Announcements / January 11, 2024

Global Ties U.S. Welcomes New Members to Board of Directors  

WASHINGTON, DC — The Washington, DC-based nonprofit Global Ties U.S. announces the addition of three new members to its Board of Directors: Felecia Maxfield-Barrett, Ben Chang, and Ghida Dagher. The appointments took effect on January 1, 2024. 

“I’m excited to welcome such talented and passionate leaders to the Global Ties U.S. Board of Directors,” said Patricia Harrison, Ph.D., Board Chair and Divisional Vice President of Professional Exchange Programs at World Learning. “The nationwide Global Ties Network that Global Ties U.S. supports is stronger for the addition of these new colleagues who have joined our mission to foster international understanding through exchange.” 

Felecia Maxfield-Barrett is President and CEO of Utah Global Diplomacy, a Global Ties U.S. Community-Based Member in Salt Lake City. She has more than 20 years of experience in government and nonprofit management and leadership, including roles with the Refugee Services Office at the Department of Workforce Services, Utah Refugee Coalition, and Wasatch Community Gardens. An avid storyteller, Felecia has extensive experience in oral history, and believes that through capturing stories, we can create a sense of self, explore the world, and create a shared humanity.  

Ben Chang is the Vice President for Communications and spokesperson for Columbia University. He brings experience rooted in public service with perspective gained from the private sector and higher education. For almost two decades, he was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, with postings overseas and domestically, including as the Director for Press and Communications in the White House National Security Council under both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations and as Deputy Spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. 

Ghida Dagher is CEO and President of New American Leaders, a national organization dedicated to training and preparing refugees, immigrants, and first- and second-generation U.S. citizens to shape U.S. democracy. Previously, she served as Director of Appointments in the Executive Office of Michigan Governor Whitmer and as Director of Government Partnerships & Community Affairs at United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Ghida is dedicated to creating opportunity for and building leadership in BIPOC and New Americans communities.  

“I am energized by the collective strength these new Board members bring to Global Ties U.S.,” said Katherine Brown, Ph.D., President and CEO of Global Ties U.S. “Their rich experience in public diplomacy, community inclusion, and global leadership will elevate our mission to build trust through international exchange and help us amplify the nationwide and international voices who believe that diplomacy begins here, with all of us.” 

Global Ties U.S. extends our profound thanks to Anna Aleman, Executive Director at CommUNITY En Accion and Martin Baier, President and CEO of The International Center, a Global Ties U.S. Community-Based Members in Indiana, who conclude their terms on the Board of Directors. We are grateful for their passion and commitment to international exchange and public diplomacy.   

The Global Ties U.S. Board of Directors is composed of prominent leaders who provide thought leadership, strategic vision, and organizational direction for Global Ties U.S. The Board members serve as advisors and ambassadors for Global Ties U.S., and help to drive strategy, assess effectiveness, and ensure adequate financial resources so that Global Ties U.S. can achieve its mission.   

As of 2024, the following individuals serve on the Global Ties U.S. Board of Directors in addition to the three new members welcomed on January 1: 

Patricia Harrison, Ph.D., Chair
Divisional Vice President of Professional Exchange Program
World Learning
Washington, DC

Patricia Preston, Vice Chair
Executive Director
Vermont Council on World Affairs
Burlington, VT 

Tara Panek Bringle
Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Business Operations & Compliance 
Development Innovations Group
Bethesda, MD 

Elizabeth Kumbhari, Secretary
Vice President of Client Relationship Management for the Americas
CIBT/ Newland Chase
Jacksonville, FL 


Muddassar Ahmed
Managing Partner
Unitas Communications
London, UK  

Crystal Kelch
MCID Washington
Washington, DC  

Robin Lerner
President & CEO
Texas International Education Consortium
Austin, TX  

Susan Lore
International Visitor Leadership Program Director
World Affairs Council of St. Louis
St. Louis, MO 

Jacqueline Miller, Ex Officio
President & CEO
World Affairs Council – Seattle
Seattle, WA 

Derrick Olsen
Portland, OR  

Benjamin Orbach
Founder & CEO
The Ascendant Athlete
Washington, DC 

Jonathan Quarles
Founder & CEO
The BTL Group and Quartz Water Source
Detroit, MI  

Romesh Ratnesar
Member, Editorial Board
Bloomberg Opinion
Washington, DC  

Xiao Yin Zhao
Executive Director
World Affairs Council of Kentucky & Southern Indiana
Louisville, KY

About Global Ties U.S.  

Global Ties U.S. powers individuals, communities, and nations to build trust and advance peace and prosperity through international exchange. It is a nonprofit partner of the U.S. Department of State and supports a community-based network of 90+ nonprofit organizations serving all 50 U.S. states. Global Ties U.S. members provide the domestic infrastructure for the International Visitor Leadership Program and a wide variety of educational, cultural, and professional exchange programs.