Exchange Matters / December 15, 2020

2020 in Review


More than 900 attendees convened at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC from January 22-25 for our signature annual event. The theme, Faces of Exchange, celebrated the many “faces” who make exchange programs happen every day: participants and alumni, locally-based hosts and coordinators, government agencies, and more. Relive the highlights at:



In August, we hosted a virtual National Programmers Workshop for our partners at the National Program Agencies and U.S. Government. More than 200 attendees participated in the week-long event, which included 30 speakers and 21 sessions on topics including best practices in IVLP programming and ways to improve communication and cooperation among the international exchange community. Highlights were the keynote address from John W. Franklin, Senior Manager Emeritus at the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture, and sessions on education, health, and housing in the United States from a social justice perspective.



We welcomed six representatives from the Global Ties Network for an online version of Network DC. The week-long program helps build stronger connections with DC-based partners at the U.S. Department of State and National Program Agencies. Each representative delivered presentations on the strengths of their organizations and cities in hosting exchange programs.

  • Sean Bowman, World Affairs Council Seattle
  • Leslie Grishin, The International Center
  • Araceli McCoy, El Paso Council for International Visitors
  • Anise Jasman-Sayers, World Affairs Council of New Hampshire
  • Janet Norton, Iowa International Center
  • Susan Lore, World Affairs Council of St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)

Global Ties U.S. tripled member services with the pivot to virtual programming. From online events and webinars to new toolkits, newsletters, and more, we innovated to keep our Network engaged. Read more.



Global Ties U.S. and our nationwide Network are excited for our “Faces of America” – Youth Ambassadors and Cultural Performers – to introduce the U.S. to the world. Learn more about our work and how you can be involved at

27 Network Members | 75 Youth Ambassadors | 336 Cultural Performances



The Police Professionalization Exchange Program (PPEP) for Mexico has served nearly 1,800 participants this year. We completed two in-person exchanges in early 2020, before pivoting to intensive webinars on managing COVID-19 among incarcerated populations, and implementing community policing strategies. Our online education programs continued, including an expanded PPEP Online Level 2 in August/September, our PPEP Online Level 1 in October/November, and additional webinars anticipated in December.We also initiated an analysis of action plans completed by PPEP Online participants in 2018-2019, to survey participant success in implementing them post-program.

We also undertook two new programs in 2020: U.S.-ASEAN Water Smart Engagements (WISE), connecting water utilities companies in southeast Asia with U.S. companies and technologies to improve water security; and the Iraqi Banking Virtual Exchange, connecting Iraqi bankers with their U.S. counterparts to learn how to encourage U.S. banks to do business in Iraq.

This spring, the PAK-USA Virtual Classroom Exchange connected 277 students from the United States and Pakistan in a 12-week program focused on intercultural conflict resolution. Students came from 11 participating schools in Washington, DC; Kansas City, MO; Cincinnati, OH, Seattle, WA; and Lahore and Karachi, Pakistan., including several schools located in rural communities that do not typically have the opportunity to engage in international exchange programs. After a brief program pause in March due to COVID-19, we restarted the program with a modified, mobile-friendly, curriculum. 175 students participated in the restart, In addition to the students, we engaged 20 teachers in the two countries with the aim of increasing capacity to incorporate problem-based inquiry and to teach in English (for the Pakistani teachers). Ninety-eight percent of Pakistani students participating noted an improved understanding of the U.S. and its culture upon completion of the exchange.



Global Minnesota volunteer Mohamed Ahmed of “Average Mohamed” was this year’s recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Citizen Diplomacy Award for his work countering violent extremism. Now in its fourth year, the award honors U.S. citizens and organizations leading efforts to renew and strengthen U.S. relationships with the world that further U.S. foreign policy and public diplomacy objectives.



This year we saw several updates to our staff and Board of Directors. We welcomed eight new team members: Allison BallChristian Caudill, and Stephanie Sutton to the External Affairs / Communications Team; Dana Hoyes and Seth Joyner to the Expo Team; Bjorn Schwarzenbach to the Exchanges Team; and Gina Smallwood and Gavril Torrijos to the Finance and Operations Team. Learn more at



New Officers

  • Jacqueline Miller, President & CEO, World Affairs Council of Seattle, Chair
  • Patricia Harrison, Ph.D., Director of Global Programs (Professional Exchanges), World Learning, Vice Chair
  • Martin Baier, President and CEO, The International Center, Secretary
  • Diana Bucco, President, The Buhl Foundation, Treasurer

New members

  • Muddassar Ahmed, Managing Partner, Unitas Communications
  • Tara Panek Bingle, Chief Financial Officer, Development Innovations Group
  • Johnathan Quarles, Founder & CEO, The BTL Group and Quartz Water Source

Thank you for your service

  • Henry Collins, Vice President, Meridian International Center
  • Jacquelyn Shipe, Chief Executive Officer, Global Ties Alabama