American Councils joined the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) network in 2022, becoming one of eight national program agencies administering IVLP, the United States’ premier professional exchange program.
For 82 years, IVLP has provided firsthand knowledge about U.S. society, culture, and politics to current and emerging foreign leaders. In return, IVLP exchanges enable participants to share their respective cultures with U.S. citizens and communities. By connecting international leaders to their American counterparts, participants cultivate lasting relationships reflecting their professional interests and supporting the foreign policy goals of the United States.
Each year nearly 5,000 international visitors come to the U.S. as part of IVLP. In 2022, the IVLP network restarted in-person projects, completing 420 projects with 3,810 participants from 170 countries across the globe. American Councils had the honor of administrating 33 IVLP projects representing over 100 countries and 298 participants in 2022. To celebrate American Councils’ first year administering IVLP, here is a brief overview of select program activities.
U.S. Approaches to Climate Change Challenges
In April of 2022, American Councils administered our first in-person IVLP project of the year, “U.S. Approaches to Climate Change Challenges.” The multi-regional project engaged 15 participants from around the world to assess the status of the current policy framework of national and international environmental laws, protections, and conservation efforts to address climate change and associated impacts. Visiting leaders traveled to Washington, DC, Annapolis, Louisville, Orlando, and Chicago to meet with academics, policymakers, and advocates working in climate change activism, environmental law, and renewable energy initiatives. With the partnering organizations, the IVLP participants discussed priority areas for international cooperation among public, private, academic, and community groups, fostering global ties to combat climate change.
WEAmericas Program: Supporting Women Entrepreneurs
In May, American Councils welcomed 13 participants from the Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) initiative, a U.S. Department of State program supporting women’s economic advancement in the Western Hemisphere. The WEAmericas IVLP project brought participants from South and Central America together to examine the role of women-owned businesses in driving economic development, democratization, and stabilization around the world. The WEAmericas cohort addressed themes like creating opportunities for women entrepreneurs in underserved communities, media resources for women entrepreneurs, programs for immigrant communities, and global partnership opportunities for women’s economic and business development. They explored a variety of mentorship, job shadowing, and skills-development programs offered by government, universities, businesses, and private sector associations to prepare women for leadership roles and to be successful owners and managers of their own businesses.
Advancing LGBTQI+ Rights and Policies
In August, American Councils administered “Advancing LGBTQI+ Rights and Policies: A Project for Kazakhstan.” This single-country project introduced participants from Kazakhstan to the various players of the U.S. government and civil society working to advance the rights of the LGBTQI+ community. Participants learned about the history of the LGBTQI+ civil rights movement in the U.S., as well as federal protections, advocacy networks, and comprehensive healthcare for the LGBTQI+ community. The visiting leaders traveled to Orlando, Seattle, New York City, and Washington, DC. While in Orlando, participants were hosted by the Contigo Fund and Hope CommUnity Center, two organizations working to empower LGBTQI+, Latinx, and immigrant communities throughout Central Florida.
Countering the Disinformation Disorder
During the “Countering the Disinformation Disorder” project, IVLP hosted leaders from the Philippines to examine U.S. policies countering the spread of disinformation, promoting media literacy, and creating approaches to build trust between the media, government, and citizens. In November, the group traveled to Washington, DC, to discuss the impacts of disinformation on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, San Francisco to learn the roles NGOs and government agencies have in fighting deceptive news, Orlando to study factors that contribute to the spread of disinformation, and Helena to address combatting misinformation in local political campaigns. Throughout their visit, the leaders connected with other professionals to exchange perspectives and lessons in combating disinformation and promoting mutual understanding.
Learn more about American Councils and the International Visitor Leadership Program here.