Rumsfeld Foundation Hosts 2020 Graduate Fellowship Conference


Washington, D.C. — From September 8th-11th the Rumsfeld Foundation virtually hosted its eighth annual Graduate Fellowship Conference with network members across the country tuning in for a variety of sessions designed to provide expert insights and facilitate discussion on some of the nation’s most pressing issues.

Session topics focused around the conference theme, “The Future of Leadership: Facing the Challenges of Tomorrow.” Throughout the week, participants had the opportunity to hear from a number of experienced leaders who reflected on their careers and offered their perspectives on what will be required of leaders to effectively address future challenges.

Virtual programming commenced Tuesday afternoon with an opening conversation with President of Purdue University and former Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels. With extensive experience across both the public and private sectors, President Daniels offered his seasoned insights on leadership and service.

The following evening, participants heard from an interactive panel comprised of former Graduate Fellows − with backgrounds in the fields of academia, defense, diplomacy and on the Hill − who shared and answered questions about their career paths.

Thursday’s events featured a Conversations on Leadership Series with skilled leaders well-versed across some of the highest ranks of government, business and more.  Speakers included former Executive Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Meroë Park; Senior Advisor at The Boston Consulting Group, Vicki Escarra; foreign policy expert and former diplomat, Ambassador Paula Dobriansky; Chairman of The Andrew W. Marshall Foundation, Jaymie Durnan; and former Director of the NSA, Gen. (Ret) Keith Alexander. Speakers shared perspectives from their wide-ranging careers including how to navigate top-level leadership and other important lessons learned.

The final day of the conference included a series of Network Roundtables, interactive discussions led by program Advisers and facilitated by Fellows, which examined current nationwide trends and shifts underway in civil discourse, civilian and military relations, great power competition, American democracy and Constitutional interpretation.

In between Network Roundtables, attendees enjoyed a lively keynote conversation with renowned political and communications consultant, Dr. Frank Luntz, who offered his thoughts on what to expect for the upcoming 2020 presidential election and more.

Concluding the 2020 Conference programming, Secretary Ash Carter, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School and former U.S. Secretary of Defense, provided his valuable insights from a distinguished career in public service.

Beyond the featured speakers, participants connected with one another throughout the virtual discussions as they reflected on the key future challenges that our nation will face as well as the ways in which today’s rising leaders, including those involved in the Graduate Fellowship Program’s network, can contribute to addressing the major challenges of tomorrow.

Since 2008, the Rumsfeld Foundation has provided a total of over $3.2 million to 161 graduate scholars, all with an interest in public service or policy-relevant fields. To learn more about the program and the talented leaders that comprise its growing network, please visit the Foundation’s website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Media Contact: Sarah Tonucci
Executive Director, Rumsfeld Foundation
(202) 944-1304,


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