1998 was a productive year for the Dialogue. Dialogue efforts were directed to generating new policy ideas and practical proposals for action, and getting them into the hands of public and private decision makers. The Dialogue also sought to assure that diverse Latin American and Caribbean voices and perspectives were present in Washington policy discussions. Through leadership networks and joint projects, we expanded the capacity of institutions in the region to address issues of hemispheric concern
The Dialogue reinforced and consolidated important program directions that were initiated in the prior two years. These priorities guided our work––(1) making the Dialogue fully inter-American, particularly by accelerating the expansion of our program activities within Latin America and the Caribbean through cooperative ventures with centers in the region; (2) rejuvenating our core membership and participants in our other networks, as well as our Board and staff, to make sure they reflect the growing diversity of leadership and power in hemispheric affairs; and (3) renewing the substantive agenda of issues we address to insure the Dialogue is dealing with the most important challenges in fresh and creative ways.
Making the Dialogue fully inter-American is our single highest priority. The Dialogue has become a more active and visible presence outside of Washington––in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada. Over the past year, we conducted more program activities in Latin America and the Caribbean, developed partnerships with institutions in the region to organize forums and carry out projects, and engaged larger and more diverse groups of Latin Americans and Caribbeans in our work. We expanded our leadership networks for CEOs, women leaders, and legislators, increased the number of Latin American and Caribbean members of our staff, and gained more attention to the Dialogue in the region=s print and broadcast media. In 1998, the Dialogue organized over a dozen meetings outside the United States, far more than we had ever held abroad in any single year. Nearly all of our activities in Latin America and the Caribbean are planned and carried out in collaboration with national institutions. Our most important collaborator has been the Center for Development Research (CINDE) in Chile, with which we have collaborated on our education program.
The further diversification of our Board, staff, membership, and other networks is another central priority for the Dialogue. More than anything else, the Dialogue is an organization that is dedicated to promoting constructive interchange among the hemisphere=s leaders. And leadership of hemispheric affairs is changing rapidly. Private leaders––from civil society organizations as well as from business and banking––have sharply increased their influence in inter-American relations relative to public sector officials. Women are playing a more expansive role almost everywhere. Slowly but surely, indigenous groups and minorities are also gaining leadership positions. In the United States, more Latinos are occupying senior posts in government and business––and exerting influence on U.S. foreign policy in the hemisphere and beyond. We have aimed to ensure not only that our programs reflect these changing leadership patterns, but that we work to strengthen the influence of traditionally excluded groups as well.
Over the past year, we incorporated new and underrepresented groups into the Dialogue=s staff, membership, and other networks. Our core membership of 100 leaders from throughout the hemisphere includes increased numbers of corporate executives, visible Republicans, and directors of nongovernmental organizations, as well as women (who are now almost 30 percent of our membership) and racial and ethnic minorities from both the United States and Latin America.
We also used the Dialogue=s policy and outreach programs to reach new groups of leaders. We expanded our cooperative relationship with the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Hispanic Council on International Affairs. The Dialogue developed a program in Guatemala to assist the incorporation of indigenous groups into the country=s efforts at reconciliation and reconstruction. The Women=s Leadership Conference of the Americas––a joint initiative with the International Center for Research on Women––has become the Dialogue=s most active and innovative leadership network. The Dialogue strengthened its reach to business communities in the hemisphere through our country programs in Brazil and Mexico, as well as the Group of Fifty (G-50) network of Latin American CEOs––co-sponsored with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Our education program has forged strong links to business groups in Latin America, and has initiated the development of a new Corporate Fund for Educational Innovation and Excellence. In recent months, the Dialogue has created a ACorporate [email protected] to engage business leaders more extensively in all aspects of our work.
Our third crucial priority is to make sure that the Dialogue=s agenda is fresh and relevant to policy, business, and media communities. While remaining engaged with the full spectrum of important issues in hemispheric affairs, we reshaped the Dialogue=s agenda to ensure that we deal with newly emerging problems and older issues that are taking new forms; that we give needed attention to issues and countries that are not adequately addressed by others; and that we emphasize themes which can be best confronted through hemispheric cooperation and regional policy approaches.
This past year, our overall budget reached $3 million, an increase of nearly $1 million from 1996. We have been especially successful in securing restricted grants for specific projects, some $2 million in 1998. In this, the third year of our Sol M. Linowitz Forum endowment campaign drive, we have so far gained pledges of more than $1.2 million in endowment support for the Linowitz Forum, which should grow to more than $3 million in 1999. In addition, we are looking to our recently established “Corporate Circle” to generate increasing amounts of unrestricted corporate support. And our “Associates” program for individual giving continues to grow.
1998 was a critical year in the Dialogue’s program and institutional development. In the coming period, we aim to consolidate the fundamental changes in program direction that we advanced this past year, and to upgrade our management and finances to support a vigorous, first-quality think tank and international forum. More than ever, we are committed to playing a central role in shaping the agenda of issues and opportunities confronting the hemisphere.