Exchange Matters / April 26, 2019

Spotlight on Mississippi Consortium for International Development

By Crystal Kelch, Executive Director, Mississippi Consortium for International Development

*Editor’s note: Throughout the year, Global Ties U.S. strives to highlight the work of our members and learn more about their organizations. The Mississippi Consortium for International Development (MCID) is a National Program Agency that helps implement the International Visitor Leadership Program. Crystal Kelch shares MCID’s history and her experience leading the organization.


A group of exchange participants pose in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The group’s program was coordinated by MCID.


Established in 1989, the Mississippi Consortium for International Development (MCID) is a collaboration between four historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that develop and implement international development projects and exchange programs: Alcorn State UniversityJackson State UniversityMississippi Valley State University, and Tougaloo College.

MCID’s philosophy, in regard to the development of institutional and human potential, is to ensure long-term sustainable development through its programs. The combined strengths of the HBCUs have enabled MCID to successfully implement a diverse range of projects.

Over the years, MCID received more than 700 contracts for international human resource development training and technical assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Education. Other projects range from agribusiness development and farm management to journalism and media management.

Although MCID’s headquarters is in Jackson, MS, there is a smaller team based in Washington, DC. Over time, MCID has operated offices and placed representatives across Africa, Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caribbean to facilitate various projects.

State Group Photo-our planet 2017

Participants on the 2017 “Our Planet” IVLP exchange coordinated by MCID pose in the lobby of the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC.


The DC office was established as a provisional National Program Agency in 1998 to administer the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). With a staff of two, MCID  Washington worked on all types of IVLP projects. As a trainer at Meridian International Center, I was assigned to help MCID staff understand the nuances of the IVLP. After many conversations throughout the organization’s first year, I joined MCID in 1999 and became director in 2003. Although the size of the staff has increased over the years, we continue to work in a team environment where each member is familiar with all aspects of programming.

We work in a unique field that requires patience, understanding, and lot of compassion. Since the beginning of this journey, I have always been grateful for having the honor of meeting wonderful people. Over the years, I have met many visitors.  I still communicate with quite a few, whether it’s wishing a happy birthday or celebrating an accomplishment. When you ask the question, “what project are you most proud of?”, I can’t answer just one. There is a connection that is forged every time we meet a visitor. These visitors enter my life and become more than distant strangers; they become a part of me.

Our work is greatly informed by the organization’s rich history of diversity and commitment to bridging the cultural divide through the exchange of ideas and culture. It is our goal to continue to build international linkages around the world through the IVLP and engage the global community through our technical training programs.