International Career Advancement Program

The purpose of the International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) is to help bring greater diversity to the staffing of senior management and policy-making positions in international public service, both in the government and for private non-profit organizations. Its goal is to assist highly promising mid-career professionals from underrepresented groups in advancing to more senior positions in international affairs.

Fostering Greater Diversity

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ICAP is based on the conviction that the expanding diversity of U.S. society should be reflected in its leadership. There are some programs designed to increase the pool of minorities with credentials for successful public service and international careers. These serve an important role. However, increasing the pool of talented professionals from underrepresented groups with graduate credentials and an interest in international affairs does not necessarily lead to diversity at senior levels. We need to take steps to assist and mentor minority recruits to rise to the highest levels of international public service. ICAP is designed to facilitate this goal.

ICAP Seminar at Aspen

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During the annual week-long seminar, ICAP brings together mid-career professionals from underrepresented groups with senior officials, faculty and staff at the Aspen Institute and then follows the program with additional activities designed to reinforce ICAP's impact. The beautiful mountain setting of the week-long seminar, away from the office and the constant pressures of work, enables participants to focus on the program, reflect on their careers and develop relationships within the group. The ICAP seminar at Aspen includes lectures, seminars, discussions, workshops, informal occasions and even storytelling designed to:

  • Explore the international problems and policy issues that senior officials will have to deal with over the next decade
  • Discuss the characteristics, values, experiences and credentials associated with leadership and consider how those can be acquired
  • Detail career patterns and experiences of those who have already achieved senior positions and consider the relevance of such patterns to those currently at mid-career levels
  • Discuss common career and life stages and how problems can be handled most effectively
  • Consider the specific problems faced by people of color and how they can be addressed and overcome
  • Understand the importance of diversity to effective and high quality leadership for the United States in the coming decades
  • Develop plans to encourage more people of color to choose careers in international affairs, including outreach by the mid-career participants to high school and college students
  • Discuss the role of mentoring in international careers, facilitate mentoring relationships between the senior officials and the mid-career professionals and encourage the mid-career individuals to take on mentoring roles themselves
  • Develop close ties and mutual support among the participants that would continue beyond the Aspen experience.

In addition to these aspects of the seminar, each mid-career participant meets with a career counselor for individual career discussions, advice and planning.

Read more about the ICAP Seminar at Aspen.

Associate Professor E. Thomas Rowe

E. Thomas Rowe

E. Thomas Rowe, Associate Professor at the Josef Korbel School and Director of ICAP, created ICAP immediately after several years as Associate Dean and then Dean at the School because he had been frustrated by the fact that previous attempts to bring greater diversity to US leadership did not seem to bring much change at all. Graduate fellowship programs for the underrepresented were producing talented and credentialed graduates but the senior leadership of the United States in international affairs remained overwhelmingly white and disproportionately male—in government service, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. Graduate institutions in international affairs had falsely assumed that with a larger pool of candidates and reduced explicitly discriminatory practices, leadership would quickly come to reflect the diversity of the US population. Not enough attention had been given to less obvious obstacles—the absence of mentors and role models, professionals of color often being outside the "right" professional and social networks, the absence of support networks, continued institutionalized discriminatory practices and other problems. ICAP was intended to create mid-career support and advice that would help to deal with these obstacles.