05/12/2010 03:00 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Honoring Today's Progressive Leaders - and Building for Tomorrow

In times of uncertainty, America needs more progressive entrepreneurs - influential leaders with a vision of a better world and a way to take us there. Whether it's in politics, technology, business, media, the social sector or otherwise, we need leaders who are committed to building a society where more people succeed, and entrepreneurs who will take the risks necessary to create a more equitable, progressive America.

This summer New Leaders Council (NLC) - a leading national leadership training institute for the next generation of progressive entrepreneurs - is hosting its third annual 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards. NLC's 40 under 40 Leadership Awards recognize the work of young progressive leaders in the fields of entrepreneurship, advocacy, media, and politics. NLC is honoring America's current generation of progressive leadership - and working to inspire the next generation of progressive entrepreneurs. You can see the past winners here.

NLC is in the business of creating political entrepreneurs. But what does that mean?

A political entrepreneur is a leader who is intolerant of complacency and the status quo. It is someone who has the determination to find innovative solutions to society's most pressing challenges. And it's someone trained with the requisite leadership skills to confront today's complex challenges. Many of today's leaders - political and otherwise - believe that social change begins with the next election, news cycle or fundraising period. NLC sees things differently. We believe that leadership in the progressive movement needs to build for the long-term, with a sustained investment in the progressive leaders of tomorrow and the ones that are having an impact today. By training the next generation of leaders to carry the torch, think outside the box, work across all industries, and answer the broader call for leadership, NLC is answering this challenge.

This May, NLC will complete 11 leadership institutes in cities across the country. That means that 191 Fellows will join the ranks of our alumni to become NLC ambassadors throughout the country. Through our leadership institute, NLC is building the intellectual infrastructure for America's next generation of progressive, political leadership. And by recognizing the top 40 progressive entrepreneurs in society today and training the next generation of leaders to carry the torch into the future, we are building the leadership foundation for the progressive movement for years to come. The 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards help NLC give back to the greater progressive community by highlighting, promoting and honoring those who are already making a difference.

In my last post here at The Huffington Post, I talked about the next great progressive leader. At a recent NLC fundraiser in Washington DC, we heard from Van Jones, who exemplifies the traits NLC seeks in its fellows, volunteers and 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards honorees.

When Al Gore began evangelizing the inconvenient truth of climate change and the private sector finally began to invest heavily in the cleantech markets, advocates for disenfranchised communities also recognized that if our environmental approach didn't change, the communities most deeply affected by our dirty economy would be the ones to miss out on the new green economy and the influx of well-paying jobs the green revolution would provide. To address this challenge, Van Jones founded Green for All - which works to harness the power of America's new green economy and bring it to the communities that most need it.

It takes courage to make social progress. Today's progressive entrepreneurs - like Van Jones - deserve our recognition. I hope you'll join NLC and recognize today's most influential, effective and inspiring progressive leaders by nominating them for a 40 Under 40 Leadership Award in entrepreneurship, advocacy, media, or politics.

Adam Borelli is the Executive Director of New Leaders Council. To learn more about New Leaders Council, please visit or join NLC on Facebook and Twitter.