Exchange Matters / April 27, 2018

From Fan to President: Letter From Katherine Brown, Ph.D., President and CEO

Hello! I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be writing to you as the President and CEO of Global Ties U.S. Thank you very much for the warm welcome you have already extended to me.

I wanted to give you some background as to why this job means so much to me. I grew up in Los Altos, CA with exchange students in my home and was an exchange student myself in Denmark, Mexico, and Ireland. I first heard about the International Visitor Leadership Program in 2003 as a Public Diplomacy Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan.

I became a particularly energetic fan of the Global Ties Network in 2010 as a professional staff member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. That was when I met Sherry Mueller, former President of Global Ties U.S. (then called the National Council of International Visitors), and learned about this incredible network of American citizens, mostly volunteers, who provided the infrastructure for the IVLP and other public diplomacy programs. I worked with Sherry and former Representative Jim Moran to introduce and pass House Resolution 1402, acknowledging February 16, 2011 as “Citizen Diplomacy Day” in honor of NCIV’s 50th Anniversary.

Years later, as head of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, I traveled to nearly two dozen countries and met with our ambassadors and diplomats on the frontlines. I heard the word “indispensable” again and again associated with exchange programs, but especially the IVLP: it not only provided professional development opportunities for promising world leaders, but also helped bring America into 3-D for them.

When I asked exchange alumni what surprised them the most about the U.S., they said it was the commitment of Americans to community service and philanthropy. They didn’t realize that Americans were so generous, and it transformed their view of the country.

Of course, they were talking about you. I can’t imagine a better job than supporting this network of citizen diplomats who create these experiences for our future global leaders—and also have serious influence in local communities. Not only do you contribute $57 million to the U.S. economy, you undeniably enrich and expand civic life, education, and commercial opportunities for your fellow Americans.

With the help of evaluations—both through your own efforts and the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy—we hope to marry your powerful stories with data that drives home the impact you make. This will be important to not only your donors, but also to Congress for maintaining appropriation funds for public diplomacy programs.

This was an important initiative of my predecessor, Jennifer Clinton, and something I sought to be involved with as a former member on the Global Ties Foundation board. Together, I believe we can go beyond simply maintaining the status quo when it comes to exchange program funding—we can expand it.

Although I’ve been a fan of this network—from its Community-Based Members and National Program Agencies, to International and National Members—I’m just beginning to understand the extent and reach of it. It is our job at Global Ties U.S. to help you thrive and grow, and I hope you’ll help me understand how we can be more effective.

In May, I’ll have the chance to visit some of our CBMs, and I hope to meet many more of you at the Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summits and Learning Labs, which kick off in June. In the meantime, please email so we can set up a call.

If you’re in DC, I’d love to see you in person. Thank you again for the warm welcome, especially to the boards of Global Ties U.S. and the Global Ties Foundation, the Advisory Council, and the Washington-based team. It’s an honor to be officially part of the team.