Chair - Africa Discussion Group, Research Department (Volunteer Position)
YPFP’s Discussion Group Program provides an intimate forum for members to exchange ideas, express their views, and build their knowledge of critical foreign policy issues in a small group setting. The Program comprises regionally- and topically-focused Discussion Groups (DGs), each of which is composed of 12-40 members with significant interest and/or experience in the area under discussion. DGs allow members to learn, share new perspectives, and engage with a small, elite community of professionals who share a passion for a similar area of foreign policy.
DGs also build relationships among YPFP’s members – a critical part of the organization’s mission and one of the many benefits of membership. DGs thus add tremendous professional, intellectual, and personal value to their members. Membership in DGs is carefully controlled to ensure the highest caliber of participants, each of whom is expected to make a unique contribution to the DG. Position
The Chair of a DG is required to lead all aspects of the group and its members. He/She is responsible for building and maintaining a small community of outstanding young foreign policy practitioners who have a deep interest, expertise, or experience in a certain region or topic. The DG Chair leads monthly meetings in which they guide conversation on a specific issue or set of questions related to their DG. The Chair thus has the opportunity to handcraft a community of rising foreign policy leaders and influence how those young professionals think about their topic or region. The DG Chair is also the principal advisor to YPFP’s Executive Leadership, Board of Directors, and Staff on any opportunities that come before YPFP linked to their DG’s region or topic. The DG Chair seeks opportunities to connect their groups with broader YPFP events and initiatives and to link their group with external organizations or activities in the broader foreign policy community.
The ability to build an elite cadre of rising foreign policy leaders who are experts on a region or topic shape that group in creative ways. Chairmanship of a DG is a prestigious position that reflects an individual’s existing expertise in a topic or region, acknowledges the individual’s ability to build and manage a community, and places confidence in the individual to serve as an outstanding source of knowledge on a specific region or topic that they share with the broader YPFP community.
Specific Roles and Responsibilities
· Determine membership criteria for the DG and process applicants on a timely basis.
· Arrange meetings at least once every four to six weeks, provide guidance on topics for discussion, and distribute pre-meeting readings.
· Add meetings to master DG calendar at least one week ahead of time.
· Send invitations and compile RSVPs.
· Encourage members to produce content such as writing blog posts for the YPFP website or pitching an article idea based off of a debate during a meeting.
· Work across YPFP to identify opportunities to co-host or co-sponsor General Member Programming events or other initiatives.
· Provide speaker and topic recommendations to the Programming Department.
· Serve as moderators at events on topics related to your DG.
· Serve as the primary advisor to YPFP staff and members on the foreign policy region or topic that comprises your DG.
· Identify opportunities to collaborate or partner with organizations and initiatives outside YPFP that would add value and provide opportunities for your DG or YPFP as a whole.
Eligibility and Requirements
· Available to hold monthly DG meetings and prepare materials and products before and after each meeting, as described above.
· Demonstrate expertise and experience in the topic or region of the DG.
· Outstanding organizational skills to enable consistent meetings.
· Excellent communications skills, specifically the ability to convey complex information about the topic or region cogently and quickly to DG members, YPFP staff, and external audiences, as appropriate.
· Clear leadership abilities; the capability to inspire others to engage intellectually in a subject, and the ability to motivate members to think about issues and questions in new ways and generate new insights and ideas about the topic or region.
· Pay annual YPFP membership dues.
· At least a one-year commitment.
Additional Qualities (In addition to the above requirements, Chairs should exemplify the following qualities)
· A Chair needs to be able to bring people together and make connections with both group members and experts in their respective fields.
· A connector will draw people in, keep them engaged, and be aggressive about meeting people and forming relationships, which is ultimately what the DGs are about. The chair should have the ability to encourage participation and involvement within the group.
· One example of successful networking behavior: A DG Chair started up a relationship with a successful journalist by interacting with them on their Twitter feed and may be able to get them as a guest speaker at a DG meeting or larger YPFP speaker event.
· The Chair must be well versed in their chosen topic and be aware of developments, news, and key figures in their field.
· A knowledgeable Chair will know intrinsically what the DG needs to focus on and what the hot issues are. In addition, an expert Chair will impress guest speakers on an intellectual level and attract them to YPFP as a useful platform for their work.
· A Chair with expertise will be able to keep the conversation going over the span of a meeting and over time.
· Should have a strong academic background or professional experiences, published works, and the ability to articulate their ideas in a clear fashion.
MATURITY & PROFESSIONALISM
· This position requires someone who respects the fact that other people are counting on him/her to perform their duties. As a result, YPFP needs a person who is proactive and is not afraid to take initiatives; someone who can perform his/her work and the tasks set forth by DG leadership without supervision. In addition, because DGs will be actively engaging with respected people in their fields, they must be mature and professional in order to represent YPFP and realize that their actions reflect on the organization as a whole.
· A Chair needs to ensure that members and guests with opposing viewpoints have an opportunity to be heard and treated with respect. The Chair must be diplomatic and be able to take on the role of mediator should heated discussions arise.
· Given that the Chairs are likely to have full-time jobs, they must love being in the DG program. They must not only be passionate about the chosen field, but also discussing the issue and learning about it from other people, which is the main function of the DG program.
· The Chair should have a record of engaging in academic extracurricular activities and a desire to learn from other people.
· Chairs must have the time to dedicate the program. They must generally dedicate 2-3 hours per week and 5-6 hours per week if an event is going on. The general YPFP policy for staff members is to respond to emails within 24 hours.
· The Chair should be able to dedicate enough time to the program to ensure that the DG meets regularly, builds momentum, and cultivates new leadership for the program once they are ready to leave.
· Chairs must engage with fellow DG chairs, members of the Research department, and other YPFP staff.