In December 2018, the ten members of the inaugural EDYN Leadership Council (LC) visited Washington, D.C. for an orientation meeting, hosted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The LC was comprised of seven political party representatives and three members of civil society organizations, representing 10 countries – Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH), Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia, and Ukraine. The week included technical and leadership workshops, as well as excursions to the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, and Gettysburg National Military Park. During the visit to Pennsylvania, participants liaised with young state-level elected officials, learned about different levels of political structures in the United States (U.S.), discussed the importance of bipartisanship, and explored a unique period in American history, which many could relate to the challenges their countries continue to face in the post-conflict years.
The orientation meeting served four main purposes. First, LC members were able to meet their peers and discuss common experiences and challenges they face as young political and civic leaders, building a strong team dynamic. Second, the LC created EDYN’s formal structure through dialogue-driven consensus, with guidance from IRI and NDI. Participants defined the roles of Leadership Council officers and held elections to develop their board. They also created foundational documents, including a vision statement, values and principles declaration, and the charter of by-laws for EDYN. Third, participants received technical training and informational resources from members of the democracy development community. And finally, participants were able to learn about and observe political and civic leadership both inside and outside the Washington, D.C. area.