Exchange Matters / December 1, 2023

The Leadership Corner – December 2023

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

As we close out 2023, we reflect on our mission to power individuals, communities, and nations to build trust and advance peace and prosperity through international exchange programs. We are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had with you — and because of you — to meet our mission in another remarkable yet turbulent year.   

Last week, we launched our 2023 Annual Report, which includes many wonderful examples of our impact this past year. I am incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together and hope you will click through and read more. Our theme is Diplomacy in Action: Raising Community Voices, which we will be carrying into 2024 for our National Meeting, March 5-8 (Registration opens December 11). We’re privileged to be amplifying the nationwide and international voices who believe that diplomacy begins here, with all of us.  

This last quarter our work pivoted around six events.  

In September, members of the Global Ties Network and citizen diplomats in Kansas City, Missouri came together for the Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summit and Learning Lab hosted by Global Ties KC in partnership with the Office of International Visitors at the U.S. Department of State. Under the theme “Shaping Foreign Policy from the Heartland,” we explored how that region has been and remains significant in connecting local communities to U.S. foreign affairs and brought in key local partners and other audiences from the Kansas City area. You can read more HERE 

Panelists at Diplomacy Begins Here Kansas City. Photo by Global Ties KC.

We hosted two Career Connections events for U.S. ExchangeAlumni in partnership with the Office of Alumni Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and implemented locally by Global Ties San Francisco in California and the International House in Charlotte, North Carolina. These events are designed for U.S. citizens who are alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs, and they focused on “Technology and Entrepreneurship” and “Young Professionals Meeting Global Goals,” respectively. You can read more about the San Francisco event HERE, and the Charlotte event (article coming soon). 

Also this quarter, our new traveling photo exhibit, Impact of Exchange, debuted in Maine. Hosted by the World Affairs Council of Maine, the exhibit comprises six large cubes (fabricated by New York-based nonprofit Photoville) with photos and stories that highlight the experiences of U.S. citizens on exchange programs. The exhibit will travel in 2024 to other locations whose residents are underrepresented in international exchange to spark inspiration and inspire audiences to become future exchange participants. You can read about the success of the month-long exhibit in Portland, Maine HERE. 

Visitors read the Impact of Exchange alumni stories in Portland, ME. Photo by Global Ties U.S.

Our Global Ties Forum is designed to examine how the United States can build trust between local and global communities to advance the partnerships necessary for 21st-century challenges. In September, we hosted a special virtual screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary Stranger At The Gate, followed by a conversation with the director and lead subject, and audience Q&A (see more HERE). It focused on how the power of listening builds trust and cross-cultural understanding within and between our communities. Our last Global Ties Forum of the year, in collaboration with Pew Research Center, will focus on Pew’s newest Global Attitudes survey, “Global Views on International Engagement and Community Inclusion.” There’s still time to register HERE. 

Special Virtual Screening of Stranger At The Gate. Photo by Global Ties U.S.

Our final event of the year will be the annual National Programmers Workshop in Washington on December 15, which convenes DC-based implementers of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to strengthen their project management skills.  

Here are a few other highlights of our work this quarter:  

  • Our Exchanges team implemented a series of in-person study tours and webinars for the Law Enforcement and Security Exchange Program (LESEP), with trips to our Community-Based Members in Boston, Indianapolis, San Diego, and Worcester, and a special program on best practices for K9 training programs in San Antonio. 
  • Our ExchangeAlumni team concluded work on the 2023 Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund (CDAF), with the year’s 47 winning teams wrapping up their public service projects and submitting impressive final reports. We will have new stories on their initiatives and their impact soon. 
  • In November, we welcomed Karen Baumgartner from Global Minnesota and Laila Bondi from Global New Orleans to our Network DC program, which brings leaders from our Community-Based Member organizations to Washington, DC to meet with key colleagues responsible for the IVLP at the national level.  
  • We engaged with our partner organizations, including the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at their “Engaging with the World” gala event in October; the Alliance for International Exchange at their annual conference here in Washington, DC; and the World Affairs Councils of America, whose network overlaps with our own Global Ties Network, at their conference here just a couple of weeks ago. My congratulations to each organization for these remarkable events, and we look forward to new opportunities for partnership in the coming year. 
  • We continued to work with IVLP international alumni through virtual events to connect and deepen their engagement with our Global Ties Network, and you can learn more about the International Alumni Program HERE. 
  • In November, we wrapped up our work with the 2023 Emerging Leaders, with a wonderful showcase event at which they presented highlights from their service projects in their local communities. This incredible program is 100% donor-funded and has launched the careers of almost 200 young international affairs leaders who got their start and found their initial path through our Global Ties Network. We recently announced our new cohort of 2024 Emerging Leaders (see HERE), and we are excited to work with them over the next year. 

That is it for now! We hope to see all of you at the 2024 National Meeting – please be on the lookout for more information in mid-December on how to register and what we have in store for you March 5-8.