Announcements / March 6, 2024

2024 IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation and Change Honors East Asia Pacific Leaders

We are pleased to announce the recipient of the 2024 Global Ties U.S. IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation and Change: Zheng Qing Qu of China, who is honored for his work to empower youth through civic and community engagement. We also recognize as an honorable mention Sachiyo Sakaguchi of Japan for her commitment to train and support women running for political office. This year, there is also special recognition to Frei Sangil of the Philippines and Connor Clarke of Australia for their pioneering approaches to promote social inclusion.

Zheng Qing is a journalist, podcast host, and radio producer who participated in the 2013 International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) “Journalistic Practices in the U.S.” His many accomplishments include founding “Study Abroad Express,” China’s first radio program focused on study abroad; founding the first non-governmental public diplomacy new media platform in China, “Voice of Diplomacy;” and launching the “Future Diplomat” project, which connects bright, globally focused youth with the foreign diplomatic community, while also expanding access to scholarships and internships for youth from remote areas.

“My participation in the 2013 IVLP program significantly broadened my horizons and reshaped my career trajectory,” said Zheng Qing who shared how the IVLP highlighted for him “the importance of cross-cultural communication and exchange.” His IVLP was programmed by FHI 360 (Washington, DC) in coordination with Gulf Coast Diplomacy (Pensacola FL), Tulsa Global Alliance (Tulsa, OK) and World Affairs Council – Seattle (Seattle, WA). In 2023, Zheng Qing participated in a roundtable with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Ambassador to China R. Nicholas Burns, sharing insights on the impact of his IVLP experience.

“Mr. Qu’s media outlet has been a rare platform focused on building bridges of communication and mutual understanding, one message at a time,” said the Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, on nominating him for this award.

“I am excited about the prospect of leveraging my skills, experiences, and passion for cross-cultural communication and public diplomacy in the 2024 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting,” said Zheng Qing. “It is an opportunity to use the knowledge and resources gained for the betterment of my public diplomacy platform and the communities it serves.”

The Honorable Mention goes to Sachiyo Sakaguchi, a policy secretary in the House of Representatives working to promote the advancement of Japanese women in politics. Her 2022 IVLP “Empowering Women’s Political Leadership” was programmed by IIE (Washington DC) in coordination with World Affairs Council of New Hampshire (Manchester, NH), WorldOregon (Portland, OR), and GlobalAustin (Austin, TX).

Sachiyo credits her IVLP for inspiring her work, particularly her experience at the NEW Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. There, she noted, “I learned about the skills and training required for U.S. political leadership, fundraising methods, and networking,” citing this as the driving force for her post-IVLP activities.

In 2023, Sachiyo received an IVLP Impact Award to conduct a series of workshops to train approximately 200 young women interested in running for office. Her work to empower women and girls to be active leaders in politics has already resulted in two participants running for local political positions and inspired others to deliver presentations to junior high and high school students.

“Challenge is worth it,” said Sachiyo. “There is a change in the way women are approaching leadership…. Just as a grain of wheat will soon become a field of wheat, I hope that this workshop will take root widely throughout Japan.”

Zheng Qing and Sachiyo Sakaguchi (via video) will deliver remarks Wednesday, March 6 during the Raising Global Voices plenary.

This year, Global Ties U.S. also announces two special recognitions.

Frei Sangil is a data scientist, educator, and 2022 IVLP alumna of “Hidden No More: Empowering Women Leaders in STEM” was programmed by FHI 360 in Washington, DC in coordination with World Partnerships, Inc. (St. Petersburg, FL); and WorldBoston (Boston, MA) and International Citizen Diplomacy of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA).

Inspired by her visit to MIT and their free resources and approach to inclusive engineering, Frei launched the Learn2Code program for 50 high school students. In 2023, she received an IVLP Impact Award to create “Coding out of Poverty,” which trains girls from rural, underserved areas using MIT engineering resources. Frei is now an advisor and panelist at the Free STEM fund, along with two other participants from the same IVLP cohort, and works with both local and national government offices and schools in the Philippines, as well as with UNICEF.

Connor Clarke is a senior policy officer for the government of Western Australia’s Native Title Negotiation Team. He participated in the 2022 IVLP “Transparency and Accountability in the Quad,” programmed by Meridian International Center (Washington, DC) in collaboration with World Affairs Council of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA), WorldDenver (Denver, CO), and World Affairs Council (Seattle, WA).

During his IVLP, Connor met with the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, and it played a transformative role in shaping his social activism approach. After his visit, Connor developed new policy approaches, assisted in agreement negotiation and implementation, and developed a whole-of government indigenous engagement strategy. His work supports Indigenous Australians in support of their self-determination, empowerment, and economic and social prosperity. Connor is also a youth advocate and board member of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, where he works to facilitate, fundraise, and organize events for young professionals to actively engage with regional policy makers, gain a deeper understanding of regional issues and highlight opportunities for future study/careers.


About the Award

The Global Ties U.S. IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation and Change recognizes alumni of the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program for high achievements driving social change through innovation in their home communities. Thanks to the generous contributions of Vicente López-Ibor Mayor, an IVLP alumnus and Honorary President of Via-Circulo Jefferson in Spain, the award is granted annually at the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting.