a shared passion for preparing diverse leaders to work cooperatively for a thriving St. Louis region through experience-based leadership training, civic issue education, and public engagement initiatives. “We are so pleased to partner with our friends and colleagues at The Aspen Institute in launching the Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship,” said Dr. Yemi Akande-Bartsch, President and CEO of FOCUS St. Louis. Dr. Akande-Bartsch continued, “This collaboration allows us to not only deepen our collective impact, but train young leaders to serve as catalysts for change in our region.” The first session of AYLF programing in St. Louis will take place Feb. 3 -4. More information on AYLF can be found here.

To stay engaged with Aspen Youth & Engagement Programs, follow @AspenInstYouth.

Youth & Engagement Programs is a new strategic focus area for The Aspen Institute to incubate and grow programs that work directly with young people ages 14 to 24. Youth & Engagement Programs’ mission is to empower generations of thoughtful, socially-conscious, and diverse young people engaged in solving the critical issues of the day through programming that is effective, scalable, and capable of broadening the reach of The Institute beyond the constituencies it currently serves. Youth & Engagement Programs’ team values are: We argue joyfully. We are equals. We boldly seek excellence to transform society. We act with graciousness and gratitude in all we do.

The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. The Institute is based in Washington, DC and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit 

FOCUS St. Louis is a regional leadership organization dedicated to preparing a diverse base of leaders to work cooperatively for a thriving St. Louis. FOCUS St. Louis convenes more than 10,000 people each year through eight leadership programs, numerous civic engagement initiatives, and an active alumni network. FOCUS St. Louis operates around the core values of quality leadership, civic involvement, community collaboration, equity, and regional perspective.

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