Exchange Matters / March 16, 2020

The Leadership Corner: January-March 2020

Dear Global Ties Network members,

I hope you’ve had a great start to the new year and new decade! So much has happened already in 2020 that I want to recap and reflect on:

First, thank you to everyone who made the 2020 National Meeting a huge success. More than 900 attendees from across the U.S. and the world gathered at the Marriott Wardman Park here in Washington, DC from January 22-25.

We also had with us 17 Emerging Leaders, the best and brightest young talent from across the U.S. and its territories. The Emerging Leaders Program gathers outstanding young professionals from across our Network to participate in the National Meeting and immerse them in the world of public diplomacy and international exchange through networking events, workshops, and sessions. We’re deeply grateful to Al and Sharon Durtka for their founding support of this program, as well as the very generous contributions of Bruce Buckland, Lawrence Chastang, Akram Elias, Richard LeBaron, Vicente López-Ibor Mayor, and Sherry Mueller, for helping to grow this program.

The list of people to thank is endless, but I would especially like to recognize the 2020 National Meeting Planning Committee; members of the Global Ties U.S. staff, Board, and Advisory Council; our partners at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State; members of the foreign diplomatic corps; and our generous supporters. Without all of you—the true “faces of exchanges”—none of this would have been possible. Thank you for all of your efforts in making this National Meeting one of the best yet. You can find highlights in this issue, with more videos and photos on our website and YouTube channel.

The 2020 National Meeting also helped launch the year-long celebration of the 80th anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the U.S. Department of State’s foundational professional exchange program that unites us all. We thank ECA leadership for their stewardship of this vital program, Congress for their continued funding of it, and this Network in making it all happen. Learn more about the celebration plans and the first few “Faces of Exchange” in the cover piece of this issue, as well as the multigenerational impact of the IVLP in two profiles shared by our National Program Agency partners, which is further proof that this program transcends age and borders.

My only wish is that I could have experienced all of this with you! As many of you may know, I delivered my first child during the week of the National Meeting: Abigail Tully Arkadis was born on January 22, 2020 at 12:37 a.m. here in Washington, DC. My husband Jim and I could not be more thrilled and were overwhelmed by the outpouring of well wishes from this community. Thank you for thinking of us during the National Meeting. I look forward to seeing all of you at the next National Meeting. Be sure to save the date, March 17-20, 2021, and read our interview with Janet Norton, Chair of the 2021 National Meeting Planning Committee on the back cover of this issue, to learn more ways that you can get involved now.

Looking ahead, the new year also serves as an opportunity to refresh and recommit to our goals. In addition to finalizing our 2020-2023 strategic plan, we are also making plans to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Global Ties Network in 2021. Our team is working diligently to commemorate this milestone in citizen diplomacy and welcomes your input throughout the year.

March is also the time for transitions in our board leadership. I am pleased to welcome Derrick Olsen of WorldOregonPatricia Preston of the Vermont Council on World Affairs; and Elizabeth Kumbhari of Cultural Vistas to our Board of Directors! I personally look forward to their expertise, knowledge, and guidance in ensuring the continued growth and innovation of the Global Ties Network. I also want to thank Pascal Dupeyrat for his service on the board, who has been an inimitable voice and advocate for our international members during his tenure. We will miss him!

That’s all from me! I look forward to reconnecting with you in May when I am back in the office full-time.

Katherine Brown, Ph.D.