Washington, DC — The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) is an influential network that consists of NGOs, 500 businesses, national security and foreign policy experts, as well as faith, academic, military and community leaders who invest in development, diplomacy and defense with the goal of creating a safer, better world.
Jack Berson, who works at the USGLC on the Policy and Government Relations teams, spoke with The Borgen Project about his work within the organization to strengthen America’s global leadership. Whether he is engaging with Congressional offices, researching today’s development and humanitarian crises or preparing materials for USGLC’s events, Berson’s work on these teams supports the organization, maintains relationships with key stakeholders and pushes for needed investments in America’s international affairs programs.
Large and Influential
The USGLC is a large and influential coalition organization made up of the private sector, NGO and faith-based groups – from Amazon to Save the Children to Land O’ Lakes – all united in their commitment to strengthen America’s global leadership, which makes USGLC an ally in foreign aid. Though USGLC has a global impact, its team is relatively small, something Berson appreciates: “Our team consists of incredibly hard workers who believe in USGLC’s mission. Because of how small we are as an organization, we each have a lot of responsibility. It has given me such a holistic view of the international development field and an appreciation for the work America does around the world.” Berson shared that this was one of the main reasons why he wanted to join USGLC.
Currently, Berson and his team are working on the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations process. This will include educating leaders in government and the general public on today’s most important development and diplomacy issues affecting Americans at home and vulnerable people around the world — from worsening global food security and the war in Ukraine to America’s competition with China and climate change. Educating and engaging the public on all of these issues is at the heart of the organization’s main goal: strengthening investments in America’s development diplomacy programs to advance America’s economic interests and protect its national security. It is not hard to recognize that USGLC is an ally in foreign aid.
The Importance of Foreign Aid
Liz Schrayer, President and CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) in an interview with Michelle Giuda, Weber Shandwick EVP of Geopolitical Strategy and Risk, spoke on the importance of foreign aid and the role of recent crises like the COVID-19 pandemic’s demonstration of the importance of development and diplomacy. Schrayer emphasizes the importance of the U.S. supporting other countries’ health systems and vaccine distributions because of the implications this has on health in the U.S. “It is a global pandemic, we need a global response.”
The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that our interconnected world catalyzes the spread of dangerous viruses around the world in just a matter of days. Investing in global health infrastructure lessens the risk of contracting and spreading diseases globally.
Active and Robust Global Engagement
Schrayer also comments on how business leaders she has interacted with know that the economic and business interests of U.S. business leaders are deeply connected to the global economy. Active and robust global engagement is crucial for maintaining a strong U.S. economy by opening new markets and increasing exports. International trade supports one in five jobs in the U.S. and more than 95% of exporting companies are small and medium-sized businesses. As such, America’s economic future is directly tied to the strength of global markets.
However, Berson also commented on one of the obstacles many aid organizations are facing today: “The sheer magnitude of the crises the world is facing from the largest conflict in Europe since WWII to the most severe global food crisis in modern history all affect Americans at home. Yet we are no better off at home when we abandon these crises abroad.”
America’s national security is connected to global crises like food insecurity and conflict in the Horn of Africa. Focusing on and strengthening America’s global leadership on these issues keeps Americans safer at home – global stability is American stability. Top military leaders in America recognize the importance of investing in diplomacy and security abroad because it stops threats to our national security before the threat reaches our country.
According to USGLC, every $1 spent to prevent conflict saves about $16 in response costs for the U.S. These reasons for investing in global health, diplomacy and development are the main motivating factors for USGLC when bringing leaders to the table, telling others’ stories and mobilizing leaders to act.
USGLC’s 2022 Global Impact Forum
One of USGLC’s largest events the organization holds is its Global Impact Forum, which brings together heads of businesses and NGOs to engage D.C. policymakers and build support for the International Affairs Budget. It is a place for U.S. global leaders to hear from their constituents about what they are doing on the ground in their states and how the U.S. Global Leadership’s investment in development and diplomacy supports them. It also allows grassroots leaders to meet with policymakers. These connections within the larger organization make USGLC an ally in foreign aid.
Last year’s forum focused on utilizing national security and foreign policy to strengthen the safety of U.S. and global citizens as well as strengthen the economy through the International Affairs Act. The aid budget is less than 1% of America’s fiscal budget and it is important to maintain the international aid budget in order to support diplomacy and avoid the expensive prospect of war for both the U.S. and other countries.
Highlighting the importance of foreign aid and appealing to members of the U.S. government to support development globally are key aspects for USGLC. According to Berson, the SDG goals are a framework that guides the work of USGLC and outlines objectives that control how USGLC advocates and what they advocate for. Whether it be writing material that emphasizes the need and importance of foreign aid, educating the public and public officials or hosting events to bring together leaders in conversation about foreign aid and development.
– Arden Schraff