For the last 80 years, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) has brought thousands of professionals to the United States to cultivate relationships with their American counterparts and address a wide variety of foreign policy issues. Since the first exchange participants arrived in 1940, the network has grown to include over 225,000 alumni and continues to build vital linkages between U.S. citizens and emerging international leaders.
As part of the campaign “Faces of Exchange,” which celebrates the IVLP’s 80th anniversary throughout 2020, we will showcase 80 accomplished alumni, their lives and leadership, and the impact of their exchange on the global community. Our embassies and members of the IVLP network were responsible for nominating each #FacesofExchange alum, and they are excited to share their stories on social media and on our new Faces of Exchange website.
At the Anniversary’s launch event on January 16, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce revealed the first two Faces of Exchange: Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, and Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. Thatcher’s first exposure to the United States was through the IVLP in 1967, ten years before she was elected Prime Minister. It served as a pivotal experience during her career, and her handwritten note says it all: “Forevermore, I shall be a true friend of the United States.”
Prime Minister Ardern participated in an IVLP in 2012 while she served as a Member of Parliament in New Zealand and recently brought her country together with strong leadership, empathy, and compassion, after the Christchurch shootings in March 2019. One of her fellow participants on the 2012 exchange said that Ardern, “inspired young women around the world, proving that neither age, gender, nor motherhood are barriers to reaching your fullest potential.”
From the more than 500 current and former heads of state to leaders in boardrooms, classrooms, community organizations, the arts, and NGOs – these alumni are utilizing skills and information gained during their IVLP experiences to build a safer, more secure, and more prosperous world.
The remaining 78 alumni in our Faces of Exchange campaign will be announced over the next twelve months and will paint a vivid picture of the IVLP and its impact. You can follow our campaign on social media through @StateIVLP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and by following #FacesOfExchange.
About the Author: Diane Crow is a Senior Advisor for the Office of International Visitors in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.