Reflections on the Fulbright Reunion – 45th Annual Conference

The Fulbright Association’s 45th Annual Conference drew more than 300 attendees for a dynamic event celebrating the international community. It was the first opportunity to gather in-person for the annual conference since October 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world. The conference took place October 6-9 at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda in Bethesda, Maryland.

Our programming for the 45th Annual Conference has been made possible by the support and partnership of our sponsors listed to the right.

There were more than 100 presentations and break-out sessions on topics that focused on Global Cultural Diplomacy, Diversity & Transparency, Art & Culture, Resilience, and so much more! Thirty General Sessions were offered on Friday and Saturday of the conference. These interactive presentations allowed the Fulbright community to showcase the incredible work they are doing throughout the world.

Download the Digital Conference Program


Opening Keynote – Ambassador Oksana Markarova of Ukraine

We welcomed Ambassador Oksana Markarova of Ukraine to give an extraordinary, thoughtful, and inspiring keynote address. The ambassador reflected on the extreme challenges facing her country and its supporters worldwide in countering Russian violence, lawlessness, and alleged war crimes. She gave us hope that Ukrainian resolve and resilience will remain steadfast until this war ends—and well beyond.

The ambassador was introduced by Association board member Réka Szemerkényi, a former ambassador from Hungary, who moderated a high-level discussion that include Markarova, as well as scholar and commentator Debra Cagan, and Arturas Vasbys, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Lithuanian Embassy. The panel took wide-ranging questions from our conference attendees, covering such topics as mental health, human rights, the role of China, military strategy, and more. The evening was a highlight of the Conference.

Watch the full Opening Keynote and Panel Discussion.

The Welcome Reception on Thursday night and the Fulbright Party on Friday night provided the fun and excitement attendees were longing for. Music, hors d’oeuvres, photo stations, were available, along with numerous opportunities to network and reconnect.


Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture – Dr. Janaki Nair

Every year the conference attendees get to look inside the world of dance. Dr. Nair gave an inspiring lecture on her unique position as one of the rare female Kathakali artists who is trained to perform male characters. Dr. Nair brought this traditional Indian dance to life through videos, lecture, and a live performance. One of the outstanding disciples of Shri Nelliyodu Vasudevan Nampoothiri, Dr. Nair has followed a rigid training regime in Kathakali for fifteen years. She was aptly awarded with India government’s talent scholarship for her flair and passion in Kathakali and has performed widely in India and UK. In her research, she continues to explore the concept of embodying and aligning psychophysical practices, concepts and methodologies. Watch the full lecture.


Virtual Art Exhibit

The Fulbright community is full of talented visual artist in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography. Throughout the conference attendees were able to experience a beautifully curated art exhibit through the conference app and online. The images were displayed Friday evening during the #FulbrightParty. View the Virtual Exhibit Online.


General Sessions

With 30 general sessions, attendees had their choice of many concurrent presentations. The styles of sessions varied and Fulbrighters engaged in workshops, conversations, and research presentations. Panels offered time for detailed Q&A and networking with the speakers.



Over 30 Fulbrighters and friends presented roundtables at the Conference, leading vibrant conversations around topics in their areas of expertise. As these sessions literally took place at round tables, they gave participants the opportunity to participate in intimate and provocative conversations with co-attendees. Roundtable participants leaned in, listened well, and contributed to Fulbright alumni growth as a community of learners.



We continued our wonderful tradition of hosting a poster fair on Saturday. These presentations were both highly informative and wonderfully interactive. As you walked down the colorful aisles of beautiful posters, an investigation of educational institutions in the Philippines stood side by side with research on artificial intelligence and a new era of biotechnology. Over the course of two hours, Fulbrighters exchanged ideas, shared research, and asked provocative questions of one another. These conversations persisted throughout the rest of the conference, and will certainly continue to enhance our understanding of the world and current research as we return to our local communities.

Something that is always especially important about our poster sessions is that it gives young Fulbright alums the opportunity to present and advance their research through conversation and open them to networking and future collaboration. These presentations covered every continent and so many interests, there was certainly something for everyone, not only to learn but also to engage and relate.


Fulbright Talks

This 10-minute format was a success in 2019, so we brought it back for the Reunion themed conference. The presentations featured a total of 10 speakers over two days. The topics ranged from art, fashion, architecture, music, service projects, and so many more. The engaging format was used to tell stories of experiences both professionally and personally.


FA Programs Plenary

On Saturday afternoon, the Association added a new feature to our conferences, sharing the many programming opportunities for members. Staff members John Bader, Claire Jagla, Fiona Breslin, and Christine Oswald were joined by former board president Mary Ellen Schmider to discuss advocacy, Fulbright in the Classroom, the 1946 Society and fundraising, a pilot mentor program, chapter activities, and the Travel Program. This was followed by a Programs Fair, where attendees could ask questions and sign up to participate in these programs.


Chapter Awards Dinner

The Fulbright Association Chapters, led by dedicated alumni who serve the Fulbright community, played a special part in this year’s conference. On Saturday evening, seven chapters and leaders were honored with awards for the hard work in various categories. Each winner spoke about what Fulbright means to them and shared unique details about their chapter’s activities. On Sunday morning, over thirty chapter leaders gathered for the Chapter Leader Workshop, led by FA’s Christine Oswald. The workshop gave chapters space to share best practices, review policies, and foster connections between groups across the country.

Fulbrighters always have the ability to inspire and connect cultures through research, art, and presentation. This conference displayed an amazing variety of Fulbrighters who are expanding horizons in every field of study.


Wellbeing was an important factor of the conference. Yoga sessions were offered Friday and Saturday morning, providing a gentle and invigorating start to the day. Conference breaks with healthy options were also offered twice a day, fueling our attendees in between sessions.


We look forward to the 46th Annual Conference which will be in Denver, CO in October 19-22, 2023.


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1 Response

  1. What a great 45th Annual Conference it was! Congratulations to the Fulbright Association Board, Staff and Program Committee for coordinating an outstanding event. The breadth and scope of programming, coupled with the outstanding presenters and dedicated participants truly celebrated the creativity, collaboration, and commitment to cultural diplomacy and friendship that brings the Fulbright mission to life.

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