Fellows attended sessions in Belfast, Dublin, and Oxford as part of the programme backed by prominent Northern Irish business leaders, the Department for Foreign Affairs and the Irish American Partnership.
Leaders in politics, business, and civic society in Northern Ireland have graduated from the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building’s prestigious Fellowship programme at a ceremony held at Hillsborough Castle.
The Fellowship is a Programme for 25 mid-career political, business and civic leaders in Northern Ireland and aims to support, develop and provide Fellows with an opportunity to reimagine complex political and civic leadership through innovation and capacity building.
The Fellowship’s Advisory Board, which includes prominent business leaders from FinTrU, Fujitsu NI, Allstate NI, Devenish and Ulster Carpets, led curated sessions seeking to evolve and enrich leadership in Northern Ireland, with Fellows also attending sessions with the PSNI, Bauer Media NI (Downtown/Cool FM), as well as residentials in Oxford and Dublin.
The Fellowship is delivered by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, working with key stakeholders and facilitators from across the business sector and academic institutions to support the peace process, strengthen democracy and navigate through complexity. This year’s cohort saw 25 individuals engage with leading policymakers, business leaders, and public figures, equipping each Fellow with a renewed ability to tackle some of the most pressing social, political, and economic issues in Northern Ireland.
The graduation ceremony gathered esteemed business and political leaders from across the UK and Ireland to mark the success of this year’s programme which concludes as Northern Ireland gears up for celebrating 25 years of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in April.
Attendees heard from the Fellowship Advisory Board Chair, John Healy OBE, and Ulster University Professor Karise Hutchinson, Advisory Board Vice Chair, and others including Minister of State, Steve Baker MP.
Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minster for Defence, Micheál Martin TD said:
“I would like to extend my congratulations to the Fellows who have graduated today. I am glad that my Government, through the Reconciliation Fund, has been able to support this important work.
“As we mark the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in a number of weeks, it is important to recognise the work that programmes such as the Fellowship have achieved in helping to train and educate the next generation of civic leaders.
“I wish the class of 2023 all the best over the coming months and years as they work to help foster change and transform their local communities.”
Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, Steve Baker MP, said:
“I wish to extend my congratulations to the Fellows who have graduated from this inspiring Fellowship. As Northern Ireland marks 25 years of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, a programme like this is testament to the determination and innovative spirit of the people of Northern Ireland”.
“A programme that brings together a diverse range of people to work through opposing views, propose shared solutions, and imagine the kind of leadership required to move forward, is incredibly heartening. I would like to thank both the Fellows and the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building for their hard work, and I wish them all the best of luck for their future endeavours.”
Karise Hutchinson, Professor of Leadership at Ulster University and Vice-Chair of the Fellowship Advisory Board, said:
“It has been a brilliant experience this year as I have watched our Fellows grow and continue to explore the spirit of possibility. The Fellowship continues to fill me with optimism that Northern Ireland’s emerging leaders can navigate us through complexities that we will no doubt face in the years to come. As we also celebrate 25 years of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, I am proud to congratulate this next cohort of leaders whether that be in politics or business, and I wish them the best as they continue to transform this place that we live through their work in their respective community or organisation”.
Chief Executive, Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, Eva Grosman, said:
“The Fellowship Prorgramme which runs each year is a unique opportunity to gather ambitious leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop their own leadership and spark new conversations for progress and innovation in Northern Ireland”.
“The Fellows have been a credit to themselves throughout this year’s programme. Their open-mindedness, determination, and optimism for Northern Ireland and it’s future has been truly inspiring. It has been an honour to see unlikely friendships form, and I have watched on as our Fellows have worked through differences, spend time with one another and recognise a greater agenda where we can all work towards a shared goal. I would like to thank each Fellow for their hard work, for giving this programme a chance, and I look forward to seeing what they will achieve as their career progresses”.