03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Who Will Be America's Next Great Progressive Leader?

America's progressives need to prepare for the long haul. In order to have lasting leadership for generations to come, decision makers today need to create lasting ties between institutional players and the communities they represent.

Despite the federal protocol of an elaborate and ingenious system of checks and balances which our framers crafted centuries ago, Americans will always rely on leaders of corporations, local zoning boards, and quasi-governmental entities to act responsibly on their behalf and direct electoral pressure on the issues they care about. This is why now, more than ever, we need leaders in corporations, in government, in politics, in non-profits and media organizations whose core beliefs tether them to representing the public interest.

Fostering this leadership, however, must start early. We cannot stand by and let the progressive movement carry on without strategic efforts to connect and engage young people today before they become the CEOs, campaign managers, senators and journalists, tomorrow.

This is one reason why New Leaders Council (NLC) is working diligently in 11 cities across the United States to train, educate and mentor the next generation of progressive political entrepreneurs -- versatile and agile progressive leaders. NLC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to deepening the networks and capitalizing the potential of young leaders who show promise of one day influencing the lives of millions. NLC aims to recruit outside traditional structures of power, but also to help the people who are trained to transition into positions where they can create positive social change.

The NLC model revolves around a prestigious fellowship program, designed and executed by NLC alumni and a corps of volunteers, which leverages peer-to-peer leaderships training across a variety of sectors. NLC recruits a base of faculty to teach the fellows on topics of entrepreneurship, public speaking, campaign management, negotiation, media literacy, messaging, organizing, and fundraising, just to name a few. NLC also connects fellows to prominent mentors who can help them achieve professional goals as they emerge themselves in NLC's skills-based, hands-on trainings.

Perhaps most importantly, NLC offers a robust alumni network with programming, job opportunities, and opportunities to strategically advance their careers and social impact objectives. NLC alumni have run for office, founded companies, started and led nonprofits, worked for their mentors and for NLC faculty, and been key movement leaders in their community.

The specific curricula varies from chapter to chapter, as political professionals in the San Francisco branch operate in a different context than say, the group in Missoula, Montana, but the core mission remains the same: NLC wants to lower the barriers to entry for new leaders who can help sustain the progressive movement for years and decades to come.

Those readers who are interested in participating in a local NLC chapter, should look up their local chapter on our web site and consider applying for its upcoming Spring 2010 Institute. The deadline for submitting the first part of the application is October 25th, and we're paying particular attention to diversifying the racial, gender, class, sexual preference demographics, and industry of all of our local chapters. NLC Fellows come from all walks of life and all industries, leading to an enriching Fellowship experience.

Those who just want to stay up to date on NLC's events and happenings, can sign up for the email list, join the Facebook Fan Page or follow NLC on Twitter. Additionally, while NLC runs on a very low budget, it does rely on the donations from the rest of the progressive community to expand its programming and start new operations in new cities across America. If you are interested in getting more involved, please contact us.