Transatlantic Inclusive Leaders Network 2019



This year was a big year for the Transatlantic Inclusive Leaders Network (TILN) , now in its eighth year of nurturing political talent from diverse backgrounds from the USA, and right across Europe.

The starting point nearly a decade was twofold: First to help guide and support young leaders from minority backgrounds so that they might achieve greater success in their political chosen field. Fundamentally our notion of success was not just minority faces in high places, but those with strong values of equality, integrity and embracing diversity. Secondly, and equally important was to build an international network of leaders who would share experiences, support one another and cascade the ethos once participants were back in their respected countries.

In our wildest dreams, those of us who’ve been with this project since day one could not have imagined just how well this has gone, and how much in demand it is from people even beyond the US and Europe. More than 200 alumni regularly speak to each other, visit, collaborate,  and set up their own nation wide leadership projects based on the TILN principals.

TILN had a  significant breakthrough barely six weeks ago when three TILN alumni were simultaneously elected to the European Parliament: Assita Kanko,-Belguim  Samira Rafael- Holland, and Arba Kokalari-Sweden. All three young women will  have bright futures in the EU over the years to come. Not surprisingly Samira enthusiastically  met with this year’s cohort and gave advice and encouragement.

As a coach, trainer and mentor of TILN,  I strongly feel that the values, ethics, and integrity discussions build a platform for these young men and women to fast forward their journey to the type of success we want to see. Interestingly,  what I’ve learned by listening and sharing during my sessions this year filled me with great hope from this cohort.

I won’t mention names because some of the stuff we talked about was very personal, but one local legislator from the US told the group how her decision to vote against the budget, even though ‘protocol’ was,  ‘you vote for the budget and you won’t be seen as trouble’, did cause her both anguish and, as predicted trouble. But she said, “some of things I was agreeing to with the budget were awful and would negatively impact on poor people.”

I informed her and the group that a good politician has to be prepared to say no; to swim against the tide, particularly in regards to equality, and justice. Another participant told me about friends he’d lost in a mass shooting, and how he felt guilty that he wasn’t there. Now as a very important  elected officer he feels that he desperately needs to succeed for them. I suggested to  him he had to be himself for the memory of his lost  friends; the tragedy would be part of him, but must not define him. We hugged after that long one to one development session. He told me that this is first time he’s had a week away from the ‘head down and keep running politics,’ to better reflect about the past, present and future ahead.

By the latter part of the week I was heading back to London from Brussels and they were heading for the EU Parliament and then the Brussels Forum – three days of political debate with world leaders. Judging from the Whatsapp group thread -over 1000- they drank the information/experience dry. From sun up to way past sun down they attended breakfast meetings, debates, network sessions and after hours discussions.

For many of the 30 new TILNers the week was life-changing. The great thing about this project is that we are fully aware that the momentum continues its transformative energy way beyond their weekin  Brussels .

Good luck 2019 TILNERs- See you all in high office.

Simon Woolley