Meridian Annual Report 2020

Responding to shared global challenges

60th Anniversary

We kicked off 2020 with a celebration of Meridian’s 60th anniversary. Founded in 1960, Meridian strengthens engagement between the United States and the world through diplomacy, leadership and culture to solve shared global challenges. We commemorated the history of our work and our historic campus in Washington with the publication of our book, Grounds of Diplomacy: A History, A Place, A Mission.

COVID-19: A global health crisis

But it wasn’t long into 2020 that the world turned upside down. Meridian responded by pivoting to virtual programs, harnessing the tools of digital connectivity to create MeridianOnline. With the help of our supporters and network, we achieved truly global collaboration between business, government and diplomatic leaders at a time when cross-sector, multinational cooperation was most necessary.

We hosted 160 virtual programs and exchanges with 782 experts and stakeholders and reached a global audience of 6,849

When Italy and Spain were facing a surge in cases

we brought together the ambassadors of both countries to discuss their national responses with members of our Corporate Council.

When the United States saw its own surge

we welcomed Ron Klain, White House Chief of Staff and Ebola Czar, to analyze the current situation and the federal approach to the crisis.

And as local governments responded

we convened the mayors of three cities to share insights and updates with members of the diplomatic corps.

The rise of global health diplomacy

In October 2020, we organized our first-ever virtual summit with more than 40 leading experts across sectors and border.

READ our report: Redefining Diplomacy in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

We examined the issue at the cultural level

by bringing together artists and leaders from the dance world and museum industry to share how the pandemic was affecting the performing arts and our cultural institutions.

And watched proudly as our exchange alumni used their global leadership skills to tackle the pandemic at home.

The Meridian Center for Global Leadership

We launched the Meridian Center for Global Leadership to house the professional and educational programs that enhance Meridian’s vision of a more secure and prosperous world—today and for generations to come.

Meridian has been preparing the next generation of global leaders to collaborate on solutions to shared challenges, and I'm pleased to announce the development of the forthcoming Meridian Center for Global Leadership, which will expand our reach in this space and harness our expertise in developing innovative leadership programs adapted for the new virtual world.
— Ambassador Stuart W. Holliday, CEO, Meridian International Center

Check out our PRESS RELEASE

The Movement for Racial Justice

As the U.S. grappled with the pandemic, it faced another crisis that has plagued the country from its beginnings. The killing of George Floyd and other instances of police brutality launched a sweeping national movement for racial justice and equity, bringing much-needed awareness to the history of systemic racism in the United States. Meridian responded by convening nuanced discussions on racism and injustice and their intersections with civil rights, healthcare access, and other critical issues.

Looking Back, Acting Forward

We also reflected on the issues internally and established a cross-departmental, multi-generational Taskforce on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, as well as Core Values reflecting our commitment to making our workplace more inclusive and equitable for all.

Learn more about our EDI initiatives

Bridging Divides through Cultural Diplomacy

And we continued to share the diversity of American culture with the rest of the world, even in the virtual age of the pandemic, through our Next Level Live! series. A cultural diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Meridian International Center, Next Level uses Hip Hop to create connections around the world while promoting conflict transformation, entrepreneurship, artistic and professional development among younger and underserved audiences.

Learn more about Next Level Live!

U.S. Elections

When the COVID-19 crisis, racial injustice, the economic recession and other issues of the year came to a head in the 2020 election, Meridian created a space for addressing the challenge of disinformation and its impact on elections and American democracy through the Meridian Global Journalism Initiative and our U.S. Speaker Series.

Election Insights

In one of the most contentious and divisive elections in our nation’s history, Meridian connected our network of diplomatic and business leaders with timely insights on the race through discussions with elected officials and political experts from both sides of the aisle.

Presidential Transition

And we look forward to hosting members of the new administration, as we have done for the past 60 years.

Thank You to Our Supporters

While 2020 was a difficult and unprecedented year, and unlike any other in Meridian’s history, we advanced our mission in ways we never have before. But it would not have been possible if it weren’t for you. Our supporters. Our network. You make diplomacy possible. Thank you.

Support Diplomacy, Support Meridian