Engaging Citizens and Governments Across the U.S.

Guests listening to featured remarks at the Diplocraft session.

Understanding how to effectively navigate relations amongst federal and state officials as a foreign institution or private corporation can be difficult. In order to facilitate an understanding of these engagements, Meridian hosted its latest hybrid Diplocraft event on State and Local Engagement on June 16, 2022. 

Moderated by Christine Davies, Founder and CEO of Poligage, the program featured remarks from the following speakers:

Ed Ingle, President of New Lantern Partners

Jenifer Sarver, Principal of Sarver Strategies

Lisa Gritzner, Founder and CEO of LG Strategies, Inc.

Here are the top takeaways from the program:


Cultivating relationships in politics is essential. At the center of effective political engagement is leveraging relationships within local, state, and federal level politics.  Cultivating these meaningful relationships that are rooted in the interest of promoting cultural awareness, inclusivity, and economic growth are extremely important, and should be pursued proactively. Engaging with government officials in cultural hubs such as Dallas and Los Angeles are vital to create a rapport which could help support your political, economic, and social endeavors at the state and federal level.  


Rising local and state leaders are tomorrow’s federal senators; engaging with them now, early in their careers, will pay off for in the long-term-- just as it will be beneficial for them to engage with the political attaché on their first tour of duty in the United States, as that individual may come back as ambassador in 20 years! Part of creating a base of support is building relationships with rising leaders and maintaining those relationships with them as they progress throughout their career. These state and local leaders are more accessible, and more frequent and longer meetings may be possible than federal-level counterparts.  


In recent years, engagement at the state and local level has become more critical for international collaboration. Building relationships with individuals that work in governors’ offices, such as deputy chiefs of staff or senior policy officials, is important in order to establish a reputation in good faith. There is an inherent interest from the public and private sector in the diverse and unique values foreign officials bring to the table. Harness that power and the curiosity that your unique background evokes; finding people who identify with you through similarity or difference in cultural virtues makes a difference and will impact the effectiveness of your policy initiatives.  


Who are your people on the ground, and how can you proactively engage with state governments in order to get issues in front of the federal eye? There is a distinct difference between direct lobbying to state governments versus utilizing media engagement. The extent to which you can utilize media engagement in order to coalesce your voices and get public support will create  opportunities for greater success. Every country and community have a different approach to media relations, and the biggest challenge is to ensure that the communities you are seeking to engage with are comfortable being associated with your perceived reputation. Invite the media in, and not only in times of trouble. Be transparent with your values and cultural attitudes and immerse your audience in your visions for the future.  


In the current political climate, there is a huge emphasis on governor engagement. This fall, there are 36 gubernatorial elections. Building relationships with individuals in these administrations while they are still new is very important. The trick is to listen to what a leading gubernatorial candidate says in their inaugural address, during which they will lay out what they seek to achieve during their tenure. Engage with senior staff using these themes and aims and show how engagement with your country can foster economic development and investment.  

Read more about Poligage: Your Marketplace for Engaging Policy 

This program was generously supported by Poligage

dialog featured image 

Project summary

Engaging Citizens and Governments Across the U.S. | June 2022
Number of Attendees: 17
Regions: Western Hemisphere
Countries: Argentina, Spain, El Salvador, Mauritius, Iraq, Slovenia, Ireland, Hungary, Ethiopia
Impact Areas: Civic Engagement, Business and Trade, Governance and Transparency, Public Diplomacy
Program Areas: Diplomatic Engagement
Partners: Diplomatic Corps, Private Sector