Exchange Matters / March 18, 2020

2020 National Meeting, in Photos

From January 22-25, 2020, over 900 attendees from around the U.S. and the world convened at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC to celebrate the “faces” who make exchange programs happen every day: participants and alumni, locally-based hosts and coordinators, government agencies, and more.

The 2020 National Meeting also served as the launch of a year-long campaign by the Office of International Visitors of the U.S. Department of State to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program, the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program, and its achievements in advancing American foreign policy, prosperity, and security.

Check out the highlights in images below. Find more photos, videos, and other materials from the National Meeting here.

All photo credit, unless noted otherwise: A.E. Landes Photography



The National Meeting is a core networking opportunity for the Global Ties Network and for the Emerging Leaders — globally-minded young professionals who joined us in Washington, DC from across the U.S. and its territories. Throughout the event, connections were formed and fostered as attendees spent time in sessions, the Exhibit Hall, the U.S. Department of State reception, the IVLP “Faces of Exchange” Studio, and with Poster Session presenters exploring critical topics in public diplomacy and international exchange.


The 2020 National Meeting kicked off a year-long celebration of the 80th anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program and the Faces of Exchange campaign, which will celebrate 80 exceptional IVLP alum. Above, Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and Christopher Washington, Chair of the Global Ties U.S. Board of Directors, are the “Faces of Exchange” personified.

Listen to Assistant Secretary Royce’s Opening Remarks, here.


Participants enjoyed sessions on topics varying from programming methods, exchange best practices, addressing organizational challenges, engaging diverse audiences, increasing capacities, and so much more. Throughout it all, participants were encouraged to engage with one another with the same spirit International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants do during their exchanges.

Find session materials, here.


The 2020 cohort of Emerging Leaders joined us in Washington, DC and is made up of 17 globally-minded young professionals from around the country. Learn more about this year’s cohort, here.


Academics and researchers presented posters about topics including international exchange programs, nonprofit management and leadership, international education, foreign policy, and more. Learn more about the third-annual Poster Session, here.


A highlight of the plenaries are the keynote speakers who serve as inspirations in our work. Leadership from the U.S. Department of State, such as Assistant Secretary of State Marie Royce and Michelle Giuda, Senior Official for Public Diplomacy, celebrated the 80-year impact of the International Visitor Leadership Program and the role of public diplomacy in advancing U.S. foreign policy. A panel of women legal professionals, including Meaza Ashenafi, the first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ethiopia and an IVLP alumna, gave urgency on the need to empower women in all professions.


This year’s National Meeting included female leaders from many organizations and professions including academia, government, law, and the nonprofit sector.

From left, moderator Carol Stevens, Associate Executive Director for Media Relations and Strategic Communications at the American Bar Association, led a discussion with Meaza Ashenafi, the first federal female Chief Justice of Ethiopia; Susan G. Braden, former Chief Judge from the Federal Claims Court; and Rosa Celorio, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies at the George Washington University; about the urgent importance of empowering women across sectors around the globe.

Watch the panel’s discussion, here.


The plenary events are an inspiring part of the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting and gather  attendees as one large community. Events like the Luncheon with the Ambassadors served to expand the Network’s connection with the world; a trivia game during the Closing Celebration reinforced global learning in a fun and interactive way. We also celebrated the recipients of our Citizen Diplomat Award and IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation & Change, Dave Fortier and Runcie Chidebe, respectively.


Runcie Chidebe was presented with the 2020 IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation and Change for his work as a civil society activist and his leading advocacy in cancer treatment and healthcare in Nigeria through his organization, Project PINK BLUE.

Watch his acceptance speech, here.

DaveFortier won the 2020 Citizen Diplomat Award. Dave is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing who turned his healing journey into an opportunity for survivors around the globe to connect through his organization, the One World Strong Foundation.

Watch his acceptance speech, here.


To recognize the vital role of excellence in programming within our Network, Global Ties U.S. honored the 2020 recipients of the Excellence in IVLP Programming Awards.

Read more about this year’s awardees, here.


At the Opening Ceremonies Katie Ferman, the 2020 National Meeting Planning Committee Chair and Senior Program Officer for International Visitors at the Cleveland Council on World Affairs, challenged participants to make “a new face into a new friend.” During the closing ceremonies, she reflected on the experiment and passed to baton to Janet Norton as she takes on the role of Chair for the 2021 National Meeting.

Read more about Janet Norton’s vision for next year, here.


The U.S. Department of State and the foreign diplomatic missions based in Washington, DC are critical partners of our work in exchanges. We thank the U.S. Department of State and the embassies of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the People’s Republic of China, and the Republic of Uzbekistan for hosting National Meeting attendees and building bridges with the oldest and largest citizen diplomacy network in America.


Embassies from the Kingdom of Bahrain, the People’s Republic of China, Uzbekistan, and the Delegation of the European Union to the United States welcomed visitors from the National Meeting for memorable evening receptions.


Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce welcomed guests from the Global Ties U.S. Network to a reception hosted by the U.S. Department of State.