Aspen Institute Announces Inaugural Aspen Index Impact Fellows

September 29, 2022

Aspen Index Impact Fellows represent more than 90 professionals and youth working to increase access to and quality of youth leadership development.


Contact: John Dugan
Executive Director
Youth Leadership Research & Impact

Washington, DC, September 29, 2022
— The Aspen Institute is pleased to announce the Aspen Index Impact Fellowship bringing together more than 90 community stakeholders in a movement to advance the future of youth leadership development. Our fellows include college presidents, senior leaders, educators, and youth from across the United States.

Impact Fellows—representing a diverse mosaic of sectors, geographies, and areas of expertise—will advance an urgent agenda focused on the research, interventions, and strategies necessary to accelerate the access to, and quality of, youth leadership programs nationally. The goal of this initiative is to lift youth exposure to high-quality leadership programs above 50% over the next five years.

“At few times has the need for a generation of values-driven, community-oriented youth leaders been more apparent. We can no longer take leadership development for granted,” shared Aspen Index Founder, Dr. John Dugan, “We must provide opportunities for youth to cultivate their talent to address growing political, social, and scientific issues – not in some distant future, but today.”

“I cannot remember a time where I have been this honored to be in the company of such brilliant scholars, educators, and thoughtful youth committed to elevating the conversation and expanding the invitation to leadership development,” said inaugural Aspen Index Impact Fellow Dr. Darren Pierre of University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering. “I believe the possibilities and potential of what can come forth from this Index fellowship cohort are immense.”

Fewer than 32% of youth under the age of 25 in the United States are exposed to any form of leadership development. Even fewer are exposed to programs with the necessary quality to make a meaningful difference in participants’ lives. Both of these realities exist despite evidence that youth leadership development is a critical factor for educational persistence, workforce readiness, and civic engagement.

Driving the work of the Impact Fellows is the Aspen Institute Leadership Development Index (Aspen Index), a forthcoming digital tool measuring core leadership capacities to accelerate personal and professional growth. The Aspen Index will help to increase youth access to leadership development as well as improve program quality.

The Aspen Index is a vehicle for self-assessment, 360 feedback, team asset mapping, and evaluating program impact. Leveraging more than 20 years of academic research, it equips individuals, teams, and programs to define, measure, and elevate their potential and deepen their impacts. Profits generated by use of the Aspen Index directly support programs at the Aspen Institute including those that work with youth and families from the lowest quartile of the socio-economic ladder.

Impact Fellows will aid in the development, optimization, and beta-testing of the Aspen Index as well as co-create the supporting learning architecture to ensure its success. This work dove-tails with major reports to be released on the future of youth leadership research and practice. Together, the Aspen Institute is working with Impact Fellows to create a movement of greater access to and quality of youth leadership programs.

Click here to learn more about the 2022 Aspen Index Impact Fellows. 

For more information about the Aspen Institute Leadership Development Index, visit our website.


This initiative is supported by the Kern Family Foundation, the Hagerty Family Foundation, the Bezos Family Foundation, and the Allstate Foundation.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, please visit

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