Report: Aspen Young Leaders Program 2022 March

11th edition of Aspen Young Leaders Program

The eleventh edition of the Aspen Young Leaders Program took place on March 24-27, 2022. Thirty-one young Central European leaders from business, public administration, arts, academia and the NGO sector gathered in Hnanice, South Moravia, Czech Republic. 

For four days, the group engaged in interactive workshops, experienced sharing personal stories and moderated discussions about the challenges that today’s society is facing and their role in them. 

The participants appreciated thought-provoking discussions, diversity among the speakers and the young leaders as well as exposure to new topics, which challenged and pushed them to self-reflection. The workshops provided a platform for sharing experience, allowed the participants to dive into meaningful conversations about their jobs, mission and values. The informal activities contributed to networking and recognizing the value of dialogue among peers that are facing similar challenges in both their professional and personal lives.

The introductory day started with welcome remarks by Ivan Hodáč, Founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Aspen Institute CE and Pavel Řehák, President of the Aspen Institute CE, and was followed by an introductory session moderated by Milan Vašina, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute CE, and Uršula Králová, Member of the Board of the Aspen Institute CE and Chief People Officer at Bloomreach.

The second day was launched by the discussion on values-based leadership, which was based on what values the participants live by in their lives and what should be the main characteristics of a great leader.

The speaker of the next session in the morning was Pavel Řehák who shared his professional life story with focus on his business career and the overlap to NGO activities, while diving into his experience with the effectiveness of civil service not only during the times of covid pandemics. 

In the afternoon, we addressed the role of the EU in current international relations with Miriam Lexmann, a Member of the European Parliament, a former Slovak diplomat and former advisor in the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

The political discussion was followed by a presentation and debate with Klára Kolouchová, the first Czech woman to summit the three highest peaks in the world. Klára shared with us on how the leadership in mountaineering is important and what dilemmas is she dealing with in joining an expedition. 

In the evening, the documentary When the war comes took place, which focuses on the Slovak Recruits paramilitary group (Slovenski branci) and they preparation to fight for their nation. The movie was followed by an interesting discussion. 

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Tomáš Petříček, started the third day of the Program with a session analyzing Geopolitical Aspects of the Current Ukrainian Crisis. He stressed the importance of European unity and the necessity of common action.

Next, three speakers – Luca Dudits, Executive Board Member and Head of Communications of the Háttér Society, Zuzanna Rudzinska-Bluszcz, Head of ClientEarth Foundation and Braňo Tichý held a panel discussion with a focus on the topic of Developing the values-based leadership through active citizenship, focusing on the leadership in the NGO sector, their motivation, and obstacles they need to overcome on a daily basis. 

An interactive workshop took place in the afternoon. Jan Ženatý, Co-founder and Leading Consultant of Selfish Kiwi, and Jakub Šmakal, Co-founder of Selfish Kiwi, led the Empowerment training that involver many outstanding outdoor activities.

On the very last day Tereza Růžičková, psychologist, researcher, and mental health activist, prepared an interactive workshop on mental health and mental hygiene. As always, the whole program was ended by an overall evaluation session.

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