Chattanooga State Community College is partnering with Hamilton County and the City of Chattanooga to launch new initiatives that will strengthen Chattanooga's international populations and leverage their diversity to create new resources that build opportunity for the entire community.
This collaborative effort centers on the establishment of the area's first Cultural Ambassador and International Achiever networks, which are comprised of key leaders from each of Chattanooga's international communities.
A selection of traditional and non-traditional foreign-born students will form the International Achievers group, while a range of foreign-born professionals, leaders and advisors will be designated as Cultural Ambassadors. Together, these representatives will serve as active liaisons between the groups they represent and local partners working to understand their needs.
“Our Cultural Ambassador and International Achiever initiatives are an expansion upon the International Ambassador network the Chattanooga Chamber established in 2012,” said Dr. Jim Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State. “As we build upon this existing resource, we hope to establish stronger relationships with diverse populations in our area so we can better understand their distinctive needs. This will enable us to collaborate in creating new pathways for the attainment of post-secondary education while serving a range of resource needs across all areas of the community.”
Nearly 120 members of the Cultural Ambassador and International Achiever networks stood before the area’s top leaders in government, education and business to commit their partnership at a reception introducing the initiatives to the community on Aug. 29. The event took place from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Chattanooga State and featured remarks from Dr. Catanzaro, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Chattanooga City Mayor Andy Berke. Reception attendees also heard from Gladys Pineda-Loher, who established the Chattanooga Chamber’s International Ambassador network and is now working to expand it in her new role as Chattanooga State’s director of international community outreach.
Moving forward, participants will meet quarterly to provide perspective on the challenges their communities are facing and to support the College, County and City in their international outreach, inclusion and engagement efforts. Cultural Ambassadors and International Achievers will also support local partners in hosting international delegations, delivering educational programming to the community, responding to inquiries from other countries and promoting opportunities to access higher education, among various other contributions.
Noting the possibilities this network opens for Hamilton County, Mayor Coppinger commended Chattanooga State for establishing a resource that meets emerging needs for all members of the community.
“Heightened activity among Chattanooga’s newer and established international communities has exposed new opportunities for us to engage their voices across the civic spectrum,” said Mayor Coppinger. “The International Ambassador and Cultural Achiever initiatives provide the essential framework for turning their unique perspectives into actionable insights. This is a tremendous resource for Hamilton County, and we’re delighted to join our partners at Chattanooga State in cultivating this network for the benefit of our entire community.”
Adding to those remarks, Mayor Berke called attention to the far-reaching benefits the network will create across the entire community.
“What’s remarkable about the Cultural Ambassador and International Achiever network is the variety of ways in which these initiatives serve our community” said Mayor Berke. “At its core, this network opens doors for diverse populations in our area while creating opportunity for Chattanooga as a whole – from our public schools to our private businesses and beyond. The City of Chattanooga is proud to be a partner in this initiative, and we see it as an important component of our long-term effort to build a stronger, more inclusive Chattanooga”
As part of its commitment to collaborative efforts to create opportunity for the entire Chattanooga community,Chattanooga State has also joined the Higher Education Council of Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan, multi-sector national campaign comprised of more than 250 businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits and civic organizations working together to expand economic mobility in the U.S.
“We are thrilled to see this collaborative effort between business, educational partners, and local government,” said Mark Edwards, executive director of Opportunity Nation. “Cross-sector collaborations like we see in Chattanooga are central to helping make sure that individuals across America have strong pathways to connect to education and employment. We are absolutely pleased to highlight the bright spot of opportunity that is Chattanooga State Community College as part of Opportunity Nation’s Higher Education Council.”
To learn more about or become involved with the Cultural Ambassadors and International Achievers Initiatives, contact Gladys Pineda-Loher at 697-3204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.