Home / Young Leaders / 2023 American-German Young Leaders Conference

2023 American-German Young Leaders Conference

2023 Young Leaders Exchange Perspectives and Address Global Challenges in Berlin

The American Council on Germany’s 2023 American-German Young Leaders Conference brought together 48 young professionals from various fields from July 16 to 21 in Berlin for an intensive exchange with one another and with guest speakers at a time of pronounced global challenges. Together Young Leaders identified and prioritized the most pressing political, economic, and social issues for both countries; parsed their layers and nuances; and crafted policy recommendations for tackling them effectively.

Under the heading “Global Zeiten-when?” – a reference to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Zeitenwende speech delivered on the heels of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – the cohort addressed the necessity of putting words into action as the war rages on. The group included representatives from the U.S. State Department, the German Federal Chancellery, the German Federal Ministries of Finance and Economic Affairs and Climate Action, a member of the State Parliament, and the private sector, including the fields of finance, law, and cybersecurity. In a series of plenary and breakout sessions, the group considered the politics of identity, values, generational rifts, the agenda at home and abroad, the fragility of democracy, debt and the future of the global economy, along with China, Russia, and the West. Young Leaders collaborated at the close of the conference to craft mission statements and vision statements for the German-American partnership.

The group spent a day in the German Bundestag, where they also met with Bundestag members Torsten Herbst (FDP) (2011 Young Leader), Ottilie Klein (CDU) (2022 Young Leader), and Annika Klose (SPD) to look at local issues and broader challenges alike. They received a candid briefing from Ricarda Lang, Co-Chair of Alliance 90/The Green Party, who talked about the future of transatlantic relations and the hurdles women in leadership positions face. The Young Leaders toured the Reichstag Building and had a chance to explore the rooftop dome. They also visited the Chancellery for briefings with Dr. Christian Bluth of the International Economic Policy Division and Dominik Bohnen of the North America Division – and got a behind-the-scenes look at the room where the Cabinet meets.

Additional high-level speakers shared their insights with the Young Leaders throughout the week. Cem Özdemir (2001 Young Leader), Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture, delved into climate stewardship, food security, and the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. The group also received an up-close look at Germany’s support of Ukraine and U.S.-German security cooperation from Hans-Georg Engelke, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior; Steffen Hebestreit, Secretary of State, Federal Government Spokesperson, and Head of the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government; and Lieutenant General Markus Laubenthal, Deputy Chief of Defense. Dr. Tobias Lindner, State Minister at the Federal Foreign Office, shared an overview of Germany’s new national security strategy and considered whether Russia’s war on Ukraine has transformed transatlantic relations. An American perspective was provided by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Dr. Amy Gutmann.

Economic issues – including the impact of the war – and trade were the focus of meetings with Professor Dr. Luise Hölscher, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance, and Steffen Kampeter, Managing Director of the BDA (Confederation of German Employers’ Associations). Professor Dr. Jens Weidmann (2004 Young Leader), Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Commerzbank and former President of the German Bundesbank, gave his insights on fiscal policy and how to grapple with structural change.

In addition, Dr. Thomas Steffen, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health, shared his perspectives on global health priorities now that the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.

The ACG is very grateful to the following sponsors for their support of the conference: the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Deutsche Bank, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Noerr, Pfizer Inc, and the Victoria Owen Klein Charitable Foundation.

The ACG also expresses its great thanks to the members of the Young Leaders Conference Steering Committee, whose Herculean efforts lay the groundwork for fruitful discussions and enduring bonds among the group: Dr. Ronald J. Granieri (2000 Young Leader), Associate Professor of History at the United States Army War College; Sarmad Hussain (2005 Young Leader), Director of Government Affairs in the Biotechnology Sector at Arcensus Diagnostics – Biotechnology; and Steering Committee Chairman Edward S. McFadden (2002 Young Leader and an ACG Board member), SVP for Communications & Marketing at the American Financial Services Association.

The conference is only the beginning of the experience for Young Leaders. The discussions begun at the conference will continue at alumni events on both sides of the Atlantic in the months and years to come.

Maureen Ahmed
Senior Foreign Affairs Officer
U.S. Department of State
Arlington, VA

Elise Anderson
Attorney – Advisor
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, DC

Megan Andriankaja
Strategy Expert
Ludwigshafen, Germany

Aline Baur
Policy Coordinator
State Representation of Baden-Wuerttemberg
Berlin, Germany

Anna-Lena Beate
Policy Officer/Legal Expert, Competition, Anti-Trust, and Digitalization
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action
Berlin, Germany

Christina Bellmann
Policy Advisor Transatlantic Relations
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
Berlin, Germany

Boris Binkowska
Gauly Advisors GmbH
Berlin, Germany

Alexander Buchta
Aftersales Customer Pay & Service Retention Manager
BMW of North America LLC
Rutherford, NJ

Mirjam Büdenbender
Senior Advisor, Political Planning and Strategic Foresight
German Federal Chancellery
Berlin, Germany

Melanie Buser
Environmental Health Scientist
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Atlanta, GA

Tizoc Chavez
Visiting Professor of Government
Colby College
Waterville, ME

Jesse Corradi
Managing Director, Africa
U.S. International Development Finance Corporation
Washington, DC

Ines Emde
Specialist in Supervisory Board Management
Commerzbank AG
Rodgau, Germany

Susanne Emmert
Relationship Manager Wealth Management
Deutsche Bank AG
Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Laura Franke
Product Owner Customer Journey OTA Updates
Munich, Germany

Samuel Gage

Principal Scientist
Lakewood, CO

Laura Gier
Senior Manager
Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG)
Berlin, Germany

Julian Gluck
Major / Chief of Mission Sustainment and Director of Staff (A3A), Air Combat Command
United States Air Force
Newport News, VA

Lars Hartmann
Senior Product Manager
Elgg, Zurich, Switzerland

Maria Jahnen
Sales Operations & Strategy
Infineon Technologies AG
Munich, Germany

Steven Jakstadt
Deputy Head of Liaison Office
MTU Aero Engines AG
Berlin, Germany

Ludwig Jung
Foreign and Security Policy Advisor
CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group German Bundestag
Berlin, Germany

Golshan Khun Jush
UK Desk Officer
Federal Foreign Office
Berlin, Germany

William Kimmitt
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Arlington, VA

Mareike Koenig
Chief of Staff
Deutscher Bundestag
Berlin, Germany

Alma Laiadhi
Head of Office, Office of Government Spokesperson
Press and Information Office of the Federal Government
Berlin, Germany

Peter Mathias
Senior Principal
Alumni Ventures
New York, NY

Alex McFarland
Russian Cultural Advisor to the Ground Force Commander in Syria
U.S. Army
Fort Drum, NY

Jennifer Miksch
Chief of Staff
Berlin, Germany

Gleennia Napper
Director, Head of Research Compliance, Americas
Deutsche Bank Americas
Lincoln, RI

Lisa Helen Naser
Senior Policy Officer
German Federal Chancellery
Berlin, Germany

Chukwudi Nwadibia
Special Assistant to Undersecretary for Political Affairs
Department of State
Washington, DC

Maria Onorato
Foreign Direct Investment Program Manager
California Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development
Sacramento, CA

Florian Ott
Personal Assistant, Chief of Staff
Federal Ministry of Finance
Berlin, Germany

Nicholas Palenker
Lawyer, Senior Associate
Noerr PartGmbB
Berlin, Germany

Adam Philipp
Cedar Brook Partners
Cleveland, OH

Jonas Pohlmann
Member of the State Parliament
State Parliament of Lower Saxony
Georgsmarienhütte, Germany

Saskia Pump
Relationship Manager Corporate Banking
Citigroup Deutschland
Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Thomas Quirk
R&D Manager
Sandia National Laboratories
Albuquerque, NM

Chryssa Rask
Vice President
Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.
Washington, DC

Alexander Rodriguez
Director, Corporate Public Affairs
Deutsche Post DHL – North America
Washington, DC

Hauke Schaack
Program Manager E-Mobility DACH
Shell Deutschland GmbH
Hamburg, Germany

Stefan Scheller
Personal Advisor of the President
State Parliament of Hesse
Wiesbaden, Germany

Kendall Spencer
Foley & Lardner LLP
Portsmouth, NH

Kevin Swanson
Legislative Assistant
Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski
Washington, DC

Alexander Taylor-Fowles
Head of Office, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance
Federal Foreign Office
Berlin, Germany

Aoibheann Thinnes
Stabilization and Peacekeeping Policy Officer
U.S. Department of Defense
Washington, DC

Marie-Louise Wagner
Senior Commercial Strategy Manager
Pfizer Pharma GmbH
Berlin, Germany