November 20, 2023

Rep. Gerry Connolly, Local and National Leaders Speak Out on What U.S. Global Engagement is Worth to Virginia

TYSONS, VA – As Congress considers how to respond to conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, increasing competition with China, rising food insecurity, and economic instability here and at home, U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) spoke out at a conversation hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) on America’s role in the world in the face of these growing challenges, and how U.S. leadership and engagement on the global stage helps keep Virginia families and communities safe, secure, and prosperous. Rep. Connolly was joined by Kristin Lord, President & CEO, IREX, and Lt. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle, U.S. Army (Ret.).

“If the United States retreats from our global commitments, then we cede ground to countries that do not share American interests and pose a risk to American values. At a time when countries like Russia and China are undermining democratic institutions and the post-WWII international order, we need robust diplomatic and development operations more than ever. This is about who we are as a people and what role we will play in shaping the world we hand over to our children and grandchildren. This is not the time to retreat,” said Rep. Connolly.

Also speaking about why U.S. leadership globally matters locally were: Rachna Sizemore Heizer, At-Large Member, Fairfax County School Board, Dr. Michael Luttrell, Consultant, Global Health Systems, and Aaron Miller, Director, International Trade, Virginia Small Business Development Center Trade Office. The conversation, hosted by USGLC, brought together business, non-profit, veteran, faith, and community leaders from Tysons and the wider region.

Kristin Lord, President & CEO, IREX, spoke to why American investments in development and diplomacy programs are so critical, saying “a small investment today to try and help shape the future of these young people around the world will have tremendous consequences on Americans and people’s lives around the world. It will be an act of humanity, but frankly, it will be an act of self-interest as well.”

Lieutenant General Boutelle spoke on the importance of America’s global leadership and engagement, saying, “We need to lean on our elected representatives about the necessity to establish ourselves back in the world… We’re now in a multipolar world.”

With more than $200 billion in global exports from Virginia in 2021, America’s investments in diplomacy and development benefit Virginia locally. In 2019, over 1.1 million jobs in Virginia were supported by international trade. Of the nearly 7,000 Virginia businesses that export goods, 85 percent are small or medium-sized businesses.

“When it comes to protecting our economic and national security interests, Virginians understand the importance of strategic investments in U.S. development and diplomacy programs,” said Alex Grant, USGLC National Outreach Director. “Leading globally matters locally, and we welcome Rep. Connolly’s leadership and continued support for global development assistance around the world. We’re fortunate to see so many Virginia leaders committed to advancing America’s leadership on the global stage.”

For the full discussion, watch the event here.


The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition ( is a broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military, and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.