JT South America? I’m lucky to work for a firm that values both international relationships and professional development of its employees – so much so, that for the first half of April 2017, JT put me on loan to Argentina.
A bit of context: in October 2016, JT participated in a new U.S. State Department program, conducted by Meridian International, called the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) – a program that brought 250 young entrepreneurs and business leaders from Latin and South America to the U.S. for six weeks as professional fellows. Alejandro Sherriff, an entrepreneur from Ushuaia, Argentina, was placed at JT where he learned about our work, our clients, best practices and more.
Alejandro is a business consultant; he opened up his own firm – VALORes – that is the first of its kind in his hometown of Ushuaia, Argentina, which is the southernmost point of South America and is nick-named “the end of the world.” Communications is an area in which he hoped to grow in terms of servicing for his clients, and so our partnership was a perfect fit.
As an extension of that project, the YLAI fellows and their U.S. hosts were invited to submit proposals for reverse exchange programs. Just under 30 were selected, and only one in Argentina – ours.
For two weeks, I traveled to “el fin del mundo” and Buenos Aires to meet with Alejandro, his staff, his clients and other local professionals – learning about their communications practices and providing counsel. We partnered with the Ushuaia Chamber of Commerce, neighboring province Rio Grande Chamber of Commerce, the University of San Andrés in Buenos Aires and the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires for the two of us to conduct a seminar for each of them and their members or constituents on strategic communications. We explained to upwards of 100 people the importance of communications for businesses, both big and small, and introduced a methodology for creating the foundation of any strong communications plan: developing an organization’s story.
It was powerful to witness JT’s practice of storytelling transcend any cultural or language barrier – even 7,000 miles south of the city we call home.
Nearly 100,000 people engaged with On the Table in 2017 on social media; through workshops; and as hosts, participants and partners around 5,800 tables in every Chicago neighborhood and throughout suburban communities.
The Blue Grass Community Foundation was the first of 10 community foundations across the U.S. to replicate the On the Table initiative this year with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and support from the team at JT.