Exchange Matters / July 10, 2023

Warm Wishes and Thank You Peggy

Building community is at the heart of the Global Ties Network and is foundational to our shared mission of powering individuals, communities, and nations to build trust and advance peace and prosperity through international exchange. Driving this work are exceptional leaders like Peggy Parfenoff, President of WorldChicago, who has spent decades tirelessly championing international exchange programs, citizen diplomacy, and the impact of people-to-people interactions. This year, we bid Peggy farewell as she steps down from the Illinois-based nonprofit organization. 

Peggy at the Global Ties U.S. 2023 National Meeting. Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar.

During her 22 years of service with WorldChicago, Peggy has steered the organization to become a national leader in international exchange, not only through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), but also through sports exchanges, the Young Transatlantic Leaders Initiative (YTLI), the Stevens Initiative, and so many other U.S. Department of State programs and initiatives. A passionate citizen diplomat, Peggy has welcomed thousands of international visitors to Chicago and helped create lifetime connections that change the minds and lives of visitors and volunteers alike.  

Five people pose for a picture.

Peggy (far left) with (from left) Appreccia D. Faulkner, Barbara Barreno-Paschall, Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, and Ted Williams III at Diplomacy Begins Here Chicago.

Peggy has been pioneering in her service to Chicago, the state of Illinois, and the entire Global Ties Network. She is known throughout the Network as a leading voice, mentor, and champion for Congressional advocacy, helping to empower and coach countless members of the Global Ties Network to speak up for federal funding of international exchange programs. Peggy served as a member of the Global Ties U.S. Board of Directors, including as Vice Chair from 2015-2019. She received a Global Ties U.S. Decade of Service Award in 2021 and Global Ties Network Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023. 

Peggy will long be remembered for her commitment to excellence in programming, her indelible impact on scores of international exchange alumni who came to Chicago on the IVLP and other exchanges, her contributions to building community both in Chicago and within the Network, and her role as a deeply respected leader and mentor. We will miss you, Peggy, and wish you all the best in your next chapter. Below, the Global Ties Network sends warm wishes and congratulations to Peggy. 

From the Office of International Visitors  

OIV Leadership Team 

Peggy – Thank you for putting your heart and soul into the International Visitor Leadership Program all of these years!  From project themes on IPR, entrepreneurship, and sustainable cities to the many projects on promoting peace and security, we have appreciated your professionalism, creativity, and can-do attitude that has carried the IVLP forward and helped continue its impact.  You should be proud of the many, many connections you have created that have had ripple effects around the globe.    

Thank you for being a trusted partner and friend to the International Visitor Leadership Program and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.    

We will miss you!

Amy Carrdus, Community Relations Branch 

Peggy – I have so enjoyed working with you over the years and will miss your presence in the Network! Your encouragement and inclusive nature have meant so much to me during our time working together and I have learned a tremendous amount from you. Thank you for all of your contributions to the program, the organization, and all the lives you’ve touched along the way!  

Wishing you all the best in your next endeavor.

Marta Pereyma, East Asia and Pacific Branch 

Peggy, congratulations on your decades-long leadership at WorldChicago! Where has the time gone?!? 

Thank you for your professionalism, dedication, energy, and commitment to the importance of international exchange and our IVLP.  And of course, in helping to make this a better world and making our country better as well. Thank you for setting a high standard for all of us.

With best wishes in your future endeavors! You will be sorely missed. 

Three people pose for photo on stage next to podium.

Peggy (center) presents the Citizen Diplomat Award to Serve2Unite at the Global Ties U.S. 2019 National Meeting. Photo by A.E. Landes Photography.

From the Global Ties Network 

Cultural Vistas | Paul Champaloux, Senior Director 

Peggy, I can still remember the first time I met you like it was the other day! It was back in 2015 and I was leading one of multiple projects for a larger Entrepreneurship initiative that had us all opening in Chicago. It was my first time in the city, and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction through the event you put together! I was struck by your leadership and organization then, and that feeling has not ceased through all the programs that we have worked on with you and your colleagues. Words fail to express how much I want to thank you for all you’ve done and best wishes on your next adventure!  

A dozen professionally dressed people pose for picture in front of world map.

Peggy (center in blue shirt) with the 2019 Global Ties U.S. Board of Directors.

 Global Ties Alabama | Jacqui Shipe 

The Tapestry of Your Life
Peggy Parfenoff—I
n Honor of Her Retirement from World Chicago
June 2023 

As you retire, I want you to know,
Your life and seventeen years of service have created a tapestry woven just so.
You have touched so many lives both far and near.
The lessons and values you taught will always be held dear.
You have patiently and carefully woven one thread at a time.
All the lives you have touched are part of the magnificent design.   

Threads of encouragement,
Threads of hope, 
Threads of support and influence, too, 
Intertwined with dedication, persistence, and a servant attitude.
So many lives have been made richer all because of you.
You have woven threads of partnership into my life with all its intricate detail. 

You have been a devoted friend on whom I could depend.
I am proud to celebrate your retirement, knowing our friendship will never end.
Our GLOBAL AND CHICAGO CONNECTIONS will continue to grow as we traverse this earthly plain.
Our blood-borne gift of unity will continue just the same.


 Global Ties Detroit | Marian Reich, President 

Congratulations Peggy!  Twenty years ago you gave me the opportunity to join your team at WorldChicago and become a part of the Global Ties Network.  Over these two decades, I’ve had the good fortune to call you my colleague (workspouse!), mentor, and most importantly, friend.  Your leadership, drive, and vision have motivated me from day one.  Your good humor and sense of adventure make our work together in international exchange and citizen diplomacy more than meaningful — you are an inspiration!  Many thanks, Peggy. Looking forward to seeing what the next adventure brings.

World Learning | Ann Driscoll, Program Manager 

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Chicago – but, Peggy, you’ve become one of my favorite things about the city! You and your team always roll out the red carpet for our visitors, and deliver such amazing, world-class programming, all with a warm heart and a human face. It’s been such a privilege to be able to connect international visitors to the United States through you and WorldChicago. Thank you for all that you’ve done, and for the amazing legacy that we’ll all continue to benefit from for many years to come. Wishing you all the best for your next adventure <3