Exchange Matters / December 28, 2018

The Leadership Corner: November-December 2018

Katherine (left) participated in a panel discussion on addressing shared global challenges in journalism and the value of exchanges at the Journalism Under Fire event earlier this month in Santa Fe, NM.


This is our final ExchangeMatters for 2018 and I want to take the opportunity to thank you all for making the year so memorable.

When I first started in the position, our Board Chair, Jacqui Shipe, emphasized to me what an exceptional community of exchange professionals this is. It didn’t take long for me to see that first hand. You’ve collectively hosted thousands of the world’s emerging leaders, who undoubtedly will long remember you. The resounding theme from countless meetings I had with exchange alumni worldwide while working for the U.S. Department of State and Congress was that they were deeply impacted by your transparency, hospitality, and volunteerism.

As The Economist  wrote in a July article on the Global Ties Network, you are the “real ambassadors” for America. We’ve tried to capture more of your unique stories and motivations for working in this field in our #FacesOfExchange project, which I hope you’ll check out. I personally love seeing how our shared sense of curiosity binds us together.

Our year in review shows just some of what you’ve accomplished this year: a fantastic 2018 National Meeting, thanks to our Planning Committee Chair, Courtney Brooks; wonderful Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summits in Cleveland, Charlotte, and Miami, thanks to the late Maura O’Donnell-McCarthy and Katie Ferman (OH), Johnelle Causwell (NC), and Annette Alvarez (FL); and a productive National Programmer’s Workshop, thanks to nearly a dozen partners!

While you make it look easy, it isn’t; for many of you, the year was complicated further by funding delays. Thank you very much for persevering through uncertainty. We’ll do everything we can to support you better in 2019.

Looking ahead, there is a ton of activity in the office preparing for the 2019 National Meeting. I hope you check out the article on how to attend it like a pro! It will be my first full National Meeting and I’m very excited to see you all together, and to get the chance to finally meet many more of you for the first time.

I’m very grateful to Tim Horgan from the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire for being this year’s Planning Committee Chair, and to all of the committee members. We’re excited to introduce you to a new event space, new speakers, new exhibitors, new embassies to visit, and new training opportunities. In addition to the panels on running effective nonprofits and exchange programs, public speaking and fundraising coaches will be available to help you build plans to diversify your revenue and make standout elevator pitches about your work and why it matters. More to follow in January!

Lastly, thank you for all of your support in my first eight months. Leading this organization has been an invigorating challenge. It is a true gift to work in a community so devoted to making the world smaller and better. It’s been an honor to join a team that brings their “A” game each day and constantly strives to improve—so thank you to Daniel, Elizabeth, Erica, Franzi, Ivan, Jason, Jelena, Judy, Lola, Marc, Michelle, Saramarie, Steve, Ukeme, and Vernell for making each day so productive and fun. I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season, and an inspiring 2019.


Katherine Brown