The Program

New Story Leadership  (NSL) will introduce you to “leadership as the art of change.” Great leaders create change by shifting the habitual story of excuse and blame, one  endemic to conflict zones, to a new story of action and responsibility. They move their people from “If only” to “What if.”  To better grasp what this entails, we bring you to the epicenter of the political world, Washington DC, the seat of national and global power. Here the authority to lead is won or lost, used and abused. Our diagnosis of the leadership dilemma in general, and in the Middle East in particular, is expressed in two simple statements:

  1. Those who want change don’t have power.

  2. Those who have power don’t want change.

Accept these premises and you quickly grasp our logic. If leadership is about change, then change is about power. No matter how many leadership courses you attend, leadership is a practice. NSL will help you create the power for change by coaching you in narrative advocacy best summed up in our mantra “If you want to change the world, you have to change the story.”

Case Study: The Middle East in Washington DC

During your summer in Washington DC, we will take the whole Israeli-Palestine question as our case study and analyze how it plays out here in Congress and the halls of policy makers. You will discover that there are probably more Middle East peace groups and Think Tanks in Washington than in Israel or Palestine. You will meet Americans who know more about the conflict than you do. (Or think they do!)  And you will speak to advocates on either side who are more effective in shaping Middle East policy than anyone else. Strange as it may sound, you who live back there in the region have to bear with the consequences of fundamental choices made here.

Joining the Debate Where the Future is being Decided

By understanding how power operates in Washington DC, you get to decide if Washington speaks for you, or if you want to speak for yourselves. You will learn to become more strategic in creating opportunities to influence that conversation- even join it.  NSL will coach you in its method of growing your personal power and influence through your stories, help you to witness in ways that compel listeners to wake up, to change their minds, to question the stereotypes of Middle East doom and gloom. By raising your voice and speaking honestly about your life and the hopes of your generation, you will make a difference here by increasing the educated awareness of Washington power brokers. And you will learn how to invite your audience into your story of your Project For Change, not just as listeners but as participants.

Learning to become an Agent in your Story- Your Project For Change

All this sounds fine in theory, but NSL is going to challenge you to apply this learning to your own Project for Change. You will be asked to develop and implement a pilot scheme as part of the application- what do you want to change, improve, restore, innovate, redress, or create?  NSL will ask you to take this idea and form it into a project description, with a clear outline of your purpose, your resources, and how you see your path to achieve it. It will also ask you to explain your theory of change, and how you will measure your success.  We ask this because for NSL, leadership is ultimately practical. It has to be tested in the laboratory of the real world. Listening to all the Washington experts at lectures and conferences is great but no substitute for your own practical experiments. What works? What needs work? What didn’t work? The only way to learn is to test the idea, and embrace failure as essential to any critical learning as success might be. You will be asked to complete the Pilot Stage of your Project BEFORE you come to DC.

What does an Average Week look like?

The beginning of the Summer is Week One for Orientation, Team Building, Code of Conduct, and Planning the Learning Contract, (June 11-16) The ending is Week Seven of Completion, Evaluation and Celebration. (July 23- July 30 ). In between, every Monday is Seminar Day, and Tuesday through Thursday will be work exposure days at your site. This year, NSL aims to place as many Fellows as possible in  the United States Congress. Other placements can include Peace Now, American Task Force on Palestine, The World Bank, Just Vision, The Washington Report on the Middle East  Friday we call our Rotation Day where each of you take turns hosting the rest of the team at your site to learn about how your organization works. Next you will be attending a regular workshops on innovation to help you grow your Project For Change.  On weekends, we often have program events (Outdoor Education Training, New York Program, Speaking to Communities of Faith) Team Sailing the Chesapeake,  while other weekends, you will be spending quality time with your Host  brother or sister and your Host Family.

Nothing “Normal” about NSL

Some accuse NSL of being another of those “normalization” programs that pretend that enemies can be friends -all for the sake of a good Photo-Op. NSL is eager to confront that argument- to say that once you analyze leadership in terms of “the art of change,” and understand ‘change’ as the result of winning power, you have to confront the power differences. They are real and they are catastrophic.  Sadly, complaining about it does not change it! The refusal to engage, the recycling of the old stories of blame as excuses, the “You must change first before I change,” are all exposed as responses that appear strong but end up being nothing more than tactics parading as strategy. Whom does this accusation of “normalization”  empower? What does it change? Our goal is not to engage in endless analysis but to change the conversation altogether. It is what President Obama said in Jerusalem in 2013 to students, ( some of whom were NSL alums)  ‘Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks. You must create the change that you want to see’.

Ready or Not?

This is the program you are applying for. If it all seems too hard or too busy or too whatever else, don’t worry. We understand. NSL is not normal, and it is not meant for everyone. It can be equal parts amazing and exhausting, funny and frustrating, stressful and strength building. Some alums have even told us that mid way through, they wondered what on earth they had got themselves into. But we can promise you that if you trust the process, you won’t be disappointed. NSL is the most developed version of the model that we know has worked for over 600 Irish and 100 South African and now 60 Israeli and Palestinian young leaders. We hope you will seriously consider joining them.

Page 4 – Reading List
Page 2 – Suitability
Page 1- Eligibility


“Change the World? Change the Story!”

New Story Leadership 276 Carroll Street NW Washington, DC 20012 Phone: 240-476-1123