Meridian Exchange | September 2020

As racial injustice, the global health crisis, economic uncertainty and the upcoming presidential election dominate headlines, Meridian provides a space where global leaders can educate, connect and learn from one another. Through more than 70 programs over the last 24 weeks, Meridian has continued to connect government, business and diplomatic leaders to collaborate on these challenges and other global issues.

See below for how we've worked over the last month to connect strong voices on key global issues and facilitate meaningful conversations. Please join us this week for a discussion with Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Meridian panel at the UN General Assembly and more. Don't forget to register for the Meridian Global Leadership Summit focused on The Rise of Global Health Diplomacy, happening on October 23.

Meridian launches new Global Journalism Initiative

Meridian is committed to the global health community’s work in keeping citizens informed during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and journalists are at the center of that effort. Through the launch of the Meridian Global Journalism Initiative, we are building on our body of work in supporting media programs to advance democracy by providing a platform for international journalists and communicators to connect, gain insights and exchange perspectives on critical issues in global media. On September 2 Meridian hosted our first virtual discussion on how covering the news during the pandemic has changed in nature along with the composition of newsrooms and global bureaus, and what the near-to long-term implications are for journalists around the world. Moderated by Shaila Manyam, Senior Vice President for International Public Affairs at Burson Cohn & Wolfe, the program panelists included Nadia Bilbassy, Washington Bureau Chief at Al Arabiya Matthew Kaminski, Editor in Chief at POLITICO; and Dr. Courtney Radsch, Advocacy Director at the Committee to Protect Journalists. In tandem with the launch of the Global Journalism Initiative, we’ve started a blog series to engage with our incoming Central and Eastern Europe Journalist (CEEJ) Fellowship Program fellows. Read more here.

International exchanges pivot to virtual programming

Our formula for connecting global leaders through Meridian's exchange programs was unchallenged for 60 years— and then COVID-19 hit. The global pandemic forced us to reexamine the process and get creative with innovative ideas to engage our global community. We harnessed the power of digital technology to host virtual reunions for passionate alumni who have remained active and engaged with their cohorts from successful exchange programs, providing them with a platform to reconnect and share their post-program successes and strengthen their community from the comfort and safety of their homes. Meridian’s Vice President of External Relations for the Professional Exchanges Division Mark Rebstock shared that the energy his ‘NGO Management’ project brought to the virtual reunion was just as, if not more, palpable than during their 2019 IVLP in-person exchange. The desire to learn and share is evident when our participants are here in the United States— but it is the follow-up to this desire that reinforces lasting connections. Read more here.

How world leaders prioritize the economy amid a pandemic

The pandemic presents economic and societal consequences that have global impacts requiring unprecedented levels of collaboration among governments, NGOs and the private sector. On September 10, the Meridian Corporate Council hosted a Global Business Breifing with Jorge Argüello, Ambassador of Argentina to the United States, who shared insights on the Argentinian response to COVID-19 and the country's economic recovery plan. Ambassador Argüello also highlighted that public-private cooperation on space diplomacy matters, detailing the successful launch of a satellite that supports Argentina's agriculture sector. Speaking on U.S.-Argentina cooperation, he stated that, "Things are going well in the bilateral relationship, and we will continue working with the U.S. government to deepen our bilateral bond.” Following this discussion, the Meridian Corporate Council, in partnership with SAS Institute, hosted Her Excellency Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation. "The COVID-19 crisis has shown that there is not a single country that is by itself. In economic terms, countries and economies are connected," Dr. Mashat said on the importance of multilateralism. She asserted that top priority issues for the country include gender parity, sustainable energy, and the U.S.-Egypt relationship amid COVID-19. Watch the full conversation here.

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