Exchange Matters / February 19, 2021

The Leadership Corner: February 2021

By Katherine Brown, Ph.D., President & CEO, Global Ties U.S.

This is Global Ties U.S. 60th anniversary year. As with all anniversaries, it’s an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been, and an energizing moment to chart our path forward.

Global Ties U.S. is the country’s largest and oldest citizen diplomacy network. We were founded by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, at a time when the nation was called to public service in many forms. “I am convinced that increased participation by dedicated Americans in international exchanges will help to achieve our common hope for a durable and just peace,” JFK said of his vision for Global Ties U.S., formerly known as COSERV (the National Council of Community Services for International Visitors).

We were created to support the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the United States’ foundational international exchange program, which was formed during World War II with the conviction that we can build stronger global alliances, essential for a durable and just peace, through our citizens.

Over the last six decades – as COSERV,  then the National Council of International Visitors (NCIV), and now Global Ties U.S. – we’ve grown into a Network of 120+ organizations that represent all 50 U.S. states and more than 20 countries. Collectively, we are a Network of citizen ambassadors committed to building the social trust that is foundational to peace and prosperity, both globally and locally, via international exchange. The Network’s impact is astounding: each (normal) year our Members welcome 5,000+ international exchange participants to U.S. communities, in-person, and now virtually; invest 10:1 the amount of federal funding received back into the U.S. economy during in-person visits; and engage 34,000+ volunteers in 410,000+ hours of community service.

Through exchanges, the Global Ties Network enhances our national security by building trust with the world’s leaders; helps local businesses learn how better to compete in a global marketplace; prepares individuals for success in an increasingly transnational workplace; and connects U.S. sub-national leaders with their international counterparts to find solutions to shared challenges together.

Our Members are community organizers, leaders, investors, international exchange professionals, and citizen diplomats. They are local hubs for global networks, working to create and sustain international connections while deeply investing in local communities. This professional Network has become a backbone for U.S. public diplomacy efforts and taken on increasing educational, professional and cultural opportunities for exchange.

As we look ahead, we want to make IVLP and other exchange programs more effective, and to increase the scale of these programs. We want to provide more opportunities for alumni, U.S. and international, to stay globally connected and to leverage their experience into meaningful careers that create positive change. We want to meet our diversity, equity and inclusion goals and to ensure that they are reflected in our programming. And  we want to build a talent pipeline of diverse, globally-minded young professionals for the future of our work through our Emerging Leaders Program.

For more than 60 years, members of the Global Ties Network have created indelible, positive change within the United States while also building the international relationships essential for peace and prosperity. They’ve been building the social trust we need within our communities, and between the United States and the world. Global Ties U.S. may be 60 years old, but our work is timeless, and our call to service never more relevant than now.