Exchange Matters / December 5, 2022

The Leadership Corner – December 2022

By Katherine Brown, Ph.D., President and CEO

As we enter this final month of the year and prepare to release our 2022 Annual Report next week, I am incredibly proud of the work our team and our Network continue to do to build trust and community through international exchange. I’d like to take this opportunity to call out some highlights from an exceptionally busy last quarter, and to look ahead briefly to the New Year. 

Since September, we’ve been proud to support a number of in-person events around the country organized in partnership with our Community-Based Members. These included two Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summits and Learning Labs—hosted by Gulf Coast Diplomacy in Pensacola, FL in September and WorldOregon in Portland, OR in October. Both events were highly engaging, with rich substantive agendas and creative extracurricular activities that showcased the best of the host cities. Programming brought together local, national, and international leaders from business, government, and nonprofits to forge new connections and learn more about the impact of citizen diplomacy and the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Separate Learning Lab days focused on capacity-building programming for the Global Ties Network and helped to build and renew connections between our nationwide colleagues. This recap piece reviews all three Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summits from this year.  

ExchangeAlumni partners and attendees at the Career Connections event hosted by WorldBoston. Photo from WorldBoston

Also this quarter, we continued our work on the U.S. Exchange Alumni Capacity Building Program with our Community-Based Members. This included two in-person Career Connections events in Albuquerque, NM with Global Ties ABQ in September and in Boston, MA with WorldBoston in October. Both events provided professional development and networking opportunities for U.S. citizen alumni of exchange programs. This article recaps our three fantastic Career Connections programs this year.  

The Global Ties U.S. Exchanges team had a busy fall of virtual and in-person programs. We wrapped our third of four cohorts of the MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE) Program, continued in-person study tours and webinars for the Law Enforcement Security Exchange Program (LESEP)which included a special program this fall connecting law enforcement officers from Mexico and their U.S. counterparts in Florida on best practices for developing and managing K9 training programs—and welcomed water professionals from southeast Asia to communities across the United States through our Water Smart Engagement (WiSE) Program. We are grateful to all of our Community-Based Members who hosted various exchange delegations and/or recruited participants these last few months.  

Representatives from Metropolitan Cebu Water District in Cebu City, Philippines visit the South District Wastewater Treatment Plant Septage Facility in Miami, Florida.

Back here in Washington, DC, we recently held the National Programmers Workshop, in-person for the first time since 2019, with our National Programming Agency (NPA) and U.S. Department of State colleagues. This daylong professional development opportunity for new and experienced exchange professionals in the Global Ties Network drew more than 160 attendees from NPAs, the Office of International Visitors, and the Office of Language Services at the U.S. Department of State. Sessions focused on skills and best practices in programming, with plenty of time built in for networking and sharing.  

Katherine Brown (left) and Anne Grimes at the National Programmers Workshop. Photo by Syejeong Kim.

Beyond our own Global Ties Network, we had a number of great opportunities this fall to partner with other organizations in the international exchange and international affairs arenas. In October, we attended the annual conference of the Alliance for International Exchange, of which we are a member, where I moderated a panel on the upcoming mid-term elections and their implications for foreign affairs. I was joined by experts including our Board Member Romesh Ratnesar from Bloomberg Opinion, Parker Novak from the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and Tracy Taylor from Alignment Government Strategies.  

More recently in mid-November, we attended the annual conference of the World Affairs Councils of America, a U.S.-based network whose membership overlaps with our own. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with so many of our members, see old friends, and meet new ones.  

Also this fall, we hosted our first of two virtual Global Ties Forum events on timely topics related to democracy, public diplomacy, and national security, in collaboration with leading voices and open to broad public audiences. On November 9, we explored the connections between subnational and public diplomacy (“Foreign Policy and the People”), with a fantastic line-up of speakers from local and national government and from outside of government, including Stacy White, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; Erin Bromaghim, Deputy Mayor of International Affairs for the City of Los Angeles; Jay Wang, Director of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy; Diplomat Maryum Saifee; and Janet Elliott, President and CEO of the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles (IVCLA). You can find the event recording on our website HERE. This week, on December 8, you can tune in to our final Global Ties Forum event of 2022, which will look at a new Pew study on global views and trends around citizen engagement. It’s not too late to RSVP HERE. 

In addition to our events and exchange programming, we featured some great original content on our website again this quarter. I’d highlight in particular two pieces we posted around International Education Week—one HERE from four of our Community-Based Members, and another HERE from our own Global Ties U.S. interns reflecting on how international exchange programs have shaped their career paths. We also updated our Organizational Timeline, which shows the major milestones over the course of our sixty-one-year history. 

We are in the process of wrapping our work this year with the current cohort of Emerging Leaders, who have been working on service projects that help connect their local communities to the wider world. We are grateful to all those who have supported this program, and look forward to engaging a new cohort in the coming year. And speaking of service projects, the first grant cycle of the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund (CDAF) – also part of our work with the U.S. Department of State in supporting U.S. exchange program alumni – has come to a close. The 2022 CDAF competition was the most competitive to date, and included 39 teams of alumni who completed community service projects on topics designed to address key U.S. foreign policy goals, such as protecting the environment and bolstering outreach to underserved communities. We are looking forward to sharing more on those in due course, too.  

All told, it’s been a very productive quarter, and a wonderful reminder of the power of in-person interactions and of the dynamism and resilience of the Global Ties Network.  

Looking ahead to the New Year, we will be guided by a new three-year strategic framework, recently finalized by our Board of Directors. This will focus on continuing our high-quality programs and member services, our strategic communications and partnerships, and our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) work, in collaboration with the Network’s DEIA Working Group, to ensure that our Network and our programming reflects the diversity of this country. It’s an energizing framework that will help us advance our mission to power individuals, communities, and nations to build trust and advance peace and prosperity through international exchange.  

A big focus in the New Year will be the 2023 National Meeting (March 29-31), and plans are well underway for a wonderful in-person event, so stay tuned for more details on that. In the meantime, stay tuned for the release next week of our 2022 Annual Report, and follow all of our current work via our social channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram), and by signing up for our email communications.