Where else would you have the chance to meet an astronaut, a Hollywood film director, a Vatican priest and a US Senator in one room? Which other organisation could take you behind the scenes at a US maximum security prison or on a private tour of the Tower of London?
Fondly known as BAP, the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, was created in 1985 to build on the special relationship which emerged during World War II between our two countries. From small beginnings, we are now a transatlantic fellowship of over 1,000 leaders, rising stars and opinion formers who come from a broad spectrum of occupations, backgrounds and political views.
Described by some as “organised serendipity”, our network is made up of a vastly diverse range of people who have achieved distinction in their field, or are on course to do so. The organisation gives talented professionals the chance to enhance their intellectual curiosity, test their limits, learn from the perspectives and experiences of others and challenge assumptions about the world.
Our annual four-day conference is based on a topic of current concern to both countries. We meet to share ideas, wisdom and experience and of course friendships are cemented. Each year, 20-24 new participants are selected from either side of the Atlantic, chosen on the strength of service to their communities and professional achievement. They are sponsored to attend their first conference as a Delegate; by the end of the event they will have become a BAP Fellow.
Such is the value of the experience, Fellows continue to attend our annual conferences at their own expense for many years. Recent conferences have been held in Glasgow, Cardiff, Seattle, Manchester, Houston, Dublin, Las Vegas, Cambridge and New Orleans.
Throughout the year we also hold face-to-face and virtual events for Fellows and their guests in the UK and the US, including one-day and evening lectures debating topical issues, private dinners with high-profile guest speakers and casual networking evenings. Our events have attracted some memorable speakers including former US Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Robert M. Gates, US Ambassador Matthew Barzun and the Dean of the Leadership and Management School of the Foreign Service Institute, Barbara Stephenson, as well as stars of the creative industries. Former Prime Minister David Cameron made his first Foreign Policy speech to a BAP audience when he was Leader of the Opposition.
We hold an annual reception at the US Embassy for our UK nominees hosted by the Deputy Chief of Mission. BAP thrives on controversial debate and our panelists are diverse and highly informed. At the 2015 BAP Conference the agenda was hastily rearranged to allow discussion of the unfolding terrorist attacks in Paris, drawing on expertise from across politics, security, diplomacy and counter-extremism.
BAP events are designed to be interesting, thought-provoking and fun, with myriad opportunities to network, exchange ideas and forge valuable contacts. Most of all it is a chance to step briefly away from the challenges of your daily job to reboot, reassess and mix with a fascinating, stimulating group of people. By this simple mechanism, many thousands of transatlantic friendships and professional contacts have been established.
The Project has no political agenda, other than to celebrate and nurture the common bond between Britain and the United States. BAP operates on a not-for-profit basis, funded through its membership and a small amount of support from corporate partners. We also receive support in kind from a number of organisations who share our values.