The Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program on Democracy and Development is now accepting applications for the Class of 2014


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Photo credit: 
Rod Searcey

About the Program

Launched in 2005, the Draper Hills Summer Fellowship on Democracy and Development Program  is a three-week executive education program that is hosted annually at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. The program brings together a diverse group of 25-30 mid-career practitioners in law, politics, government, private enterprise, civil society, and international development from transitioning countries. This training program provides a unique forum for emerging leaders to connect, exchange experiences, and receive academic training to enrich their knowledge and advance their work.

For three weeks during the summer, fellows participate in academic seminars that expose them to the theory and practice of democracy, development, and the rule of law. Delivered by leading Stanford faculty from the Stanford Law School, the Graduate School of Business, and the Departments of Economics and Political Science, these seminars allow emerging leaders to explore new institutional models and frameworks to enhance their ability to promote democratic change in their home countries.

Guest speakers from private foundations, think tanks, government, and the justice system, provide a practitioners viewpoint on such pressing issues in the field. Past program speakers have included; Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy; Kavita Ramdas, former president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women; Stacy Donohue, director of investments at the Omidyar Network; Maria Rendon Labadan, Deputy Director of USAID; and Judge Pamela Rymer, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Fellows also visit Silicon Valley technology firms to explore how technology tools and social media platforms are being used to catalyze democratic practices on a global scale.

The program is funded by generous support from Bill and Phyllis Draper and Ingrid von Mangoldt Hills.

About the Faculty

The program's all-volunteer interdisciplinary faculty includes leading political scientists, lawyers, and economists, pioneering innovative research and analysis in the fields of democracy, development, and the rule of law. Faculty engage the fellows to test their theories, exchange ideas and learn first-hand about the challenges activists face in places where democracy is at threat. CDDRL Draper Hills Summer Fellows faculty includes; Larry Diamond, Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, Stanford President Emeritus Gerhard Casper, Erik Jensen, Francis Fukuyama, Steve Krasner, Avner Greif, Helen Stacy, and Nicholas Hope.

About our Draper Hills Summer Fellows

Our network of 186 alumni who graduated from the Draper Hills Summer Fellows program hail  from 57 developing democracies worldwide. Their professional backgrounds are as diverse as the problems they confront in their home countries, but the one common feature is their commitment to building sound structures of democracy and development. The regions of Eurasia, which includes the former Soviet Union and Central Asia, along with Africa constitute over half of our alumni network. Women represent 40% of the network and the program is always looking to identify strong female leaders working to advance change in their local communities.

Previous Draper Hills Summer Fellows have served as presidential advisors, senators, attorneys general, lawyers, journalists, civic activists, entrepreneurs, academic researchers, think-tank managers, and members of the international development community. The program is highly selective, receiving several hundred applications each year.

Please see the alumni section of the website for a complete listing of our program alumni.

Our Summer Fellows include:

  • The former Prime Minister of Mongolia
  • Political activists at the forefront of the 2011 Egyptian revolution
  • Advocate for the high court of Zambia
  • Deputy Minister of the Interior of Ukraine
  • Peace advocate and human rights leader in Kenya
  • Journalists advocating for a greater role for independent media
  • Leading democratic intellectual in China
  • Social entrepreneur using technology for public accountability in India



Stanford will pay travel, accommodation, living expenses, and visa costs for the duration of the three-week program for a certain portion of applicants. Participants will be housed on the Stanford campus in residential housing during the program. Where possible, applicants are encouraged to supply some or all of their own funding from their current employers or international nongovernmental organizations.