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June 2022


Expand Your World Today

In This Issue...

  • Quote of the Month
  • International Women of Courage Alumni Luncheon
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • IVCLA's People-to-People Exchanges in the News!
  • IVCLA Board Member News
  • Are you a U.S. Citizen Exchange Alumni?
  • Community Events
  • International Opportunities
  • Stay Informed on COVID-19
  • Upcoming International Programs
Click the button below to check out our past newsletters:
Past Newsletters

Quote of the Month:

"I learned during my visit that in American culture there is great variability between different regions and people"

~ A Visitor from Israel in April 2022, for the project 'Advancing Women & Girls in STEAM Fields'.

International Women of Courage Alumni Luncheon

Pictured from left: Senior Official to the Secretary of State in the Office of Global Women’s Issues, Katrina Fotovat, Arbana Xharra, Roya Sadat, Moderator MyKhanh Shelton, Honorary Consul General of Senegal Mame Mbaye, May Sabe Phyu, Fadia Najib Thabet, IVCLA President & CEO Janet Elliott, Board Member Rima Nashashibi and Board Member Norman Arikawa.

On May 24th IVCLA was privileged to welcome four former International Women of Courage Award (IWOC) recipients to a luncheon in their honor at the Omni Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. The four women were invited to Los Angeles by the American Women for International Understanding, an organization IVCLA has collaborated with on the IWOC program for the past seven years. A panel discussion, moderated by MyKhahn Shelton Senior Vice President of Equity and Inclusion for WarnerMedia, provided information about their work since receiving the IWOC Award. All of the women agreed the award was a great honor and provided wonderful global recognition that helped in their work, but they also all shared how the award came with added risk and security issues as a result of their notoriety.


2015 awardee Arbana Xharra, who is as journalist, has worked tirelessly throughout her career to investigate and report on underground terrorist operations in Kosovo and government malfeasance. In 2017 Arbana was brutally attacked outside her home as a warning to stop her reporting. She continued to receive countless death threats to her and her family. “I don’t worry so much for myself, but my children,” Arbana said. To ensure the safety of her family, they have since moved to the United States. Despite the dangers she still faces, she continues to research and report on extremist movements around the world. 


May Sabe Phyu, a 2015 awardee from Burma (Myanmar) is the Director of the Gender Equality Network. She has faced similar dangers by fighting against government oppression of women in Myanmar. While the government did not attack her directly; they threatened her, her family, and arrested her husband in an effort to dissuade her from her work. May fought tirelessly to free her husband from prison, and continued to fight for women’s empowerment. To protect herself and her husband, she has relocated to the United States, but continues to fight for her community in Myanmar. However, the threat to safety continues for the family she left behind in Myanmar. “It is difficult” she said, “a lot of my family wants me to stop my work, because they are afraid for their safety.” 

Filmmaker Roya Sadat, a 2018 awardee from Afghanistan, shared a trailer of her film, A Letter to the President, which was the Afghan submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Oscars. She shared the struggles and dangers she faced while trying to tell the story of women in Afghanistan through cinema. Following the Taliban takeover in Kabul in August of 2021, Roya sought refuge in the United States with her family. She is seeking asylum as she continues her work as a filmmaker introducing the world to life in Afghanistan and the dangers people face there daily.


Fadia Najib Thabet is a 2017 awardee from Yemen who faced death on a daily basis as she worked to protect the region’s children from Al Qaeda and Houthi militias. As the situation became more dangerous for her, she came to the United States to continue her education. In 2019 she received her master’s degree from the SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont. Fadia continues to fight for the future of youth in Yemen and hopes to return and continue her work to protect young boys from violence and extremist organizations. She shared her hopes to engage more women in peace talks as well, an area largely dominated by men, and bring more representation to young girls. 

Following the panel discussion, Honorary Consul General of Senegal, Mame Mbaye, gave her thanks for the incredible work these women do, and thanked Fadia for her efforts to engage women in peace talks. She shared that she has been working to address similar issues in her home country of Senegal. Also in attendance was the Honorable Thandile B. Sunduza, Consul General of South Africa. She extended her gratitude to the women for their efforts to create a more equitable world for women.


The luncheon provided a wonderful opportunity for IVCLA members, friends, colleagues and resources to connect with these incredible women, to learn about the IWOC award, and understand the vital issues in each of their countries. Following the panel discussion, guests enjoyed lively conversation and formed new connections with these impactful leaders. 

Sharing a Global Perspective

IVCLA May International Visitors

Pictured: Visitors from ten different countries for a program on Addressing the Needs of Underserved and At-Risk Youth outside of HOLA

Emotional Support for At-Risk Youth

International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Spain and Venezuela visited The Actors’ Gang for a program on Addressing the Needs of Underserved and At-Risk Youth to learn about their work transforming the lives of Los Angeles youth through theater and the arts. The Actors’ Gang youth programming has been shown to have a significant impact on students’ academic and social-emotional development. Their work also extends to youth in the juvenile justice system. Through their collaboration with the Arts for Healing and Justice Network (AHJN), the Actors’ Gang is seeking to integrate arts as a critical intervention to address trauma for youth who are experiencing incarceration and a strategy for successful reentry into society.

During their meeting, the visitors participated in group games used to improve communication, cooperation and leadership. This exercise demonstrated some of the ways the Actors’ Gang approaches teambuilding and collaboration with youth. A highlight for the group was speaking with alumni of the programs who said the Actors’ Gang offered community and helped them improve their communication skills, giving them a better understanding of themselves and their emotions.

Islam in America

Dr. Muhamad Ali, an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at University of California-Riverside (UC-Riverside), invited IVLP participants from Indonesia to his home for lunch and a group discussion on Islam in America from the Indonesian-American perspective. Dr. Ali is the Director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Program and a professor in the Southeast Asia Program at UC-Riverside. The meeting focused on interpreting and thinking about religion at large and exploring the intersections of religion, political/public discourse and religious pluralism for the program topic Dialogue with Mosques and Imams on Promoting Community Development and Religious Tolerance. The visitors and Dr. Ali were able to have an indepth conversation about Islam in Indonesia and the U.S. and how academic and community-based religious programming can support religious tolerance and promote human rights. 

Smart Ports, Clean Ports

As a proprietary and self-supporting department, the Port of Los Angeles is not supported through local taxes. As such, the port must collect fees for shipping services such as dockage, wharfage, pilotage, storage, property rentals, royalties and other port services to ensure continuing economic viability. Visitors from Argentina, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Djibouti, Israel, Jamaica, Peru, Seychelles and South Africa, on an IVLP project on Smart Ports, met with Marisela Caraballo Diruggiero, Director of Trade Development, to learn about the business operations and environmental stewardship of the Port of LA and how economic difficulties like the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted them.

Marisela shared the Port of LA’s collaboration with the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), updated in 2017, that ushered in a slew of anti-air pollution strategies including the Clean Truck Program, vessel pollution reduction programs, and advanced new technology, such as the world’s first hybrid tugboat. Following the presentation, visitors were given a boat tour of the Port to experience a small portion of the 7500 acres of land and water along the 43-mile waterfront the Port occupies. The Port of LA’s 27 major terminals combined handle more that 120 million metric tons of cargo representing some $120 billion in revenue.

Inclusivity in Conservation

Global cultural heritage conservation initiatives have begun the process of creating databases to organize and digitize cultural heritage sites. Part of this initiative, among many conservation institutes, is the implementation of a new heritage platform, Arches, an open-source software platform created as joint project by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and World Monuments Fund. IVLP participants from the Near East and North Africa met with professionals in Los Angeles for a project on Preserving Cultural Heritage and Combating Trafficking of Conflict Antiquities. While here, they learned from specialists at the GCI about different practices in conservation as well as the new international database platform, Arches. GCI Senior Project Specialist, David Myers, explained the growing need for an international database system that could be utilized by conservation departments around the world to inventory, update, and access their heritage data.

Through this platform, the GCI has been working with the City of Los Angeles since 2005 to establish a comprehensive framework for the identification and management of the city's historic resources called Survey LA. While updating this database, GCI Project Specialists Sara Lardinois and Rita Cofield and the City of Los Angeles, recognized a lack of heritage designation criteria which encompassed the diversity and richness of the African-American experience in Los Angeles. Thus, the Los Angeles African American Historic Places project was initiated. This project seeks to identify, protect and celebrate Los Angeles’ Black heritage and create a more comprehensive and inclusive classification system for historical sites. The participants and speakers discussed the many ways their organizations go about cataloguing heritage sites, and specifically how they address inequalities within the conservation field. The meeting led to rich conversation and the speakers and participants expressed their eagerness to work together further. 

A Poem for Ukraine

In 2018 Olga Shvets was an IVCLA Open World participant from Ukraine on the topic of Treating PTSD and Reintegration. She was a Researcher and Military Psychologist at the Research Center for Humanitarian Problems of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she has shared what has been happening and her thoughts during this most difficult time in her life. She made a decision to stay and help fight - as she said, I always do either what I want or what I deem necessary at this particular moment. And I want to be here - with these people, in this place and in these circumstances. I live my life, in my country and by my rules!!! Her dedication and determination are an inspiration - our thoughts remain with her and her fellow colleagues!


Below is her heartfelt poem: 


We were planning the spring...

Travel-travel, plant, build, study and study, maybe even change this already a little tired wallpaper...

Our spring was raped, insidiously, brutally taking away her purity and innocence...

Every day I'm looking for lost meanings, shattered hopes, erased words... Everything is different...

More and more thinking, watching, waiting, and then breaking down and catching up...

Travel-traveling through destroyed cities, through glass and scattered debris...

Seedlings between mined fields, bypassing dangerous areas, supervised by sappers...

Learn to live in a new reality with a mistake on "caliber"...

To build? To rebuild... and further many dots, because rebuilding is countless... And it's not even about buildings and bridges - it's about fate...

Learn to look for resource and pleasure even in simple everyday things, differentiate your reactions, turn on self-regulation and turn off panic...

Old wallpaper doesn't seem so boring anymore... it reminds me of home and that spring... The spring we were planning...

Summit for Democracy

Next month IVCLA is honored to be hosting a group of municipal leaders from nine different countries as a follow-up to the White House Summit for Democracy. Last December President Biden hosted a virtual summit for world leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector. The summit focused on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and provided a platform for leaders to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad. That Summit kicked off this year’s plan of action to make democracies more responsive and resilient, and to build a broader community of partners committed to global democratic renewal. Following coordination, action, and the delivery of results throughout this year, the President will host an in-person Summit the beginning of next year to take stock of the progress made and forge a common path ahead.


As part of the initiative IVCLA will arrange professional relationships for the nine International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants which will provide a platform for sharing best practices and generating innovative ideas. Their program will help them and the people they meet with here gain ideas and practices to advance democratic practices, combat corruption, and protect human rights in their communities.


This program is crucial. Democracy is farther away from a worldwide triumph than it has been for a long time. For the first time since 2004, the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) recorded more autocratic than democratic states. Of the 137 developing and transition countries examined, only 67 are still considered democracies. The number of autocracies increased to 70. "This is the worst political transformation result we have ever measured in the 15 years of our work," says Hauke ​​Hartmann, BTI project manager at the Bertelsmann Foundation. It is a worrying trend that many democracies which had previously been well-established have now slipped into the category of “defective democracies," the study's authors note.


Freedom House, a nongovernmental, nonpartisan advocacy organization established in 1941, also found that political freedoms and civil liberties across the world are backsliding more often than they are improving. In their 2021 edition of Nations in Transit, covering the events of 2020, a total of 18 countries suffered declines in their democracy scores; only 6 countries’ scores improved, while 5 countries experienced no net change. This marked the 17th consecutive year of overall decline, leaving the number of countries designated as democracies at its lowest point in the history of the report. Their survey evaluated 195 countries and 15 territories.

One of the aims of the Summit for Democracy is to show how democracies can deliver on the issues that matter most to people: strengthening accountable governance, expanding economic opportunities, protecting fundamental freedoms, and enabling lives of dignity. It will also illustrate the importance of open societies working together to tackle the great challenges of our time, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and growing inequality. The U.S. government will announce commitments in areas such as bolstering free and independent media; fighting corruption; defending free and fair elections; strengthening civic capacity; advancing the civic and political leadership of women, girls, and marginalized community members; and harnessing technology for democratic renewal. The United States will hold itself accountable to these commitments on a global public stage.


Los Angeles Times columnist, Steve Lopez, addressed the importance of civic engagement in a recent article, analyzing the state of this month's municipal elections and the low participation rate. He recognized the work of IVCLA’s former Board Chair Dwayne Gathers, who was so dismayed by low turnout in recent years, he began a podcast to chat about local affairs with a diverse array of civic leaders and public officials. Dwayne’s goal is to elevate civic discourse, promote civic knowledge and engagement. “People need to see others like themselves who are participating in creating, building and serving community,” Dwayne said, “and as that participation begins to grow, one manifestation will be understanding the importance of voting.” Some of the international participants in next month’s program will be guests on his podcast. 

A Global Moment in Time

Watch a recording of international photojournalists as they share stories and photos of life in their community during the Covid Era. Photojournalists are participating in the U.S. Department of State, International Visitor Leadership Program special initiative, "A Global Moment in Time".

Watch Here

IVCLA's People-to-People Exchanges in the News!

Pictured: Visitors from Israel enjoying a Home Hospitality dinner with IVCLA Board Member Yael Swerdlow (third from right) and her guests.

IVCLA was thrilled to have our international programming featured in a recent article of the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles. During a Home Hospitality dinner hosted by IVCLA board member Yael Swerdlow, journalist Tabby Refael was one of Yael's guests. Tabby was so intrigued by the five women, who were International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants, and their efforts to encourage women and girls in STEAM education, she wrote a feature article about their IVLP experience. To read Tabby’s article, click HERE.

IVCLA Board Member News

On June 9th, IVCLA Board Member Jerry Silva, a partner with the Right Energy Group, orchestrated the first annual Leaders in Energy Summit in the Inland Empire with the San Bernardino Airport. The event focused on energy grant funding for underserved communities, energy sustainability and workforce development in Los Angeles area communities. The panel, which was moderated by Jerry, included speakers from across the U.S. who included representatives from the Hydrogen Alliance, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, National Utilities Diversity Council, Edison Electric Institute, and So Cal Gas.

With more than 30 years of experience in the energy sector, Jerry has worked with Southern California Edison (SCE) and the U.S. Department of Energy. During his career, Jerry also managed the largest U.S. renewable energy project at the time, bringing solar energy onto the California grid. This initiative was a transmission capital project in excess of 400 million dollars and the only two-state (California and Nevada) approved project of its kind for SCE. As a specialist in the industry, Jerry has assisted IVCLA in organizing programming within the energy sector, from renewable to hydrogen, and has hosted many of IVCLA’s international participants. 

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. IVCLA 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.

Career Connections Seminar Postponed:

  • The first in-person regional Career Connections Seminar previously set to take place in May, has been rescheduled for September 16-18 in Albuquerque, NM. The event is designed to provide U.S. citizen Exchange Alumni with skills, resources, and ideas to grow professionally through interactive workshops on team building, mentorship, and persuasive communications, to panels on inclusive programming, international business, and more. If you or someone you know would like to attend click to learn more.
Community Events

Racial Equity Alliance (REA) Ideas Competition


The Racial Equity Alliance (REA) at the XPRIZE Foundation is a coalition aimed at creating more equitable solutions to dismantle institutional and systemic structures of racial inequities with an intentional focus on the Black community. Using the power of collaboration and radical optimism, the REA incentivizes solutions in the form of impactful projects, initiatives, and competitions to positively impact individuals, communities, and society.


The XPRIZE Foundation officially launched the Racial Equity Alliance (REA) during the spring of 2022. This launch gives the REA a public facing platform to engage with diverse communities and stakeholders from around the United States who are actively seeking to create a more equitable society. For more information, please see the following videos:




REA is currently holding a $50,000 Ideas Competition presented by Intel focused on education. They are seeking new ideas from communities around the United States to reimagine what a more equitable education system could like. 


REA would like to know what works currently and what barriers exist which prevent us from having a more equitable education system. The top 10 ideas will win $5,000 each. Individuals over 18 can apply and all are welcome to share their ideas.  

Here is the link to submit ideas: Apply Here

The USC Center on Public Diplomacy, the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) and NYU Brademas Center will host a panel at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

Are the Arts Essential?, edited by Alberta Arthurs and Michael DiNiscia, provides a timely and kaleidoscopic reflection on the importance of the arts in our society. Join contributors Steven Tepper (Dean, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, ASU), Zeyba Rahman (Senior Program Officer, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art) and Jay Wang (Director, USC Center on Public Diplomacy) in a conversation and Q&A around this vital question moderated by Karen Ishizuka (Chief Curator, JANM). This panel will explore the needs of an increasingly diverse and global society and the role of the arts in nurturing a global mind.

This event takes place Thursday, June 23 from 5:30 p.m.- 7:15 p.m.

Register Here
International Opportunities

Call for Applications

The ACG is currently seeking applications for our Study Tour on Social Cohesion: Creating Inclusive Communities in the United States and Germany from individuals working in their communities and organizations to address diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) to participate in a two-part study tour. 

This new project will bring together German and American professionals and urban affairs experts working on social cohesion in urban areas to discuss and address these issues together. The group will meet once in Germany and once in the United States for two one-week-long study tours designed to focus on how communities tackle social inequity and provide better lives for their citizens. The first study tour will be in Dresden and Nuremberg from September 4 to 10, 2022. The second will be in Cleveland and Charlotte from December 4 to 10, 2022. Participants must be able to commit to both parts of the program.

Candidates for the Study Tour on Social Cohesion must:

  • Either be a U.S. citizen living in the United States or a German citizen living in Germany.
  • Be in the relatively early stages of their career.
  • Have a minimum of five years of relevant, full-time work experience.
  • Hold at least a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent professional experience).
  • Demonstrate a track record of outstanding professional performance.
  • Have a sincere commitment to furthering the transatlantic relationship and DEIA.
  • Must be fully vaccinated by date of departure.

The application deadline is Friday, July 1, 2022

More Information
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 the

International Visitors Council of Los Angeles

JUNE 2022

June 7 - 11: Countering Violent Extremism: Community Strategies


Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda

June 7 - 11: Religious Pluralism



June 15 - 18: U.S. Hydrogen Sector and Transformation to Renewable Energy



June 16 - 22: Disability Rights:

Equal Access for All


Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Republic of the Congo

IVCLA knows it is important to maintain our connections with our international visitors beyond their programs. As such, IVCLA 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 IVCLA member or resource who has stayed in touch with alumni and would like to share your experience, please contact Eleanor Alberg at [email protected].
Editor: Eleanor Alberg
Communications & Events Coordinator
Share your comments with me at [email protected]!
International Visitors Council of L.A.
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