By Gail Shrott, Director, International Leaders Program, GlobalPittsburgh
On March 31, GlobalPittsburgh lost a true friend and former Executive Director, Barbara Platt Gumbiner. Although many of our current hosts and members did not have the opportunity to meet her, through her work for the organization between 1978 and 1989 and her unfailing belief in the power of what can be accomplished through citizen diplomacy, she was a long-time supporter of our organization and our national network.
I arrived at the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors as Program Coordinator shortly after Barbara had left the organization to work in Washington, DC, for the Institute of International Education. The first time I met her, she shared with me the pride that she felt for having been able to work at our organization with such an amazing network of volunteers who forged lasting connections to people from around the world every day. Barbara instilled in me the importance of our organization’s legacy; all of the individuals whose time and energy had made a profound difference in connecting Pittsburgh to other parts of the world. Barbara went on to work for what was the National Council for International Visitors (now Global Ties U.S.) until her retirement in 2002, always retaining a pride in Pittsburgh and unfailing belief in the power of international exchanges. For more than a decade, she would volunteer at the national meeting for what is now Global Ties U.S.so that she could warmly greet her many friends in the network. I believe that Barbara’s spirit will live on in every volunteer taking the time to meet a young international leader or group for a professional meeting and in every host family sharing a lively dinner conversation over a hospitality dinner.