Eurasia Foundation Welcomes Young Professionals Network Cohort of 2023-2024

October 12, 2023
Twenty-five people in business casual attire stand, smiling into the camera. Most of these are YPN fellows; others are EF staff or trustees.

On Wednesday, October 11, Eurasia Foundation hosted an opening ceremony for 25 new Young Professionals Network (YPN) fellows. Hrach Topalyan, EF’s director of civic engagement and leadership, and Lisa Coll, EF president, kicked off the ceremony with welcoming remarks.

Alonzo L. Fulgham delivered the evening’s keynote address. Fulgham is Executive Vice President of Defense/Homeland at VIATEQ Corporation and an EF trustee. He surveyed the immense demographic, cultural, and political challenges that he expects the world to experience in coming decades. He urged fellows to champion good governance and local leadership as they seek to address these issues.

EF trustee Alonzo L. Fulgham speaks with Emma Taylor, a YPN fellow.
EF trustee Alonzo L. Fulgham speaks with YPN fellow Emma Taylor.

“You represent the best and the brightest of your own countries and of the United States,” Fulgham remarked. “You have the opportunity to be the next generation of leadership—and that’s going to make a difference.” During Q&A, fellows asked Fulgham for advice on driving positive change despite growing authoritarianism and shifting global power structures.

YPN offers emerging leaders the opportunity to develop relationships with like-minded peers and broaden their perspectives on important international events. For the next nine months, YPN fellows will participate in off-the-record discussions with experts in international affairs like diplomats, academics, and journalists. These discussions will focus on fellows’ regional and thematic interests. Past YPN events have explored the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine, politics in Georgia, and recent developments across Central Asia.

YPN fellow Ilya Yudkovsky reaches out to fellow Batt Odgerel. Both men are laughing.
Fellows Ilya Yudkovsky and Batt Odgerel meet at the YPN opening ceremony.

This year’s cohort represents a diverse array of professional backgrounds, including consulting firms, think tanks, universities, governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations. It includes fellows from Accenture Federal Services, American Councils for International Education, American Enterprise Institute, American University, the Atlantic Council, Chemonics International, Dataminr, Energy Policy Research Foundation, the Foreign Service, Freedom House, Georgetown University, Hudson Institute, International Business Initiatives, Johns Hopkins University, National Endowment for Democracy, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Solidarity Center, TD International, and the World Bank Group’s CGAP. The new cohort also represents six countries: Armenia, China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Singapore, and the United States. All have extensive education, work experience, and language skills relating to the Eurasia region.

YPN fellows Brittni Foster and Mimi Reitz sit at a table and look attentively at a speaker, who is out of frame.
Fellows Brittni Foster and Mimi Reitz listen to the night’s keynote address.

EF’s Board of Trustees established the Young Professionals Network in 2012 to honor EF’s late board chair, Sarah Carey, for her pioneering spirit and deep connection to the Eurasia region. EF identifies rising leaders who share Sarah Carey’s commitment to international engagement and connects them with established professionals who can help mentor a new generation of politicians, diplomats, and analysts. Eurasia Foundation has welcomed over 320 early-career professionals into the network during the program’s twelve-year history.

Find profiles of this year’s cohort here and a video about the program here.