"Promoting Cross-Cultural Relationships one handshake at a time."

February 2020
In this issue:
Honorary Consulate of Switzerland
Honorary Consulate of Ukraine

Laura Plantation
Diana A. Mercer, M.S., J.D.


As New Orleans begins to welcome visitors from around the world for the Mardi Gras season, the New Orleans Citizens Diplomacy Council is also looking ahead to a full year of hosting international delegations.  In the weeks ahead we will have visitors from around the globe: Australia, Brazil, Morocco, Kenya, Botswana, Lithuania, Japan, India, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands, to name a just a few. These visitors will be studying topics ranging from disaster preparedness and emergency management to trade policy.

As members, we especially urge you take advantage of the unique opportunity your NOCDC membership offers to host our global visors in your home for dinner.  My own home hospitality experiences have opened my eyes, and more importantly, the eyes of my young son, to the richness of other cultures and to learning that we are all more similar than we are different. Just a few examples of past guests in our home include the mayor of a small town in Russia studying anti-corruption measures, a female doctor from Nepal studying women’s health initiatives, and female prosecutors from Eastern Europe studying the U.S. criminal justice system. Keep reading in the newsletter for upcoming opportunities to host – and don’t worry if you have never hosted and are nervous—just ask and an experienced NOCDC member can co-host with you.

Members can also stay involved by attending member events featuring an entire delegation or events where members just gather to network and talk about global issues. One event I would like to highlight is our upcoming reception on Monday, February 17 for visitors from 24 countries with the theme “Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management.”

We live in times that are often divisive, nationally and around the world. NOCDC’s commitment to building bridges between nations, one handshake, one dinner, at a time is more vital now more than ever.  If you have not done so, please renew your 2020 membership today, and please invite your like-minded friends to join us. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Join or renew your NOCDC membership here https://www.nocdc.org/membership.

Diana A. Mercer, M.S., J.D. is President of the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council. She is also the Director of the Career Development Office, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

Executive Director, Susanne Dietzel, Ph.D.

On February 10 four international visitors from Bangladesh, Brazil, Greece, and Sierra Leone met the Executive Director, Susanne Dietzel, Ph.D., to discuss the significant work of Eden House as a residential facility that provides comprehensive recovery services to survivors of trafficking and sex work.  They were participants in the U.S. Department of State’s Combatting Trafficking in Persons program, through the International Visitors Leadership Program.

Eden House is a local non-profit since 2011 working predominantly as a residential facility that provides comprehensive recovery services to women, 18 years and older.  Since opening their doors, they have served approximately 58 women.  The program lasts two years and includes prevention education that teaches women at risk on how to identify, resist, and prevent human trafficking.

Staff, along with former participants at Eden House practice a method of intensive and therapeutic case management where the first three months are dedicated to getting settled in and resting the body and mind…and then long-term planning begins.  The program is long-term as it can take a year or longer to recover from trauma. Alternative health providers offer yoga, mindfulness, and acupuncture as important tools to learn a different relationship to the body that is not as a currency and to find a new way to be in the body. 

“Addictions must be dealt with and there are health issues to address, mental health issues.  Most of the women have experienced sexual physical abuse as children and displacement as part of Hurricane Katrina where there was a huge disruption in the social structure of families.  Katrina trauma has never really been addressed,” said Dietzel.

Eden House also runs a social enterprise, a small gift basket company that provides residents with basic job skills and work experience.  “Many women have never had a job in the real economy as opposed to underground economy and have long histories of abuse and addiction.  Just learning work ethic and start and complete a task needs a lot of training and this is done in house” says Dietzel.   There are several types of baskets available at different prices.  They can be found at https://especiallyeden.org/.

All four international visitors spoke of their own challenges in trafficking, each with a unique set of circumstances.  Their main consensus was that society hasn’t really addressed the ‘demand’ and to educate men that women are not for sale and ensure women’s rights are human rights and that should be applied everywhere and it remains to be a huge battle.

There are 80-100 requests for service per year which makes the screening and admission process so critical.  Eden House is the only residential program in New Orleans.  Some applicants are referred to other programs in the country or in the city.  Eden House is currently in the process of opening up another residence in the fall to serve another eight women.

NOCDC would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Eden House for its continued support of women and for helping them to make great changes in their lives. 


NOCDC will hold a reception for its membership to welcome 23 emerging international leaders in the field of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management in the evening of Monday, February 17 at a restaurant in uptown New Orleans.

The English-speaking visitors, who will travel to New Orleans through the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), come from Albania, Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Hungary, India, Japan, Kuwait, Lithuania, Nepal, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Timor-Leste, and Trinidad & Tobago.

To learn more about the reception, email office@nocdc.org. To become a NOCDC member, visit https://www.nocdc.org/membership to join online.

Thank you to our professional resources who met with our
international guests in December 2019

The Louisiana Weekly - Mr. Christopher Tidmore, Political Editor & Columnist

Loyola University New Orleans, College of Music and Media - Mr. Kern Maass, Dean, College of Music and Media, Professor Sonya F. Duhé, Ph.D, Director of the School of Communication and Design

Ringside Politics - Mr. Jeff Crouere, Radio Journalist, WGSO, and host

Mr. Sonny Schneidau and Ms. Echo Olander

UptownMessenger.com - Mr. Robert Morris, Owner

WWL-TV - Dr. Michael Perlstein, Investigative Reporter
Thank you to all who welcomed visitors with
home hospitality in December 2019
Ms. Elizabeth Pinney and Martha Pinney hosted and provided dinner for three visitors from North Macedonia studying discerning media consumption for opinion makers.

Ms. Danielle Burrell with Ms. Erica Rogers hosted and provided dinner for four visitors from North Macedonia studying discerning media consumption for opinion makers.

Ms. Amy Langlois Sins and Mr. George Sins along with Mr. Andy Jacoby hosted and
provided dinner for three visitors from North Macedonia studying discerning media
consumption for opinion makers.

Diane Mercer

Robert Gray Freeland Treasurer

Cynthia Dubberley

Tamalyn Dallal

Nancy Maveety

Alexandra Mora

Dr. Alla Rosca
Keith Twitchell

Dr. Pamela Waldron-Moore
Constance Willems

Walter F. Wolf, III

LaToya Cantrell

Jay Dardenne

Patricia Denechaud

Machelle Lee Hall

Edward T. Hayes

Greg Lambousy

Herbert Larson

Jim Letten

Echo Olander

Sean Wilson


Susannah Coolidge
 Executive Director

Kelley Ponder
Program Manager

Svetlana Pizzati
Program Officer

Terry Hendrick
Louisiana State University

New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council
 1215 Prytania Street, Suite 203 New Orleans, LA 70130
 504.529.1509 | office@nocdc.org

Not yet a Diplomacy Council member?

Join the NOCDC and be included in the events and activities limited to the membership, many of which feature the visiting delegations.

It’s easy to join on-line here