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April 2023

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In this Issue...

  • Quote of the Month
  • Photo of the Month
  • 2023 Perseverance Through Adversity Luncheon Celebrating the International Women of Courage
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • Remembering Ginger Barnard
  • ICDLA Board Member News
  • Home Hospitality Inspires Global Citizenship
  • Are you a U.S. Citizen Exchange Alumni?
  • Community Events
  • International Opportunities
  • Stay Informed on COVID-19
  • Upcoming International Programs

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Past Newsletters

Quote of the Month

“During my visit I found that the people in the U.S. were welcoming everywhere we went. I have been to America before, but this experience was unique in that we traveled a lot and had many opportunities to discover the diversity of its people.”

~ A visitor from Mauritania in September 2022, for the project 'U.S. Approaches to Climate Challenges'

Photo of the Month

Visitors from Argentina explored Catalina Island for a program on 'Management of Marine Protected Areas'

2023 Perseverance Through Adversity Luncheon

Celebrating the International Women of Courage

“I didn’t realize I was accomplishing something that required courage, I was just doing my job; and my job is to uphold the constitution,” shared Professor Danièle Darlan, an International Women of Courage Award (IWOC) recipient from the Central African Republic. Professor Darlan, who gained recognition for her unwavering commitment to the rule of law despite threats and political pressure, was one of nine IWOC recipients honored at ICDLA’s Perseverance Through Adversity Luncheon on March 16th. The luncheon was held in the Tom Bradley Tower at Los Angeles City Hall and included a panel discussion moderated by Joumana Silyan-Saba, Director of Policy for the City of Los Angeles Department of Civil and Human Rights.

ICDLA was privileged to welcome these extraordinary women from around the globe to Los Angeles following a special White House ceremony on March 8th where they were presented their 2023 International Women of Courage Awards by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Eleven women were chosen as International Women of Courage this year, but due to personal reasons two of them were not able to travel to Los Angeles. 

The luncheon began with a wonderful performance of Beautiful Dreamer by Nigerian classical soprano, Abiodun Koya. The performance was the perfect way to welcome the International Women of Courage to Los Angeles and set the tone for a panel discussion. The inspiring and insightful moderated luncheon discussion featured panelists: Professor Danièle Darlan of the Central African Republic, Meaza Mohammed of Ethiopia, and Bakhytzhan Toregozhina of Kazakhstan. They candidly shared the serious challenges they face as they “just do their jobs” fighting to improve the lives of people in their countries.


Danièle Darlan has a distinguished career as a lawyer, educator, judge, and first female President of the Central African Republic’s Constitutional Court. When she spoke out that the methods proposed to redraft the constitution were not legally sound, her tenacity in safeguarding her nation’s constitution and her commitment to transparency caused her to be removed by the government as President of the Constitutional Court. Despite her removal, she has remained steadfast in her values, continuing her fight to uphold the rule of law. When asked what keeps her motivated to continue her work against injustice in her country, she said, “I do it for family.” 

We are a voice for the voiceless,” said Meaza Mohammed, who is a veteran Ethiopian journalist and founder of Roha TV, an independent YouTube-based news channel. Meaza called the Northern Conflict which has thrown her country into turmoil and killed thousands of innocent civilians, a fight between politicians. All parties in the armed conflict in Ethiopia have committed serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, summary killings and sexual violence against women and girls. “I do it for the victims; they motivate me to continue my work, she said. Meaza has been arrested repeatedly, being charged with such things as spreading false rumors and disclosing army secrets. But her difficult work drawing attention to the violence is vital, since most of the violations are not covered by local media. She made a plea for international attention to be brought to these issues. “The victim’s stories are not being heard,” she explained. “Local media is government controlled, so when you report independently you are putting yourself in danger with the government. She stressed it is important for the international media to let the world know what is happening in Ethiopia.


Bakhytzhan Toregozhina seconded the call for international media attention. Since large scale anti-government protests broke out in Kazakhstan, the government has been committing egregious violations of human rights against its citizens with very little being done by the President to stop it. “When people are not held accountable for their crimes, history repeats itself” she said, “so we need international attention brought to my country”. As a civil society activist Bakhytzhan has been a leading voice representing victims of torture, abuse, and politicized repression. Rights to free speech and freedom of the press are suppressed, which Bakhytzhan states will only allow these violations to continue. Her work, which repeatedly causes threats and harassment against her, is a testament to the vital role human rights defenders can play in holding governments accountable.


Being recognized globally as an International Women of Courage awardee will give these incredible women the prominence to help spread their messages, not only in their own countries but around the world. The women stressed the importance of international support for local journalists so the realities facing their countries are documented and brought to light, and hopefully inspire people everywhere to take action against global human rights violations. 

ICDLA was honored to welcome to the special luncheon our colleagues from Washington D.C., who included: Nicole Elkon, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; Anne Grimes, Director of the Office of International Visitors in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; Katrina Fotovat, Senior Official to the Secretary of State in the Office of Global Women’s Issues; and Jill Eynon, Program Officer with Meridian International Center.

ICDLA would like to extend our gratitude to the Los Angeles Mayor's Office of International Affairs for arranging the beautiful Tom Bradley Tower for the event. ICDLA was also pleased to welcome from the office, Christine Peterson, Director of Trade & Investment and Veronica Polanco.

Thank you to our Facilitating Sponsors:

ICDLA Board Member Mary Walden

Pamela Hillings Tegtmeyer

Sharing a Global Perspective

Home Hospitality Highlights

As a facilitator of people-to-people connections, ICDLA had the honor of not only providing our recent Ukrainian visitors with important professional connections, but also to experience L.A. on a personal level by enjoying dinner with some of our members. On March 18th ICDLA Board Member Yael Swerdlow and members Carlos Collard, Deborah Dovitch and Dagoberto Meza embodied citizen diplomacy, engaging candidly with our visitors around the dinner table.

Yael hosted Ukrainian filmmakers, Yuliia Hontaruk, Ella Shtyka and Olena Makarenko L.A. style with dinner at Pink Taco on Sunset. The group’s program just so happened to coincide with the arrival of the 2023 International Women of Courage, one of whom is Ukrainian as well. IWOC recipient Yuliia Paievska, along with ICDLA President Janet Elliott, joined the home hospitality dinner giving the filmmakers and Yuliia a chance to meet. It was a wonderful evening of great connections, shared stories and the chance for the Ukrainian women to try Mexican food, and margaritas, for the first time!


Mexican food and margaritas were also the theme for Carlos’s dinner in Santa Monica with filmmakers Semen Mozghovyi and Leonid Yezhurov. Carlos shared, “Margaritas are a favorite drink of one of the filmmakers and since he made a special request to have one, I said why not try several via tasting flights.” Carlos has hosted a number of ICDLA visitors from Ukraine over the years and during their conversation learned they had mutual friends in Ukraine.

Mykola Dondiuk and Andrii Lytvynenko enjoyed an evening with ICDLA members Deborah Dovitch, Dagoberto Meza and Victoria Meza in their home, where they had a wonderful time bonding over shared interests and Deborah’s familial ties to Ukraine. Our visitors often tell us home hospitality dinners have a big impact on them because they offer the opportunity to get to know Americans on a more personal level. They provide lasting memories and sometimes lead to long-term friendships. 

Documenting Truth in Ukraine

Visitors from Ukraine with Kathy Eldon (far back, second from right), Roko Belic (third from left), Valentina Castellani-Quinn (center, front), Marco Bollinger (front, third from right) and Creative Visions and ICDLA staff

ICDLA recently welcomed seven documentary filmmakers from Ukraine for the program ‘Social Influences’ to discuss the difficult and important work of documenting the realities of the war in their nation. With extensive media coverage of the war, and Russia’s influence on it, these filmmakers have the daunting task of combating misinformation and getting the truth of the war to the world. ICDLA arranged a meeting for them with fellow documentary filmmakers at the Creative Visions Foundation, which provided a platform for sharing best practices for documenting war and ways to find support and protection as a film activist in dangerous and rapidly changing conditions. 

Creative Visions Foundation was founded in 1998 by Kathy Eldon and her daughter following the death of Kathy’s son, Dan, a 22-year old artist and photojournalist killed while covering the conflict in Somalia. A former journalist herself, Kathy shared her sympathies with our visitors, “I know how hard it is to tell these stories. I’ve been a journalist; I’ve been a filmmaker like you. [Creative Visions] exists to help people like you tell stories that will mobilize people to take action.” As a nonprofit organization and United Nations NGO, Creative Visions celebrates and supports creative activists. They create impact media, support storytellers and empower education and youth around human rights issues.


At the meeting, President and Chairman of Quinn Studios Entertainment and film producer, Valentina Castellani-Quinn, spoke about the challenges of documenting war. She said she has found filmmaking to be a necessary outlet for processing tragedy and urged the filmmakers to remember, “you are much bigger than the war you are fighting.” Filmmaking is a powerful tool for social justice movements as a means of amplifying and enacting positive change. Beyond the difficulty of documenting such tragedies, our visitors shared that one of the biggest challenges they have faced is sourcing funding for their projects. 

Multi-award winning filmmaker Roko Belic echoed that sentiment and shared that without the networking opportunities and assistance of Creative Visions he would not have the means to get his projects off the ground. “Creative Visions will help you create your vision,” he said. Filmmaker Marco Bollinger agreed and stressed that Creative Visions also offers emotional support, "Creative Visions has given me this family of supporters.” This is especially important given the severe stress of their work and Marco urged the visitors to take advantage of that kind of support network. The meeting reflected the reality that filmmaking can enact positive change in the world, but not without the help of a network of supporters, activists and organizations. “Now you can be part of that network,” said Vice President of Impact Education, Jessica Burnquist


The meeting was the perfect starting point for a relationship between our visitors and Creative Visions, who offered as much support as possible to help the visitors continue their vital work in Ukraine. Arranging people-to-people exchanges like this are crucial to making sure those who uphold the truth and document the realities facing our world are recognized and supported for their work. ICDLA looks forward to hearing more from these inspiring individuals who are risking their lives to ensure that the Ukrainian people are not forgotten or misrepresented.

Safeguarding our Oceans Through Community Action

Visitors from Argentina with Heal the Bay staff after picking up trash along Manhattan Beach

In February ICDLA welcomed IVLP participants from Argentina on the important topic of Management of Marine Protected Areas. They began their program with a volunteer activity picking up trash on Manhattan Beach with Heal the Bay, a nonprofit that works with local communities to maintain Marine Protected Areas on California’s coastline. MPA Watch and Angler Outreach Coordinator, Crystal Barajas, spoke with the visitors about the importance of volunteer groups, “They are the last line of defense against ocean pollution,” she stated. MPA Watch is a statewide network of volunteer programs supporting healthy ocean habitats through community science and public outreach. Heal the Bay hosts around 2-3 volunteer clean ups a day which are responsible for removing more than 4 million pieces of trash from the L.A. area coastline. 

Beyond beach clean ups, Heal the Bay’s Coastal and Marine Scientist, Emily Parker shared their education initiatives to reduce plastic waste, maintain clean waterways and end fossil fuel extraction offshore. They work with L.A. area universities and colleges such as USC and UCLA, allowing them use of offshore research stations to monitor water conditions and protect native ecosystems.

The visitors began their work armed with buckets, gloves, and report cards to track everything they pick up. They split into groups of three and set out to help keep our ocean clean! They then reconvened to weigh the buckets and discuss what they found. One visitor remarked they found “a lot of tiny pieces of plastic and Styrofoam”. Plastic and particularly micro-plastics have been a huge pollutant of our oceans in recent decades. The visitor continued, “There is much more plastic used in the U.S. than in Argentina, especially the plastic bags.” The activity gave visitors hard evidence of what is polluting our oceans and demonstrated how critical volunteer cleanups like this are in protecting the natural resources and ecosystems of our coastlines. 

Visitors from Argentina on the boat ride around the Port of L.A. with speaker Marisela Caraballo Diruggiero (center front) and ICDLA Program Officer Victoria Meza (far left)

In the afternoon the focus changed to experiencing how a massive full-service shipping port is working to reduce environmental waste and pollution with a meeting at the Port of Los Angeles. Speaker Marisela Caraballo Diruggiero, Director of Trade Development, explained the Port’s role in Marine Protection initiatives. As the second busiest port in the U.S., the Port of Los Angeles has a responsibility to maintain and protect our waterways from further damage and pollution. The Port of Los Angeles and neighboring Port of Long Beach have expanded water quality programs with the development of a coordinated Water Resources Action Plan (WRAP), a comprehensive effort to target water and sediment pollution sources in the San Pedro Bay. Beyond this, the Port has many coordinated efforts to reduce air pollution and hazardous waste contaminants, and support marine wildlife surrounding the Port. 

A boat tour following the presentation showcased the sheer size of the Port and the volume of its imports and exports. The visitors were thrilled to have the unique opportunity to see the Port first-hand from the boat while having a glimpse of the sea lions, birds and fish the Port’s initiatives are trying to protect.

The visitors expressed their appreciation for so many of the presenters speaking with them in Spanish, which made them feel especially welcome in Los Angeles and allowed for more comfortable and relaxed conversations. A great bonus for them in the diverse City of Angeles!

Remembering Ginger Barnard

It is with great sadness that we share the announcement of the passing of former ICDLA Board Member Ginger Barnard.  Ginger died quietly in her home on April 4th surrounded by loved ones after a valiant year-long battle against lung fibrosis.  

In 1983 Ginger was given the assignment to establish the County of Los Angeles Office of Protocol, with Los Angeles being the first county in the U.S. to establish a protocol office. She served as the Deputy Chief of Protocol for 22 years, and as such she also served as a Director on the IVCLA (as it was known then) Board of Directors. Ginger led us through the process of initiating our grant from the County of Los Angeles, which continues to be an essential component of our budget. She and her husband John joined IVCLA’s first World Partners trip to Ukraine in 2002, where she represented the County of L.A. in visits to the offices of mayors and other officials.

Ginger also co-founded the Protocol and Diplomacy International Protocol Officers Association in 2002, which was the first professional association for protocol officers from around the world. Ginger was an active member of the Los Angeles community. She joined Junior League of Los Angeles in 1982 and became a Sustaining Member in 1992. In 2019 she was presented the Junior Leagues’ Spirit of Volunteerism Award. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Ebell of Los Angeles and was elected President of the Board in 2018.  

Ginger will be greatly missed, but always remembered with great affection and appreciation for her dedication to building international goodwill and understanding. Our heartfelt condolences to Ginger's husband John and her entire family.

ICDLA Board Member News

'10 Days in Watts' Series Highlights the Work of

ICDLA Board Member Tim Watkins

Tim Watkins, ICDLA Board Member and President of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC), shares his vision of a family’s dedication to their beloved community in a new PBS series, 10 Days in Watts. WLCAC, one of ICDLA's professional resources that meets with our international participants, is a community center with a powerful legacy. For almost 60 years they have carried out their mission, to improve the lives of the citizens of Watts. The series chronicles three generations of activists in the Watkins family, as well as students, farmers, and community leaders committed to healing past social injustices leading up to the opening of an urban garden, MudTown Farms.

A project of the WLCAC, MudTown Farms was conceived to be an agriculture park with open space for community gardens, orchards, and reading gardens including a community center for teaching, training, and events. While the journey to open the farm has been beset with delays and cost overruns, the series begins ten days out from MudTown Farm’s opening.

All four episodes are available for streaming at 10 Days in Watts | PBS and KCET.

ICDLA Board Member Stephen Ozoigbo Visits Ghana with

U.S. Department of State Delegation

ICDLA Board Member and Senior Director for Emerging Economies at Arm Limited, Stephen Ozoigbo, traveled to Ghana in February as part of the 2023 U.S. State Department’s Partnership Opportunity Delegation (POD) initiative. With Ghana as a regional champion for climate change, the POD initiative focuses on cultivating US-Ghana partnership opportunities and providing unique insights and networks for entrepreneurial and innovative technology solutions, specifically in relation to climate change. While there, Stephen launched five new labs as part of his (E³)NGAGE lab model that will engage, educate and cultivate local technology ecosystems on the continent of Africa.

Following the initiative, Stephen shared, “the whole trip around Ghana was an amazing opportunity to see first-hand the value of Arm’s work in Africa. Our work in emerging markets embodies our strategy of building and growing communities across the continent and giving them the tools, training and technology to build innovate tech solutions on Arm. This, alongside the talent of all the different tech communities, was on display at all the labs we launched, and it was a pleasure being able to show the US government delegation what Arm is achieving in the region.”

Read more about the trip and Stephen’s work HERE.

Home Hospitality Inspires Global Citizenship

In 2018, ICDLA member Devorah Luna-Palomeque hosted a Home Hospitality dinner with visitors from Africa and invited her friend Prince Dynast Abefe Adewale Amir to join. Following the experience of meeting the ICDLA participants from Africa, Prince Dynast (who has come to be known as Oluse Afara) developed a deep interest to learn about his African roots. He decided to leave his Hollywood corporate life and take his talents to Africa, to focus full time on implementing several initiatives geared towards improving infrastructure and bridging the gap between the U.S. African diaspora and Africa. Prince Dynast is now conducting tours to Africa that provide a real African experience.

In October of 2021, Prince Dynast was inspired to rebrand his company formerly called In Search of Uhuru, and gave it the new name, Danfo. The name Danfo was inspired by Nigeria's main mode of public transportation, the Danfo. The whole Danfo experience captures Africa's diverse, rich and vibrant culture, while also experiencing the local scenes. He works to make sure his clients enjoy the modernity of Africa from country to country, without sacrificing the authentic culture of Africa. The dinner in 2018 with the ICDLA visitors from Africa inspired a life changing direction for Prince Dynast. 

Are you a U.S. Citizen Exchange Alumni?

Did You Participate in a U.S. Government-sponsored Exchange Program?


The Office of Alumni Affairs at the U.S. Department of State is developing new opportunities for U.S. citizens who participated in U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs. ICDLA is assisting by reaching out to our Greater Los Angeles alumni. If you are a past participant in a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program contact Ellie Alberg, [email protected].

The exchange programs include, but are not limited to, these offered by the ECA Bureau. Returned Peace Corps volunteers and Boren Fellows are also qualified alumni. Whether you participated long ago or you recently completed your exchange program, we will keep you informed of opportunities such as events, programs and grants.

Community Events

LANI Community Forum 2023

Wednesday, May 3 | 7:30am - 1pm PDT

The California Endowment 1000 Alameda Street Los Angeles, CA 90012

Drawing on LANI’s expertise at building relationships and cultivating conversations among diverse stakeholders, the annual Community Forum -- in its 21st year -- brings together neighborhood leaders, dedicated community members, and interested individuals and professionals.

The Community Forum is free to attend and accessible by public transit to be as inclusive as possible. Their goals are to provide opportunities for dialogue and information sharing, and to recharge and inspire their ongoing collaborative work.

The day includes:

  • Choice of interactive workshops
  • Keynote breakfast with Speaker L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis
  • Networking opportunities
  • Tabling by service providers and community-based organizations

Participants Get To...

  • Learn from experts, decision-makers, and peers in a variety of relevant fields
  • Share ideas, stories, and strategies with like-minded people
  • Connect with others who share a passion for healthier, more equitable, more prosperous communities
Register Here

Celebrating Earth Month from Summit to Sea In 2023

Earth Month is here! Heal the Bay is excited to celebrate this April from #Summit2Sea. Our waterways are precious and caring for them is an essential part of keeping the Earth healthy. This April, make time to honor and care for them, from the San Fernando Valley to Mulholland all the way to the sands of Santa Monica Bay. Greater Los Angeles offers opportunities to learn ways to conserve, go outside to do some good, and celebrate our precious blue planet with Heal the Bay all month long.

Individuals, households, schools, businesses, and community organizations are all invited to attend Heal the Bay’s Earth Month events. Heal the Bay's inspiring and fun activities all contribute to their dedication to protect Southern California coastal waters, rivers, creeks, and beloved beaches from Summit to Sea.

Discover Events

97th Annual World Trade Week Southern California Kickoff

May 2, 2023

For over 96 years, World Trade Week Southern California has dedicated itself to educating the public on the importance and benefits of global trade for the local and national economy through a series of educational programs and events. World trade is celebrated throughout the month of May, beginning with the L.A. Area Chamber’s launch event. Each year the Chamber launches the start of a month-long celebration by bringing together business executives, leaders of trade organizations and members of the diplomatic corps for the WTW Kickoff Conference. The event has grown to become the leading celebration of global trade in the nation, attracting nearly 900 participants from all over the globe.

The conference will take place at the JW Marriott Los Angeles at

L.A. Live on May 2, 2023 at 8 A.M. PT.

Learn More

Select LA Investment Summit

April 26 & 27, 2023

The Select LA Investment Summit's goal is to empower international businesses to fully explore the Los Angeles market by reducing barriers to connecting with decision makers and providing cutting-edge market intelligence. Through matchmaking technology and over four hours of networking, Select LA offers the perfect environment to create and foster new relationships with individuals who are responsible for turning a conversation into an investment opportunity. Just as important as a connection is understanding the local processes and protocol to ensure successful transactions, which is why we gather state and local government officials in addition to private businesses.

The World Trade Center Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation are delighted to jointly host the summit, presenting an array of opportunities to match international investors with local partners, such as table exhibits, one-on-one interactions, plenary panels and breakout sessions led by local and international executives.

Learn More

🚀 Summer of Science Exploration 🚀 


Get messy with chemistry, dig deep into Earth science, shoot for the stars with space science, and much more! Hands-On Science Camp offers an unparalleled summer science experience for students in grades Pre-K through 8th with Educators from a variety of backgrounds, opportunities to explore the Science Center's interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, and cutting-edge spaces for experimentation—like our 32,000 sq. ft. Big Lab! With over 25 unique classes, there's an exciting course for everyone!

  • Weeklong courses June 12 - August 11, 2023
  • Morning, afternoon, and full-day classes. Extended Day option available.
  • Scholarships available for students and families with demonstrated financial need.

Registration is now open!

Learn More

Stay Informed on COVID-19

As the world moves towards less stringent pandemic restrictions and more normal lifestyles, the information below remains valuable for tracking global problem areas. Being prudent and remembering COVID is still with us continues to be crucial in helping to prevent new variants from emerging. It is important to continue sharing knowledge, expertise, and goodwill throughout the world. We are stronger together!      

An informative, infographic global report of the COVID-19 data is HERE

Upcoming International Programs

The following are international guests of the U.S. government whose

professional appointments in Los Angeles will be arranged by

International Citizen Diplomacy of Los Angeles

APRIL 2023

April 18 - 22: Higher Education in the United States: Innovation and Opportunities for Partnership

El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela

April 20 - 25: Engaging the Rising Generation of Space Nations

Angola, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Hungary, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Uruguay

April 22 - 26: Disaster Prep and Crisis Management


ICDLA knows it is important to maintain our connections with our international visitors beyond their programs. As such, ICDLA continues to reach out to our international alumni. If you are an Alumni who would like to share your thoughts about your L.A. experience, or if you are an ICDLA member or resource who has stayed in touch with alumni and would like to share your experience, please contact Eleanor Alberg at [email protected].

International Citizen Diplomacy of Los Angeles depends on its members and friends to help support its programs. If you are not an ICDLA Citizen Diplomat, please review our membership benefits here and consider joining. We need your support now more than ever! Please make a contribution today.


Editor: Eleanor Alberg

Communications & Events Coordinator

Share your comments with me at [email protected]!

International Citizen Diplomacy

of Los Angeles


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