French-American Foundation celebrates 2020 'Young Leaders'

French-American Foundation celebrates 2020 'Young Leaders'
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The French-American Foundation on Wednesday announced the winners of its annual Young Leaders Program, a group that includes government officials, business leaders, journalists and educators.

The program, which started in 1981, “brings together leaders from the United States and France to exchange ideas and forge bonds to better address global challenges,” according to the New York-based foundation.

“We believe that a good leader is not just someone who sits at the table with people with different opinions, but someone who is willing to learn from others with conflicting opinions,” Emeline Foster, executive director of the French-American Foundation, told The Hill.

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This year's 21 participants come from a number of notable organizations, including the United Nations, the French Air Force and French Parliament. They will join a distinguished group of more than 500 alumni that includes former President Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump touts economic agenda in battleground Ohio The Memo: Campaigns gird for rush of early voting Trump's pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat MORE, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) and French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronFrance to require coronavirus tests for those entering the country from US EU leaders reach trillion deal on coronavirus recovery package Fire engulfs Nantes Cathedral in France, prompting an arson investigation MORE.

Participants usually meet at a specific location for five days, but this year’s meetup will be online in order to comply with coronavirus restrictions. The 2020 Young Leaders are planning to meet in France next year for the program’s 40th anniversary.

Among the topics slated for discussion at this year’s virtual event is the killing of George Floyd and subsequent nationwide protests calling for an end to police brutality and racial inequality.

“We do not shy away from discussions about social unrest, racial injustice, and diversity, especially when cultural attitudes might differ,” Foster told The Hill. “Protests and diversity are topics envisioned differently in France and the U.S., but what a great way to learn from each other.”

Foster highlighted the strong ties between the U.S. and France and the need to maintain them.

“A good relationship between two countries doesn’t just happen,” Foster said. “It needs a lot of work and care and is based on building individual, behind-the-scenes relationships between leaders and experts … In the current climate, when we are faced with a health crisis and an economic crisis, it is all the more important to have bilateral organizations like ours keeping a healthy relationship alive between our two countries.”

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The U.S. winners this year are:

Suruchi Ahuja, president and chief financial officer, Tillman Infrastructure LLC 

Sara Aviel, founder and principal, Margalit Strategies LLC

Rickey Bevington, senior anchor and correspondent, Georgia Public Broadcasting

Newton Campbell, computer scientist, Science Applications International Corp.

Kurt Davis, senior vice president, Houlihan Lokey Inc.

Brian Ferguson, founder and CEO, Arena Labs

Christian Loubeau, U.S. diplomat, U.S. Mission to the United Nations

Thomas Quirk, senior member of the technical staff, Sandia National Laboratories 

Anaïs Rameau, assistant professor of otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical Center 

Andrew Spinelli, director, Brunswick Group

Maura Sullivan, co-founder, Fathom5 Corp.


The French winners this year are:

Razika Abchiche, director of M&A, Lazard Frères & Co. LLC

Sophie Adenot, officer, French Air Force

Jean-Noël Barrot, member of the French Parliament and vice chairman of the Finance Committee at the French National Assembly

Geoffrey Bouquot, CTO and group VP corporate strategy and external relations, Valeo

Marina Chiche, concert violinist; radio producer, France Musique

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Florian Delmas, CEO, Andros Group

Pierre Dubuc, CEO and co-founder, OpenClassrooms

Stéphane Honig, head of strategy and member of the executive committee, Natixis

Perrine Montel, Army major, Paris Fire Brigade

Elodie Vandenhende, special adviser to the president, French Competition Authority