Exchange Matters / June 27, 2019

Emerging Leaders: Where Are They Now?

As July approaches, we look forward to kicking off our first-ever Summer of Public Diplomacy. Geared toward young professionals in international affairs, part of the two-day event will also celebrate the success of the Emerging Leader Program. Read more from alumni who share how the program helped launch their careers in international exchange and education.

Benjamin Olsen
Cohort: 2019
Previously: Global Ties Detroit
Currently: Office of International Visitors

“The experiences I had and the friends that I made as an Emerging Leader will stay with me as I continue my professional journey. I came away from the National Meeting still convinced of the crucial importance of international exchange programs, yet with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the “behind-the-scenes” effort that goes into making them happen. As a result, I am pleased to be joining the Office of International Visitors’ Community Relations Branch this Summer. I look forward to supporting these valuable programs as they continue to impact people in communities across the country and world.”

Hannah Somers
Cohort: 2019
Previously: GlobalPittsburgh
Currently: Hello Neighbor

“Since the 2019 National Meeting, I traveled to Israel and had the opportunity to meet with Elana from Kuchinate, an African refugee women’s collective that crochets and sells baskets and offers support for the refugee women. It was an inspiring visit and I’m looking forward to following their work! In May, I started as Program Coordinator for a nonprofit in Pittsburgh, PA called Hello Neighbor. Hello Neighbor works to improve the lives of recently resettled refugee families by matching them with dedicated neighbors to guide and support them in their new lives. It has been an exciting first month!”

Tom Dattilo
Boston University School of Law

“I have decided to attend Boston University School of Law. Before I begin this fall, I will be home in Cleveland as a summer associate for an international business law firm, Gonzalo Law. I am set to graduate from the University of Denver in June with majors of International Studies and Spanish and minors of Leadership Studies and Business Ethics & Legal Studies. I am graduating summa cum laude, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and a thesis writer for the DU Honors Program with distinction.
Though straying a bit from the realm of international exchange and cultural diplomacy, I am eager to continue a path of international exposure, hopefully by focusing on international trade law and/or immigration law at BU. I am still so honored to be a part of this incredible network of Emerging Leaders.”

Alana Henry
Cohort: 2018
Previously: Global Ties Alabama
Currently: The British Embassy in the United States

“Both the internship and my Emerging Leader experiences allowed me to discover the world of international affairs in a whole new light! I was inspired by the delegations I got to meet, the ambassadors and diplomats I networked with, and the local government and business officials I was able to connect with while in Huntsville, AL. I am currently a Visits and Events Officer for the British Embassy in Washington, DC. My current position enables me to meet high-level British and U.S. government officials, Royal Family members, and coordinate and attend VIP events at the British Ambassador’s Residence. My career goal is to become a U.S. Ambassador. I know this is achievable because of the exposure I gained while being a part of the Global Ties Network. I am forever grateful for my experiences as an intern for Global Ties Alabama and Emerging Leader for Global Ties U.S.”

Sreenath Panchagnula
Cohort: 2019
Previously: International Visitors Center of Jackson
Currently: Jackson State University

“Since participating in the Emerging Leaders Program, I have gained skills that benefit me at work – at the International Visitors Center of Jackson (IVCJ), where I coordinate visitors’ programs such as the IVLP and Open World Leadership Program – and in my doctoral program at Jackson State University. The networking opportunities and friendships I made with my fellow colleagues were incredible; it was the first time I was surrounded by people with a passion for public diplomacy. I hope the Emerging Leaders Program continues for years to come so that early career individuals gain valuable experience in the field of public diplomacy.”

Lidia Awad
Cohort: 2014
Previously: Georgia Council for International Visitors
Currently: ME&A, USAID Feed the Future (Washington, DC)

“The Emerging Leaders Program was a catapult for my career in international development. The program was the first time I had the opportunity to visit DC and was introduced to the world of citizen diplomacy. The connections I made at the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting were eye-opening. I left motivated and inspired by the speakers, the organizations, and the events, and was able to use my experiences to get my first job in development in DC. I even met my (now) best friend through the program whose wedding I was the Maid of Honor in this past year! I am forever grateful for both the professional and personal impact the Emerging Leaders Program had on me, and am so honored to have been selected to participate in 2014.”

Andrew Kovach
Cohort: 2017
Previously: Cleveland Council on World Affairs
Currently: Cleveland Council on World Affairs

“The Emerging Leaders Program sharpened my understanding of the inner-workings of exchange programs and the wide range of public and private sector careers dedicated to public diplomacy. As an exchange programmer who was new to the Global Ties Network, the opportunity to directly interact with all international exchange partners—from other Community-Based Members and National Program Agencies to U.S. Department of State program officers and foreign ambassadors—was invaluable in fostering new professional connections. Thanks in large part to the Emerging Leaders Program, I have remained committed to this dynamic network as a proponent of professional exchanges.”

Mary Wurtz
Cohort: 2019
Previously: World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana
Currently: Hispanic Services Intern at Catholic Charities of Louisville, Inc

“Living in Kentucky, I don’t know a lot of professionals working in international exchange and diplomacy, nor are there as many resources for students who want to pursue careers in these areas. The Emerging Leaders Program connected me with dozens of professionals from across the country who have given me invaluable advice for how to break into these fields. I am so inspired by my peers in this program and what they have already accomplished at such a young age, and they make me excited about my future!

The Emerging Leaders Program has been a game changer for me in my personal and professional development, and I could not recommend it enough to other colleagues. My big life update is that in February, I delivered a TEDx talk at my university’s first annual TEDxBellarmineU conference. My talk, ‘A Second Soul: Love as the World’s Lingua Franca,’ disputes the notion that as the world becomes smaller through globalization, the need to learn foreign languages has decreased. I talk about how while speaking multiple languages can look good on a resumé, the real benefit comes from the connection between you and the person whose language you dedicated the time to learning. I argue that the selfless act of taking the time to learn someone else’s language is what the ancient Greeks referred to as agape love, “pure self gift.’ I found out while I was at the National Meeting that I would be delivering this talk, and bouncing ideas off the other Emerging Leaders was so helpful!”