CSIS provides professional development opportunities to its staff and interns through the Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy (AILA). AILA’s mission is inspired by the vision of David M. Abshire, cofounder of CSIS, and Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder of the Kyocera Corporation. Based on the founders’ ideals of humility, diligence, and forward thinking, AILA aims to empower CSIS’s staff to make positive contributions to their communities and take their leadership capabilities and foreign policy knowledge to the next level.
AILA aims to provide training opportunities in leadership, ethics, and foreign policy to CSIS staff and interns, foster growth and collaboration within the Center, and help prepare employees for challenges and opportunities in their future careers. Each year, approximately 100 junior and mid-level staff members and 100 interns participate in AILA’s multidisciplinary programming. From speaker series and skill-building workshops to educational activities and culture-building events, AILA programming is diverse and offers a holistic approach to professional development for professionals at CSIS.
In addition to offering professional development opportunities to an internal audience, AILA possesses a dual mandate that focuses on an external audience. Indeed, AILA partners with various universities to explore the world of think tanks and foreign policy through visits to and day-long seminars at CSIS as well as fellowship opportunities. AILA also houses CSIS’s Executive Education portfolio, which provides working professionals with the opportunity to learn from CSIS experts through global policy courses and leadership development programs.
Onboarding and Training Structure
AILA centralizes the onboarding schedule for all new hires and provides opportunities for professional development for CSIS staff through its Introductory Series and Continuing Education programming. We partner with Human Resources, the Diversity and Leadership in International Affairs Project, and other central teams around the Center to get our staff up to speed on processes and help them grow throughout their time here.
In support of AILA's mission to help prepare the next generation of foreign policy leaders, the Accelerator Series provides employees with opportunities to reinforce their professional strengths and master skills to enhance their career growth. From public speaking to negotiation strategy, program courses will focus on building competencies in four thematic pillars: (1) Leadership; (2) Management; (3) Data Analysis; and (4) Communication. The program is nomination-based and high-potential staff is selected through applications once nominated. It runs in parallel to our Executive Education portfolio’s external Accelerator Series.
Career Talks and Foreign Policy Seminars
AILA offers regular opportunities for staff and interns to attend events and workshops that foster conversations between young professionals, interns, and senior CSIS scholars on topics related to foreign policy and professional development. Foreign policy seminars cover ongoing international issues and conflicts as they unfold in real time, presented by CSIS staff. Career talks explore industries and professions outside of the think tank realm. Participants are able to have conversations with professionals outside of the Center and develop an understanding of different career paths and opportunities available to them.
Peer Mentorship Program
The Peer Mentorship Program at CSIS connects groups of new staff across the Center with more seasoned staff in similar roles to provide advice and support. As in any new workplace, it can sometimes be difficult to find one’s way around in the first few months. To help in this transition, new CSIS hires have the opportunity to sign up for the Peer Mentorship Program and be matched with a Peer Mentor by a staff-led committee supported by AILA.
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