For more than 60 years, Meridian has been a principal partner in implementing the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) — the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange. Through short-term visits to the United States, current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields experience the U.S. firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts. Professional meetings reflect the participants’ professional interests and support the foreign policy goals of the United States. The program, which invites over 4,000 distinguished visitors to the U.S. every year, is funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Meridian’s Professional Exchanges Division currently administers roughly 40 percent of all IVLP projects annually, working closely with members of Global Ties U.S., a network of non-profit exchange organizations found in nearly every state in the country. We call on Global Ties member organizations to arrange local professional itineraries for the IVLP participants on topics as diverse as: women leaders in science and engineering, human rights advocacy, countering violent extremism, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development.
Over the course of Meridian’s long history with the IVLP, as U.S. foreign policy priorities have shifted in reaction to global events, we have adapted, maintaining a strong partnership with the State Department on these critical exchanges. In the mid-1960’s, we arranged programs for leaders of newly-independent African countries—a sensitive task at a time when American society was in the midst of desegregation. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, we were at the forefront of a move to design U.S. itineraries for visitors from the Newly-Independent States. In the post-9/11 world, Meridian continues to lead in the design and implementation of innovative programs for an increasing number of leaders from the Near East/North Africa and South Asia. Whatever the geographic or thematic focus, through the IVLP, Meridian provides participants with generous opportunities to acquire knowledge and expand their professional networks while helping to dispel stereotypes and deepen mutual understanding between Americans and emerging leaders from around the world.
For more information on the International Visitor Leadership Program, please visit the State Department’s IVLP website.
Thus far, 168 of Meridian’s IVLP participants have gone on to become heads of state. Among these are Britain’s Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher (1967), Tony Blair (1986) and Gordon Brown (1984); Egypt’s Anwar Sadat (1966); South African President Frederick W. deKlerk (1976); and current Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.