Exchange Matters / April 30, 2018

The Future of Citizen Diplomacy: Reflections From Our Emerging Leaders

We recognize that today’s youth become tomorrow’s leaders. That is why our Network emphasizes opportunities for young leaders in public diplomacy and international exchange. The Emerging Leaders Program offers standout interns and volunteers from across the Global Ties Network to join the National Meeting as a volunteer and participant.

At the 2018 National Meeting, 21 youth from across the U.S. came to Washington, DC to attend sessions and events with professional diplomats, civil servants, and other leaders in public diplomacy. Below are some of their experiences and takeaways.


A Word from the Program’s Supporters: Alexander and Sharon Durtka, Jr.

The world lies in the hands of those who have the courage to dream and take the risk of living out their dreams. Tomorrow’s leaders not only have dreams, goals and plans. but they are willing to work hard and to take responsibility for preparing for and executing their goals.

The Emerging Leaders program is about having the courage to do something great with your life, your community, and the world. It is about young professionals who take risks and seek opportunities as citizen diplomats. The program fuels this fire by offering connections and contacts, clarifying options and vision, kindling a spirit of hope and achievement. It also fosters a sense of belonging, of being heard and recognized; it sparks meaningful excitement, optimism and believing “I can.”

When we believe in people, they will believe in themselves and become someone they never dreamed possible. And when that happens we can achieve great things together. Our emerging leaders have an opportunity to participate in this amazing program with the members of the Global Ties U.S. community.

Why do we care so much about this program? These Emerging Leaders inspire us and assure us that we can work together to shape a more just and peaceful world. As the Hebrew saying goes: “If you open up the gates for me just a little, I will open up the world for you.”


Racine Frank
2018 Emerging Leader
Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council (Pensacola, FL)

“The Emerging Leaders Program exposed me to people and resources that I may not have had the chance to be exposed to back in my city. Through networking, I gained a lot of information on how to get from A to B and the conversations helped me figure out my weaknesses as well as strengths and how to improve on them. There are many options I can take on my career path and I am excited for the future.

I would definitely recommend the program to a friend of colleague. I think anyone who is interested in international exchange and public diplomacy would benefit from the program. An individual will leave the program knowledgeable about the topic, increase their self-confidence, and build upon their career.”


Sherilyn Harrington
2018 Emerging Leader
WorldOregon (Portland, OR)

“The NPA and State Department career panels were some of the most helpful I have ever encountered. I loved how it was genuine, quantifiable information, rather than vague statements. I felt a sense of preparation that no internet article or college career center has done before. Rather than hearing “good luck and do your best”-type statements, we were hearing “these are the concrete steps you should take to move ahead.”


Edward Holman
2018 Emerging Leader
San Diego Diplomacy Council (San Diego, CA)

“I feel incredibly inspired after my week in Washington, DC. In just a few days, I learned a lot and feel that I have a better idea of how to pursue my professional career—and have plenty of people I can ask questions to. I’m glad we could attend sessions that I thought were most applicable to my organization. In addition, the time at the U.S. Department of State was very interesting—hearing from people on the inside was great.”


Sofia Huitron Martinez
2018 Emerging Leader
Global Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)

“During my participation in the Emerging Leaders Program, I was exposed to a world I didn’t know existed. I was introduced to a vast network of professionals who are committed to public diplomacy, exchanges, and cultural understanding. During this experience, I was able to explore various career opportunities, and after meeting professionals from different backgrounds, I discovered that there are multiple paths I can take to achieve my goals. I feel very confident in my ability to achieve my goals, and I am certain that, no matter which path I choose, I will always find the way to succeed in the field I love.”


Katelyn McAlister
2018 Emerging Leader
International House (Charlotte, NC)

“The Emerging Leaders Program was the very first time that I was completely surrounded by peers with the same passions and goals. I felt true camaraderie for the first time in years. I know that I have new friends to call on as we grow and advance in our careers, and as many of us study to join the Foreign Service, I have peers with whom to study. I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone interested in starting a career in international affairs or international exchange. This program exposed me to networking, professionalism, career mapping, and career opportunities at every turn. I was constantly engaged and learning something new, and I was never let down by an experience. This helped me find my path and I’m certain it has done the same for others in my cohort.”


Jacquelyn Piansay
2014 Emerging Leader, World Trade Center Institute – Baltimore
Currently a Program Officer at FHI 360

“My public diplomacy and exchanges career took flight in large part due to my Emerging Leaders experience. Not only did I gain new skills and knowledge from the sessions at the National Meeting, but I was able to connect with #Exchangemakers from all levels of the network including my (then) future team at FHI 360. The Emerging Leaders Program opened so many doors and really opened my eyes to the incredible depth and breadth of talent and passion this network has for international exchanges and people-to-people connections. Four year later, I find myself still within the Network and even more dedicated to this work.”


Morgan Rote
2018 Emerging Leader
Global Ties Detroit (Detroit, MI)

“I cannot express how thankful we all are to have been able to participate in the 2018 National Meeting as Emerging Leaders. The time spent in DC the past few days was such an incredible experience. The connections and contacts made throughout our program have opened up a world of possibilities.

The biggest takeaway I received was meeting like minded individuals from all over the country who are truly passionate about their work in creating a more globalized world. There is no doubt in my mind that international relations will help to create a more connected world, and that is because of networks and organizations like Global Ties.

Nayeli Sanchez
2018 Emerging Leader
Colleagues International (Kalamazoo, MI)

“We had the opportunity to escort and speak with ambassadors from all over the world, attend a reception at the Embassy of Argentina, visit the U.S. Department of State, take part in a simulation, and learn about options for graduate school as well as careers. We also had so many opportunities to network with some of the finest people in diplomacy…the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting impacted and changed me in so many ways. I will never forget this experience.”


Anna Schneider 
2016 Emerging Leader – WorldOregon
Currently a Program and Administrative Coordinator at WorldOregon

“As a programmer at WorldOregon, I often witness the immediate impact that the IVLP delivers – close bonds between participants, exciting professional connections, and an enhanced understanding of a different culture. Looking back, I know the opportunity [to be an Emerging Leader] had a direct correlation with my pursuit of a career in international exchange. I was in good company with a wonderful cohort, several of whom have since become colleagues in the Global Ties Network.

The program gave me the chance to understand the broader international exchange network, experience DC in a new light, and connect with veterans of the field who were happy to share words of advice.”


Applications for the 2019 cohort of Emerging Leaders open this fall.

Learn more about the program at: