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.