Exchange Matters / December 14, 2021

Letter From Global Ties U.S. Board Chair

This past year has been defined by disruption. But from these unprecedented challenges, the Global Ties Network created opportunities both big and small to come together in new ways, to work in new ways, and to showcase the rich diversity and fundamental values of the United States as we celebrated 60 years of making connections that build a more prosperous world.

In January, following the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, we saw how members of our exchange network recommitted to our shared missions to advance dialogue between local and global communities through international exchange. At a time of such uncertainty and turmoil, these connections were essential.

In March, we saw terrific camaraderie as the Global Ties Network gathered online for the virtual National Meeting to celebrate 60 years of promoting excellence in citizen diplomacy and International Visitor Leadership exchanges. The team at Global Ties did an outstanding job taking our flagship annual meeting and making it a meaningful virtual opportunity to hear from leaders around the country, including Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Special Climate Envoy John Kerry. You likely didn’t see all the hard work that took place behind the scenes; it was an extraordinary effort.

In May, we saw the launch of the first-ever Global Ties Network Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group. With 20 members representing eight National Program Agencies (NPAs), 11 Community-Based Members (CMBs), and one representative from the Office of International Visitors (OIV) at the U.S. Department of States, this group will help us rethink how we represent the United States to the world and how we represent ourselves in our communities. It is vital work.

In September, we celebrated the most diverse cohort of USA Pavilion Youth Ambassadors on record. Our CBMs identified these 75 “Faces of America” who collectively represent 46 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, speak 24 languages, and encompass professional and academic experiences in a wide array of fields including political science, engineering, economics, and landscape design. They highlight how our diversity is our strength.

These are just a few examples of how our Network creates indelible positive change in communities within the United States and the world, and continues to fulfill our call to service from President Kennedy 60 years ago.

Throughout the pandemic, I have seen our Network come together in frequent, informal Zoom sessions to compare best practices, share challenges, and boost each other up. We’ve had to completely rewrite how our exchange programs are carried out, rethink our events and operations, and recommit to our collective missions. We have supported each other, cheered each other on, and strengthened the Network despite the profound disruptions of the last many months.

Our Network has leaned on and learned from one another during yet another tumultuous year. Personally and professionally, it is a privilege to be part of this Network, working with colleagues from OIV, NPAs, and CBMs across the country. It is an honor to serve as Board Chair; I have learned so much from my predecessors and my fellow Trustees. And it is a joy to work with Katherine Brown, Ph.D and the exceptional team of professionals at Global Ties U.S. They have been instrumental in keeping the Network going. I look forward to continue working with you all in 2022 to build the relationships and trust needed to address global challenges.