Announcement of the WIP Class of 2023

Taoiseach, Special Envoy to NI for Economic Affairs, and Head of NI Civil Service Launch Washington Ireland Program Class of 2023

Last week the Washington Ireland Program was proud to be joined by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs, Joe Kennedy III and Jayne Brady, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service for the launch of the WIP Class of 2023 at a special event in Washington DC.

The new class will see 30 high potential emerging leaders from across Northern Ireland and Ireland venture state-side this summer as part of the WIP Class of 2023.

For almost three decades, the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) has played an important role in post-conflict Northern Ireland and Ireland by bringing together leaders from a wide range of communities and backgrounds for outstanding leadership and skills-development programs. WIP’s aim is to support, inspire and develop leaders who are committed to building a future of peace and prosperity for Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The WIP Class of 2023 have already demonstrated their leadership potential, have a strong track record of service, and are committed to building a bright future for the island of Ireland. A third of the students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and will receive full scholarships to participate.

WIP now counts over 800 Alums who have consistently delivered on their early promise. They include Leo Varadkar (WIP 2000), the youngest Taoiseach in Ireland’s history; Claire Sugden (WIP 2010), who was appointed at the age of 29 as Northern Ireland’s Minister for Justice; and other rising stars like artist Adrian Margey, Queen’s University Belfast Heaney Fellow, Tara McEvoy and tech entrepreneur Aidan Corbett.

Previous students have had work placements in the offices of then Senators Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Prior to his arrival at the White House, the Program has been applauded by President Joe Biden in 2016 as an example of the “special” relationship between Ireland and America.

Notable Program alums also include 6 Stormont representatives including David Brooks MLA, Matthew O’Toole MLA, and the outgoing Patricia O’Lynn MLA who took part in a panel discussion at the launch event sponsored by Honeywell.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD said at the launch:
“Among the WIP future participants announced today are I hope the leaders and peacebuilders who can achieve great success in the next 25 years. If I can offer some advice to the Class of 2023. Embrace the moments of unease, the awkward conversations, the cultural differences. Get to grips with the intricacies and challenges of your work placement. Enjoy the connections you make with your host families. Take time to learn from the WIP Community. Understand that you are here to serve and represent your communities to the best of your abilities with respect. Nurture the curiosity that this city, this program will ignite.”

Read the Taoiseach’s full remarks here.

Joe Kennedy III, US Special Envoy for Economic Affairs to Northern Ireland added:
“The Washington Ireland Program is an integral part of the special relationship between the United States, Northern Ireland and Ireland. The United States is dedicated to Ireland’s growth, prosperity and peace. As we approach 25 years of the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, The Washington Ireland Program ensures that we have the leaders who are ready to shape the next 25 years of the relationship between the US and the island of Ireland.”

“The leadership skills these young people will learn is vital to unlock the potential of Northern Ireland and Ireland. What we need now, more than ever, is young people who embody the program’s values of humility, respect, service and co-operation.”

Jayne Brady, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service said:

“We look to the younger generations to bring fresh perspectives on the issues we face. The Washington Ireland Program gives our emerging leaders the skills they need to prepare them to take on the big challenges that lie ahead.”

“Peace has brought prosperity and economic development to Northern Ireland that 25 years ago was largely unthinkable. It is these young people who will devise the plans for another 25 years to make Northern Ireland a great place to invest, work, and live.”

Nicola Skelly, Executive Director of the Washington Ireland Program said:
“We are thrilled to launch the WIP Class of 2023 today in Washington DC with our special guests. Over the year ahead, these emerging leaders will develop their leadership skills through personal development, policy debate, work placement opportunities and service. They will have unparalleled access to global leaders through our Speaker Series and will be challenged to develop ambitious ideas to shape the future of the island of Ireland.”

“The relationships these young people will build with each other, and the broader WIP community will be formative in their lives, and we are proud to be part of their leadership journey.”

The Washington Ireland Program supports, inspires, and develops leaders from a wide range of communities and backgrounds who are committed to building a future of peace and prosperity for Northern Ireland and Ireland.

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