Announcements / March 3, 2022

Global Ties U.S. Honors Disability Rights Activist and DC-Based Youth Organization with 2022 Citizen Diplomat Awards 

Global Ties U.S. is excited to announce the recipients of the 2022 Citizen Diplomat Award: disability rights activist Susan Sygall, and Washington, DC-based organization Life Pieces to Masterpieces, for their deep commitment to public diplomacy and their social impact on communities in the United States and abroad.

Nominated by WorldOregon, a Global Ties Network Community-Based Member organization, Susan Sygall is a disability rights activist and expert in the areas of international education, international development, and inclusive leadership for people of all abilities. She is also the CEO and co-Founder of Mobility International USA (MIUSA), a disability-led nonprofit and Global Ties Network National Member headquartered in Eugene, OR advancing disability rights and leadership globally.

Susan regularly meets with individuals around the world to share her story, the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the United States’ journey to advance the rights of those with disabilities. “Through sharing time and expertise with her international counterparts, she is strengthening relationships between the United States and disability rights leaders abroad to make positive change locally and globally,” said Amy Barss, Director of International Visitors and Training Programs at WorldOregon, on nominating Susan for this award. Susan has been a professional resource for International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) meetings for more than 20 years, connecting both Global Ties Network Community-Based Members with resources on disability rights and community activism, and creating opportunities for students of all abilities to study abroad through MIUSA’s National Clearinghouse on Disability Exchange.

For her life-long work to advance inclusivity and equity for people of all abilities, we are honored to present Susan with the 2022 Citizen Diplomat Award.

Life Pieces to Masterpieces is a Washington, DC-based community organization that uses artistic expression to help youth develop leadership skills, confidence, and creativity to become positive role models for their peers and navigate through obstacles and injustices.

Founded in 1996 in DC’s Ward 7 public housing community, Life Pieces to Masterpieces (LPTM) grew from a grassroots afterschool program to a comprehensive nonprofit recognized as a leading model for youth empowerment in marginalized communities. Through its network of supporters and partnerships with DC area schools, universities, and businesses, and other nonprofits, LPTM is able to innovate and supplement their programs with internships, workshops, and community initiatives. LPTM is also a professional resource for World Learning, a Global Ties Network National Program Agency and International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) partner, who nominated them for this award.

Life Pieces to Masterpieces organized an interactive virtual workshop, co-facilitated by their youth, for an IVLP project for participants from the United Kingdom titled “Youth Leadership and Civic Engagement.” The participants noted the workshop as a highlight of their program. In July 2021 Life Pieces to Masterpieces offered an on-site program at one of their school facilities during the pilot return-to-in-person IVLP project for Nigerian participants. Using introspection, artistic expression, and storytelling, organizers provided participants with the space to grow as leaders in their compassion, empathy, and commitment, and demonstrated how this growth can be applied to youth, and those who work with them.

“We believe that [these] workshops with Life Pieces to Masterpieces were unique among the resources on our IVLP projects: they were transformational for our international visitors and provided an experience unlike any other,” said Klaudia Gates, IVLP Program Officer at World Learning on nominating them for the award.

We are honored to present Life Pieces to Masterpieces with the 2022 Citizen Diplomat Award for their commitment to foster community and facilitate social impact.

Global Ties U.S. also announces as a 2022 Citizen Diplomat Honoree Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio, TX. He was nominated by the San Antonio Council for International Visitors (SACIV), a Global Ties Network Community-Based Member, for his long-term engagement with citizen diplomacy, both as an individual and elected official. As Mayor, one of his first actions was to sign on to the Resolution for the Paris Climate Accords and two years later, he led the effort to approve the City’s Climate Action Plan. In 2019, Mayor Nirenberg attended the C40 Global Mayors Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, an important global network of Mayors focused on finding solutions for common problems with sustainability and climate change impact.

Mayor Nirenberg previously served as Chairman of Sister Cities International (SCI), a nonpartisan organization that connects cities across the globe through civic, educational, and cultural exchanges. He currently serves as Chair Emeritus of SCI, and is also the Honorary Chair of the SCI Mayor’s Leadership Council which was created in 2021 to create stronger bonds with elected officials in the network, and strengthen the City of San Antonio’s 11 Sister City relationships.

“Mayor Nirenberg’s dedication to service is evident in his core commitment to civic participation and the universal values of liberty, justice, and equal opportunity for every person,” said Cecilia Cross, Executive Director of SACIV on nominating him for the award. “As Mayor, he has taken every opportunity to engage San Antonio’s global partners and represent the city internationally, with a view to increase San Antonio’s access to the outside world and to elevate San Antonio’s global stance and reputation.”

The 2022 Citizen Diplomat Award winners will deliver remarks on Thursday, March 17 at the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting. They will speak at the Citizen Diplomacy Plenary, which celebrates trailblazers in the United States and abroad who are furthering the cause of international understanding and global engagement.



The Global Ties U.S. Citizen Diplomat Award honors individuals and institutions for outstanding achievements in furthering the cause of international understanding and global engagement. Nominees are motivated by a deep understanding of world issues and committed to the exchange of people and ideas.

Awardees are selected from a broad range of fields, including the arts, culture, government service, science, media, business, and education. The award is presented at the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting and followed by an acceptance speech.