IOP Launches New Emerging Leaders Initiative


The Institute of Politics announced a new initiative Tuesday that will invite select young people with experience in politics and public service to visit Harvard in February 2022 to participate in politically-oriented programming.

The program, called Emerging Leaders, is open to people 14 to 25 within and beyond Harvard. The emerging leaders will also have the opportunity to engage with Harvard faculty, staff, and students about their work.

IOP Director Mark D. Gearan ’78 wrote in an emailed statement that the Emerging Leaders program “honors the mission of the IOP to inspire Harvard students to public service and politics.”

“Emerging leaders will have the chance to listen and learn from our students, faculty and staff. And, in turn, we will also learn from them as new leaders who are making a difference across the country,” Gearan said.


IOP Vice President Kevin L. Ballen ’22 said March for Our Lives student organizers visiting the IOP in 2018 after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting partially inspired the new program. During that visit, five activists and survivors of the shooting spoke at a JFK Jr. Forum panel entitled “#NEVERAGAIN: How Parkland Students are Changing the Conversation on Guns.”

“We had them at the JFK Jr. Forum, we had them meet various leaders across the Harvard community, and it was this really meaningful opportunity for the students to get the mentorship and access to Harvard resources, and also for our students to learn from these incredible young activists,” Ballen said.

Ballen said this visit inspired the IOP to engage more with non-Harvard students who are engaged in politics, as well as students who have not yet had the same opportunities for civic engagement. The bulk of the IOP’s programming, including its 16 student organizations, is geared toward Harvard undergraduates.

On Thursday evening, the IOP hosted Aidan Kohn-Murphy, a high school student, TikTok personality, and the founder and executive director of the organizing group Gen-Z for Change.

“We provide really great resources for Harvard students, undergraduates, and the entire community, but how do we expand our resources for young people across the country that are involved in this space? And how do we become that political home for young people beyond Harvard's gates?” Ballen said.

In an email announcing the program, the IOP encouraged Harvard affiliates to nominate emerging young leaders from their hometowns to join the inaugural class of honorees, as well as to join the selection committee for the program.