As most Institutes in the Aspen network, Aspen Institute Romania came about through the serendipitous meeting of like-minded individuals keen on developing an environment for fundamental debates and substantive contribution to Romania's success as a democracy and open society.
It all started with Mircea Dan Geoana, at the time Romania's Ambassador to the US, who was invited to attend an Aspen Executive Seminar in 1998. As for many other participants, this was a life changing experience for the young diplomat. Ever since, Mircea Geoana became an active participant in the various programs developed by the Aspen Institute and a frequent visitor of the Aspen campus together with his family. His appointments as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Romania in 2000 led to a similarly active engagement with Aspen Institute Italia that ultimately led to the first large scale conference to be organized by an Aspen Institute in a former communist country.
Following the decision of the International Committee, the Aspen Institute Romania was welcomed into the Aspen International Network in August 2006, and officially launched in Bucharest on December 18th, 2006. Three elements insured the successful establishment of Aspen Romania: a core group of visionary original contributors and founders - in its vast majority still very much active in the Aspen Institute Romania; a decisive working partnership with Aspen Italia that provided institutional and know-how support early on to insure the highest possible quality for the AIR events; last but not least the strategic decision to go step by step and develop organically including the decision to start with the establishment of a full functional leadership program centered around the Aspen Seminar and the young leaders activities. Today, despite the significant challenges brought about by the addition of a complex set of activities including policy programs, these original assets are still part of AIR's steady course.
The Aspen Institute Romania Mission Statement:
The Aspen Institute Romania mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues affecting Romanian society and the region.
The Aspen Institute Romania programs:
I. Leadership programs: including seminars which help participants reflect on what they think makes a good society, thereby deepening knowledge, broadening perspectives and enhancing their capacity to solve the problems leaders face. We offer young-leader fellowships for successful private, civic, academic and public sectors representatives form Romania and its region; the Aspen Romania Young Leaders Program brings a selected class of proven leaders together for an intense annual formative program and a long term commitment. The fellows become better leaders and apply their skills to significant challenges operating in coordination with the AGLN established by Aspen Institute.; also offered are short term regional policy seminars on topics of high relevance for Romania's extended neighborhood esp. the Balkans and the Black Sea regions.
II. Policy programs, which serve as nonpartisan forums for analysis, consensus building, and problem solving on a wide variety of issues.
III. Public conferences and events, which provide a commons for people to share ideas; a set of matching publications.
The Aspen Institute Romania is based in Bucharest and is an integral part of the international network of partners established by the Aspen Institute.