By: Kate Maeder, NLC-SF Chapter Director

There’s no doubt that we’re witnessing an incredible time for an incredible generation.

Millenials have the ability to leverage resources unlike other generations before – especially due to the exponential evolution of technology allowing access to limitless information literally at our fingertips. We also have an innate need and want to connect with each other – and social media is the catalyst to do so faster and cheaper than ever before. We even have free, searchable online education portals like Kahn Academy, open courses at MIT, and instructional videos on YouTube.

More and more of us have the tools and the information to learn practically anything we want. And with the rising costs of universities making traditional forms of higher education out of reach, many millenials are choosing alternative paths and forms of higher learning. (Of course, the growing digital divide must be acknowledged as another frontier of inequality for us progressives to tackle.)


If knowledge, information, and mass communication become widely accessible, can we help hardworking individuals jump over socioeconomic barriers and become successful in a twenty first-century world?

If so, how do we develop a pipeline for these entrepreneurial individuals who are taking learning into their own hands – regardless of socioeconomic background – to succeed and become leaders in their communities? And how can we provide opportunities for them to join the workforce, to start companies or nonprofit organizations, and to organize and engage their communities to ultimately – dare I say it – change the world?


We have the tools, but lack the opportunity.

Perhaps we need to create that opportunity. Going one step further – we need to create a culture of creating that opportunity.

That’s why we need organizations like New Leaders Council (NLC). NLC is a nonprofit organization that’s training the next generation of progressive leaders. It runs an annual five-month leadership program that’s rooted in a broad-based curriculum designed to give individuals a greater understanding of the world around them and the tools they need to impart change within their community.

NLC is run almost solely by volunteers. It has 25 chapters around the country. And it’s growing fast. In fact, NLC can’t keep up with the demand to launch more chapters in cities around the county. I’m proud to be the Co-Director of the flagship San Francisco chapter with Keith Yetter. Our Advisory Board is made up with 21 incredible leaders in their own right. They each are committed to recruiting other progressive leaders within their community – and running the training Institute for our 18 Fellows each year. NLC has graduated over 1,000 Fellows in the last 6 years – and its model for exponential growth puts it on the decade’s must-watch list.

To me, New Leadership Council is all about the people – a network of likeminded individuals, who are so passionate about making their neighborhoods and cities better for everyone and who are profoundly committed to helping each other unconditionally, both professionally and personally. 

Members of the NLC family are passionate, hardworking, and fun. We work hard and also have a good time. We all get along and are continuously forward-thinking. We’re lucky to have such a great support network that continues to grow.

For now, NLC’s reach is limited, but the spirit and energy is right. As a generation and as a nation, we need to create a culture for creating opportunity for ourselves and for others. No longer can we wait for doors to open for us. We need to actively forge a path, create opportunity for ourselves, and in turn, create opportunity for others, in hopes they will do the same and continue the cycle.

That’s how our generation will succeed in the 21st century – not by traditional avenues, but by innovatively creating new ventures and helping each other. Please consider making a donation to support New Leaders Council today.


Kate Maeder is the Co-Director of New Leaders Council’s San Francisco Chapter. She lives in San Francisco and is a political consultant at Storefront Political Media. A Millennial herself, Kate is working to build a network of hardworking leaders in the Bay Area. You can contact her atkmaeder@newleaderscouncil.org.