Announcements / May 16, 2023

Foreign Policy and the People

Foreign Policy and the People: Engaging U.S. Citizens and Communities in Diplomacy, is a new publication by Katherine Brown, Ph.D. and Ann-Louise Colgan for the Truman Center’s City and State Diplomacy Toolkit. The piece highlights the crucial role of citizen-led engagement in global affairs, particularly the community-based organizations that support this work, including members and partners of the Global Ties Network, and discusses the positive economic and socio-cultural impacts of international exchange and public diplomacy programs. A snapshot of the piece is below, and can be accessed in full HERE.

Foreign Policy and the People:

Engaging U.S. Citizens and Communities in Diplomacy

Katherine Brown, Ph.D. is President & CEO of Global Ties U.S. and a Truman National Security Project Fellow.
Ann-Louise Colgan is the Senior Director of Strategic Communications and External Affairs at Global Ties U.S.


  • U.S. citizens are more engaged with and curious about foreign affairs and there are multiple community-based organizations ready to support these initiatives, including but not limited to members and partners of the Global Ties Network.
  • International exchange and public diplomacy programs – both for U.S. and foreign citizens – are a tangible way to humanize foreign affairs and build trust to deepen U.S. alliances. They also have positive economic and socio-cultural impacts within U.S. cities.
  • Engaging community-based organizations and U.S. citizens in exchange programs offers opportunities for city and state officials to develop their local workforce, provide greater international connectivity, and deepen community integration.

In 1940, prior to the U.S. entering World War II, a simple idea was put forth by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration to deepen America’s international alliances: bring global leaders and influencers to the United States, give them the experience of connecting and forming relationships with communities across the nation. This brilliant and enduring idea led to the formal creation and authorization of the flagship International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Since its inception, scores of other U.S. Department of State international exchange programs rely on partnering with local communities. By putting U.S. citizens at the center of these experiences, the program can leverage one of America’s greatest soft power asset: its people.

Throughout the 20th century, community-based networks developed to energize U.S. citizen engagement in foreign affairs. These included the Global Ties Network and our partners within the World Affairs Councils of America, the Foreign Policy Association, Sister Cities International, the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA), Kiwanis, and Rotary. Each network has its own membership and specific purpose. Still, they share overlapping missions to inform citizens about the world, provide opportunities for active participation in foreign affairs, and communicate why investing in America’s alliances and ensuring a robust federal International Affairs budget matters for national security and prosperity at home. This brief seeks to illuminate opportunities for city and state officials to connect with activities within their own communities to increase grassroots participation in foreign affairs.

Read more HERE.