Preparing Young Leaders

Originally published in The New York Times on 2/1/2017.

To the Editor:

In “The Politics of Cowardice” (column, Jan. 27), David Brooks addresses high school and college students, and rightly so. Today’s young adults are especially vulnerable to the “mean wind” that’s blowing, but whether we allow them to get swept up in the gust is up to us.

As a lifelong educator, I’ve learned that the transition between high school and college is a special and largely overlooked opportunity to prepare our next generation of leaders for the realities of our interconnected world. As our president closes borders and stokes a politics of fear, it’s more important than ever that our young people develop the global perspective to know that “foreign” doesn’t mean “enemy.”

As Mr. Brooks suggests, this is not about grooming young Republicans or Democrats. It’s about seeding a generation of leaders who have the conviction to put their values first, in politics and beyond.

Hope and optimism are as contagious as fear. Let this moment be a call to counter cowardice with courage, and let’s make sure that every young person in America has the opportunity to learn the difference.


Oakland, Calif.

The writer is the founder and chief executive of Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit to build the next generation of leaders through a global “bridge year” between high school and college.