February 18, 2020

Rep. Lauren Underwood to 125+ Local Leaders: American Diplomacy, Foreign Assistance Crucial to Illinois’ Economy, U.S. National Security

Press handout photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLtEAzd
Watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/kjk7UYqbCKI

AURORA – Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) joined with more than 125 business, veteran, and community leaders today to discuss the importance of American diplomacy and development programs for strengthening U.S. national security and lifting up communities across Illinois.

“As the representative from our community here in Northern Illinois, my top priority is to keep us safe and to help us thrive. U.S. diplomacy and leadership helps us thrive, and they translate to better economic conditions and job opportunities for workers and employers right here in Illinois,” said Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL). “Right now – more than ever – we need leaders who understand the nonpartisan value of America’s leadership and diplomacy abroad… And that’s why I’m proud to carry Northern Illinois’ values and voices with me to Washington.”

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) hosted today’s foreign policy conversation at a time when policy makers are considering next year’s federal budget, including resources for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

“America faces its fair share of threats around the world. From the coronavirus in China to rising tensions with Iran, we can’t afford to shortchange our national security,” said Vice Admiral Carol Pottenger, USN (Ret.). “Our diplomats, global health workers, and development professionals step up and step in when the going gets tough, either before or alongside our armed forces, to act as our first line of defense. In short, investing in these civilian programs means investing in the future security of the United States.”

Nearly 1.6 million jobs in Illinois are tied to international trade, and Illinois’ exports to foreign markets total more than $65.5 billion a year—meaning U.S. international engagement isn’t just a matter of national security, it’s a strategic economic issue for Illinois.

“What farmers produce across Illinois feeds our neighbors down the road, as well as those beyond our borders,” said Taryn Barclay, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement, Cargill. “At Cargill, we are proud to help Illinois farmers gain access to global markets, while also partnering with organizations such as Chicago-based Global FoodBanking Network, CARE, and World Food Program USA to help nourish communities around the world.”

A strong and growing coalition in the state, the USGLC’s Illinois Advisory Committee brings together more than 110 business, faith, non-profit, veteran, and political leaders who understand why American global leadership matters for Illinois.

“It is an honor to speak with Congresswoman Underwood here in Aurora today,” said Jason Gross, Executive Director, USGLC. “She is a fierce advocate for the health and well-being of her constituents and a freshman lawmaker who understands how American global engagement keeps us safe and strong. I know her continued leadership on these issues will have lasting impacts from the halls of Capitol Hill to communities across Illinois.”

Also participating in today’s forum was Michael Frerichs, State Treasurer of Illinois; Peggy Parfenoof, President of WorldChicago; and Jenna Daugherty, Divisional Vice President of Global Citizenship & Sustainability at Abbott.

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (www.usglc.org) 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.