Global Leadership Exchange
The Global Leadership Exchange (formerly known as the International Visitor Program or IVP) advances international understanding by connecting Greater Seattle community members with global leaders through professional and youth exchanges. The Global Leadership Exchange brings these individuals together to engage in open and candid dialogue, help build the foundation for addressing global issues, and diminish harmful stereotypes that lead to greater peace and understanding.
Our Core Programs:
International Visitor Leadership ProgramThe majority of global leaders we host each year come to Seattle as a part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). IVLP captures the power of citizen diplomacy by providing a professional development exchange program for current or emerging leaders in government, politics, education, arts, business, the media, and other key fields in tandem with U.S. foreign policy goals. IVLP has brought visiting leaders to the U.S. for nearly 80 years. Alumni include over 500 current and former heads of state. The World Affairs Council is a proud member of Global Ties U.S. and one of 91 councils nationwide who host IVLP participants.
Professional Fellows ProgramsThe Global Leadership Exchange arranges Professional Fellowships for young entrepreneurs and civil society leaders on behalf of the State Department’s Professional Fellows Program. We are proud to be an official City Hub host for the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) since it's inception as a Presidential Initiative under President Obama. We have also hosted Professional Fellows groups from the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative (YTILI), the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), and for Professional Fellows from Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. Professional Fellows Programs provide the participants an opportunity to embed in a local company or organization for a 2-4 week fellowship, where they work alongside their peers contributing their skills and expertise while learning new systems and procedures as well as creating a global network of entrepreneurs and civil society leaders.
Global Youth Leadership ProgramsFor more than a decade, the Global Leadership Exchange has welcomed hundreds of international youth leaders from countries throughout the world, including Mexico, Brazil, Iraq, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, China, and Zambia, to Seattle to participate in exchange programs designed to empower the next generation of global leaders. These high school and college-aged youth leaders are typically selected through a highly competitive application process and receive full scholarships sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and private sector partners. During their Seattle-based program, youth leaders live with volunteer host families, participate in engaging workshops, site visits, and discussions with local leaders and youth, and connect with the Seattle community through volunteer projects and cultural outings. Our expertise is in designing meaningful, participant-centered curriculum that develops skills in leadership and teambuilding; deepens understanding of civic engagement and community service; fosters a respect and appreciation for diversity; and builds mutual understanding between the people of other countries and the United States. Each youth exchange program also focuses on a specific theme such as interfaith dialogue, peacebuilding, entrepreneurship, environmental stewardship, digital storytelling, and more; and the greater Seattle area is used as a learning lab to explore these topics in depth. As one youth leader from Brazil put it, “I think that the program is so inspiring for those who have the luck to participate. I’m so grateful for this experience. It helped me to grow and be a better person.”
Custom Exchange ProgramsWe arrange short-term professional and youth exchange programs or sector-specific industry tours upon request for NGOs, governments, and businesses. Past clients include the Open World Leadership Center, Seattle International Foundation, and the Japan Productivity Center. If you would like to inquire about the full range of exchange services for your company or organization, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program TopicsClick the buttons to read more about our programs.
With more than 40% of all jobs in Washington State tied to international trade, the Puget Sound region is one of the most trade-driven economies in the country. The innovative Northwest Seaport Alliance, combining Washington’s largest ports in Seattle and Tacoma, operates as the third largest container gateway in all of North America with especially strong ties to Asia. Seattle is also home to a dynamic entrepreneurial sector, with a particularly strong tech startup industry. It is annually listed in the third best city in the U.S. for female entrepreneurs, with a little over 30% of Seattle businesses being run by women. Such a vibrant economy is spurred through close cooperation between businesses, governments, and academic institutions.Recent Programs:
- Smart Cities – Indonesia
- African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program – Africa
- Data Privacy and Protection in the U.S. – Europe and Eurasia
- Global Leadership in International Aviation – Multi-Regional Project
- Current U.S. Social, Political and Economic Issues for Young European Leaders – Europe and Eurasia
Seattle is a Pacific Northwest leader in medical research and biomedical technology production, with the University of Washington holding the third-highest research and development spending among universities in the nation. Seattle’s research centers maintain international prestige, including specialties in cancer research and global health through institutions such as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Foundation, Center for Infectious Disease Research, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), and the University of Washington Medical Center, ranked 11th in the nation. Seattle is known for its broad commitments to advancing sustainability, and is ranked as the most sustainable city in the nation by STAR Communities. The city has undertaken an ambitious effort to become completely carbon neutral by 2050, and has implemented a diverse array of environmental initiatives across public and private sectors to increase the city’s environmental competency. This includes innovations across public agencies, strong industry production in CleanTech and GreenTech, partnerships to create Smart Cities, and an active community of environmentalists.
- Global Health Security – Multi-Regional Project
- Combating Wildlife Trafficking – Mozambique
- Our Oceans: Protection and Sustainable Use – Multi-Regional Project
- HIV/AIDS Assistance and Activism for Stigmatized – Europe and Eurasia
- Reinventing Japan’s Food System – Japan
Washington State, with an international border and port as well as a thriving agricultural industry, is a hotspot for international crime and human trafficking. In response to the ever-growing need to deter illicit trafficking and support victims, in 2002 Washington State became the first state in the nation to create a legal framework for addressing and prosecuting human trafficking. Since then both governments and non-governmental organizations in the region have continued to advance human rights, particularly in the areas of immigrant and refugee rights, gender and LGBT equality, and disability rights. The region’s many grassroots minority rights and social justice groups play an integral role in the development of progressive, inclusive policies, in both the city and the community.
- Law and Legal Issues in the U.S. – China
- Towards a More Safe and Secure World – Multi-Regional Project
- Law of the Sea and Maritime Security – East Asia and the Pacific
- Refugee Resettlement and Integration – Europe and Eurasia
- Human and Civil Rights for the LGBT Community – Multi-Regional Project
Seattle’s non-profit and civil society communities have a wide range of missions and goals, such as improving global health, engaging young people in politics, producing transparent and accountable governance systems, establishing interfaith and cross-community conversations, and promoting alternative and independent media. As the headquarters for the internationally recognized Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle’s endeavors to create safer and more inclusive communities extend beyond local borders. Locally, the City of Seattle’s Boards and Commissions serve as a means to provide individuals and organizations with a strong voice and input in developing policies and representation for underserved communities or key issues.Recent Programs:
- Politics and Elections – East Asia and the Pacific
- Promoting NGO Management Excellence in the U.S. – China
- Broadcast Journalism: New and Traditional Media – Multi-Regional Project
- Inclusiveness in the Decision Making Process – Turkey
- Journalists and Foreign Policy – Kazakhstan
The 2010 U.S. Census revealed that nearly three-quarters of Seattle residents were between the ages of 18 and 64 with an especially high concentration of young adults (age 25-34). These demographics have contributed to the development of many non-profit organizations, government initiatives, and community groups that specialize in issues impacting youth in Seattle. Additionally, Seattle is one of the most highly educated cities in the U.S. with 57.4 percent of all adults over 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. The city is also at the forefront of applying new technologies to the higher education sector; the University of Washington made news when it became the first university in the United States to offer credit through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). To promote workforce development, universities, community colleges and industries throughout Seattle have forged partnerships with businesses and organizations in order to help students gain the skills needed to procure meaningful employment.Recent Programs:
- Distance Learning for Students with Disabilities – Russia
- American Culture and TEFL Education – Venezuela
- Summer Leadership Program for Cuban Youth – Cuba
- Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program – Iraq
- American Libraries – Multi-Regional Project
Seattle’s lively arts community boasts more arts-related businesses and organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the US. As a national cultural center, it is home to a diverse array of visual arts, music and heritage museums including the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), and the Museum of History and Industry. Taking advantage of the abundance of arts and culture throughout the city, many organizations and cultural centers in Seattle aim to engage and inspire youth and marginalized communities through art. The City of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture is one such branch of the local City Council that focuses on promoting greater cultural expression in Seattle as well as access to artistic opportunities for underserved communities. Most notably, the city dedicates 2% of its tax revenue towards Public Art, providing grants to artists of all mediums in developing publicly accessible art.Recent Programs:
- Comics and Graphic Novels – Russia
- OneBeat Music Diplomacy Exchange – Multi-Regional Project
- Promoting Social Change and Disability Awareness through the Arts – Azerbaijan
- Empowering Youth through the Performing Arts – Multi-Regional Project
- Diversity and Multiculturalism in the U.S. – Africa
Senior Program Officer