YPFP’s Affairs of State Gala Empowering the World’s Next Generation of Leaders

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Written by Hannah Bergstrom

Since its inception in 2004, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy has created an international community of diverse and innovative leaders. YPFP has grown into a network of over 20,000 young professionals spanning 80 countries. Through fellowship programs, writing opportunities, networking, group discussions, and events, the organization empowers the world’s next leaders to take on the 21st-century’s most pressing issues.

This year, YPFP commemorated the 11th Annual Affairs of State Gala, during which, two individuals were recognized for their exemplary leadership accomplishments. The Veterans Leadership Award was given to Ashley Sogge, who has had an impressive military career spanning a decade. Amongst her many leadership roles as an Army Officer, she has worked in Special Operations, Military Intelligence, and the Army Reserve. Currently, Sogge works as an Associate in the Military Pathways Development Program at JPMorgan Chase & Co. She is also the Director of Operations for Promote, a non-profit organization that provides leadership training to national security organizations.

The second award recipient was Hazami Barmada, who was given the Global Leadership Award. As an entrepreneur and humanitarian, Barmada has lead an inspiring career which has ranged from consulting with governments and corporations around the world, working for the United Nations, and founding the Humanity Lab Foundation. Barmada has also ignited social change by travelling around the world to host workshops centered around entrepreneurship, innovation, and inclusion. She was recognized as an “inspirational agent of change” by Forbes.

Alexia D’Arco, President of YPFP, pointed to the need to recognize rising leaders such as Sogge and Barmada. “By recognizing them”, according to D’Arco, “we seek to amplify their accomplishments and inspire others to follow their examples, across national, cultural, or ideological borders.” D’Arco also stressed the value of leaders that are taking on the challenges of the 21st-century, who are “innovative, agile, collaborative, and ethical.”

In addition to honoring these two leaders, the Affairs of State Gala was also a celebration of YPFP’s new “Burst Your Bubble” campaign — an initiative to dismantle some of the traditional values of foreign policy. The campaign focuses on bringing diversity into the foreign policy realm, opening up the dialogue and expanding people’s ideas about foreign policy.

To take on 21st-century issues we need 21st-century leaders, and that is exactly what YPFP aims to do by highlighting and supporting young professionals. As we’re facing increasingly difficult global challenges such as climate change, conflict, inequality, and poverty, now more than ever we need new, innovative minds to confront these issues head-on.