December 11, 2009

Institute to host ‘Paul Simon Leadership Day’

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- With an eye toward cultivating the next generation of leaders, selected area high school students will be able to gain insight on leadership at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute will host the inaugural “Paul Simon Leadership Day” on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Organizers expect about 30 high school students from the region to participate in the program. School principals will choose participants.

Students interested in participating need to contact their respective high school principal.

“I think it’s an exciting chance for up-and-coming leaders in local high schools to spend a day learning and tuning skills,” institute Director David Yepsen said.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the leadership conference. For more information, contact Matt Baughman, institute associate director, at 618/201-0082.

Yepsen said he hopes the students learn about “how to lead and about how public service and civic engagement works.”

“Politics often has a dirty name but it doesn’t have to, as our founder, Paul Simon showed,” he said.

Principals from 25 area high schools received letters earlier this month asking them to select two or three juniors or seniors who show special interest in politics and government and are promising young leaders to attend.

During the day, students will hear from speakers including SIU President Glenn Poshard; Yepsen; Linda Renee Baker, Institute/University professor; Emily Burke, institute coordinator; John S. Jackson, institute visiting professor; and Nate Brown, SIUC student trustee and former president of the University’s Undergraduate Student Government.

The topics include leadership, preparing for a career in public service, the role of women and minorities in politics, civic engagement, youth and political activism, and becoming involved on campus and in the community.

“Young Americans are much more engaged and politically active than they’ve been in years; and for good reasons,” Yepsen said. “Their generation is the one doing the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their generation is the one that will have to repay the enormous debt this country has amassed. Their generation is the one that will pay higher taxes to get fewer services and a lower standard of living. Once a young person realizes all that -- and many of them do -- they get focused and start to wonder what they’re going to do about it.

“This will help them get started,” Yepsen said.