Exchange Matters / August 29, 2019

The Leadership Corner: July-August 2019

Hello Global Ties Community,

I hope you all are enjoying the end of summer! We’ve had a busy one at Global Ties U.S., which I’ll recap here.

One of the developments I’m most excited about is the expansion of the Emerging Leaders Program, which invests in the next generation of professionals to lead international exchange programs across the country. In July, we hosted a series of events we called the Summer of Public Diplomacy, with a focus on our 2019 cohort of Emerging Leaders and other young professionals working in the international affairs and exchanges field.


In years past, the program was limited to flying the rising stars from our Community-Based Members across the country to the National Meeting. This was the first year we created a mid-year program for the cohort, and we were thrilled to welcome them back to Washington. They visited our partners at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, key staffers for exchanges on Capitol Hill, and participated in an “unconference” with other DC young professionals that focused on articulating the value of the work we do, and how to diversify the field.

It was such a success that we look forward to continuing – and improving on – the program in 2020. You can read more about it here. Thank you to all of our members for nominating young professionals to the program, and to our supporters for their generosity!

This summer, we also enjoyed a brilliant Learning Lab and Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summit in Utah. We congratulate Felecia Maxfield-Barrett and her team at the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy on a fantastic conference, complete with a weekend camping trip to see the red rocks in Moab. The focus of the Learning Lab was fundraising; I encourage you to check out this article for some tips from our friend and fundraising colleague, Lizette Corro.

In August, we also hosted the National Programmers Workshop for our DC-based colleagues at the National Program Agencies and the U.S. Department of State to learn best practices in making the IVLP happen. In September, we look forward to joining many of you in San Diego for the next Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summit, which will focus on innovation in the Cali Baja region through exchanges and cross-border relationships.

Another development this summer has been the expansion of our online learning platform for our members. Since moving to a brand new learning management system, the Online Learning team has revamped the essential courses for our members, such as the IVLP Fundamentals and Crafting Winning IVLP Proposals. I encourage you to check them out, especially for new staff members, interns, and volunteers at CBMs.

I also want to take a moment to honor Tom Gittins, a member of the Global Ties U.S. Advisory Council and longtime leader and luminary in the field of citizen diplomacy. Tom passed away in July after leading what his family rightly calls, “a life well lived.” A former Peace Corps official, Tom later led Sister Cities International for more than 20 years, where he increased U.S. city linkages from roughly 400 to more than 1,000, touching more than 120 countries. He took a special interest in forming stronger ties between the United States and the former Soviet Union via Sister Cities, a commitment which led him to meet Sasha (Alexander) Gorev, who wrote the tribute to Tom. Sasha, who supported Sister Cities in Moscow, came to Virginia for an exchange and lived with Tom, which led to a transformative experience. Sasha now runs the IVLP for the Institute for International Education, a National Program Agency. He is one of thousands whom Tom impacted with his sharp wit, deep kindness, and unwavering commitment to citizen diplomacy. Tom’s legacy will be felt at Global Ties U.S., where we’ll always be grateful for his ideas – especially the one to invite the Washington diplomatic corps to the National Meeting, which has evolved into the Ambassadors’ Luncheon. We look forward to honoring him at the 2020 National Meeting, from January 23-25 in Washington, DC.

And we also look forward to seeing all of you there! More soon from us as we ramp up our preparations for that and the 80th anniversary celebration of the IVLP!


Katherine Brown