Introducing the 2013 Top 99 under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders

September 16, 2013 Diplomatic Courier - Is this “The Me, Me, Me Generation”? At the Diplomatic Courier, we hardly think so.

There are many more accurate labels that Millennials should aspire to. For example, the world has already seen the influence of the “Digital Natives” in creating new technologies and platforms, through which citizens from all over the world can communicate, protest, lobby, donate, and volunteer. From Haiti to Japan to Egypt, digital natives have reshaped society by bringing ideas to life with the touch of a button. In his latest book, analyst John Zogby characterizes the Millennial generation as “the First Globals”—the first generation to truly view themselves as part of a global citizenry above the old boundaries of traditional nationalism. For these “First Globals”, the world is their oyster, and a passport their ticket to success.

What, then, is in another label? With the “Top 99 under 33”, we saw an opportunity not to create just another label for an over-analyzed–and too often over-generalized–generation, but rather a community of some of the brightest and most innovative minds of the time, nominated and chosen by Millennials themselves. From poverty to summitry, defense to diplomacy, education to entrepreneurship, our third class of 99ers continues to prove to the world the power of breaking traditional models and thinking outside the box for new solutions to old problems. Bring a group of 99ers together in a room, and feel the world shift.

But we must not forget that behind each 99er is a cadre of Millennials, working together, reaching across borders, to create these new models and implement these new ideas. For our 2013 list, we received nearly 500 nominations, each and every one a gleaming ray of hope for greater peace, greater prosperity, and greater cooperation. The future is bright.

It is with many thanks to our partners since the inception of this list, the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, as well as our launch event sponsor, the Meridian International Center that we present to you the 2013 class of the Top 99 under 33 Foreign Policy.

Chrisella Sagers Herzog
Diplomatic Courier Managing Editor and
99 Under 33 Selection Committee Member

See the 2013 Top 99 Young Professionals in Foreign Policy here:

  • Catalysts—from a field not typically associated with foreign policy who has had an impact on international affairs.
  • Conveners—bring people together in creative ways to address a pressing international issue or enhance the foreign policy community.
  • Influencers—mobilize people in the foreign policy community with bold new ideas.
  • Innovators—design a new solution to a critical global challenge.
  • Practitioners—change foreign policy from the inside through extraordinary professionalism and skill.
  • Risk-takers—take a chance and see it pay off.
  • Shapers—change the public discourse on an aspect of foreign policy or raise awareness on a critical issue.

Previous lists: 2011 and 2012

Ari Fridman

Ari Fridman


  • Organization: Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Position: Counsel for Oversight and Investigations
  • Country of Residence: USA
  • Country of Origin: USA

Ari Fridman is Counsel for Oversight and Investigations on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. His portfolio includes the range of regional and functional areas within the Committee’s jurisdiction, such as oversight of foreign aid and embassy security. Ari has worked on multiple committee investigations, hearings, and legislation.

Previously, Ari was named a member of the Foreign Policy Initiative’s Future Leaders Program and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ National Security Fellows Program.

Ari graduated magna cum laude from Yeshiva University in 2006, and with a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2010.


Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past positions.

Implementing the agenda of two chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has had a tangible impact on and off Capitol Hill. Whether conducting highly visible investigations, such as the ongoing investigation into the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, or quietly probing foreign assistance packages to war theaters like Iraq and Afghanistan, the Committee’s oversight work shapes the Obama Administration’s day-to-day execution of the nation’s foreign policy.

What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?

Working on the ongoing investigation into the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya has been the most fascinating and complex assignment of my Congressional career. The investigation involves overlapping strands of policy and politics. Ultimately, we are trying to understand exactly what happened before, during, and after the attacks to improve security for our diplomats.

What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?

After wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America must reassess her strategic priorities abroad. In some respects, the Obama Administration’s pivot to Asia is recognition that global events are not limited to the Middle East. Yet our foreign policy establishment should consider deeper, more fundamental questions. Nation-building, in particular, should garner more skepticism from our policymakers. While isolationism is neither a moral or strategic option for the United States, a more modest approach to the world may be in order, particularly as we sort out profound fiscal challenges at home.

What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy? What leadership traits are needed for this?

Our foreign policy establishment often operates by inertia. Republican and Democrat administrations alike prefer continuity of agendas to wholesale reexaminations of policy decisions in the first place. Admittedly, the latter is difficult work, yet the default mode of groupthink is no substitute for sound policymaking. Like most issues in Washington, foreign policy is driven to a significant degree by policy prescriptions made in the White House and implemented by the bureaucracies of the relevant agencies. Cabinet secretaries need to be empowered by the President to foster cultures of reflection within the Departments of State, Defense, and USAID. If not, the results are clear: good money is thrown after bad, well after the reality of a wasteful project in Afghanistan has run its course.