Exchange Matters / April 26, 2019

This is Washington… Christopher Washington, Ph.D., That Is!

By Daniel Bremer-Wirtig, Director, External Affairs, Global Ties U.S.

Kyle Moyer, Christopher Washington, Phil Lauinger at the 2019 National Meeting

Christopher Washington (center) with Kyle Moyer (left), Chair of the Global Ties Foundation Board of Directors, and Phil Lauinger, Co-Chair of the Global Ties U.S. Advisory Council.


In March, Christopher Washington, Ph.D., became the new Chair of the Board of Directors of Global Ties U.S. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Christopher and learn more about his career, how he found his citizen diplomacy “spark,” and his vision for the future.

A native of Chicago, Christopher grew up influenced by his mother’s Creole culture and his father’s Southern heritage. The food, music, and language of both cultures sparked his lifelong interest in learning about the world and people, and formed the first of three distinct “sparks” that shaped his citizen diplomacy trajectory.

His second citizen diplomacy milestone came at Franklin University where, as a faculty member, he served as a resource for the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), among other exchange programs. Said Christopher, “My mind was blown by the inspiring stories of the international visitors,” and set him on a path to volunteering for and eventually joining the boards of the International Visitors Council, Inc.—a Global Ties U.S. Community-Based Member—and the Columbus Council on World Affairs, both in Columbus, OH.

The third spark and “hook” to Christopher’s citizen diplomacy journey came after attending his first Global Ties U.S. National Meeting. Said Christopher, “I found this amazing community of very unique and diverse leaders from all over the country that shared my interest in learning about people, finding ways to come together to solve global problems, and looking to promote peace and prosperity. I got hooked! How couldn’t I?”

Christopher is a deeply committed individual who found his vocation for community engagement and capacity building early in life. He is the Executive Vice President and CEO at Urbana University, where he promotes student success and professional development through variousinstructional approaches, academic resources, and learning support services. Christopher has a long track record in academia and community involvement, having served in various capacities at a number of local, state, regional, and national organizations, such as the Columbus Urban League, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio, and American Council on Education. He has received multiple awards for his vision and leadership.

He is also the father of five talented and accomplished children, and husband to Shannon. From the stories he shared about his children—the international travels they’ve undertaken, the languages they speak, their commitment to their communities—they are a testament that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

A family man. Community leader. Globally-minded educator. Citizen diplomat. Christopher Washington is all this and much more. I asked him to share thoughts on the state of citizen diplomacy and his vision for the future. We discussed the major milestones that lie ahead for the Global Ties Network in the next few years, including a new three-year strategic plan for Global Ties U.S. informed by the Network.

Anne Grimes and Christopher Washington

Christopher Washington (right) with Anne Grimes (center), Director, Office of International Visitors, U.S. Department of State.


As Christopher noted, in 2020, the Global Ties Network will celebrate 80 years of implementing the IVLP and making people-to-people exchanges happen between U.S. and international citizens. In 2021, Global Ties U.S. will turn 60, making this a true two-year celebration of citizen diplomacy.

Christopher sees these milestones as critical opportunities to continue strengthening the Global Ties Network. Community-Based Members are “the lifeblood of who we are.” Christopher sees these anniversaries as a way to both commemorate the Network and bolster our advocacy efforts at all levels (local, state, and national) for increased funding and support for international exchanges.

Christopher Washington is committed to making the Global Ties Network stronger, by strengthening our members nationally, internationally, and in his own state of Ohio. As Christopher noted, exchange programs promote peace and prosperity one handshake at the time. We must continue to tell the story of the impact of our work at home and abroad.