2017 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) builds linkages between younger leaders across the hemisphere. YLAI will help address the opportunity gap for youth, especially women, by empowering entrepreneurs and civil society leaders with the training, tools, networks and resources they need to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development and prosperity, security, human rights and good governance in the hemisphere.

YLAI Professional Fellows Program

YLAI aims to empower Latin American and Caribbean business and social entrepreneurs to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development and prosperity, security, human rights and good governance in the hemisphere. Twenty-four Latin American and Caribbean entrepreneurs participated in a successful pilot YLAI fellowship program in spring 2016, creating the beginning of a vibrant network of entrepreneurs in the Western Hemisphere. Following the success of this YLAI pilot, an additional 250 YLAI fellowships were awarded to rising young business and social entrepreneurs in fall 2016. They traveled to the U.S. in October 2016 for a six-week exchange, which included an orientation in Dallas, Texas, placements with Fellowship Hosts at businesses and organizations in 21 city hubs across the United States, and a culminating YLAI Summit from November 9-11 in Washington, DC.

YLAI hopes to generate $1 billion for emerging business and social entrepreneurs by the end of 2017 by helping Fellows attract new investments and in-kind resources for their businesses or organizations each year.

YLAI Network

The YLAI Network is a vibrant community of young entrepreneurs and changemakers from Latin America and the Caribbean who are committed fostering economic development and prosperity, security, human rights and good governance in the hemisphere. The YLAI Network is a signature part of the U.S. government’s efforts to increase partnerships with future leaders to help promote economic growth and strengthen civil society.

Join the network and gain access to digital resources, training and networking opportunities, and the chance to connect with senior leaders in business and government as well as other young leaders working to create change in their communities.

Learn more about the YLAI Professional Fellows Program and YLAI Network.


2017 Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program – Youth Activism in Civil Society

The U.S. Department of State, World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, and World Learning once again present the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program!

Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program: Louisville, Kentucky

Exchange Dates: August 3 – September 3, 2017

Host Community Dates: August 13 – 27, 2017

Participant Numbers: 12 – 13 Iraqi students / 1-2 Iraqi Adult Mentor(s)


The goals of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program are to:

  • promote mutual understanding, respect, and collaboration between the people of the United States and Iraq;
  • develop a cadre of young adults in Iraq who have a strong sense of civic responsibility, a commitment to community development, awareness of current and global issues, and strong interpersonal leadership skills;
  • foster relationships among youth from different ethnic, religious, and national groups in Iraq;
  • include significant interaction with American peers and/or families; and
  • prepare youth leaders to become responsible citizens and contributing members of their communities.

In addition to the primary goals mentioned above, each program will also have one of following three sub themes:

  • Peacebuilding, Dialogue, and Reconciliation
    • Topics may include: political reconciliation, dialogue among diverse groups, interfaith dialogue, innovative peacebuilding methods, bipartisanship, pluralism, conflict transformation, conflicts within school settings, teen courts.
  • Youth Activism and Countering Violent Extremism
    • Topics may include: youth mentorship, gangs and drugs, youth councils, community centers and interventions, education initiatives, youth employment, sports, LGBTQ support centers, race and identity.

The programs has a three segment structure. During the first segment in Vermont, students will focus on large program themes and concepts, teambuilding, leadership skills, cross cultural communication, and program educational expectations.

The second segment, for which Host Communities will be responsible, will provide opportunities for students to practice their leadership and cross cultural communication skills, and experience program themes. This should be achieved through site-visits, practical hands-on training and skills building sessions, home stay placements, volunteer opportunities, and cultural activities.

During this period, the participant objectives are as follows:

  1. Participants will develop and model leadership, problem solving, public speaking, organizing, and critical thinking skills through hands-on experience
  2. Participants will strengthen understandings of civic engagement, the subtheme, and the role of various actors in society (local government, NGO’s, businesses, citizens)
  3. Participants will further expand their tolerance and empathy for diverse cultures and perspectives, strengthen their cross-cultural skills, and extend their comfort zone
  4. Participants will develop strong relationships with host families, youth in the host communities, and within the cohort
  5. Participants will be exposed to “real life” in the U.S. and further break down stereotypes

The final segment of each exchange takes place in Washington, DC and will focus on synthesizing the initial program segments and developing community project plans that the students will implement when they return home.

Please contact the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana if you would like to volunteer as a host family for one of these amazing young students!

2017 U.S.-Mexico Police Professionalization Exchange Program

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana is proud to announce we’ve partnered with Global Ties U.S. and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) to bring a cohort of Mexican Police to Kentucky in 2017, 2018 and 2019 for a Police Professionalization Exchange Program!

The Mexican cohort of Police will be in Kentucky from May 14-18th, 2017, and will conduct a program on Internal Affairs, meeting with local, state and federal officials and organizations.


WACA-American Academy of Diplomacy 2017 America’s Diplomats Film Screening and Discussion – Date TBD

2017 America’s Diplomats Film Screening and Discussion – Presented by the World Affairs Councils of America and the American Academy of Diplomacy


The objective of this program is to examine and analyze what the American public wants to know about foreign policy, what they expect from foreign policy, and what makes people comfortable or uncomfortable with the conduct of American foreign policy. The program features a screening of the PBS film America’s Diplomats, followed by a discussion of the role of U.S. diplomacy with a distinguished former ambassador.

The Academy will provide a copy of the film for screening and also will make available a former ambassador to speak on the importance of contemporary American diplomacy. The event will include a Q&A session with Council audiences. The program also consists of ancillary community outreach activities, including media interviews and a separate roundtable discussion (60 to 90 minutes in length) with a small, diverse group. During these roundtables, the former ambassador would like to hear from local Council membership in order to better understand the foreign policy views and concerns of communities across the WACA network.

Ukraine: Combating Human Trafficking and Forced Labor

Join the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana on Thursday, March 23rd at the Bristol Bar & Grille Downtown Louisville for our “World @ Home” Monthly Speaker Series event. This March, we’ll be welcoming speakers from Ukraine via the Open World Leadership Center.

Event Description:

This lecture will discuss Ukraine’s ongoing Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor crises.

According to the U.S. Department of State, Ukraine is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Fueled by Russia’s aggression, the conflict in eastern Ukraine has displaced nearly two million people, and this population is especially vulnerable to exploitation. In areas controlled by the Russia-led separatists, the situation has become particularly challenging. Employment options are limited and separatist “authorities” have restricted international humanitarian aid that would help meet civilian needs.

In a Newsweek report, the result has been an extreme over-reliance on NGOs to raise awareness, assist victims of trafficking and promote legislative reform to comply with international standards. Join WAC’s delegates from Ukraine’s NGOs, city government and the Ministry of Social Policy as they discuss their efforts to combat trafficking and sex labor.

Media Sponsor: 89.3 WFPL NEWS

Event Agenda:

5:30 P.M. | Event Registration and Networking Reception
6:00 P.M. | Program and Dinner Commences
7:30 P.M. | Conclusion of Program


General Public (Non-WAC Members and WAC Free Network Members) | Presentation + Dinner = $30/person
World Affairs Council Paid Members and WAC Host Families* | Presentation + Dinner = FREE

*[Members include: Student Backpackers ($25 level), World Travelers ($100 level), & Global Leaders ($250 level)]

To register for this event:

WAC has recently transferred to a new online ticketing service! You will now be able to register for events and/or purchase tickets online all in the same place with a lower transaction fee. With this change, all WAC paying members (Network, Student Backpacker, World Traveler, and Global Leader members) and non-members will register and/or purchase tickets through the same webpage. Complimentary tickets for paying members can be claimed on the same page. WAC Host Families that are hosting our Ukrainian delegation also attend the event for free, just RSVP with the names of the host family so we have a good idea on numbers. If you have any questions or concerns about this new process, please feel free to contact our office at 502-561-5422 or at contact@worldkentucky.org. Thank you!

WAC Paying Members and Non-members alike — please click below to register for the event:

Register for Event

About the program:

The Open World Leadership Center, an independent government agency of the United States Congress, sponsors and funds the Open World program, which brings emerging leaders from Eurasian countries to the United States in order to give them firsthand exposure to the American system of participatory democracy and free enterprise. Open World delegates include some of the participating countries’ most dynamic, emerging leaders, who are eager to share their experiences with Americans for a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas.

IVLP: SCP Canada – Best Practices for Integrating Displaced Persons to the Community

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana is pleased to welcome an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)  Project for Canada to Louisville under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State!

The program, titled, “Best Practices for Integrating Displaced Persons to the Community,” will take place from March 23th through 28th, 2017. WAC has partnered with Institute for International Education to bring the delegation to Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

The Department of State has outlined the following specific objectives for the project:

  • Share best practices amongst those working on the front lines of displaced persons resettlement.
  • Share best practices about youth programming and mental health supports, English language, and vocational training.
  • Improve understanding of varied American views on displaced persons and increase awareness of societal factors that lead to these opinions.

Protect Exchanges – Support Diplomacy

Dear WAC Friends:

International exchange programs have always received bi-partisan support in Congress. However, the White House’s newly released FY2018 budget calls for an unprecedented cut of 28 percent to the Department of State. While we don’t know by what amount, it is clear that the administration will soon propose steep cuts to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). If enacted into law, these cuts would greatly harm our nation’s public diplomacy efforts and, ultimately, our national security and economy.

As a nonpartisan organization, the World Affairs Council of Kentucky & Southern Indiana was founded on international exchanges over 30 years ago. We believe that by offering our communities an opportunity to interact with people from around the world, each of us can play an integral part in promoting peace and mutual understanding. Over these three decades, we have hosted thousands of delegates from every corner of the globe, connecting them with countless organizations, businesses and people in the region, from Louisville to Hazard to Bowling Green to Paducah, as well as Southern Indiana, and the many towns in between. The proposed cut would directly affect our mission and the services that we provide to our community and the region.

We need your support now more than ever. Congressman Hank Johnson is collecting signatures on a letter to the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations in support of exchange program funding. This letter calls for the highest possible funding level for exchange programs in FY2018. The deadline for members of Congress to join the “Dear Colleague” letter is Wednesday, March 22.

The Alliance for International Exchange has organized a letter-writing campaign that makes it very easy for you to write your representative. Click here to access a pre-written letter that you can customize if you would like. It only takes a minute or two to send this letter to your representative in Congress.


Adding your voice to this effort will truly make a difference. Thank you for taking action today.


Xiao Yin Zhao

Executive Director
World Affairs Council of Kentucky & Southern Indiana

Open World: Ukraine – Combatting Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana is pleased to welcome an Open World Program from Ukraine to Louisville under the auspices of the Open World Leadership Center and U.S. Legislative Branch! The program, titled, “Combatting Human Trafficking – Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor,” will take place from March 17th through 25th, 2017.

This program requires home host families in the Louisville area! Please reach out to Brian Easley at WAC to volunteer as a host family if interested!


WAC Pop-Up Discussion: Foreign Policy and the View of America from Abroad

Whether it’s our commitment to our allies in Europe and the NATO alliance, or support for countries with questionable human and civil rights records, America’s position on these issues has been uncertain despite assurances from top administration officials.

This month, WAC is hosting around 30 visitors from 18 countries on a variety of topics related to these concerns. Join us on Tuesday, March 14th, as we host a Pop-Up discussion with speakers possibly representing: Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Poland, Spain, Egypt, Algeria, Chad, Jordan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

The discussion will be moderated by Colleen Abate, WAC Board Member and former U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer (2002-2011).

As the only organization in the region to host visitors from the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), WAC is uniquely positioned to connect the community with leaders around the world on pressing global issues.

Space is limited – RSVP Today!


Paid* WAC Members – $5

Non-WAC Members and WAC Free Network Members – $10


*Paid WAC Members include the following membership levels: Student Backpacker, World Traveler and Global Leader. If you unsure of your membership status with WAC, please email contact@worldkentucky.org

IVLP: SCA RP – Ending Gender-Based Violence

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana is pleased to welcome an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Regional Project for South and Central Asia to Louisville under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State! The program, titled “Ending Gender Based Violence” will take place from March 13th through 16th, 2017. WAC has partnered with World Learning to bring the delegation to Kentucky and Southern Indiana.



The Department of State has outlined the following specific objectives for the project:

  •  Examine the impact of gender-based violence on families and communities and the benefits of preventing such violence
  • Examine social service agencies involved in gender-based and domestic abuse prevention and treatment and assistance to victims
  • Review treatment program protocols for abusers, from intake to reintegration into the community;
  • Demonstrate public/private partnerships and cooperative efforts to improve community welfare and prevent domestic abuse; and
  • Illustrate various types of public advocacy campaigns.