2019 Leaders for Democracy Fellowships

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut’s office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is pleased to announce the 2019 Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Leaders for Democracy Fellowship (LDF) program. Since 2007, the program has provided early and mid-career professionals from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with the opportunity to complete training in leadership, civic engagement, participatory governance, conflict transformation, and effective communication. Fellows spend three months in the United States (for high-proficiency English speakers) or Lebanon (for high-proficiency Arabic speakers) to gain academic skills and practical experience as well as networking opportunities with like-minded peers and professionals.

Project Overview: The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) program and the international non-profit organization, World Learning are pleased to announce the launch of recruitment for the 2019 LDF program. LDF is an advanced fellowship program for community and civic leaders (age 28-35) who are provided academic training on leadership, civic engagement, participatory governance, conflict transformation, and effective communication. For 2019, Fellows will train at Duke University (English speakers) or the American University of Beirut (Arabic speakers). Fellows are placed in renowned institutions in the U.S. or Lebanon related to their expertise, and develop civic action plans for implementation upon return to their countries. The Fellowship program in the U.S. and Lebanon will run from July until October 2019; exact dates will be provided at a later stage.

English vs. Arabic Language Programs: In 2019, Fellows chosen to participate in the English language program will travel to the United States to first attend a four-week academic component at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.  Program participants will subsequently be placed in host organizations aligned with their professional interests for an eight-week practicum experience in Washington, D.C.  Recognizing the high-level of English required for advanced study and residency in the United States, MEPI also offers an Arabic Language program that runs approximately the same time as the U.S. program.  In 2019, Fellows chosen to participate in the Arabic Language program will travel to Lebanon to first attend their academic component at the American University of Beirut. A similar eight-week practicum experience in Beirut will also be provided.

Academic Component: The LDF program begins with four weeks of an intensive group academic training focusing on a variety of topics falling under the four primary themes of participatory governance, civic engagement, conflict transformation, and effective communication. The concept of Applied Leadership will be interwoven throughout the program. Fellows are required to be full-time, active participants in all seminars, workshops and activities including theoretical debates, site visits and active skills-building sessions. Fellows are also expected to participate in group work, lead discussions and make presentations to the other Fellows in their cohort and to the broader Duke/AUB communities.

Professional Practicum Component: After completing the academic portion of the program, each participant will engage in an eight-week practicum placement within a relevant non-governmental organization in Washington, D.C. or Beirut. Through this component, participants will gain practical work experience and learn about the ways that such organizations interact with government and civil society. Fellows will also gain valuable knowledge, experience, skills and further professional contacts to benefit their respective professional pursuits back home.

Civic Action Projects and Planning (CAPP): Throughout the program, participants will create and implement follow-on Civic Action Projects and Planning (CAPP) projects in their home communities. CAPP project ideas can be a new idea developed by the Fellow or an existing idea that the Fellow would like to build upon.

Candidate’s Eligibility Criteria:

  1. s/he is between the age of 28-35 years old at the time of the program (July-October 2019);
  2. s/he has at least five years of experience working as a professional in a field related to one of the program’s primary themes (leadership, participatory governance, civic engagement, conflict transformation, and effective communication)
  3. s/he has demonstrated a strong commitment, motivation and desire to remain working in this field for the foreseeable future and an equal commitment to being a leader of positive change within his or her own country.  Commitment most likely will include applying the experience gained through the Fellowship in developing and implementing a project that will benefit an organization, specific community and/or sector in their home countries;
  4. s/he has exhibited leadership skills over time and the capacity to apply the experiences and opportunities presented in this program in a project that will benefit an organization, sector, or specific community upon her/his return;
  5. s/he has strong English or Arabic language fluency sufficient to function successfully in a high-level academic and professional environment. Strong Arabic fluency is required for the Lebanon program and strong English fluency is required for the U.S. program;
  6. s/he has at least a bachelor’s degree and the demonstrated ability to succeed in a demanding and intensive academic and professional organization environment;
  7. s/he demonstrates tolerance and a desire to work collaboratively with a diverse cohort of peers irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, religion, political views and socioeconomic status; and
  8. For the U.S. program, s/he has not already completed a similar academic degree or internship in the United States, and is not subject to any J-visa restrictions.


As with all U.S. Embassy-sponsored programs, the U.S. Government pays for all major expenses, including roundtrip airfare, accommodation, and health insurance.  Competition is merit-based, and Lebanese citizens or long-term Palestinian residents in Lebanon from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Applicants will be considered without regard to race, religion, sex, age, and/or physical impairment.