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  • Writer's pictureGlobal Ties Iowa

Letter from Liz Bergeron, Board President

Greetings, Citizen Diplomats!

Fiscal Year 2022 has truly been transformational for Global Ties Iowa. We are thrilled to continue our long-standing annual celebration of outstanding achievements - this year is bursting! We could not have flourished without the efforts of our cherished members and volunteers, experienced staff, dedicated board, and supportive community and are so appreciative of all you have helped us accomplish.

Sustainability and managed growth are top priorities, and our biggest news is that Amy Alice Chastain dropped the ‘interim’ and has officially assumed the position of Global Ties Iowa Executive Director as a salaried part-time position. The board unanimously and enthusiastically approved Amy’s plan to combine a part-time role as Associate Professor of Instruction at the University of Iowa with the position of Executive Director at Global Ties Iowa. Under Amy’s leadership, we have greatly expanded our partnership and networking relationships and increased visibility of the organization. Global Ties Iowa is becoming a much more well-known and respected organization not only in Iowa City but also to civic and business leaders and resources in Cedar Rapids, North Liberty, and Coralville among other eastern Iowa communities as we advocate for global exchange and introduce our impressive international visitors to them. We are already seeing remarkable results from Amy’s focus on expanding our capacity, increasing diversity and accessibility, growing the programming of IVLP, and ensuring our mission of citizen diplomacy is financially secure and stable. We could not be more grateful for her leadership and enthusiasm for this organization.

As always, our incredibly talented and committed staff and interns have been critical to our success. Special thanks go to Holly Harris (Manager of Programs and Operations) who led the first-ever effort to standardize and document procedures and provided much needed support and institutional knowledge to the team before departing to Brazil in March for her Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award. Abby Fowler (Communications Coordinator), Bailey Shafer (Program Coordinator), Abbey Weldon (Membership and Development Intern), Lexi Passno (Program Fellow), Ondrea Li (Social Media and Storytelling Intern), and Anna Peach (Programming Intern) are truly the engine that drives our organization – they inspire us with their seemingly endless energy, passion, creativity, and determination. We are so proud of how well they represent us both locally and to our partner national organizations.

The Global Ties Iowa board continues to evolve and grow – we welcomed new members Katie Ron, Melissa Meisterheim, Zach Smith, and Christopher Herring (Honorary Board Member) earlier this year and look forward to at least five new board members in the process of onboarding now. Our deep gratitude and appreciation goes to departing board members Peter Gerlach, Arnold Daniels Jr, and Marlén Mendoza who all served during very challenging times. The February Board Retreat provided a much-needed opportunity to focus on and identify specific initiatives to recruit, diversify and build board capacity, and augment resources with additional revenue streams. We remain committed to sharing our expertise, giving time and energy to these initiatives, being intentional about networking, and actively supporting citizen diplomacy in our community.


The above efforts, coupled with those of our treasured members, volunteers, professional resources, and supporters, have allowed us to host an unprecedented number of visitors and visits this year. Our amazing team of citizen diplomats greet, guide, share knowledge, and build networks that impact countless lives. It’s the HOW you do it that is truly moving – visitors to Iowa are always impressed by the incredibly warm and genuine welcome they receive here and the breadth of offerings in our communities. Thank you for making citizen diplomacy come alive by deeply touching so many lives. Global Ties Iowa has at its heart, the mission to connect people and it’s so true as we say each year, that this work matters now more than ever. Person to person, reaching out, and the world is better for it. As are each of us.

What seemed impossibly challenging a year ago has become our new reality – and we could not have gotten here without you. We’ve no intention of stopping here, confident knowing that you’ll be with us to deepen the connection between the world and the heartland in the coming year!

Liz Bergeron, Board President


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