The Leaders Project

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William Sebastian Cohen, former Secretary of Defense, at The Leaders Project, September 2002 (U.S. Department of State photo)

The Leaders Project is a non-profit organization co-founded and headed by William Sebastian Cohen, Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and Chairman and CEO of The Cohen Group.[1] The Project "identifies and brings together successor generation leaders from around the world, on a cross-disciplinary basis, for discussions on key international issues."[2]

The Project meets at "a remarkable estate in northeast Florida called White Oak", a plantation which has "become a refuge for endangered species, and other more exotic species in need of care."[3]

Successor generation events


  • On November 16-18, 2007, "Breaking Global Deadlocks: Who’s At The Summit- Targeting: Influential Democrat and Republican political advisers" will be held at White Oak Planation. Partners for the meeting include the "Centre for International Governance Innovation, the Brookings Institution, Tsinghua University, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Gilman Foundation, the Leaders Project, The World Conservation Union, Stockholm Environment Institute, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Globe International."[4]
  • In September 2007, "Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron"[5] Mufti Muhammad Sayeed "address[ed] a conference on Indo-US relations ... being organized by the former US Defense Secretary, Stephen S Cohen at Florida under the aegis of the Howard Gilman Foundation.[6] Titled 'The Leaders Project', the conference is bringing together a select group of around 50 personalities from government, politics, business, finance, academia, science, technology and media from India and USA to deliberate on the political, economic, security, social, cultural and intellectual aspects of the Indo-US relationship."[7]


In May 2006, Cohen and "his colleague" Doug Wilson, The Leaders Group president and co-founder and Vice President of The Cohen Group,[2] hosted the sixth such "'successor generation' event", at which the guest speaker was media strategist Dan Senor.[3]


In November 2005, the Israel/Palestine Centre for Research and Information (IPCRI)'s Israeli Co-CEO, Dr. Gershon Baskin[8] was awarded the privilege and honor of being amongst the few invited participants to the Fifth annual conference of the Leader’s Project. In the words of Former US Secretary of Defense William Cohen, the founder of the project:

The men and women who have assembled here this weekend to discuss Oil and Water: Energy, Security and National Security are among the most thoughtful and innovative leaders in their fields: government, politics, business, the military, academe, technology, law, communications, health care, philanthropy and social and citizen-advocacy organizations.

The meeting was attended by some 50 people from about 20 countries including current and former leaders of peoples and nations and was held at the White Oak Plantation in Florida."[9]


In June 2004, Cohen and "Senator Mikhail Margelov, Member of the Russian Federation's Council of Federation, co-hosted the first bilateral U.S.-Russian discussions under the auspices of The Leaders Project ... The conference in Veliky Novgorod, Russia brought together successor generation leaders from business, government, military, civic society organizations and the media for a discussion of security, economic and other concerns shared by both societies."[10]

"Prominent political and public figures of Russia and the United States, among them William Cohen, Yury Baluyevsky, Rod Blagojevic, Elizabeth Dole, Konstantin Kosachev, Harry Lock and Mikhail Margelov, will take part in the meeting," Russian organizers reported.[11]


In September 2003, Cohen hosted the conference, which "brought together 40 leaders from North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe for a series of discussions on Our Good Health And Prosperity: The Impact of Health on Economic Security. Participants included: Vice President Ian Khama of Botswana; The Honorable Mikhail Margelov (head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Parliament); The Honorable Surin Pitsuwan, former Foreign Minister of Thailand; Ms. Kiran Mizumder-Shaw, founder of India's largest biotech company; senior officials from Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, author of the World Health Organization report on health and macroeconomics; and Dr. David Heymann, who coordinated this year's global effort to combat SARS."[12]


In September 2002, Cohen hosted the Leaders Project, which "brought together 40 future leaders for a series of discussions on transitions in the Pacific Rim. Participants included: Ms. Zainah Anwar, Executive Director, Sisters in Islam; Mr. Mikhail Margelov, Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the Russian Federal Assembly; Dr. Nurcholish Madjid, Rector, Universitas Paramadina, Indonesia; Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Former Foreign Minister of Thailand; Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education, Singapore; Mr. Digvijaya Singh, Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh State, India."[13]


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Matt Kelley, "Limits don't slow trip perks for U.S. lawmakers," USA TODAY, October 23, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Key Contact: Doug Wilson, Burson-Marsteller.
  3. 3.0 3.1 John Palfrey, "The Leaders Project at White Oak," Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, May 19, 2006.
  4. "Breaking Global Deadlocks - Preparatory Meetings," L20-A Leader's Forum.
  5. "Mufti leaves for US to address global leaders' conference," UNI (, September 8, 2007.
  6. The Howard Gilman Foundation manages White Oak Plantation.
  7. "Mufti Sayeed leaves for USA," News Agency of Kashmir, September 8, 2007.
  8. Gershon Baskin, "New Opportunities for Building Peace," The Jerusalem Post, November 22, 2005 (published in Nonviolent Change Journal, Spring 2006).
  9. IPCRI Activities Report, November 2005.
  10. The Cohen Group News Archives, June 25-27, 2004.
  11. "Russia, US hold first meeting in Veliky Novgorod as part of 'Leaders' project,", June 26, 2004.
  12. 2003 Archives, The Cohen Group Advisors, September 19-21, 2003.
  13. The Cohen Group News Archives, September 27-29, 2002.

External articles

External resources