March 10, 2021

Virtual Roundtable Recap: Global Partnerships, Local Impact in Milwaukee, WI 

Today, a Zoom room full of elected officials, community leaders, and business and non-profit executives agreed—America’s agriculture and international affairs programs play a critical role for communities like Milwaukee. At a virtual roundtable hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) and Cargill, a dozen participants from the Milwaukee area discussed the local impact of these global programs, including how they strengthen American global leadership and help to create jobs, feed the hungry, and reduce poverty across Wisconsin and around the world.

Here’s what some of these leaders had to say:

  • Kathryn Unger, Vice President, North America Government Relations, Cargill: “Because of the pandemic, people are struggling to access safe, nutritious foods — and that is true, whether you’re here in Milwaukee or across around the world in Manilla or Mogadishu. This impacts more than just nutrition, but everything from health to safety to education as well. At Cargill, we’re combatting food insecurity in communities near and far by helping to maintain global food supplies. By connecting American farmers and companies to markets and supporting emergency food relief, we’re not only helping with the global recovery, but with our own as well.”
  • Bill Lane, USGLC’s Chair Emeritus and former Director of Global Government Affairs, Caterpillar: “There are problems out there that really do require a global response, and when the United States works with others on these problems, we have a much higher success rate. By working closely with our partners, we can actually make a difference in a lot of countries—preventing catastrophes, improving quality of life—while also building stronger trade partnerships and providing opportunities for American businesses. This is especially true through public-private partnerships, which harness the power of the U.S. government and private companies to address developmental challenges. Often the road to development begins with a road, so projects that focus on building roads, bridges and other infrastructure can allow for easier access to transport, trade, and tourism, which can promote their economic growth. We can improve the livelihood of others while helping to improve ours as well — and vice versa.”

The conversation was led by Alex Grant, USGLC’s Director, Heartland Initiative, who said “As we’ve seen in Milwaukee and other cities across the U.S., mayors and other local elected officials have become like diplomats in recent years—whether it’s engaging with their Sister Cities or making agreements with other countries, like trade deals and climate commitments. They help make the case that foreign policy is domestic policy, and that global connections can have a significant impact on local communities, from supporting jobs to boosting their economies. It’s not often thought of that way, but it’s critical that local leaders are stepping up and taking action.”

Statewide Network Supporting Global Leadership

Wisconsin has an active State Advisory Committee of more than 120 business, faith, military, government, and community leaders committed to strong investments in U.S. global engagement to help keep America safe and strengthen Wisconsin’s economy. They include:

  • Tom Barrett – Mayor, City of Milwaukee; U.S. House of Representatives (1993-2003)
  • Brad Courtney – Chair, Republican Party of Wisconsin
  • Alexander P. Durtka, Jr. – President & CEO, International Institute of Wisconsin
  • Laurie Fischer – Founder and CEO, American Dairy Coalition

You can find a full list of Wisconsin’s State Advisory Committee members here:

Global Engagement Supports Wisconsin Impact

The numbers speak for themselves. The strength of America’s global connections directly impact the Wisconsin economy and local jobs:

  • Wisconsin exported more than $21.7 billion worth of goods in 2019, with international trade supporting more than 726,500 jobs in the state
  • The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has helped facilitate $406 million in exports from Wisconsin companies since 1992
  • 13,067 international students were enrolled in Wisconsin colleges and universities and contributed $449 million to the Wisconsin economy in 2019

Building the Future

Four Wisconsin professionals were recently selected to join nearly 100 other young leaders from 33 states as part in the USGLC’s inaugural Next Gen Leaders Network. Through this year-long program, participants will receive leadership and advocacy training, interact with policymakers and opinion leaders, and draw connections between U.S. global engagement and their own communities:

  • Emma Bronson – Consultant and Social Media Ambassador, Titus Talent Strategies; Milwaukee, WI
  • Corrie Osborne – Associate, Foley and Lardner; Wauwatosa, WI
  • Jason Rae – President & CEO, Wisconsin LGBT Chamber; Glendale, WI
  • Katie Wall Ujdak – International Grants Coordinator, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation; Madison, WI

Liz Schrayer, USGLC President and CEO: “[T]his next generation is truly our future. Instead of seeing borders, they see solutions by working with partners around the world on issues like climate, hunger, global health and so many others that matter to American kitchen table issues. By investing in them, we are building a new cadre of advocates ready to educate policymakers about why leading globally matters locally.”

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.