Leaders for Democracy Fellowship Program

Twenty young leaders from Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, Yemen, Morocco, Kuwait, Algeria, Jordan, and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa were selected to come in the U.S. on a three-month long State Department program called Leaders for Democracy Fellows (LDF). LDF provides these emerging leaders with access, information, and first-hand knowledge of the democratic process in the U.S., and enables them to strengthen their leadership skills, broaden their understanding of the world, and position themselves as successful innovators in their home countries and across the region. The group is composed of individuals who have been and who will be integral to the process of democratic reforms at home.

The LDF program is divided into two major components. The fellows spent four weeks at Syracuse University participating in workshops, lectures and discussions. These four weeks are specifically designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of democratic values, how to manage conflicts, and the role of civil society within democratic systems of government. The second part of the program provides a professional affiliation experience by pairing each individual with an organization in Washington D.C. related to their fields of interest.

NCSL had the honor to host Ms. Syrine Ayadi , a fellow of the LDF program from Tunisia. Syrine is a lawyer and civil society legal specialist who is currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Tunis and is writing her dissertation on comparing the legal responses of American, European, and Tunisian governments to the emergency and spread of sectarianism. Prior to her selection for the LDF program 2012, Syrine worked as a legal translator for the Office Journal of the Tunisian Republic for the Prime Ministry’s legal department, acted as a project coordinator at ADR, a mediation center based in Italy, and became a member of the Tunisian Bar Association back in 2008.

Following the ‘Jasmine’ revolution, Syrine has been solicited by a several consulting firms specialized in civil society building capacity and technical assistance to prepare need assessment research reports on Tunisia’s post-revolution civil society. She began to research more in depth the concept of civil society and the impact non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can have on citizens. Syrine is of the belief that both could have a lasting, positive impact on Tunisian society as it moves into this new phase of existence. As someone who was present on the ground during the recent Tunisian Revolution, Syrine feels inspired by the people’s dedication to a new, free, democratic and modern Tunisia. She hopes to bring about this inspiration through her NGO that aims to build synergies to empower the interaction between government and civil society, and the private sector and implement an open and transparent good governance in the country.

During Syrine’s time at the NCSL, she researched and compared various oversight and accountability practices in several countries of the MENA region, Europe and in the US with a particular focus on the civil society oversight over the legislative and executive. NCSL was honored to have Syrine join us for a few weeks at the beginning of the summer and wish her luck as she continues to pursue her dreams at home in Tunisia.

For more information on the fellowship or Syrine, please contact international-info@ncsl.org.

Updated June 15, 2012