Staff and Board of Directors
Global Ties KC Executive Director Courtney Brooks Courtney holds an MBA and a BA in Political Science, Economics, and International Studies. She has been to all seven continents, and has lived in China and across South America. Courtney enjoys being able to share the Midwestern spirit of hospitality with the world!
Special Programs Manager Sarah Lowderman Sarah has a BA in finance and is currently seeking a Masters in Teaching from the University of Central Missouri. Sarah has coordinated International Visitor Leadership Programs, 19 government-sponsored youth exchange programs, and a variety of special organizational projects. Sarah’s passion for K.C. can be seen in all of her work, as she builds bridges between the local community and the globe.
Program Associate Justin Keehler Justin graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration - Management. He started as an intern with Global Ties KC in the Summer of 2021, and his passion for international exchange has only expanded since. He loves exploring the cultures of the international visitors, and enjoys sharing Kansas City with the world.
Program Associate Niyati Sethi Niyati holds a MA in Religious Studies, a graduate certificate in Public Policy, and a BA in Economics and Religious Studies. Originally from New Delhi, India she started her journey in the heartland almost 6 years ago finding a deep appreciation for Midwestern hospitality and a passion for citizen diplomacy. Utilizing her unique background both academically and professionally, she is excited to welcome visitors to KC!
Global Ties KC Board President, SS&C Technologies, Head of Marketing PJ Matulka Even in his work PJ keeps his international focus as he builds programs and develops communication strategies. “There is something to be said about life going so quickly and the value in slowing down and learning to love other people for their differences and similarities. We help people experience differences and champion them.”
Global Ties KC Board Vice President, Fisher Law, Senior Litigation Associate Kendall Seal Kendall became passionate about global exchange following a personal connection. Carol Gale, his favorite high school teacher, helped organize an exchange program to England. “That experience revolutionized my life,” Kendall said. “Global Ties is all about the relationships and creating these types of experiences.”
Global Ties KC Board Secretary, Director, Learning and Development, ScanSTAT Technologies Darin Challacombe Darin's expertise spans beyond the healthcare sector, including experience in higher education, psychology, intelligence, and nonprofits. He is passionate about making the world smaller. Reflecting on his work with Global Ties KC, he said, “The chance to connect people to other places is invaluable.”
Global Ties KC Board Treasurer USDA, Economist Laura Hales Laura has a deep interest in how government programs can be utilized to better people’s lives. Given the vast “diversity and opportunity in KC,” Laura believes Global Ties KC facilitates global experiences in the comfort of one’s own neighborhood.
Realty One Head of Brokerage, Exec Team Leader Chris Cribb Collaboration and support are critical to Chris's work as a Des. Managing Broker as he builds close relationships with real estate agents and investors in order to achieve their shared goals.
Product Strategist Hai Chen As a product strategist, working at the intersection of a variety of diverse fields, innovation is in everything Hai does - and that extends to his role on the board of Global Ties KC. “We bring life-changing experiences to people here and want to expand that as much as possible,” he said.
BioTech Consultant Sujal Shah Always solutions-oriented, Sujal sees Global Ties KC as working toward a broader, societal goal: “What we do at GTKC through Youth Diplomats, home visits, etc., is to provide an experience of global interaction in your own backyard, to provide people to make better, more empowered decisions. Empathy only comes with experience.”
Assistant Professor, Kansas State University Shabina Kavimandan Shabina has seen the impact experience first hand: “When you take students to another country, once they go there and live with host families and talk about their experience, these students who have never been out of the Midwest who get to see a new culture - it broadens their horizons completely.”
Assistant Director of Transportation, MARC Martin Rivarola Martin has seen exchange programs through several unique perspectives, first as an exchange student, then as a host, and now as the father of a Youth Diplomat. He feels that it is his “time to give something back” to the organization with which he has spent so much of his life.
Media Relations, Cerner Stephanie Greenwood As Media Relations Manager at Cerner Corporation, Stephanie knows the value of education and awareness. For her, Global Ties KC programs take that a step further. “Opportunities like what Global Ties KC provides are much richer, showing what a day in the life is in a different country as a part of an enrichment experience,” she said.
Retired, KC Election Board Shelley McThomas Shelley has worked as an executive across a diverse array of industries, including work in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. In reflecting on why she has now chosen to devote her time to Global Ties KC, a Mark Twain quote comes to mind: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” She is confident that GTKC can contribute to that goal.
KC Chamber, Director Public Policy Kaitlin Bast Kaitlin brings her expertise in policy and foreign relations to her role in Global Ties KC and how it plays a pivotal role in connecting Kansas City to the globe. “Watching the world news these days is stressful and a lot to handle,” Kaitlin said. “Through Global Ties KC and our mission ‘one handshake at a time,’ we provide people with a starting point to make the world a better place."
H&R Block Carter Quirk Through his work at H&R Block, Carter regularly works with multi-national organizations on client growth and programming, embracing a global attitude which contributes to his work on the board of Global Ties KC. "Fostering a community built on connectedness across cultures will continue to be the driving force in embracing diversity, inclusion, and change."
Program Officer, Children International Ari Griffin Ari's expertise comprises nonprofit work, advocacy, education, policy, and so much more. To her, Global Ties KC provides a crucial role in making multiculturalism more accessible: “Not everyone can afford to go abroad, and because of GTKC, people can bring it home. We bring equity to international and intercultural experiences.”