Join us in our fund-raising campaign…make a donation !

MENASA was incorporated in October 2011 and has successfully executed a number of events that have connected emerging leaders in the US with those in Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (ME, NA, SA). We are thrilled with our early successes, but are eager to expand programming and host even more events.

To fuel this expansion, we need to invest in technological infrastructure, work with partners outside the DC area and pay for non-profit registration expenses. We are currently dependent on partner organizations for technological support and your donation can help us host events independently, allowing us to connect even more emerging leaders with those in the ME, NA, and SA. Moreover, we need to pay for IRS filing fees to pursue grants and corporate funding. Your support will not only help a fledging non-profit develop a solid financial foundation, but also help us make the world a better place.

You can access the fund-raising page at

The changing geo-political and demographic landscape across the ME, NA, and SA demands a new paradigm of engagement. Reports from the World Bank, Brookings Institute, and other organizations have cited the need to address emerging demographic challenges, as close to 50% of population in ME and NA are under age 25 and will enter the workforce. The situation in SA is similar, with the opportunity-skill gap not being addressed in an adequate manner.

These shifting landscapes require a better understanding between the countries of the ME, NA, and SA as well as rest of the world.

Additionally, the relationship between the US and the ME, NA, and SA is experiencing a seismic shift. We believe that at this critical juncture, there needs to be greater person-to-person dialogue, along with opportunities for youth to engage and work with each other on projects which break the barriers of distance and nationality. We nurture leaders who are aware of their global civic responsibilities, and help them engage with the world around them and make an impact in a meaningful way.

Although the Internet and new media accelerate global information flow, visible barriers still remain. In many places, economic and governmental obstacles prevent the free flow of knowledge and opportunities.

Through our programs, MENASA diminishes these obstacles by creating a network of emerging leaders who want to spur change in their societies and serve as ambassadors to the rest of the world by sharing knowledge, networks, and experiences. MENASA will facilitate a closer collaboration between emerging leaders in the ME, NA, and SA and the US, in turn fostering a two-way dialogue and better understanding.

Our Vision:

Our ultimate goal is to develop closer collaboration between individuals in the ME, NA, SA and the US, leading to a more nuanced understanding between the ME, NA, and SA and the US, bridging the knowledge gap and increasing opportunities for youth and civil society organizations. We aim to facilitate East-West dialogue through projects and exchange programs involving young and emerging leaders.

Our Mission:

MENASA strives to inspire and empower emerging US leaders by connecting them with their counterparts in the ME, NA, and SA through collaborative projects and educational exercises.

We aim to reduce the knowledge and opportunity gap between the US and the MENASA region through our initiatives by leveraging technology platforms to create personal experiences and professional development opportunities.

Our Programs:

Global Visioning Summits: Online conferences between emerging leaders in ME, NA, and SA and those in US.

Global Visioning Challenge: Online collaboration between US students and NGOs in the ME, NA, and SA to identify and solve a problem facing the NGO.

For more information about MENASA and our programs please contact us at

Reflection on the nature of leadership : beyond presidential debates and rhetoric


The presidential debate in the U.S on Wednesday brought home some issues about leadership. I personally feel the debate was made out to be more about style than substance, but some analysts have rightly pointed out that despite calls by most media pundits that Romney “won” the debate, the last word is not out, yet.

I have also been reading and discussing issues of leadership, in part due to the course-work that I am taking at school. I have come across various types of leadership models and the various ways of analyzing and critiquing leadership.

While theories may predict whether the leader will be a “servant leader” or a “transformative” one, the true test of a leader is in how he practices what he/she preaches.

In this, we have seen a consistent lack of consistency from Romney. While president Obama has not been the most successful one, he certainly has not dilly-dallied as much in terms of his position on various issues, both domestic and foreign policy ( an area where Governor Romney seems to be sorely lacking).

As I made mental notes, on how to compare the two candidates, I narrowed them to these five criterion

  1. Problem definition  : How does a leader define a problem. Who is at the center of the problem, and for WHOM should society work ? Is it the millionaire and billionaries who “create” jobs, or the homeless and destitute ? Do we build a society around social Darwinism or around compassion and social justice ?
  2. Priorities : Linked to the first point. This is an area where the leader decides whether  the priority is focusing on “real” problems, or political distractions and imaginary threats and fears?
  3. Consistency : How consistent is a leader in pursuing what he believes is true. While politicians are forced to alter their positions and compromise, given the nature of their work; it does help if one doesn’t change one’s mind every day, as Romney has done.
  4. Ambition : Is it the leader’s personal ambition to win at all costs, or to step back and look at the bigger picture and speak the truth and focus on being consistent, at the risk of losing ?
  5. Personal vision: This is the biggest criterion, both in terms of building a society for the future, and being a genuine human being, versus running a country purely on naked ambition and aggressive posturing.

While there are no clear answers to any of these, and any one person at a point is bound to have a varying degree of strengths and weaknesses in these areas – sometimes the truth is obvious and in our face.

The choice before the American people, in my opinion is as much about the kind of leadership model they choose to adopt. The upcoming elections may actually tell us more about the American psyche, than about the two candidates themselves.