Today, The Islands Society announces the appointment of Cheryl Walsh as Managing Director of the Sea Islands Society. Walsh will now lead the nonprofit’s efforts to increase the participation of the residents of the barrier islands of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in foreign affairs and overseas engagement.
“As a part-time resident on Hilton Head Island, I am thrilled to be named the Managing Director of the Sea Islands Society,” says Walsh. “I believe it is critical that we engage more Americans who reside on the barrier islands off Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in foreign affairs and cultural relations. And, that is the mission of the Sea Islands Society.”
“I could think of no better person to lead such an important initiative than Cheryl Walsh,” stresses Keiko Ono, Vice President of the Islands Society. “As a former journalist and reference librarian, she has devoted her life to supporting local communities. And, she already understands many of the challenges that prevent local communities from fully participating in overseas engagements.”
Over the next few months, Walsh will be responsible for drafting a strategic plan and messaging framework for the Sea Islands Society. She will also be recruiting ambassadors, business leaders, nonprofit leaders, and senior academics from the region to serve on its Board of Advisors.
In 2016, the Islands Society expects Walsh to develop and implement six new programs that will be specifically designed for residents of Beaufort, Charleston, Hilton Head Island, and Savannah. These include Sea Islands in the Classroom, Beaufort Veteran Leaders, Charleston Veteran Leaders, Lowcountry Emerging Leaders, Hilton Head Emerging Leaders, and Savannah Veteran Leaders. She will also be responsible for promoting new relations between residents of the Sea Islands and those served by the Pacific Islands Society, Baltic Islands Society, and Remote Islands Society (Japan).
“It is widely recognized that there has been a major geopolitical shift in terms of our country’s political, economic, strategic, and social interests,” says Walsh. “Just last week, the United States and eleven other countries reached final agreement on the largest regional trade accord in history. Now, we must ask what role Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina intend to play in the U.S. pivot to Asia. If we want our region to remain relevant in the Pacific century, we need to make sure that our residents have the knowledge, skills, exposure, and networks required to realize their full potential. Right now, that is simply not the case.”
“I am therefore excited about the opportunity to partner with the managing directors of the Pacific Islands Society and Baltic Islands Society,” says Walsh. “There is so much potential for collaboration. Consider the Hilton Head Island Emerging Leaders Program. Next year, the Pacific Islands Society will be be launching the Outer Islands Emerging Leaders Program in Kauai and the Big Island. In the past, these programs would have been stand-alone programs that served their respective communities. However, the Islands Society now realizes at a global level that we have the opportunity to do more than just help the participants build networks in their local communities. We can also help them build networks that extend well beyond their respective communities. We will therefore be making it a priority to connect our Lowcountry Emerging Leaders with our Outer Islands Emerging Leaders.”
“In my opinion, the ability to inter-network our programs will be of huge value to the participants in our programs for the Sea Islands,” adds Ono. “Imagine, the Sea Islands Society can do more than just help a participant from Charleston connect with another participant in Beaufort or Hilton Head Island. In partnership with the Pacific Islands Society, we can help that participant connect with their counterparts in Hilo or Kapaa without ever having to step foot in Hawaii. In this way, we can help to strengthen the Lowcountry’s ties with the Asia-Pacific. In the long-term, this is one way to make sure that South Carolina is a stakeholder in the U.S. Pacific pivot.”
About Islands Society
The Islands Society is an international 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to inspire and empower islanders to participate in foreign affairs and overseas engagements in order to affect positive change in their local communities. The nonprofit develops and implements projects that are designed to help islanders realize their full potential on the world stage. These projects are currently organized around two main themes: community projects and next generation leaders. The community projects center on ten issue areas, including charity, conservation, democracy, disaster relief, education, equality, health, innovation, security, and sustainability. Meanwhile, the next generation leader projects support artists, athletes, chefs, incubators, musicians, policymakers, storytellers, and technologists. To implement these programs, the nonprofit has launched local constituent societies around the world. These include the Pacific Islands Society, Baltic Islands Society, Sea Islands Society, Arctic Islands Society, Caribbean Islands Society, and Remote Islands Society (Japan).