Global democracy leaders to assemble at Stanford this summer

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The 2012 class included leaders such as Maja Piscevic (left), the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce Serbia, and Laura Alonso (right), a current member of Congress in Argentina.
Photo credit: 
Rod Searcey

In July, Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) will welcome its ninth class of Draper Hills Summer Fellows hailing from 24 countries around the world. The program is an integral part of the CDDRL's effort to train practitioners who are working on the front lines of political change in places where democracy is underdeveloped or at risk.

The 2013 class was selected from over 500 applicants and represents some of the most courageous and innovative democracy leaders around the world. Their experience and track record of success earned them a spot in this highly competitive program.

From Burma to Ukraine, the 2013 fellows are leading organizations and programs - often at tremendous odds - to advance democratic practices, combat corruption and uphold human rights.

For 11 years Zing Mar Aung was a political prisoner in Burma for her involvement in the pro-democracy movement. After her release in 2009, Mar Aung dedicated her energy to building Burmese civil society by co-founding a number of civil society organizations - including the Yangon School of Political Science - to increase civic engagement. In recognition of her contributions, Mar Aung received the International Women of Courage Award in 2012 by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

As the Russian government tightens its grip on civil society, the country's only independent polling center - the Levada Center - has come under attack. Working as a researcher and public commentator, Denis Volkov frequently publishes opinion pieces on the protest movements and serves as a spokesperson for Levada. Labeled as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government, the Levada Center fears closure for its independent analysis and authoritative voice.

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi commands a significant online presence with upwards of a quarter million Twitter followers. In the height of the Arab Spring, Al Qassemi - who hails from the United Arab Emirates- became a leading commentator on Arab politics and reform for a growing online audience. In 2011, Time magazine chose Al Qassemi's Twitter feed (@SultanalQassemi) amongst its 140 Best Twitter Feeds list. His analysis is also published in Middle East-based newspapers, as well as Foreign Policy, The Guardian and The Financial Times.

The three-week fellowship program begins on July 22 and is taught by a team of interdisciplinary Stanford faculty members who include leading political scientists, lawyers and economists who are pioneering innovative research in the field of democratic development. 

One of the few programs of its kind in academia, the Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program combines the rich experiences of practitioners with academic training to maximize the impact of their work to advance democratic change.

Fellows live together on the Stanford campus where they connect with peers, exchange experiences and participate in shared activities. The program is funded by the generous support of Bill and Phyllis Draper and Ingrid von Mangoldt Hills.

The program will accept applications to the 2014 program beginning in September.

To learn more about the 2013 Draper Hills Summer Fellows and their innovative work, please click here