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Calls For Transformational Leadership

Across the globe, our wisest voices are calling not for more technocratic solutions, but for transformational leadership.

Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

"We cannot embrace indifference or be discouraged by the scale of the challenge. We have the tools and know-how required to limit global warming. It is time to put them to use with far greater urgency." - Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Maria Ressa, Journalist and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

"Democracy has become a woman-to-woman, man-to-man defense of our values. We’re at a sliding door moment, where we can continue down the path we’re on and descend further into fascism, or we can each choose to fight for a better world."
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Beatrice Finn, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

"No nation today boasts of being a chemical weapon state. No nation argues that it is acceptable, in extreme circumstances, to use sarin nerve agent. No nation proclaims the right to unleash on its enemy the plague or polio. That is because international norms have been set, perceptions have been changed."
From Above

Our Future Leaders

It's time for the next generation to step up.

A Rising Generation

Approximately half of the world population is 30 years or younger -- Our World in Data

Passing The Torch

"The success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development depends on empowering young people as rights-holders, agents of change and torchbearers." -- United Nations
Mountainous Landscape

Problem: The Opportunity Gap

Yet because of global brain drain — migration from the Global South, rural and low-income communities, and the social impact field — and an inequitable distribution of education and opportunity preventing many youth from reaching their full potential, too few of the rising generation are able to effectively lead their communities. With structural barriers hamstringing the development of their future leadership, many communities struggle to solve their challenges, especially in our world’s most vulnerable places. While opportunities to migrate can help communities through technological diffusion, knowledge sharing, remittances, and increased incentives to pursue education, there also needs to be more opportunities for our highest potential leaders to stay and return home and make a large impact where they are from.

Leadership Migration

The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are the "most seriously affected by brain drain" with a rate of 18.4% out-migration of the high-skilled population, with other lower-income countries not far behind. 83% of students from India do not return home after studying abroad, and experts believe other developing countries have similar patterns. Meanwhile, talented youth often choose low-social-impact, high-paying jobs. For example, 57% of Harvard Class of 2021's graduating seniors plan to work in finance, consulting, or tech, compared to 10% in government or nonprofits. -- United Nations; The Guardian; The Harvard Crimson

Youth Opportunity

Across the Global South, youth are unemployed and underemployed at alarming rates, limiting economic and civic potential and contributing to social unrest. For example, the African Development bank reports that while 10 million to 12 million youth enter the workforce in Africa each year, only 3 million formal jobs are created annually. Meanwhile, 60 million primary-age children worldwide are not in school. -- Foreign Policy, Our World in Data

Leadership Migration Examples

Economic: "The negative impact of migration of skilled professionals from Africa is two-fold: expertise needed to spur and manage development is lost; and the return on investment made in education and training is also lost. [United Nations] estimates...put a cash value of $184,000 on each African professional migrant...$3.68 billion in value and investment is lost annually." -- US Agency for International Development

Institutional: "By accelerating the Brain Drain in Africa and Asia we are weakening their institutional capacities." -- Adam Habib,  Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Youth Opportunity Example

"Over the next decade, the World Bank estimates one billion young people...will try to enter the job market, but less than half of them will find formal jobs...Given that almost 90% of all young people live in low-income nations, not feeling that a better life is possible can result in millions of young people floundering in poverty and frustration – bringing fragile nations down with them." -- Mercy Corps


Mountains and Fields

Theory of Change

From war to poverty to climate change, the challenges facing our world are immense. The leadership that this moment requires is born into every community. But structural barriers hamstring the development of local leaders in our world's most vulnerable communities, meaning the places most in need are least likely to have the ability to address their own problems. This is caused by formidable challenges for our highest potential leaders to get the support and resources they need, causing many leaders to leave the social impact and public service fields, migrate away from their communities, or struggle to grow their impact and make a large scale difference. Far too many people growing up around the world have given up on their dream of strengthening their communities, and have resigned themselves to finding a lucrative but non-impactful job or leaving their home community altogether.

Mountaintop proposes the "Community Flourishing Model" to turn the tables.The Community Flourishing Model proposes that, for a community to reach its fullest potential, a community should invest in seven people-centered virtues: right skills, right knowledge, right mindset, right activities, right places, right mutual understanding, and right balance of power.


Mountaintop cultivates moral, locally rooted leadership that promotes community flourishing through fellowships, education and training programs, policy advocacy, field building, media campaigns, and academic research.

See Mountaintop's most up-to-date theory of change, logic model, and long term goals here.

Cliffs and River

Our Legacy

We are deeply indebted to the inspiring scholars, entrepreneurs, and public servants who have dedicated their careers to strengthening communities through locally led leadership. Mountaintop hopes to build on their powerful legacy.


See here for a list of organizations, peer fellowships, and readings that have most influenced our thinking.

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