Impact and current events

Each year, Global Ties KC connects almost 500 leaders from around the globe to the Heartland of America. Every single one of these delegates has a story.


Overcoming Barriers to Women’s Economic Participation


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Curators, museum educators, and directors of cultural heritage ministries from across the globe recently gathered in Kansas City to discuss the importance of cultural preservation. While in the words of one participant, their visit was “short and sweet” they packed a lot into three days, and “it was [their] gateway to middle America.”

Professionals from primarily Eastern and Central European countries started their visit to the Midwest at a meeting with KC Museum Educators Roundtable member representatives at the World War I Museum. The discussion focused primarily on the preservation, outreach, and education of the various cultural institutions each professional represented, and the value museums have perhaps more than ever to repair trust in country’s democratic system.  In the words of one European delegate, “The Roundtable is an example of bottom-up approach for sharing and solving similar issues. The informality is interesting and for me; it was a good example of how an initiative should start - based on the work to be done and not the formal side.”…

the northern triangle crisis


Americans had a lot on their minds in the late 1970s and the 1980s. The Cold War, the Reagan Revolution and rise of Reaganomics, and considerable shifts in popular culture (think the rise of the “yuppie”) dominated both the news and dinnertime conversations. While everyday Americans were starting to think more about everything from Soviet geopolitics to new sitcoms like Roseanne, they failed to notice that some of the most profound shifts in Central American politics were happening right under their noses.

Enter El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, three Central American countries collectively known as the Northern Triangle. While the world focused on rising tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union during the late ‘70s and ‘80s, the Northern Triangle was experiencing its own upheaval that would have intense political ramifications for decades to come. Conflicts and revolutions were breaking out left and right, and even though the American government offered these countries some development assistance, the post-conflict recovery process was lackluster at best. Legal institutions were broken, crimes were not being adequately prosecuted, and corruption permeated the highest levels of government. The violence simmered ever so slightly, but was back as soon as the early 2000s - and it has gotten unimaginably worse since then.



On May 16th, we at Global Ties KC paused from our busy days to celebrate 65 years of shaping foreign policy in Kansas City. Throughout our many years as an organization, we have been fortunate to bring over 200,000 international visitors to the Heartland. Along the way, we have come to know so many local leaders, entrepreneurs, and incredible Kansas Citians. To commemorate this exciting event, we were joined by the countless individuals that have been an integral part of our organization’s success, including board members, staff, local resources, and community members.

Amidst food, drink, and lively conversation, folks were able to unwind last Thursday and meet other Kansas Citians with a passion for citizen diplomacy. All the while, we heard from our Global Ties KC staff and Board President, Mr. Paul Weida, as they spoke about the significant role Global Ties KC plays in our community. To that end, our Executive Director, Courtney Brooks, presented the Barbara Dolci Scholarship to local high school student, Monterey Mecham, for her dedication to global affairs.

We were also joined by Ms. Anne Grimes, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and the current manager of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the State Department’s longest running exchange program. Anne spoke of how international exchange has…

TAJIKISTAN JOURNALISTS come to kansas city


The end of April 2019, a group of journalists from Tajikistan were in Kansas City to learn about countering disinformation and approaches in building trust between the media, government, and citizens. In addition to meeting with organizations in Topeka and sitting down with community radio station, KKFI, the they took part in a panel discussion with Adrienne Haynes, SEED Law lawyer and founder of the Multicultural Business Coalition, Jay Sjervn, President of the United Nations Association and journalist for Sosland Publishing, Michael Wizniak UMKC Faculty and Courtney Brooks Executive Director of Global Ties KC. Through a lively two hour discussion, they tackled the question “how would you convince the government of Tajikistan to hear the voice of the people”. They discussed fake news, access to the internet, the history of Tajikistan, and the age old principle in journalism of an obligation to the truth.

In the United States, amongst the frequent cries of ‘fake news’, and with a corroding trust in journalism, the current challenge is how to boost trust in media, while bolstering reliable vetted news agencies in the age of social media and otherwise free information. In Tajikistan, the challenges are more complicated…



Even after 65 years as a nonprofit organization in Kansas City, Global Ties KC is still launching new initiatives. This week, a Youth Diplomat Retreat. Dozens of students from all corners of the city met early on Saturday, April 27th to learn about the international opportunities present in their own communities. Throughout the day, they took part in interactive conversations with their peers as well as heard from a panel of guests engaged in diplomacy through independent study, and their work in tech, law, marketing and KC area development. The Youth Diplomats cohort were introduced to global affairs workshops and cultural understanding simulations that encouraged them to be an ambassador to their neighbors near and far.

The purpose of the day-long workshop was to provide students with an understanding of what it truly means to be a global citizen. What you see on the outside of someone’s culture is just the tip of the iceberg…

Egyptian delegates discuss culture and community at Northeast Chamber of Commerce


Five Egyptian delegates visited the Northeast Chamber of Commerce Friday, April 12, as part of the Global Ties KC and Multi-Cultural Business Coalition Tour Week. An authentic Egyptian breakfast was served as the visitors discussed their roles in Cairo and learned more about Kansas City, its culture, and history.

The Multi-Cultural Business Coalition (MBC) Tour Week was a week of curated programming that provided business education, connections, and strategic resources for Kansas City’s business, professional, and entrepreneurial communities. The program offered policy conversations, procurement events, and networking opportunities.

Global Ties KC, a member of MBC, is a nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for face-to-face interactions between international leaders and their American counterparts in Kansas and Western Missouri…

road to the global entrepreneurship summit

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The U.S. Department of State made its presence known in the heartland last week beginning with the visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Kansas City. The days centered on the “Road to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit Heartland” event where Global Ties KC brought an international flair to the program by bringing twenty-three female entrepreneurs (all International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)  participants) to the conference.

Road to GES Heartland, March 18-19, is the preceding event to this summer’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit taking place in The Hague, Netherlands June 4-5. Designed to support entrepreneurs and create inclusive networks and opportunities, this first event brought together a diverse crowd of about 600 entrepreneurs, investors, and public and private sector leaders.

Kicking off the conference, Secretary of State Pompeo shared the message that we must put entrepreneurship and foreign policy together. This is something that we see happening more and more across the nation, with nonprofits like Global Ties taking on an ever-increasing role as valued public-private partners in Department of State initiatives.

Throughout the two-day event, other key collaborators also took the stage, including the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Corporation Sigrid Kaag; U.S. Department of Commerce Regional Director of the Midwest Network Regina Heise; Acting Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Manisha Singh; and Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) Linda McMahon.

Joining us from every corner of the globe — from Argentina and Mauritius to Estonia and South Africa — Global Ties KC brought a group of twenty-three women leaders to the conference through the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).  The delegates were in the U.S. to discuss barriers and opportunities for entrepreneurs, as well as to share best practices on mentoring, marketing, and strategies for job creation.

Also in attendance was a delegation from the Netherlands, journalists traveling with the Foreign Press Center, and the US Department of State’s Diplomat in Residence for the Midwest.

The second half of our week at Global Ties KC was dedicated to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office of Alumni Affairs’ Alumni TIES event. Arranged by World Learning, one of our longstanding partner organizations in D.C., Alumni TIES brought 40 US Department of State program alumni from across the nation to Kansas City.

The leaders are a part of a dynamic network of more than one million former exchange participants, including 570 current and former heads of state, 82 Nobel laureates, and numerous community leaders and change makers around the world. Over the course of four days, these leaders came together in Kansas City to share their expertise and ideas around the topic of “Stronger American Cities: Closing the Skills Gap and Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems”.

At the same time, Kansas City was home to a group of high school students from Argentina and Chile visiting with the Department of State Youth Leadership Program. Living with host families, the students spent the week developing their leadership skills and learning about democracy, teamwork, and volunteerism.

This week, we’ve got visitors in town from Haiti and Ukraine. And we’re planning for a plethora of events coming this spring. It’s our 65th anniversary this year, and to commemorate the occasion, we’re launching a new Youth Diplomats Retreat program.

We appreciate the continued support of our network as we bring the world to the heart of America, positively influencing hearts and minds one handshake at a time.

food, fellowship, and hats


Through home hospitality meals, Global Ties KC programs create opportunities from around the world to connect with Americans on a very personal level. For one local host, Mary Ripka, this fellowship time often extends past the dinner table. Bringing her visitors into the kitchen to help with meal prep, she has stories of comparing spice racks- and the aha moments when asking a visitor from Africa what she would prepare if she was hosting, to the bridge building response of “the same type of chicken, and the same type of potatoes!”. Sitting on the front porch when the summer warms up, and talking about day-to-day challenges and opportunities with fellow entrepreneurs. And in her unique case, opening up her walk-in closet, to let her female guests peruse, and try on her multitude of fun hats. Its these intimate, heartfelt moments and memories that leave a lasting impression with our visitors. Thank you to all of our hosts, who create these experiences!

Look who's back!


In the words of one of our student exchange host moms, Laura Hales: “Our family had the opportunity to host an exchange student from Mexico this summer and it was a wonderful experience.  Although she was only with us 2 weeks, our daughters really bonded with her and it felt like she was part of our family.   We created a group chat when she left and kept in touch.  She recently came back this month to spend 2 weeks with us again.  While she was here, we spent some time together learning how she can attend a university in the US and visiting colleges.  We hope she’ll be able to come back to attend college.  We know this will be a friendship that will last a lifetime and we are grateful to Global Ties for helping connect us to her!”