Exchange Matters / March 13, 2020

Meet the Chair of the 2021 National Meeting

Interview by Mireya Cabrera, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S.

Photo credit: A.E. Landes Photography


*Editor’s note: Janet Norton, International Programs, Intern & Volunteer Manager at the Iowa International Center, a Global Ties U.S. Community-Based Member, will lead the Planning Committee for the 2021 National Meeting.

Global Ties U.S. (GT): You’re the next Chair of the National Meeting Planning Committee. What inspired you to volunteer for the Committee and what insights can you share for anyone who is thinking of volunteering on the Committee?

Janet Norton (J): I was honored when Franzi Rook (Global Ties U.S.) and Amy Carrdus (U.S. Department of State) approached me about being on the Planning Committee for the 2020 Meeting, with the additional role of serving as Chair for 2021. I enjoyed the experience of being on the Committee, and learning about how the sessions come together. To anyone who might be interested, it’s a great way to help shape the learning opportunities for next year’s meeting.

GT: With you as Chair of the 2021 National Meeting Planning Committee, what can we expect to see at the next National Meeting?
J: We’ll be coming off a year of celebrating 80 years of the IVLP, so I’m sure there will be many highlights to share. Meeting in a new location (Arlington, VA) and at a new time of year (March 17-20), will also help bring new perspectives on the meeting. In 2021, we’ll also be launching the celebration of 60 years of the Global Ties Network, so it will be exciting to look forward to those plans.

GT: Tell us about your experience and work at the Iowa International Center. How can you apply that experience to the Planning Committee?
J: I’ve been the sole International Visitor Programmer for our organization for almost nine years. It’s a LOT of fun, but has its share of challenges as well. I think most of what I bring to the Planning Committee is my experience as a Programmer, from being part of this amazing Network and of course from experiencing many National Meetings. Each year at the National Meeting I’m always so jazzed by connecting with my colleagues from other CBMs. We rarely have a chance to connect with each other through our regular programming work, so I think it’s important to create opportunities for those of us in the field to build support for each other and share new ideas.

GT: You’re known for your ability to build relationships and open lines of communication in domestic, international, and cross-cultural environments. How will you use those skills to benefit the 2021 National Meeting?
J: I’m excited that the Planning Committee will be comprised of people from all levels of the IVLP Network. Everyone will have unique perspectives to offer in terms of priorities and ideas on ways to help our Network become stronger. I really look forward to the discussions we’ll have and especially to receiving input from across the Network.

GT: What were your main takeaways from being on the 2020 National Meeting Planning Committee and an attendee of the 2020 conference? How do you plan on incorporating these ideas for the 2021 National Meeting?
J: Being on the 2020 Committee helped me better understand how many people are involved in building a great program. Among my takeaways from the National Meeting was new ways of incorporating a national program’s anniversary (the 80th year of the IVLP) into our local communications regarding the groups that come to central Iowa. I could see continuing this type of broad reach during the 2021 National Meeting.

GT: What do you think is the main challenge you will face this year as Chair of the 2021 National Meeting Planning Committee and how it will contribute to your professional development?
J: I joined last year’s Planning Committee mid-year, so a bit of a challenge may be that I haven’t experienced how the planning starts from scratch. However, I look forward to starting from the beginning with the new Committee and learning with them as we progress. I know I’ll gain so much from this collaboration, and am excited to get started!

GT: What would you like to see at the National Meeting in five years from now?
J: I’d like to see the new members of the Network play a role in the development of the National Meeting and continued opportunities for an open environment in which we can all share our successes, but also offer support for our challenges. We’re SUCH a powerful team, and I’m continually honored and inspired to be a part of it.

Want to help shape the 2021 National Meeting? Learn more and get involved today here