MEPI Leaders for Democracy Fellowships: Request for Applications

  • July 16 – October 15, 2016 (Arabic-language program)
  • September 5 – December 9, 2016 (English-language program)
  • Application Deadline: March 10, 2016


The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) program and the international non-profit organization, World Learning, are pleased to announce a call for applications for the tenth year of the Leaders for Democracy Fellowship (LDF) project.  This project provides emerging and mid-career civic leaders from the Middle East and North Africa with the opportunity to complete an academic training at either the University of Virginia in English or the American University of Beirut in Arabic and gain relevant professional experience within a practicum host organization in Washington, D.C. or Beirut. The fellowship will cover the cost of international and domestic travel, health insurance and housing and provide a moderate living stipend to cover meals and incidentals.

The project is open to applicants between the ages of 25 and 40 with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and sufficient English or Arabic language fluency to successfully function in an American or Arabic language university and professional working environment. Applicants also should have at least five years of professional work experience and both the capacity and commitment to apply the experience gained through the Fellowship in developing and implementing a project that will benefit an organization, specific community and/or sector in their home countries. The fellowships will run from July to October 2016 in Lebanon and September to December 2016 in the United States. Fellows are expected to travel to the United States or Lebanon unaccompanied.

To promote program sustainability and create a multiplier effect, participants will create and implement follow-on projects in their home communities. Actions plans for the follow-on projects will be developed and finalized throughout the course of the program. Lebanon Program participants will also have the opportunity to participate in a one-week long study tour in the United States in the summer of 2017.


The LDF program begins with five weeks of academic training on leadership, peace and conflict mitigation, comparative politics, civic engagement, advocacy, communication, and change management, among other topics. Fellows are expected to be active participants in all seminars, workshops and activities including theoretical debates and active skills-building sessions. Fellows are also expected to participate in group work, lead discussions and make presentations to the other Fellows in their cohort and to the broader UVA/AUB communities.


After completing the academic portion of the program, each participant will engage in a nine-week practicum placement within a relevant non-governmental or public policy organization in Washington, D.C. or Beirut. Through this component participants will gain practical work experience and learn about the ways that such organizations interact with government and civil society. Fellows will also gain valuable knowledge, experience, skills and further professional contacts to benefit their respective professional pursuits back home. For each Fellow the internship component will culminate in the development and finalization of a project or deliverable of benefit to both the Fellow and the organization. These will be presented and shared with the rest of the cohort at the end of the component.


The MEPI program, through World Learning, the University of Virginia and the American University of Beirut, will cover international and domestic travel costs, health and accident coverage, housing, and a moderate living stipend to cover meals and incidental expenses in either the United States or Lebanon for all Fellows. All Fellows will travel to and from the United States or Lebanon in unaccompanied status.



LDF Lebanon Program—Arabic-speaking

  • April 29 – Lebanon Fellows receive first communication and information from World Learning for the Lebanon Program.
  • July 16 – Start of Lebanon academic component
  • Aug 8 – Start of Lebanon professional practicum component
  • Oct 15 – Lebanon program completion

LDF U.S. Program—English-speaking

  • June 10 – U.S. Fellows receive first communication and information from World Learning and initiate visa applications.
  • Sept 5 – Start of the US academic component
  • Oct 10 – Start of the US professional practicum component
  • Dec 9 – US program completion

More information about the LDF.


Requirements for LDF Fellows:

  1. are between 25 and 40 years of age;
  2. have at least a bachelor’s degree and the demonstrated ability to succeed in a demanding and intensive academic environment;
  3. have strong English or Arabic language fluency sufficient to function successfully in a high-level academic as well as professional environment;

Ideal Candidates for the LDF Fellowship:

  1. have at least five years of experience working as a professional in a political reform oriented field, (e.g., civil society, rule of law, human rights, family law reform, etc.) 
  2. have demonstrated a strong commitment and desire to remain working in this field for the foreseeable future and an equal commitment to being a leader of positive change within his or her own country;
  3. have exhibited leadership skills over time and the capacity to apply the experiences and opportunities presented in this program in a project that will benefit an organization, sector, or specific community upon her/his return;
  4. demonstrate tolerance and a desire to work collaboratively with a diverse cohort of peers irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, religion, political views and socioeconomic status; and
  5. have not already completed a similar academic degree or internship in the United States, and is not subject to J-visa restrictions.

Interested applicants should submit complete applications electronically to MEPI Amman at:

Applications for the US-based Program will only be accepted in English, whereas applications for the Lebanon-based program will only be accepted in Arabic.  Applicants with strong English language skills should not be considered for the LDF Arabic Program.  Applicants can only apply toone program.

Candidates are asked to have a professional reference complete the Professional Reference Form and return it on their behalf directly before the deadline. Professional Reference Forms can be completed in either Arabic or English.

Deadline for applications submission is March 10, 2016