About ICAP


The purpose of the International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) is to help bring greater diversity to the staffing of senior management and policy-making positions in international public service, both in the government and for private non-profit organizations. Its goal is to assist highly promising mid-career professionals from underrepresented groups in advancing to more senior positions in international affairs.

Fostering Greater Diversity
ICAP is based on the conviction that the expanding diversity of U.S. society should be reflected in its leadership. There are some programs designed to increase the pool of minorities with credentials for successful public service and international careers. These serve an important role. However, increasing the pool of talented professionals from underrepresented groups with graduate credentials and an interest in international affairs does not necessarily lead to diversity at senior levels. We need to take steps to assist and mentor minority recruits to rise to the highest levels of international public service. ICAP is designed to facilitate this goal.

ICAP Seminar at Aspen
During the annual week-long seminar, ICAP brings together mid-career professionals from underrepresented groups with senior officials, faculty and staff at the Aspen Institute and then follows the program with additional activities designed to reinforce ICAP's impact. The beautiful mountain setting of the week-long seminar, away from the office and the constant pressures of work, enables participants to focus on the program, reflect on their careers and develop relationships within the group. The ICAP seminar at Aspen includes lectures, seminars, discussions, workshops, informal occasions and even storytelling designed to:

  • Explore the international problems and policy issues that senior officials will have to deal with over the next decade
  • Discuss the characteristics, values, experiences and credentials associated with leadership and consider how those can be acquired
  • Detail career patterns and experiences of those who have already achieved senior positions and consider the relevance of such patterns to those currently at mid-career levels
  • Discuss common career and life stages and how problems can be handled most effectively
  • Consider the specific problems faced by people of color and how they can be addressed and overcome
  • Understand the importance of diversity to effective and high quality leadership for the United States in the coming decades
  • Develop plans to encourage more people of color to choose careers in international affairs, including outreach by the mid-career participants to high school and college students
  • Discuss the role of mentoring in international careers, facilitate mentoring relationships between the senior officials and the mid-career professionals and encourage the mid-career individuals to take on mentoring roles themselves
  • Develop close ties and mutual support among the participants that would continue beyond the Aspen experience.

In addition to these aspects of the seminar, each mid-career participant meets with a career counselor for individual career discussions, advice and planning.

The Fetzer Institute The Ford Foundation United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation
University of Denver The Aspen Institute

"ICAP was intellectually and spiritually stimulating. I feel rejuvenated to give my best as a relief and development worker and to motivate others to work in the field of international affairs."
Official with CARE
"ICAP gave me tools, strategies and a support network to combat discrimination and develop my career."
Official with AED
"ICAP has been a watershed week for me. I leave feeling empowered, hopeful for the future and confident."
Foreign Service Officer
"ICAP has strengthened my leadership skills and provided me with the strength, the guidance and the tools to continue facing career challenges. "
Official with the Inter-American Foundation
"The week in Aspen was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has already changed my life and outlook."
Foreign Service Officer
"This was one of the best experiences of my professional life. For me, ICAP came at a perfect time."
Official with Catholic Relief Services
"This program has initiated the creation of a network of leaders that may change the face--both literally and figuratively--of the nation’s governance structure."
Official with a major aerospace and defense company
"ICAP was one of my most rewarding professional development experiences."
Official with the Defense Intelligence Agency
"This was an extremely valuable experience. The beautiful setting and rich programs allowed us to bloom and thrive."
Official with the World Bank