“When women succeed, we all succeed.”
This comment, made by Aldrinana Leung of the U.S. Department of State Office of Global Women’s Issues, hit at the core theme of the Global Ties U.S. Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summit in Kansas City on June 15th: when you invest in women, you invest in everyone. And when you invest in women globally, you’re also investing in economic development.
Over 120 community leaders, business-owners, students, and fellow U.S. Department of State officials gathered in Kansas City to learn from Leung and other speakers about women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship, and economic development. It was the first of four Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summits Global Ties U.S., in partnership with the Department of State and local community-based, members will be hosting in 2017. These regional summits are designed to bring together local and national leaders to develop new connections in local exchange communities.
According to Stacy White, the Director of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Kansas City’s proposal for a regional summit was chosen because of the State Department’s commitment to investing in women globally.
In White’s opening remarks, the lifelong diplomat affirmed that diplomacy begins at the local level, in cities like Kansas City and with programs like IVLP that allow Americans and international visitors to learn from each other. She recounted success stories of global female leaders who were inspired by trips to the United States to empower women within their local communities.
For a social media recap with awesome pictures and great quotes from DBH:KC via Storify, click here.
“Increasing women’s economic empowerment is vital to world stability,” said White. She said as Kansas City was known for being a center of entrepreneurship nationally, it was the perfect setting to speak about these issues.
The Summit featured other high profile speakers as well as panel discussions led by local and State Department leaders in the women’s economic development field. This included Roshann Parris, the CEO of Kansas City-based Parris Communications, who shared lessons she’d picked up while serving as the White House Chief Negotiator under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Though she was frequently the only woman at the negotiating table, Parris was able to find compromise in tense situations like war-torn Bosnia and Clinton’s visit to Vietnam, the first by an American president since the Vietnam War.
The economic value of women was emphasized in Aldrinana Leung’s aforementioned panel on mobilizing women in the workplace. Speaking with Kendall Seal from the Kansas City based Women’s Foundation, Leung shared that the global GDP would rise by 28 trillion a year if gender parity were achieved. While Leung explained the State Department’s focus on building capacity of women globally, Seal spoke about his organization’s efforts to get more women in Kansas City into local government.
The Summit then divided into afternoon breakout sessions. Participants either attended a panel discussion of how local programming can make a global impact or heard from Nicole Price, the CEO of Lively Paradox, on how to effectively embrace diversity in the workplace. Student attendees were given the opportunity to chat with State Department officials about careers in diplomacy as well as participate in a foreign policy crisis simulation.
The day ended on a philosophical note, with a panel featuring three female leaders in the Kansas City community: Kay Barnes, Linda Moore, and Laurie DiPadova-Stock. Barnes, the former Mayor of Kansas City, encouraged attendees to jot down four internal, interpersonal, and systematic challenges they face as women and come up with solutions to tackle them.
A portion of the Summit’s attendees later attended a dinner session, where they heard from Global Ties U.S. President Jennifer Clinton as well as IVLP Gold Star alumna Riham Adel. After attending an IVLP program with 30 other women in 2012, Adel returned to Egypt and founded a mentorship program for Egyptian entrepreneurs. Adel explained that the IVLP program helped her connect with and be inspired by other female entrepreneurs.
According to Courtney Brooks, the Executive Director of Global Ties Kansas City, the regional Summit was an opportunity to show off its wide array of programming to local community members. Over 300 international visitors come to the city each year on Department of State programs.
“The spirit of Midwest hospitality is something I love showcasing to our international visitors,” said Brooks. “They walk off the plane and they feel welcome here.” She said the IVLP program is also beneficial for the local community in Missouri and Kansas as they “have a chance to see the world in ways that they never would have otherwise.”
White said regional partners like Global Ties Kansas City are critical to the IVLP program. “Diplomacy really does begin here,” said White. “It begins with proud citizens who want to tell America’s story and Kansas City’s story.”
Photo 1: Courtesy of Cultural Vistas: Roshann Parris, CEO of Parris Communications, delivering the Opening Keynote at Diplomacy Begins Here: Kansas City, Missouri
Photo 2: Photo courtesy of Cultural Vistas: Panelists discussing the connection between local work and global impact
Photo 3: Photo courtesy of Cultural Vistas: Stacy White, Director of the International Visitor Leadership Program, U.S. Department of State
By Anna Boisseau, Communications Officer, Cultural Vistas
Kay Barnes, Linda Moore, and Laurie DiPadova-Stoc