Guest Post: NLC: Recruiting and Training the Next Generation of Progressive Political Entrepreneurs

David Gray and Racheal Hebert serve as the Co-Directors of the Louisiana chapter of the New Leaders Council. 

Louisiana is consistently cited as one of the best places in the world for amazing food, strong culture and plenty of natural resources. But the Pelican State also has historically ranked near the bottom on many important social and economic indicators. It has the nation’s third highest poverty rate and fourth highest child poverty rate; incarcerates more people per-capita than any other place in the world; and struggles with low levels of educational attainment and public health outcomes.

Building a strong network of well-trained progressive leaders is the first step towards identifying and accomplishing real and sustainable solutions for these challenges. These leaders must be equipped with a high level of professional and entrepreneurial skills, they must be connected to other leaders across the state, and they must be informed about challenges and opportunities across a wide array of social issues.

This is why the New Leaders Council (NLC) launched a Louisiana chapter five years ago with the goal of building a strong progressive infrastructure in Louisiana.

NLC is a national organization dedicated to recruiting, training and promoting the progressive political entrepreneurs of tomorrow: trendsetters, elected officials and civically engaged leaders in business and industry who will shape the future. NLC currently has over 2,000 alumni and 40 chapters nationwide, and its goal is to train 10,000 new progressive entrepreneurs across the nation by 2020.

NLC operates the nation’s premier progressive training program – the NLC Institute. Each institute brings together emerging progressive leaders from a broad array of sectors – business and finance, media, education, science and technology, politics and government, and non-profit – to learn professional skills like leadership development, communications and messaging, finance and fundraising, policy entrepreneurship, management and everything in between.

The NLC Institute, which is free of cost to each NLC fellow, runs one weekend per month from January to May. The institutes are planned and managed by individual chapters, but the curriculum is consistent across the country. This structure allows each fellow to help create and shape policy, build new business and civic structures, further the progressive mindset, and affect meaningful change in both local and national communities.

The application process to NLC is highly-selective. Louisiana’s chapter receives 50 to 80 applications each year but admits only 20 fellows. The application to become an NLC fellow and participate in the NLC Institute opens each September.

The historic slate of problems plaguing Louisiana highlights the importance for a strong progressive infrastructure in the Pelican State. Additionally, successfully addressing the challenges affecting this state will greatly depend on the contributions of the next generation of leaders. NLC is helping move Louisiana in the right direction by giving young leaders the opportunity to sharpen their skills and build their networks to effectively collaborate and create change.

For more information on NLC, visit

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