Compiled by Carla Picasso, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S.
This month, the Global Ties Network is reflecting on how exchange programs like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) help build global competencies that contribute to workforce development. International exchange partners World Affairs Council of St. Louis, WorldOrlando, GlobalPittsburgh, and the Georgia Council for International Visitors share how IVLP exchanges facilitate capacity-building strategies and insights for industry leaders, and benefit small businesses, entrepreneurs, and law enforcement. Read more about our members’ experiences below and how exchanges matter to their communities.
WE AMERICAS Program for Women Entrepreneurs
CBM: World Affairs Council of St. Louis
NPA: World Learning
In April 2021, the World Affairs Council of St. Louis took part in the WE Americas Program for Women Entrepreneurs, a regional project for the Western Hemisphere. This program, coordinated by World Learning, brought together 20 International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) visitors from 13 countries with a focus on expanding social and economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs. This is an important topic as women seek to improve their lives and that of their families through entrepreneurship.
In a virtual panel discussion, St. Louis resource Terri Stipanovich, founder of The Collective Thread, described how her organization offers free sewing education classes to immigrants and refugees in the community and then employs those students to provide small batch manufacturing services to the garment industry. The Collective Thread also engages aspiring fashion designers fulfilling the needs of over 50 brands with apparel design and manufacturing needs while staying true to its mission: empowering vulnerable women by giving them new skills and a job with a living wage.
Terri talked about how her organization was started as a result of her experience abroad working with refugees in East Africa. Her goal was to build an organization that would help empower women refugees and immigrants in both her hometown of St. Louis as well as in East Africa. She has fulfilled that mission through the work that The Collective Thread does in both locations.
Discussions during this IVLP meeting ran the gamut from exchanging ideas about funding sources, how to adapt their businesses in pandemic times including how to obtain and maintain clients. In addition, the visitors and speakers discussed how their businesses not only promote women, but also give back to the community. The impact of the exchange was the sharing not only of ideas but also business connections. Several of the visitors who represented women with sewing skills for example, inquired about bringing their products to the U.S. market in collaboration with The Collective Thread.
In hearing both the speakers as well as the international visitors talk about the challenges they have faced, it’s clear that one of the benefits of exchange is the ability to meet with others who have had similar experiences and knowing that you are not alone in the experiences you are facing in growing and maintaining a business. The challenges faced by a female entrepreneur in one country are not all that different from those faced elsewhere and there is comfort in seeing that those challenges have been overcome by others who are willing to share what they have learned, lend advice as well as an empathetic ear. While virtual exchange is not ideal, it still provides a connection and that can lead to collaboration and inspiration. The World Affairs Council of St. Louis is honored to have been part of this program.
– Susan Lore, IVLP Coordinator
Promoting Women in Law Enforcement
NPA: CRDF Global
Earlier this fall, WorldOrlando collaborated with national partner, CRDF Global to implement a virtual exchange titled: Promoting Women Leaders in Law Enforcement. The single-country project involved International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) representatives from Indonesia and was largely composed of female professionals who serve in various law enforcement and policy making capacities.
One of the primary objectives laid out for the project was for IVLP participants to ‘understand the impacts greater gender inclusion in leadership roles can have on improving and creating a holistic law enforcement response across all justice and law enforcement entities.’ WorldOrlando was lucky enough to secure the participation of Florida Congresswoman Val Demings to lead a session for this project.
Representative Demings, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016, serves Florida’s 10th Congressional District–which includes the City of Orlando. Prior to her election to Congress, Demings served a distinguished 27-year career with the Orlando Police Department (OPD). During this time Demings, who holds a degree in criminology, navigated her way through the ranks of a largely male dominated agency, serving and making her mark in virtually every department. In 2007, history was made when Demings was appointed to serve as Orlando’s first female Chief of Police. While working with her team to develop a plan to effectively deal with violent crime and its worst offenders, Demings, who also has a background in social work, simultaneously implemented programs in high crime neighborhoods to address systemic, quality of life issues.
During the virtual exchange, Dinda Karin Daniswari, an immigration intelligence and enforcement officer with the Indonesian government, asked what systems were put in place to ensure that younger generations of girls and women could follow in the path that Demings has created. “When I was chief, fighting crime was not enough, we started a youth mentoring program called, Operation Positive Direction, where we worked with youth in at-risk communities, in an effort to help prepare the next generation of leaders.” Working with other city departments, Demings and her team also focused on making affordable housing, job skills training and GED achievement more accessible to residents in Orlando’s most economically disadvantaged communities.
Defining leadership as courage, preparation and opportunity, the congresswoman shared deeply personal lessons she’s learned and sound advice she’s accumulated over her career. “When you have the courage to live up to your full potential, when you are better prepared, it paves the way for greater opportunities. “If I had been overly concerned about being this girl who grew up poor in the South–in Florida– and worried about what people had to say about me, I would not have had the opportunity to serve as Orlando’s first woman Chief of Police. I was the first woman to serve in that role but I’m absolutely certain that I will not be the last.”
Demings, who now serves on three congressional committees and shuttles between Central Florida and Washington, DC, was asked a question related to work/life balance. Ratna Wijayanti, a helicopter pilot with the Indonesian National Police wondered whether it is realistic for women leaders to really ‘have it all.’ “I believe we can have it all but we don’t have to do it all and we certainly don’t have to do it all at the same time. Ask for help,” Demings responded. “With my family it’s not so much quantity but quality time that’s most meaningful to us. So, schedule quality time on your calendar to spend with family–it’s so important!”
Demings concluded by issuing an encouraging reminder to all those participating on the call about the responsibilities placed on them as leaders: “Remember, the world is going to need you, in your respective places, to solve some of the most complicated challenges that we will experience. Take up the challenge and lead by example!”
– Richard Alleyne, Communications Manager
Migrating Your Small Business Online
CBMs: GlobalPittsburgh and Georgia Council for International Visitors
NPA: CRDF Global
COVID-19 had a profound impact on entrepreneurs around the world and prompted the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) to respond with creative projects to address the issue. GlobalPittsburgh collaborated with Katelyn McAlister at CRDF Global on the project, “Migrating Your Small Business Online” for 12 small business owners from Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. In the process, GlobalPittsburgh discovered rock star resources whose advice and expertise deeply resonated with the participants in the group.
Go and Grow Online (GOGO) Program is a collaboration between the URA (the economic development arm of the City of Pittsburgh) and community development catalyst Neighborhood Allies. GOGO enables entrepreneurs with an existing business and less than 15 employees to receive up to 10 hours of free technical assistance that will help their business enter the digital marketplace and receive personalized ecommerce solutions.
GlobalPittsburgh organized an interactive workshop with GOGO and the IVLP visitors on June 1, 2021. The session began with an introduction to the GOGO program presented by Demi Kolke, Senior Program Manager of Corridor Revitalization at Neighborhood Allies. Thanks to a recommendation by Demi, the next speakers in the session were Amy McCarthy and Joe Morales of McRales, who served as one of the consulting companies assisting small business owners in the GOGO Program. McRales helps small businesses with marketing strategies, automation, and web design.
The McRales segment of the session was an in-depth exploration of how businesses can effectively tell customers what they sell and the value of their products and services. Joe posed some tough questions to the group: “What do you provide?” and “What is your vision?” The session methodically analyzed a variety of U.S. company websites and encouraged the participants to “create conversations” with potential clients. Joe and Amy gave both design and content advice, always sharing free tools that the participants could utilize. The session included opportunities for several of the participants’ websites to be constructively critiqued.
The success of their June 1 session resulted in Joe and Amy being invited to meet with participants two more times during the group’s virtual IVLP project. On June 4, Joe and Amy attended the group’s informal coffee hour to complete critiquing participant websites. Additionally, on June 10, Joe and Amy conducted a “website bootcamp” for the members of the project who did not have dedicated sites for their businesses. The bootcamp was designed to introduce the group to website design using tools available at Squarespace.com. and other sites as well as design advice for the participants to develop readable and inviting content for their potential customers.
The McRales programming was a highlight of the “Migrating Your Small Business Online” project for many of the participants. The speakers clearly connected with the group members and the marketing advice that they offered transcended traditional borders.
IVLP Participant Sian Cuffy Young of Trinidad and Tobago, who did not have a website at the time of the project, followed up with Amy and Joe after their final session with the group to share her company’s new website. Joe provided her with feedback that incorporated what had been covered in their workshops. GlobalPittsburgh greatly appreciated the opportunity to host this group and look forward to learning more about how their programming in our community impacted their businesses.
– Gail Shrott, Executive Director
Georgia Council for International Visitors
In May of 2021, we virtually hosted small business owners from the Caribbean for an International Visitor Leadership Program focused on “Migrating Your Small Business Online.” The project included meetings with local businesses through a small roundtable, and a home hospitality with a local small business owner. It was great to see all the participants and host talk about the challenges and joys of owning a small business. Conversations were truly eye opening, and we enjoyed being able to support and promote small businesses from our community and around the world.
– Sarah Weigle, Program Coordinator