Roanoke College President Frank Shushok has been named one of The Aspen Institute’s inaugural Senior Index Impact Fellows. Shushok will join a larger community of youth and professionals advancing an urgent agenda focused on research, interventions and strategies necessary to accelerate youth leadership programs nationally.
The Impact Fellowship is sponsored by The Aspen Institute, an international educational and policy studies nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. Their goal is to increase youth exposure to those programs by more than 50 percent over the next five years.
“It’s hard to think of something more important to our democracy than cultivation of leadership among the next generation of youth in our country,” said Shushok. “I feel so fortunate to be part of such a worthwhile effort.”
The Aspen Institute reports that fewer than 32% of youth under age 25 in the United States are exposed to any form of leadership development. Even fewer have access to programs with the necessary quality to make a meaningful difference in their lives. Both realities exist despite evidence that youth leadership development is a critical factor in ensuring that youth stay in school, are prepared for the workforce, and are engaged in their communities.
“At few times has the need for a generation of values-driven, community-oriented youth leaders been more apparent,” said John Dugan, the Aspen Index founder, in a news release. “We can no longer take leadership development for granted. We must provide opportunities for youth to cultivate their talent to address growing political, social and scientific issues – not in some distant future, but today.”
Leadership development is a long-held passion for Shushok. Prior to being named Roanoke College’s 12th president, Shushok served as Virginia Tech’s vice president of student affairs and as a tenured professor of agricultural leadership and community education.
The Aspen Institute Leadership Development Index (Aspen Index) will drive the fellows’ work. According to the institute, the index is “a forthcoming digital tool measuring core leadership capacities to accelerate personal and professional growth ... The Aspen Index is a vehicle for self-assessment, 360 feedback, team asset mapping and evaluating program impact. Leveraging more than 20 years of academic research, it equips individuals, teams and programs to define, measure and elevate their potential.”
Impact fellows will assist with the development, optimization and beta testing of the Aspen Index, and co-create supporting learning architecture to ensure it is successful. Together, the Aspen Institute is working with impact fellows to create a movement of greater access to and quality of youth leadership programs.