Top photo: USGLC Texas Advisory Committee members with Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro.
Pictured above: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; C.D. Glin, Global Head of Philanthropy PepsiCo; Nate Mook, CEO, World Central Kitchen; USAID Administrator Samantha Power; and USGLC CEO Liz Schrayer.
by Robin J. Lerner, J.D., TIEC President & CEO
June 28, 2022
Last week, I traveled to Washington, DC for the Global Impact Forum, a signature annual event run by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC). The Forum puts grassroots and grasstops leaders from states across the country together with top policymakers in Washington. It’s a chance for those of us outside the Beltway to hear updates without any third-party filters. Even more importantly, it’s a chance for those in power to hear directly from their constituents about the centrality of U.S. global leadership to the work we do in our states. The USGLC convened impressive speakers: USAID Administrator Samantha Power, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Admiral James Stavridis, our very own Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, and many, many more.
I was at the Forum because I serve on the Texas Advisory Committee for the USGLC, made up of 230 Texas residents committed to educating policymakers to invest in development and diplomacy to help keep America safe and strengthen Texas’s economy. It was a new experience for me to attend a big constituent event like this. I worked in Washington, DC for 15 years before moving to Austin to run the Texas International Education Consortium. As a Senate staffer, a presidential appointee, and a career civil servant in the State Department, I lived and breathed policy issues and, like most of my colleagues, I rarely ever had time to leave my desk to attend the many fascinating events happening around town every day.
Each and every one of us who took time out of our busy lives to leave our states in order to be civically engaged in Washington at the Forum did so because we know that leading from the front is better than pushing from behind. While many of us feel our democracy has taken a hit lately, what we maybe forget is that we have avenues to speak directly to those who make laws on our behalf. We do have power in numbers, and our vote makes our policymakers listen to us. I encourage all of you in the United States who care about international affairs and global programs to consider joining your state’s USGLC committee. The great thing is, that you don’t have to know how to talk to policymakers — USGLC will help with that. You just have to be you because that’s who our members are there to serve.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robin J. Lerner, J.D.
President & CEO, Texas International Education Consortium