Entrepreneurial Diplomacy

By Sarah Baer '18, World House Student Fellow

Over the past three months, I had the opportunity to intern at Network 20/20, a small international relations-geared NGO based in New York City. I joined a full-time staff of three, and was thrown into assisting with every aspect of the organization’s daily workings. While this involved an array of ever-changing responsibilities, my work often related to two main undertakings: the organization’s “Entrepreneurial Diplomacy Program”, and its annual briefing series.

The Entrepreneurial Diplomacy Program is a truly unique process, which involves sending a delegation of Network 20/20 members to a country or region of importance to U.S. foreign policy. While in the field, the delegation interviews an array of individuals in both the public and private sectors in order to generate a report that identifies new avenues of cooperation between the target area and the United States. During my time at Network 20/20, the organization focused on the Western Balkans region. While a delegation had already taken a trip to the Balkans and generated a report on its findings, Network 20/20 was beginning a new step in its Entrepreneurial Diplomacy process – applying the report findings to generate follow-up actions among stakeholders in the U.S. and abroad.

In addition to this process, the briefing series brings ambassadors, scholars, and other foreign policy experts speak to Network 20/20’s members at its office in New York. During my time at 20/20, I had to opportunity to attend briefings such as “The New Contours of National Security,” during which Carol Giacomo – a former diplomatic correspondent for Reuters in Washington and member of the New York Times editorial board – and Yael Eisenstat – a former CIA analyst, diplomat, and national security professional – spoke on the United States’ position in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. At another briefing, “A U.S. Army Veteran’s Perspective on the Middle East”,  I listened to Asha Castleberry – a U.S. army veteran and adjunct faculty professor at Fordham University – share experiences from her 30-month tour of duty in the region.

Through listening to these speakers and working with the Network 20/20 staff, I both gained insight into important foreign policy issues and learned the skills and the substance necessary to affect actionable change. As my studies continue, I will continue to reflect on this new knowledge, so that I may apply it to whatever comes next!