WorldBoston's Emerging Leader Reflects on Experience at Global Ties U.S. National Meeting

Author: Becca Raffo, Northeastern Student & Program Associate at WorldBoston


Every January, members of the WorldBoston team head to Washington, DC for the annual National Meeting of Global Ties U.S. (Global Ties U.S. is one of two WorldBoston national affiliates, corresponding to our Citizen Diplomacy work). The National Meeting brings together about 1,000 professionals in public diplomacy and international exchange to share ideas and highlight leaders in the field. This year, as a WorldBoston Program Associate, I had the opportunity to participate in the Global Ties U.S. Emerging Leaders Program, which integrates distinguished interns and volunteers from the network into the annual Meeting through networking opportunities and informative sessions on careers in public diplomacy. When describing the program, Global Ties U.S. website states,

“Over the course of four days, these young citizen diplomats immerse themselves in the world of public diplomacy and international exchange by attending networking events, workshops, and sessions to hear from professionals in the field.”

“Immersive” is truly the word to describe this experience. Our program was packed from morning to evening, including sessions and panels tailored to our unique position as young professionals entering the workforce. In addition, we were seamlessly integrated into the meeting by attending sessions ranging from Social Media to the Youth Opioid Crisis with our CBM colleagues. We had the invaluable opportunity to network with professionals across the public and private sectors and gain honest insights to shape our individual career goals. Every person we met was so friendly and eager to speak with us about their experiences, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to grow as a professional in such a warm and welcoming environment.

It is also worth noting that most of this year’s meeting occurred during the partial U.S. government shutdown – certainly an unusual way to experience Washington!  It was impressive to see how the Global Ties staff and network rescheduled and rethought sessions due to absences of furloughed speakers.  Although all the participants were filled with questions about the implications of the shutdown for our work, the conference remained positive and engaging.

Our sessions and workshops were incredibly informative and eye-opening, but my favorite aspect of the program was getting to know the other Emerging Leaders. There were 18 of us this year, all from different CBMs across the country. We each came to the meeting with our own academic backgrounds and future ambitions, but it became quite apparent that we are forever linked by our love of international exchange. My time at WorldBoston has been underscored by an atmosphere of passion and enthusiasm for connecting Boston with the world, and I am so inspired after seeing this same passion in young people advocating for international exchange in their own cities. The Emerging Leaders Program was both humbling and motivating, and I am excited to see the accomplishments of this new era of the public diplomats.

Event Recap: Chat & Chowder with Michele Gelfand

Author: Samantha Miller, Investment Operations Analyst at State Street

Members of WorldBoston gathered last night for the final Chat and Chowder of the year, a monthly discussion on new books and how they could be applied in terms of international affairs. Boston’s current events enthusiasts came together for a warm cup of chowder and some drinks to listen to a lecture and question and answer section on the subject of cultural psychology. This talk was led by Michele Gelfand, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland on her new book Rule Makers Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World. An expert in the field of cross-cultural psychology, Dr. Gelfand described how different cultures and subgroups, be they nations, states, or even social classes, could be categorized by how “tight” or “loose” they are-that is, how strictly groups adhere to social norms and how deviance from the norm is approached. Tight cultures tend to exhibit more security, less, crime, and place an emphasis on uniformity and self-control.  Deviation from the norm tends to be treated more harshly, be it social ostracization or legal punishment, than in looser cultures. Dr. Gelfand pointed to Japan, Singapore, and Germany as some examples of “tighter” countries, whereas more loose states, such as the US, Brazil, or Greece, tend to exhibit more openness, creativity, and tolerance for deviation. This phenomenon, Gelfand pointed out, could also be seen in different regions within nations and social classes, giving the example of how U.S. states could differ in tightness or looseness and how poorer or more working class people exhibited a tighter mindset than wealthier ones. She explained that a tighter mindset tends to come from existential threats, such as natural disasters, invasion, or high population density that makes adherence to strict rules valuable. Population density itself might not be an existential threat, but having so many people living in close quarters makes strict social norms that much more important to keep these groups on a similar page-for example, we might not understand why chewing gum is banned in Singapore, but a country with a large population density where gum litter was becoming such a nuisance that affected such a large number of people, the leadership saw no choice but to ban it outright. Groups that face a new existential threat have also been observed to become tighter and crave more rules and order when things start to feel too different or out of control. Understanding these differences, she explained, helps increase our cultural understanding and cultural literacy makes international negotiation that much easier-when we understand the culture and rational behind cultural norms, it is much easier to come to agreements and a clear understanding of the other parties’ motivations. She wrapped up her lecture by explaining that it is not necessarily better or worse to be tight or loose, but the most successful outcomes stem from maintaining a balance-social norms are important to be able to predict how to behave, but deviance can encourage creativity and new ways to approach challenges.

                Following her lecture, the floor was opened for a question and answer section, in which the audience asked a series of questions regarding how these observed trends of tight and loose cultures could be applied in various international settings, such as how is Israel so loose and open while it is subject to constant external threats and how negotiating conflict resolution is such a challenge between tight and loose cultures when establishing mutual respect and trust. Dr. Gelfand and the audience also touched on Trump and how the populations that voted for him in large numbers tended to cite what they considered existential threats such as immigration or terrorism as the most important factors in their votes. To wrap up her lecture, Dr. Gelfand signed copies of her new book and answered additional last-minute questions the audience had. This event was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the intersections of cultural psychology and world affairs as well as mingle and network with fellow WorldBoston members and fellow Bostonians interested in international affairs. To learn more about Dr. Gelfand’s theories and how they are reflected in current events, her book is available for purchase here

Event Recap: Chat & Chowder with Northeastern Professor, Max Abrahms

Author: Michaela Tobin, Northeastern Student & International Trade & Communications Co-op at U.S. Commercial Service

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Professionals, students, and members of the WorldBoston community gathered last Thursday at the law offices of McDermott, Will and Emery for the latest installment in WorldBoston’s Chat and Chowder series, a monthly book talk lead by experts in the field of global affairs and international relations. As they enjoyed steaming bowls of chowder and various beverages, audience members listened attentively to Dr. Max Abrahms, the articulate and charismatic speaker of November’s Chat and Chowder event.

Dr. Abrahms is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University and an expert on terrorism and international security. He is an affiliate at the Global Resilience Institute, a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a board member on the journal Terrorism and Political Violence. In addition to being published in a variety of leading scholarly journals and an active analyst in the media on matters of international security, Abrahms is also the author of the recently published Rules for Rebels: The Science of Victory in Militant History, which served as the topic of Thursday night’s discussion.

In Rules for Rebels, inspired by author Saul Alinsky's similarly titled work, Rules for Radicals, Abrahms studies different militant groups to explore why some groups fail at achieving their goals while others remain successful. During his presentation, Abrahms used the example of ISIS, examining the tactics of the Islamic State’s infamous leader, Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi to explain why the organization ultimately failed, despite its leadership being crowned a “mastermind” by the media, and lauded by various think-tank pundits.

“Smart militant leaders are not always successful,” Abrahms stated, “but successful militant leaders need to be smart”.

In his opinion, smart leaders are those that refrain from partaking in certain behaviors that have historically doomed terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State. Abrahms theorizes that there is a science to militant victories and proposes three rules militant groups must follow in order to be successful in achieving their goals: 1) learn to avoid terrorism, 2) restrain members from committing acts of terrorism, and 3) deny responsibility for terrorism if they want to achieve their goals. His lecture touched on these three criteria, though Rules for Rebels delves considerably deeper into the evidence behind each assertion.

The lecture concluded with a lively question and answer session, in which audience members voiced their curiosities regarding successful terrorist cells and the trends seen in modern day terrorism. Abrahm’s talk created a lasting impression on listeners, leaving them to consider how national governments and militaries can apply these findings to prevent or react to terrorism in the future. After the talk, members stayed to mingle for more conversation, and many chatted further with the author.

For a more comprehensive look at Dr. Abrahms research, get your copy of Rules for Rebels here.

Event Recap: Chat & Chowder with Brookings Senior Fellow, Robert Kagan

Author: Sophia Danison, Intern at BNID

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“Robert Kagan, Friedman Senior Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy at Brookings, spoke last Thursday about his new book, The Jungle Grows Back: America and our Imperiled World. Hosted by WorldBoston, a nonprofit organization and World Affairs Council dedicated to engagement on international affairs, the intimate gathering took place on the 25th floor of the Prudential Center, situated amid gorgeous views of the Boston cityscape. Kagan’s talk was yet another installment of Chat & Chowder, an ongoing book talk series featuring topics ranging from international affairs to current events. Attendees were treated to an assortment of delicious Boston chowders as well as other beverages and refreshments. Prior to the talk, WorldBoston members and guests were able to mingle, getting to know one another as development and policy professionals and world affairs aficionados alike. Once his talk began, Kagan received everyone’s rapt attention, and for the rest of the evening conversations tuned in to debates of American foreign policy.

“We’re having a great debate without actually discussing anything,” Kagan remarked, lamenting the state of current American politics. To this degree he noted some rare similarities between Trump and Obama’s domestic nation-building efforts, citing a gradual American withdrawal from being a major participant in world affairs. A “fragile” Liberal World Order is contingent on sincere American participation, as we are one of its founders and, in a sense, guarantors of the system’s wellbeing. During his talk, Kagan argued that the “America First” policy of protectionism in exchange for domestic wealth blatantly defies the other members of a world order based on free trade and mutual prosperity. To that end, he gave an impassioned appeal for foreign policy leaders to take into account historical episodes of isolationism as harbingers of chaos and disorder. According to Kagan, if America does commit to upholding the international system it helped to create, and instead retracts into isolationism, the system is bound to collapse.

Kagan did leave us with a bright note by the end of his talk. On the overall resilience of our current system he remarked, “Even Donald Trump couldn’t wreck this easily.” He offered a few suggestions to reform policy, and put faith into the liberalist system as able to endure what inevitable challenges to its stability may come.

To get Kagan’s full perspective, check out his new book here.”


Thank You, America's Hometown!

A huge thank you to the Plimoth Plantation for hosting a State Department-sponsored
International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) group from Saudi Arabia this past week! This
group of professionals focused on tourism and economic development are working toward
creating a tourism visa for international tourists to travel to Saudi Arabia. The visitors had a
chance to see how the Plimoth Plantation welcomes tourists from all over the world to learn
about early American History and America’s Hometown! In addition to learning how a living
history museum operates and maintains its business, the group had a chance to visit Plymouth
Rock, historical sites along Plymouth Waterfront, and eat a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
The visitors came to Plymouth with the specific objectives of studying coastal tourism and
cultural preservation. To achieve these goals, Plimoth Plantation made sure to include program
managers of the Wampanoag Homesite who could explain in a hands-on way about the
preservation of their culture. A sincere thank you to Darius as well as Mr. Rob Kluin (Director of
Marketing and Communications), Ms. Janet Young (Group Sales Manager) and Mr. Ivan Lipton
(Chief Administration Officer).

This visit would not have been complete without the Plymouth 400, Inc. – another massive thank you to them! This non-profit organization is hosting a series of commemoration events in 2020 to highlight the cultural contributions and American traditions that emerged from the interactions between the Wampanoag tribe and English settlers. Ms. Michelle Pecoraro (Executive Director) and Mr. Brian Logan (Communications Manager) from the Plymouth 400 were kind enough to meet with the visitors from Saudi Arabia to discuss the preparations for the 400 th anniversary of the Plymouth Colony. They also provided a guided walking tour of the modern-day location of the first settlement and along the historic Waterfront.

Thank you to both of these organizations for meeting with the visitors and showing them around America’s Hometown! Check out the pictures of the group’s visit on a beautiful day to Plymouth below:

We're hiring!

WorldBoston is hiring a Manager of Operations and Global Education Programs! This is an outstanding opportunity to grow a career in community outreach, communications, and nonprofit management, with an international focus.

The Manager of Operations and Global Education Programs oversees WorldBoston programs serving our local community, which includes business, academia, young professionals, high school students, local diplomats and foreign representatives, and internationally-minded individuals throughout the region. Responsibilities include creating and managing 40+ speaker events annually, overseeing WorldBoston’s flagship youth program Academic WorldQuest, and working with partners to co-host numerous other events throughout the year. This work involves identifying compelling topics, recruiting expert speakers, securing venues, and building audiences. Responsibilities also include managing the organization’s communications and marketing, including outreach and social media. The Manager should be motivated by creating new connections and advancing WorldBoston’s reach, effectiveness, and visibility. This position is part of a management team overseeing interns, volunteers, and vendors.

This Manager also oversees key internal operational functions of WorldBoston, including office management, interfacing with WorldBoston’s IT consultant, and online ticket sales, memberships, etc. Additional features of this position include:

  • Creating clear and visually appealing newsletters to advertise WorldBoston events, using email marketing software
  • Overseeing WorldBoston’s social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Keeping our website up-to-date
  • Working with the President and other staff to maintain visibility on WorldBoston membership, event payments, and other critical operational elements
  • Providing support to other programs involving international visitors, and to new programs as necessary
  • Drafting grant proposals for existing and future global education-focused programs, and implementing them as necessary. 

The successful candidate will bring the following qualities to the team:

  • Superior attention to detail and motivation for outstanding performance
  • Initiative and interpersonal skills
  • Collaboration in a lively team environment
  • Ability to attract and interact well with participants and stakeholders from diverse local and international communities
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Proficiency in Word, PowerPoint, Excel (required); experience with Squarespace (or similar website editor), QuickBooks, and desktop publishing software (e.g. Publisher, Canva) a plus
  • A bachelor’s degree in communications, international affairs, nonprofit administration, or related field
  • At least 2-3 years of professional experience; examples of relevant experience include, but are not limited to, community outreach, organizing events, and small office management, including management of interns
  • Passion for international affairs and nonprofit excellence
  • Personal goals to grow and take on new responsibilities in a small team atmosphere
  • Motivation to advance a mission-driven organization
  • Ability to lift items up to 25 lbs.
  • Availability to staff scheduled evening programs

Ready to join the WorldBoston team? Please email a resume and covering note to No telephone calls or inquiries, please.

May at WorldBoston

Dear Friends,

Let's just say, never a dull moment. (Iran, North Korea, NAFTA, oh my.) 

In the world of international engagement, busy can be good: For example, this month our Citizen Diplomacy program hosts eight groups of international visitors, having hosted twelve in April, and our Global Education programs offer us all plenty (more!) to think about.

Global Education

After tonight's Chat & Chowder on the essential topic of ascendant India, featuring author Alyssa Ayres, next week Great Decisions takes on China's Grand Strategy, as Dan Blumenthal of American Enterprise Institute visits us on May 15 at the BPL. 

Save These June Dates

We wrap up the spring's Great Decisions series on June 12 with "Turkey: A Partner in Crisis", with Dr. Soner Sagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. And Chat & Chowder goes big picture on June 19 with the provocative Digital World War: Islamists, Extremists, and the Fight for Cyber Supremacy.

Update from the Office

This month we bid fond farewell to Thomas Luly, Manager of Operations and Global Education Programs, with thanks for his creative programming, advancing organizational effectiveness, and really silly jokes.  We also wish the best to Program Coordinator Cathy Tripp, multitasker extraordinaire -- and supplier of outstanding treats.  Thank you Tom and Cathy!

WorldBoston is Hiring!

We are hiring for the position of Manager of Operations and Global Education Programs.  This is an outstanding opportunity to grow a career in nonprofit management with an international focus. See here for more information. No telephone calls or inquiries, please.

Wait, Did You Miss Something?

Don't forget to check our News section for announcements and past newsletters.  And for the latest, be sure to follow us on Twitter @WorldBoston!


We hope to see you soon.

Mary P. Yntema

President & CEO

Academic WorldQuest Winners

Congratulations to our new 2018 John H. Carlson Academic WorldQuest winners from the International School of Boston! On March 24, Bridgewater State University hosted eight teams from around Massachusetts. The winning team from the International School of Boston will be headed to Washington DC later in April to compete against 45 other teams in the national competition. Teams from as far as Alaska and Hawaii will be convening to represent their states and vie for first place. We wish our Massachusetts team good luck and lots of trivia fun! More information about Academic WorldQuest can be found here.


April at WorldBoston

Dear Friends,

Word has it, spring is finally here! Whatever the weather, opportunities for international engagement are busting out all over this month at WorldBoston.

Extra, Extra!  Read all about it:   Keep up on WorldBoston news (and texts of previous newsletters) at our new "blog".  For example, our sellout February 27 special event, "The State of the State Department"  -- a fascinating conversation with Ambassadors Nicholas Burns and Barbara Stephenson -- is now available online for viewing, courtesy of the WGBH Forum Network


Global Education

Speaking of Nick Burns, he'll be back at WorldBoston on Monday, April 9 to introduce Daniel Kurtz-Phelan's new book, The China Mission. Hailed by Madeline Albright as a "vivid account of how diplomacy really works," The China Mission is the latest installment of our popular Chat & Chowder series, and we look forward to hearing from Kurtz-Phelan, who recently became the Executive Editor of Foreign Affairs
On Thursday, April 26, we welcome Dr. Susan Moeller to address the very hot topic, "Media and Foreign Policy" as part of WorldBoston's Great Decisions lecture series at the Boston Public Library. Dr. Moeller is Director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA) and Professor of Media & International Affairs at the University of Maryland, and authored the Great Decisions 2018 briefing book chapter on the topic. (You can reserve your half-price copy with Tom Luly,

Hats off to the International School of Boston on their first-place finish in the John H. Carlson Academic WorldQuestcompetition on March 24! The students won a trip to compete in the national high school competition in Washington, D.C. on April 28. Best of luck! Many thanks to our friends at Bridgewater State University for hosting another successful competition.


Citizen Diplomacy

Be a Citizen Diplomat and host an IVLP group for Dinner! Here's an exciting opportunity for an evening of diplomacy -- right in your own home!

A delegation from the Palestinian Territories will be in Boston April 17-21 focusing on "Diplomatic Protection and Security"

  • 7 visitors and 2 liaisons 
  • Some visitors will need interpretation, so visitors can be split into two groups
  • any evening from Tuesday, April 17 through Friday, April 20

Dinner diplomacy entails hosting visitors for dinner, which provides them with invaluable cultural insight.  Any kind of household, traditional or unique, makes a great dinner diplomacy venue!

Please respond at your earliest convenience. This is a crucial time to serve as a citizen diplomat! Thank you for your consideration and hospitality,

Sarah Sibley

Director, Citizen Diplomacy Programs


Office: (617) 542-8995


Update from the Office

Thanks to new and returning WorldBoston members:  John and Jean Reagan, Tsoleen Sarian, Joshua Stowell, and Bayeh Tesfaye. 

Not a member yet? We hope you will consider joining.  For inquiries, please contact our membership coordinator, Lorraine Goldstein, at

We hope to see you soon.

Mary P. Yntema

President & CEO

March at WorldBoston

Dear Friends,

As turbulent as our remarkable (!) recent weather, international events this year make your involvement with WorldBoston especially timely.  Join in our upcoming events and in opportunities for you to be a citizen diplomat.


Global Education

The end of February saw a sell-out WorldBoston crowd at Boston Public Library's Rabb Hall for our special event,

The State of the State Department, featuring Ambassadors Barbara Stephenson and Nick Burns.  Check the WGBH Forum Network WorldBoston page for a video to be posted soon.

A perfect followup?  Return to Rabb Hall with us on March 14 for our Great Decisions session on U.S. Global Engagement And The Militarywith Maj. General (Ret.) Bill Rappnewly-arrived at Harvard's Kennedy School.  This is a time of fundamental change in U.S. defense, per Secretary Maddis' new strategy announced in January. What will U.S. international military engagement look like in the future?

Some historical perspective?  Save the date for the April 9 Chat & Chowder  featuring The China Mission: George Marshall's Unfinished War in a special conversation with author Daniel Kurtz-Phelan.

And here comes  

Academic WorldQuest!

On March 24 high school teams from all over Mass. gather at Bridgewater State University for this fun global knowledge competition, a flagship program of the World Affairs Councils of America.The victors win a free trip to Washington to compete in the national event.  Good luck to all the amazing competitors!  Special thanks to venue host Bridgewater and the John H. Carlson Fund.

A Great Decision -- a good read

Do you know about the Great Decisions briefing book?  It's a superior resource published by the Foreign Policy Association, and we sell them at half price!  You can reserve your copy with Tom Luly,


Citizen Diplomacy

New Dinner Diplomacy Opportunity with IVLP

Here's an exciting opportunity for an evening of diplomacy -- right in your own home!

A delegation from India will be in Boston March 22-26 focusing on "Furthering the U.S-India Relationship through Higher Education"

  • 4 visitors and 1 liaison 
  • Saturday, March 24 or Sunday, March 25

Dinner diplomacy entails hosting visitors for dinner in your home, which provides them with invaluable understanding of real Americans.  Any kind of household, traditional or unique, makes a great dinner diplomacy venue!

Please respond at your earliest convenience if you can assist in making this a special visit for our visitors from India. This is a crucial time to serve as a citizen diplomat!

Thank you for your consideration and hospitality,

Sarah Sibley

Director, Citizen Diplomacy Programs



Office: (617) 542-8995


Update from the Office

Thanks to new and returning WorldBoston members:  Joseph Milano, Joanne Zitek, Christian Halby, Elizabeth Welch, Matthew Blum, Ryan Migeed.

Not a member yet? We hope you will consider joining.  For inquiries, please contact our membership coordinator, Lorraine Goldstein, at

A word about attendance: It's a great courtesy to our venue hosts and our limited staff to register early for our events.  And once you register, your attendance is also very appreciated.  Avoiding no-shows helps in future event planning, and helps insure you don't inadvertently take the spot of another WorldBoston community member. Thanks!

We hope to see you soon.

Mary P. Yntema

President & CEO


February at WorldBoston

Dear Friends,

February and March are busy at WorldBoston on both "sides of our house," Global Education and Citizen Diplomacy.  Read on to find out what's new, and how you can get involved.


Global Education

WorldBoston kicked off the month with a thought-provoking and enjoyable dinner talk on Feb. 1 by H.E. Elin Suleymanov, Ambassador of Azerbaijan, held together with the Boston Committee on Foreign Relations. 

Two outstanding events are still to come.  On February 26, renowned commentator and Fletcher School dean Adm. James Stavridis returns to WorldBoston, with his book Sea Power at Chat & Chowder

So, what is Chat & Chowder, anyway?  Have a look here, and join us at a casual and friendly session designed to promote mingling and interaction with our community and speaker.

Then on February 27, a WorldBoston hosts a special event, "The State of the State Department" featuring Ambs. Nick Burns and Barbara Stephenson.  


Citizen Diplomacy

On February 1st, we welcomed our first IVLP group of the year, a big Multi-Regional Project of 29 people, focusing on "Education in the Digital Age", as well as a group from Kazakhstan. In March, IVLP groups include visitors from IndonesiaSaudi Arabia, and a Regional Project from Africa. Some of the topics they will address include journalism, the judiciary, and establishment of a moderate Islamic university.

This week, several WorldBoston staff head to Washington D.C. for the annual conference of our national citizen diplomacy affiliate, Global Ties U.S.  What happens to presentations by State officials if a shutdown begins February 8? TBD!


Update from the Office

Many thanks to new and returning WorldBoston members since September: 

Alan SchwartzBarry WannerBetsy LudwigBoston Park PlazaBrad RendleBridgewater State UniversityCharles WhiteChristine CloonanClaudia EvansCody DamonColin SygroveCreelea PangaraDanielle DuplinDavid Chosiad & Paula ThompsonDavid KuenziFiona ClancyHeather O'BrienJames MooreJim KaddarasJoanne ReillyJohn PayneJoseph AntebiKenneth VacovecKevin SmithLarry PostMajorie BrideMargery and Rick BlumeMatthew TorreyMichaela SanchezNancy SmithNathanael BraytonNicholas SchiarizziRamona LuntRyan MigeedShahriar KhaksariStephen FreidbergStephen TaberSuffolk University Government Department Thomas FaulhaberVikrant ShahVirgile Mahoro, Wentworth Institute of TechnologyWilson St. PierreYvette Morrill, and Zareen Khan

If you're not a member yet, we hope you will consider joining.  For inquiries, please contact our membership coordinator, Lorraine Goldstein, at


We hope to see you soon.

Mary P. Yntema

President & CEO