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Mentors Play Key Role as 2020 Nepali Emerging Leaders Program Gets Underway

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

begin quoteThe most valuable aspect of Seminar #1 was the training in visionary leadership and networking with the mentors and consultants. - 2019 NELP Cohort Member

With the road closed, blocked off at periodic intervals by freshly cut tree branches, the participants of the Nepali Emerging Leaders Program (NELP) left the buses behind and made the one-hour hike up the mountain to the village of Lwang. Ten years ago, the village had lost all of its young people who had left to pursue employment in the Gulf. Today, dozens of local families provide lodging and food through a thriving village home stay which, combined with an emerging tea plantation and processing facility, have made Lwang a prosperous and growing village.

The Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (Kroc IPJ) and the Leadership Academy had carefully planned the trip as an opportunity for the participants of the 2020 NELP to learn about how the people of Lwang had brought their village back from the verge of disappearance. As participants huddled over silver thalis piled with rice, dal, and gundruk, a local specialty of fermented greens, the local Gurung people shared with them their story. It was an opportunity to increase cross-cultural understanding and to learn about an innovative development strategy that participants immediately began assessing for its relevance in their own communities.

On January 31 in Pokhara, the Kroc IPJ and Leadership Academy convened the 31 participants in the 2020 NELP Cohort for the first of this year’s four in-person seminars. They are the third cohort, seeking to join the 52 alumni who graduated from the program in 2018 and 2019.

The excursion to Lwang was sandwiched between two days of intensive classroom instruction featuring sessions on media engagement, active listening, project design and more. While participants appreciated the practical skills and knowledge they learned during these sessions, they were even more impressed by the diversity of leaders brought together by the program representing 29 districts of the country. One participant immediately articulated the difference between the NELP and other conferences and workshops she had attended. “You can already feel the connection. All these different people coming together, talking, forming relationships.”

One key feature of the NELP is the program’s unique mentorship component, which one participant heralded as a “futuristic approach to mentorship.” This year, with the support of the Swiss Embassy in Nepal, the program is doing even more to strengthen the connections between participants and the senior-level leaders from government, civil society, politics and business who have volunteered their time to mentor these emerging leaders. In 2020, the NELP is incorporating more mentors as session facilitators and creating more opportunities for them to meet with participants face-to-face.

During the first seminar, participants learned from mentors like Tulasa Amatya, founder of Community Action Nepal and a former adviser to U.N. Women, Khem Lakai, the founder and CEO of the Global Academy of Tourism & Hospitality Education, and Nawaraj Silwal, member of the Nepal House of Representatives. In reference to Lakai, one participant wrote, “A mentor of highest sensibilities and the face of a new wave of visionaries, Khem sir has charisma to enlighten his mentees through practice in a way very few of his generation can.” 

In addition to mentors like these, the program also provides participants access to five consultants from the legal, security, media, and public relations — sectors that have volunteered their support and guidance. The individuals also attend seminars and lead sessions, sharing their specific expertise and experience.

Supporting the 2020 cohort, the NELP is proud to have more than 30 of Nepal's most experienced leaders volunteering as advisors, mentors, and consultants.


Daniel Orth

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


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