Washington Ireland Program launches largest ever 2021 Class featuring over 100 diverse young leaders

  • Over 100 young leaders from across Northern Ireland and Ireland have been selected for the Washington Ireland Program’s largest ever Class, which launches today (3 June).

    The Ireland-US leadership development programme usually involves 30 third-level education students per year.

    Making the best of current circumstances, it has expanded to 108 and, for the first time, also includes students with caring responsibilities who would not usually travel to the United States and those studying part-time courses.

    Since 1995, the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) has enabled over 750 young leaders across the island of Ireland to work in the likes of the US Congress and Senate while staying with an American host family in Washington D.C. and New York City.

    Previous students have interned in the offices of then Senators Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Prior to arrival at the White House, the program has been applauded by President Joe Biden in 2016 as an example of the “special” relationship between Ireland and America and praised by the House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2019.

    The initiative seeks students who demonstrate leadership potential, have a strong track record of service, and are committed to build a bright future for the island of Ireland. Notable Program alums include the Tánaiste and former Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD and prominent Stormont representatives including Claire Sugden MLA, Matthew O’Toole MLA, and Chris Lyttle MLA.

    RELATED: How two NI brothers built a global fintech platform with no external funding

    A range of business leaders, including Molly Muldoon, Senior Director at the global marketing agency Wunderman Thompson, Co-Founder and CEO of Wayflyer, Aidan Corbett, and Kieran O’Connor, Vice President of Operations at Options Technology, have also taken part in the program.

    The Class of 2021 will not travel state-side but will engage in a hybrid programme of work placements with prestigious international companies, learn from WIP’s renowned leadership development curriculum, and meet with senior global leaders in Dublin and Belfast before graduating in September.

    This follows the success of the Program’s first ever virtual programme held last year, where 30 students graduated without setting foot in the United States. Using Zoom, students were given the exclusive opportunity to engage with leading figures in American politics including Jen O’Malley Dillon, President Joe Biden’s 2020 Campaign Manager, who is now Deputy Chief of Staff in the White House.

    The 2021 Class includes students from further education colleges such as the Belfast Metropolitan College and universities across the UK and Ireland. Among this year’s Class is a Nigerian-born solicitor studying in Dublin City University, a City Councillor studying in Lancaster University, and a victim’s support campaigner studying at Queen’s University Belfast.

    RELATED: US Consul General praises Washington Ireland Program 2020 grads for resilience despite Covid-19 challenges

    Bryan Patten, Executive Director of the Washington Ireland Program, said: “The 2021 programme will see students connect with global leaders in business, diplomacy and politics both virtually and in Dublin and Belfast. Despite being unable to travel to the United States, this year’s Class can still work for leading global companies on a remote basis, gaining invaluable experience for their future careers.

    "The diverse group will also work on developing policy proposals tackling pressing issues facing Northern Ireland and Ireland. We will have some of our brightest young minds thinking about how we address division and build social cohesion, how we create employment for young people after the pandemic and how we become a global leader in climate issues.

    “This year’s Class features those from all social, economic, and cultural backgrounds and reflects the next generation of leaders on the island of Ireland. I am privileged to welcome these incredible students to the WIP community, and I look forward to see them grow over the course of a busy summer.”

    Class of 2021 member, Kelly Welsh, a business student at Belfast Metropolitan College, has said: “I am delighted to have been chosen for the Washington Ireland Program’s Class of 2021 and feel privileged to be joining the accomplished and diverse WIP community. What drew me to apply for WIP was the opportunity to have my voice heard on major issues both here and in the United States. I look forward to meeting and learning from my fellow classmates, and together I believe we can truly invoke change throughout our communities for the better."

    RELATED: Further Education Colleges launch new Traineeship and Advanced Technical Awards

    Source: Written from press release

    About the author

    An article that is attributed to Sync NI Team has either involved multiple authors, written by a contributor or the main body of content is from a press release.

    Got a news-related tip you’d like to see covered on Sync NI? Email the editorial team for our consideration.

    Sign up now for a FREE weekly newsletter showcasing the latest news, jobs and events in NI’s tech sector.

Share this story