75 Years of Welcoming Emerging World Leaders

By Qindan Nie, Development Intern 

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), which is characterized by the U.S Department of State as the first recognized exchange initiative of its kind.

This flagship exchange program invites emerging foreign leaders working in the political, economic, educational, media, religious and civil society sectors to experience U.S. society and values and to build abiding connections with American peers. These programs have provided opportunities for domestic and international emerging leaders to exchange ideas and collaborate on common challenges in order to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.

The International Visitor Leadership Program promotes international relationships that work to foster economic growth and development; champion democracy and human rights; expand tolerance and dialogue; assist at-risk populations; support public health; and propel climate change action.

Of the 90 participating community-based organizations in over 40 states, The International Center is the only organization in Indiana to partner with the IVLP to help create a globalized network.

The Program can trace its roots back to 1940 when the U.S. Department of State began supporting people-to-people exchanges as a part of the practice of diplomacy. In December 1940, Dr. Aurelio Espinosa Polit, S.J., rector of the Catholic University in Quito and a distinguished intellectual leader in his country, arrived in New York for a 2-month visit and planted the seeds for IVLP. Since then, the program has brought 200,000 international visitors to the United States from all around the world, including over 335 current or former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government. Today there are 385 current or former heads of state, 63 Nobel laureates, and thousands of leaders across the private and non-profit sectors. In each of the last three years, women have represented more than 40% of total participants.

Below is just a small sample of the world leaders and notable foreign citizens who have participated in the IVLP program:

(Country, Participant, Positions Held, IVLP Year)

  • Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, President (2014 – Present), 2014 
  • Australia, Tony Abbott, Prime Minister (2013-Present), 1995 
  • Taiwan, Ma Ying-Jeou, President (2008 – Present), 2003 and 1971 
  • France, Nicolas Sarkozy, President (2007-2012), 1985 
  • United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, Prime Minister (2007-2010), 1992; 1984 
  • United Kingdom, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, Prime Minister (1997-2007), 1992; 1986 
  • United Kingdom, Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Prime Minister, (1979-1990), 1967 
  • Egypt, Ahmed M. Nazif, Prime Minister, (2004-2011), 1990 
  • Egypt, Anwar Al Sadat, President, (1970-1981), 1966 
  • Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, President (2004-Present), 1987 
  • India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President, (2007-2012), 1968 
  • India, Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi, Prime Minister (1980-1984; 1966-1977), 1960 
  • Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, President (2011-Present), 1992 
  • Mexico, Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa, (President, 2006-2012), 1992 

See the full list of #ExchangeAlumni and their bios here. For more information about The International Center’s IVLP Program, visit our website.