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About the IDF Program

IDF was established in late 1997 to develop and promote emerging generations of Democratic and civic leaders in Washington State. Founded by Dean Nielsen and Lisa Witter, the program was established in response to a lack of organizations or training at the time that offered a comprehensive learning experience for young adults.  The first class graduated 24 fellows in June of 1998.  IDF has graduated 442 students over the last seventeen years and is proud of the wide array of accomplishments of our alumni.

IDF is a six-month fellowship from January through June, occurring over eleven intensive weekends.  During these weekends the program focuses on a diverse range of political topics. The program covers the nuts and bolts of campaigns and elections, geographic issues from around the state, and developing leadership skills with our fellows. The program offers a rich curriculum, networking opportunities, and will leave Fellows with lasting ties to their current class and other alumni. Fellows meet with elected officials, leading experts, business owners, lobbyists, nonprofit leaders, and people making a difference in their communities all over the state and in Washington D.C. We want our fellows to get engaged in the political process while introducing them to the people and issues that are affecting our state.  Each year IDF graduates a “farm team” of progressive leaders who go out into the world and make a difference within campaigns, policy jobs, non profits and work in their communities.

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