Exchange Matters / February 22, 2019

The Leadership Corner: January/February 2019

Members of the Global Ties U.S. Board of Directors pose with Mine Atli, IVLP alumna (third from right), and Katherine (far right) at the 2019 National Meeting. Left to right: Ricardo Vanella, Barbara Keller, Christopher Washington, Mine Atli, Jacqui Shipe, Katherine Brown. Photo credit: A.E. Landes Photography


I want to start by thanking you all for making the National Meeting so remarkable. It was my first one and I was overwhelmed by the incredible spirit that propels this community of professionals, not to mention your commitment to continuous innovation and learning. As our Board Chair, Jacqui Shipe from Global Ties Alabama, said in her remarks at the Opening Plenary: “One thing that is consistent is our energy – locally, nationally, and globally!”

Over the course of four days, our conference welcomed nearly 1,000 participants, including 70 ambassadors. We were proud to host more than 50 sessions, including education sessions on tech services, fundraising, and public speaking, which I was thrilled to see so many of you take advantage of.

We also had with us 19 Emerging Leaders – the best and the brightest young talent in the international exchanges field. This is a program I believe we all particularly love because we know the impact that early experiences like this had on our careers. We’re honored to invest in them and look forward to expanding the program so that it provides continuous, year-round learning. We’re supremely grateful for the key support from Al and Sharon Durtka (Milwaukee, WI) for this program, as well as support from Lawrence Chastang (Orlando, FL) and IVLP-alumnus Vicente López-Ibor Mayor (Madrid, Spain) to grow it. We hope that one day these Emerging Leaders will have the kind of impact that all of you have made, despite difficult circumstances.

I was also incredibly proud to talk about what you’ve been able to do for America’s economy and national security on Capitol Hill before the National Meeting began. Dozens of you had meetings with your representatives and we heard from key Congressional staffers that both parties, in both chambers, are behind our work, knowing the direct impact it has on all 50 states.

It’s not hard to see why: the latest Impact Reports are astounding. Collectively, you turned $8 million in federal funding into $80 million. You are much more than citizen diplomats: you are economic investors, community leaders, educators, entrepreneurs and, overall, a remarkable community of professionals I’m so proud to call colleagues. Your resourcefulness in keeping these programs going and finding new opportunities to connect your communities with the world continuously impresses me. I encourage you all to stay in touch with your representatives year-round to discuss the exchange effect at home and abroad.

I also look forward to getting to know more of you this year, and I’m excited to get out of Washington and see those of you in Indianapolis, IN; Cincinnati, OH; Manchester, NH; and Burlington, VT in the next month. For those of you I don’t get to see in person for a while, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or just want to discuss the issues in your area. Until then, thank you for the warm welcome and ongoing inspiration during my first year in this job.


Katherine Brown, President & CEO, Global Ties U.S.