The XLI American-German Young Leaders Conference brought together 50 German and American rising stars from a cross-section of fields for the last week of July in Berlin to discuss the question, “Is 70 the New 40? Assessing Transatlantic Relations 30 Years After the Fall of the Wall.” The 2019 Young Leaders represented a range of backgrounds, including the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, the media, as well as government – including the German Chancellery, the Ministry of Defense, the Federal Foreign Office, and the U.S. Senate. The group exchanged ideas and perspectives, met with numerous officials and analysts to gain their behind-the-scenes insights, discussed and prioritized events on the transatlantic agenda, brainstormed policy solutions, and, importantly, networked, forging lasting international bonds.
The Young Leaders had discussions with a range of high level individuals, including H.E. Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, President of the German Bundestag and former Federal Minister of Finance; Minister Hubertus Heil, Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs (2003 YL); Minister Julia Klöckner, German Federal Minister for Agriculture (2007 YL); Professor Dr. Helge Braun, Head of the Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Tasks; Steffen Kampeter, CEO of the Confederation of the German Employers’ Associations (BDA); Melanie Vogelbach, Managing Director of International Economic Policy and Foreign Trade Law for DIHK; Claudia Dörr-Voss, State Secretary for the Federal Minsiter for Economic Affairs and Energy; Björn Böhning, State Secretary for the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs; Ali Aslan, renowned TV Host and Journalist (2010 YL); Evyenia Sidereas, Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy; and New York Times Correspondent Melissa Eddy.
The group held meetings in various locations in Berlin, including the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) and the Federal Chancellery. The closing dinner was held at the famous Hotel Adlon, located by the Brandenburg Gate. It featured a moderated discussion between State Secretary Markus Kerber, FDP Deputy Chairman Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, and former US Ambassador to Germany John Kornblum.
The ACG is also grateful to the Steering Committee for all of the time and effort devoted to the success of the conference. The committee members are: ACG Board member Edward S. McFadden (2002 YL) (Committee Chairman), Secretary of Communications at the Archdiocese of Washington; Antonin Finkelnburg (2008 YL), Head of Public Policy at Arbeitgeberverband Gesamtmetall; Ron Granieri (2000 YL), Executive Director of the Center for the Study of America and the West at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and Director of Research at Penn’s Lauder Institute; and Sarmad Hussain (2005 YL), Senior Expert in Public Affairs at Deekeling Arndt Advisors in Communications GmbH.
The Young Leaders Conference, launched by the American Council on Germany in 1973, is designed to enhance up-and-coming professionals’ understanding of domestic, bilateral, and global issues affecting the United States and Germany while deepening mutual understanding among the next generation of thought leaders and decision-makers from both countries. The weeklong conference is only the beginning; Young Leaders continue to meet over time to exchange ideas and reinforce the bonds forged during the conference.