Missouri’s 53rd chief executive is set to be recognized on a national stage for his support of diplomacy and economy development programs.
On Monday, former-Democratic Gov. Bob Holden will be in Washington D.C., to receive the Leading Globally Matters Locally Award as part of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s State Leaders Summit.
“It is a tremendous honor,” Holden told The Missouri Times, adding he is very excited. “It means that all that I have believed in and promoted means something … To me, the most important thing any elected official can do is open doors for their constituents.”
The award, which honors a few state leaders annually, recognizes Holden’s efforts to champion U.S. diplomacy and development programs to strengthen Missouri’s economy.
“All of those activities send a message that we are accepting and willing to build relationships with them and that is the greatest security you have in protecting your own country and your own state,” Holden said. “Keep in mind 95 percent of the consumers in the world are outside of the United States. If we don’t have lines of communication and opportunities to do business together, we are undermining our own economy — particularly in the heartland that is so reliant on agriculture and manufacturing.”
Missouri is home to some of the largest global brands and organizations with rapidly growing international operations in emerging markets — such as Monsanto, World Wide Technology, Anheuser-Busch, and Centene. Last year, Missouri exported $14.2 billion in goods overseas, and trade supports 706,800 local jobs.
The Missouri advisory committee co-chairs for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition are Holden and former-Gov. Kit Bond. Holden called it “a bipartisan effort to find solutions to help our communities, to help our businesses, but we don’t do it at the expense of others.”
The State Leaders Summit will convene on June 17 and 18 in Washington, D.C., where Holden will join more than 600 business, military, government, non-profit, and faith leaders from across the country. The program includes discussions and plenaries on a wide range of foreign policy topics as well as a day on Capitol Hill to meet with Missouri lawmakers about the importance of U.S. diplomacy and development programs.
Holden said he is looking forward to the opportunity “to listen and share thoughts on … how we can be more effective.”
He is also expected to join more than 300 current and former elected officials in sending a letter to Congress urging the protection of funding for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) — which the Trump administration has proposed slashing by 24 percent.
“For just 1 percent of the federal budget, our international affairs programs directly promote the security, prosperity, and health of our fellow citizens,” the letter stated. “It’s an investment that strengthens our economy and creates more opportunities for our children’s future.”
Before being sworn in as governor in 2001, Holden served two terms as the Missouri state treasurer and three terms as a Missouri state representative, in addition to numerous other public service roles.
After leaving public office, he founded the Holden Public Policy Forum and was a professor at Webster University for 10 years. He is currently the Missouri co-chairman for the USGLC and is an executive board member of the Missouri State NAACP Chapter.