Our mission is to facilitate peer-led leadership development through experience-based education, unique shared experiences, and the forging of authentic bonds with graduate students across the different Harvard graduate schools, with the greater goal of advancing social impact. This mission is largely based on the practices and fundamentals of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a global network of young chief executives that has approximately 21,000 members across 125 countries. YPO was founded on the basis that young, successful individuals face a unique set of challenges and experiences. Similarly, graduate students face particular obstacles that necessitate a type of leadership development specific to those unique experiences.
Our program was originally founded by graduate students at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School who felt that the current opportunities for authentic leadership development were missing a critical cross-school multidisciplinary perspective. A pilot with students from the Kennedy, Business, and Medical Schools occurred in Spring 2012, and the second cohort was recruited Harvard-wide in Fall 2012. Since that time, we welcomed over 420 participants, and we continue to be led by program alumni. In Spring 2016, our alumni who were dual-degree students at both Harvard and MIT launched a peer program for graduate students at MIT, which to date has had more than 200 participants. In 2019, we joined in partnership with the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University to further elevate the shared mission of both organizations to advance social impact across communities in the world.
The program is comprised of two main components:
1) a two day retreat at the beginning of the semester, and
2) six to seven weekly sessions held during the semester; participating students will do the program experience part of a cohort, and they will also be part of a smaller Forum group within the cohort for more individualized work, learning, sharing, and relationship building
3) continued Forum group meetings in the spring semester which will include engagement and mentoring with Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellows. All participants will also co-host one event in the spring to share lessons learned with other students.
Current fellows are required to attend the retreat and all weekly sessions in their entirety. The purpose of the retreat is to set the tone for the rest of the program and begin to forge bonds among the fellows. The weekly sessions build upon the leadership development, discovery, and connections that are initiated on the retreat.
We also invite the current cohort to alumni opportunities and events, including social events, speakers, and trips.