Connecting Organizations for Regional Disease Surveillance (CORDS) is an international non-governmental organization focused on information exchange between disease surveillance networks in different areas of the world. By linking regional disease surveillance networks, CORDS builds a trust-based social fabric of experts who share best practices, surveillance tools and strategies, training courses, and innovations. CORDS exemplifies the shifting patterns of international collaboration needed to prevent, detect, and counter all types of biological dangers -- not just naturally occurring infectious diseases, but also terrorist threats. Representing network-of-networks approach, the mission of CORDS is to link regional disease surveillance networks to improve global capacity to respond to infectious diseases. CORDS is an informal governance cooperative with six founding regional disease surveillance networks, with plans to expand; it works in complement and cooperatively with the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Animal Organization of the United Nations (FAO). As described in detail elsewhere in this special issue of merging Health Threats, each regional network is an alliance of a small number of neighboring countries working across national borders to tackle emerging infectious diseases that require unified regional efforts. Here we describe the history, culture, and commitment of CORDS; and the novel and necessary role that CORDS serves in the existing international infectious disease surveillance framework.