When Jennifer Clinton, Ph.D., MBA ’08 accepted her position as president of the National Council for Visitors in 2012, she did so with the aim of helping the organization better articulate its core purpose.
Although the center had worked closely with the U.S. Department of State to promote international exchange for more than 50 years, it needed to do more to attract new partners and strengthen ties with local member organizations.
So for much of her first 18 months on the job, Clinton oversaw a strategic planning process as well as a rebranding campaign that included a name change to Global Ties U.S. in January 2014.
“I’m a big believer in clarity of focus,” Clinton says. “People outside our circle of stakeholders and supporters had a hard time understanding what we did or why we did it.”
The 11 full-time staff members at Global Ties work largely to lead and support more than 100 member organizations across the country that implement the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. It connects business, political and thought leaders from around the world with Americans interested in advancing international relationships.
Since launching the new identity, Clinton says recognition has increased at the State Department, on Capitol Hill and within the business community. Eight member organizations plan to change their names to reflect the Global Ties connection.
Clinton came to Global Ties after serving as executive vice president for The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, a hub for internship opportunities in the nation’s capital. It was while there that Clinton, who holds a Ph.D. in French literature, decided to pursue an executive MBA through the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.
Today, Clinton’s business acumen is helping Global Ties’ members thrive in a challenging economy.
The organization is funded largely by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which continues to experience significant budget cuts. Global Ties saw its funding decline 12 percent over the last two years.
Clinton is positioning the organization to become a better resource for others who want to provide professionals with in-depth experience in U.S. business, academic and government settings.
Inspired to a career in international relations by her own exchange experiences, Clinton also expects that Global Ties will create new programming to assist international students in the U.S.
Many of her international exchange colleagues started their careers implementing programs abroad. That’s still a long-term goal for Clinton, who hopes to volunteer with the Peace Corps following retirement.
For now, the mother of a 6-year-old son does most of her traveling domestically to help member organizations. From her home base, her mission is crystal clear.
“There’s so much competition out there right now for resources among nonprofits,” she says. “Essentially, you’re running a business but with a really important mission whose bottom line is making a difference for society.”