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A Brief History

Founded in 2011 by party activists, Jeff Harris and Carmen Darland, the Emerging Leaders Project was created to bring more young people into the Democratic Party and into  public service. 

In its first year, the program held two separate trainings and was opened to any Democrat interested. Learning lessons from it's first run, in 2013 the current format of the program was developed. 


Aided by then State Senator Vi Simpson, Indiana Democratic Chair John Zody and a host of volunteers, hundreds of Democrats applied for the 40 slots in the first year of the revamped program.  It was a success!

In 2013, former Indiana Democratic Party Chair Robin Winston and former Indiana Democratic Party Chair Pat Terrell committed $50,000 to help keep the Emerging Leaders Project going, covering the costs of most of its operations.


In 2019, Emerging Leaders Project Inc. was created as an independent nonprofit, with its own board of directors, to continue to offer free training to up-and-coming Democrats. 

Since its founding, the Emerging Leaders Project has trained more than 300 Hoosier Democrats in campaigning, policy and politics. More than two dozen are currently serving in elected office,  with many more running for office or serving in various roles for the party, on campaigns and on staffs of Hoosier Democrats.

Heading into the future, the Emerging Leaders Project remains committed to developing the next generation of Hoosier Democrats and to making Indiana a even better place to live, work and raise a family!


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