01/11/2011 04:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Committing to a Movement

Those in public service often sacrifice - whether time with family, more lucrative careers, or their privacy - but they should not have to sacrifice their lives. In light of tragic events like the shooting in Arizona on Saturday, we are faced with a challenge: to shy away from true discourse and retreat into fear, or push forward to make changes and build a better future.

I have been honored to work with fearless young leaders across the country who are standing up to do just that. New Leaders Council is committed to fostering emerging, progressive political entrepreneurs - influential leaders with a vision of a better world and a way to take us there.

Last week New Leaders Council announced the 2011 NLC Fellows - nearly 300 rising stars in the progressive community, committed to this inclusive movement - something bigger than any one individual or organization.

From fifteen cities around the country, the next class of NLC Institute Fellows is among the most impressive so far, representing our generations' commitment to social impact. Whether it is Louisiana's Trang Tieu, the Director of Community Development for the New Orleans City Council, or Missoula's Kelly McGuire from the Missoula Crime Victim Advocate Program, Chicago's Annie Lionberger from the Greater Chicago Food Depository or Washington, DC's Zachary Ellis, Jr., from Gallup, the incoming class of NLC Fellows is focused on building community, learning change-maker skills, and taking action to sustain positive social change. Please take a minute to meet our nearly 300 Fellows online.

The NLC Institute is a training program focused on a core curriculum of personal leadership development, entrepreneurship, communications and marketing, fund raising and finance, political strategy and management, traditional and new media, and Internet and technology. Popular workshops include sessions such as "Authenticity and Public Speaking," "21st Century Predictive Voter targeting," and "Developing a message that will stick". The foundation of the Institute is values-based leadership with a heavy emphasis on teamwork. Fellows also spend time meeting with local and national leaders and are eventually paired with career mentors.

The community that NLC is building will last far beyond the NLC Institute. Our hope is to use the Institute as the gateway towards a world where we can all be at the table, sharing diverse opinions, engaging in a respectful dialogue and creating a vision for a better America.