Meet The New YPFP President

Posted on June 11, 2012

On March 15, 2012, YPFP inaugurated Gary Barnabo as the second President in the history of the organization.  We sat down with him to ask his views on the foreign policy leader of the future


What foreign policy issue do you find especially fascinating?

GB: The way in which technology and information flows are empowering new actors and forcing us to re-think who the most important players in foreign policy are.  Foreign policy today is increasingly about people and networks rather than governments and countries.

How do you distinguish the foreign policy leader of the future from the foreign policy leader of today?

GB: First, he or she need not be in government, but can come from anywhere - the private sector, civil society, the media. Governments continue to lose their monopoly of influence on foreign policy; as this trend accelerates, we should expect and help cultivate foreign policy leaders from non-traditional sectors, fields, and disciplines.  Second, he or she is about openness: sharing information, working across organizations and sectors, and building coalitions. Foreign policy today is often opaque and secretive with a premium on control, but the world is more open and less easy for a small group of people to control.  Future leaders will need to embrace this.  Third, he or she will be an entrepreneur and innovator. The traits of entrepreneurship and innovation have not been embraced in foreign policy, but there is arguably no field that is more in need of creative leaders willing to take calculated risks, blend ideas to create new solutions to complex challenges, and disrupt the bureaucracies that pervade most of our traditional foreign policy outlets.

Why did you join YPFP as a member?

GB: I joined YPFP because I had a cognitive surplus. I had extra time and extra energy, and I chose to invest that in YPFP. Now, that investment has paid higher dividends than I ever could have imagined. YPFP has helped me build leadership skills that will last a lifetime. In YPFP, I’m part of a group of 10,000 millennials that have such an entrepreneurial spirit about making an impact on the world.