Rabens fosters next generation of government leaders

Monday - 9/23/2013, 2:42pm EDT

Andrew Rabens, special advisor for youth engagement, Bureau of Near East Affairs, Department of State

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Through his work as a special advisor for youth engagement at the State Department's Bureau of Near East Affairs, Andrew Rabens, 30, helps young people from the Middle East and North Africa to be come the next generation of leaders in the their countries.

Rabens helped put together the 2012 Active Citizen Summit, which brought 55 delegates to the U.S. from the Middle East and North Africa to share ideas on how to become effective leaders in their nations.

"Andy was able to recruit these people by working with our embassies and design a program that really gave them the opportunity to meet each other, to see what their counterparts in different parts of the region were doing and what the United States has to offer," said Mario Crifo, the bureau's deputy director of public diplomacy.

For his efforts, the Partnership for Public Service named Rabens as a finalist for the 2013 Service to America Medal in the Call to Service category. The medal honors a federal employee whose work best reflects the achievements of the new generation coming to public service.

Rabens was recently interviewed on Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp. He also answered the following questions about himself and his career in the federal government.

Andrew Rabins, special advisor for youth engagement, Bureau of Near East Affairs, Department of State

What three words best describe your leadership philosophy?
Empower Your People

What's the best piece of advice (or words of wisdom) you've ever received and who gave it to you?
"You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take" - Favorite words of wisdom from the world of sports (Wayne Gretzky) that is applicable in many other aspects of life. You've got to take chances and be willing to fail if you're going to have any type of meaningful success.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
My biggest role model is probably my mom, who my two brothers and I jokingly call the unofficial mayor of Berkeley, Calif., where we grew up. She seems to know everyone in the city: from the baristas at the local cafes to the chefs at the latest restaurants to the local government officials at City Hall to the homeless folks struggling on the streets. She has an amazing and uncanny ability to connect people to one another and spark mutually beneficial relationships. She taught me to believe in the power of people and community to create transformative change; to treat anyone and everyone you meet with a basic level of dignity and respect; and to strive to have an impact in the world which is much bigger than oneself.

What's the last thing you read?

The last great book I read was called "Life Entrepreneurs" by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek. It forces you to get very introspective about your values, passions and goals. The book makes you think hard about where you draw your energy from and where you are looking to go.

The Call to Service Medal is just one of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) presented annually by the Partnership for Public Service. View a gallery of all the Sammies nominees here.