Exchange Matters / June 23, 2020

Reflections from the 2020 Emerging Leaders

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

The 2020 cohort at the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting in January. Credit: Abe E. Landes Photography


Much has changed since we last saw the 2020 cohort of Emerging Leaders at the National Meeting in January. We reached out to learn what they’ve been up to since then and learn about their future plans. Submissions have been edited for content and clarity.

Julia Wygant World Affairs Council – Seattle
Currently: U.S. Department of State

One of the most useful skills I gained from the Emerging Leaders Program was learning how to network. The program gave us helpful tips, and encouraged us to engage with other partners within the Network. Networking, while intimidating at times, is truly the best way to meet mentors and people who will help you reach your career goals.

I recently accepted a position in the Office of International Visitors at the U.S. Department of State. I am currently onboarding virtually, and while I wish I could be in the office, I am appreciative of the slower schedule that allows me to train very thoroughly. This has definitely been a strange time, but I’m trying to stay positive through socially-distanced walks and Zoom hang-outs with friends.

Julianna Peres – International House

The Emerging Leaders Program gave me a much more focused perspective of current global issues. I learned so much about finding my niche in whatever work I choose to pursue. There is no such thing as small-scale work. There is no such thing as doing something unimportant. In my brief time with International House in Charlotte, I helped bring more than 300 delegates into the United States.

Five years from now I would like to continue working with global affairs….[and] branch out into nonprofit work, particularly within the realm of religious and gender freedom. My vision has and will continue to expand as I learn new skills, meet new people, and continue to work for the betterment of our global community.

Madeleine Woolgar – WorldDenver

The coronavirus brought me home to Perth, Australia. I arrived in Australia right before individuals would have to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks. I have been home and self-isolating ever since. It has been interesting to experience how COVID-19 is being handled here.

The Emerging Leaders Program introduced me to citizen diplomacy and the powerful role that we play in people-to-people exchange. We can use our passion for the world to create some incredible connections and have amazing, life-changing experiences. My experience in the program showed me that I need more experience before pursuing my next stage of studies.
I am now planning how to best make use of my summer and decide what skills I can gain from home through various online courses. In five years’ time, I hope to be working in DC or doing an international posting.

Meg McCarthy – WorldBoston

I have just graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Public Health. I am still working at WorldBoston as a Program Coordinator. We have started to work on a virtual series called “International Exchange in a Time of Isolation.”

My favorite webinar so far has been a culinary diplomacy exchange with one of my IVLP alumni from Spain. I had arranged her program this February and she so kindly offered to cook Spanish tortilla for the Boston community. We miss having visitors in Boston, but the spirit of international exchange is still present!

As a U.S. citizen, it is hard to imagine yourself making a difference in international matters; however, my experience in the Emerging Leaders Program showed me the impact one individual can make through public diplomacy and exchange. I learned that it’s okay to be unsure of your career path, but if you find something you like doing, explore it!

Gregory Wischer – Global Ties Idaho
Currently: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Intern & M.A. Candidate in Security Studies at Georgetown University

Being an Emerging Leader reinforced my view that public diplomacy and international exchange are critical to U.S. foreign policy. Providing rising international leaders with direct experience not only in the United States but also with Americans helps shape a positive perception of the country. These experiences undoubtedly influence these rising leaders’ policy decisions later down the road and creates long-term U.S. partners and allies.

Kezia Daniel – Global Ties Alabama

It takes so much more than just one Community-Based Member or National Program Agency to ensure that visitors come and have a meaningful experience. Having the opportunity to interact with others in the same profession allowed me to gain more knowledge of global diplomacy. The program has taught me that there are many ways to globally serve and that there is so much you can learn outside of the classroom. Most importantly, you have the support from your CBM/NPA and Global Ties U.S. to make a difference in visitors’ and others’ lives.

The Emerging Leaders Program provides professional development opportunities for young leaders from across the Global Ties Network. The program celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2021 and includes more than 120 alumni.