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Changing Lives Through Global Experiences

International Focus Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving as the cultural and artistic bridge between the Research Triangle and the International Community for more than 30 years.

Become a Member
2023: A Year in Review

Global understanding and respect

Every year we host programs and events to connect our community with current or rising leaders in government, politics, business, education, media, the arts and more - to exchange ideas, resources, and best practices across our respective cultures.

Become a Member
2023: A Year in Review

Every year International Focus implements approximately 25 short-term exchange programs and hosts 200 global leaders and youth in our community to share knowledge and best practices.

By joining International Focus as a member, you will discover many perspectives, make new friends, expand your network, and even host international leaders in your home or business.

Global Socials are evening events uniting International Focus's diverse community, including working professionals, officials, business owners, students, and retired international affairs experts. These gatherings often feature international leaders as speakers and showcase multicultural artistic performances.

Want To Make A Difference ?

International Focus is a nonprofit organization registered charity and relies on the contribution of local individuals and businesses to carry out our mission, and vision.

Our Programs

Building global respect and friendship by facilitating professional and personal dialogue and exchange.

International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)

The IVLP is a professional exchange program of the U.S. Department of State designed to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries.

The Open World Program

Administered by Congressional Office for International Leadership (COIL), the Open World Program is the first and only international exchange agency in the U.S. Legislative Branch. Through Open World, nearly 18,000 current and future leaders from Central Asia and Eastern Europe have interacted with members of Congress, Congressional staff, and thousands of other Americans.

Youth Leadership Programs

Youth Leadership Programs foster mutual understanding, respect and civic engagement among young Americans and their international peers. Need all content in this section to be the same length.

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Global Programs Connecting Raleigh with the World

International Focus partners with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and the U.S. Congress to bring five vital exchange programs to the Triangle and other parts of North Carolina:

  • International Visitor Leadership Program
  • Open World
  • Youth Leadership

All of the international visitors we host are current or rising leaders in government, politics, business, education, media, the arts and more.

Serko Fu - Raleigh IVLP Alumni - Hip Hop and Civic Engagement

John Thoma


John Thoma, retired Chief Executive Officer, joined the nonprofit Transitions LifeCare in 1991 as the Director of Finance and Information Systems.  John became CEO in 2002 and served on the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees. 
John graduated from Boston University with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature and has continued his education and training at the Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and the Harvard Business School.
John is passionate about maximizing the impact nonprofit services bring to diverse communities and the importance of thriving mission-driven organizations.  John is very active at the regional, state and national level, and has served on numerous boards and committees including the United Way of the Greater Triangle, the Association for Home and Hospice Care of North Carolina, and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Maria Adoskina (PhD)

Director of Special Projects

Dr. Maria Adoskina (PhD) emigrated from the Russian Federation in 1993 with her PhD in Philology and Linguistics from the Institute of Linguistics at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Maria became involved in International Focus in 1999 where she would become the Program Director for Community Connections and Open World Programs. Maria has directed more than 43 successful programs via Community Connections, Open World, Youth Leadership Programs, and the Young Leaders of Americas Initiative. In her free time, Maria loves her dog and family and has recently had a new grandchild born.

Samuel Josephson

IVLP Program Coordinator

Samuel Josephson, a native of North Carolina hailing from Cary, holds a dual bachelor's degree in political science and international studies, specializing in Global Governance, Human Rights, and International Law from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. Currently serving as the IVLP Program Coordinator at International Focus, he spearheads the design and execution of International Visitors Leadership Program visits to the Triangle region, while also contributing to social media, website, and newsletter development. Samuel's passion for international affairs, citizen diplomacy, and cultural exchange led him to International Focus, where he's driven by a deep appreciation for the organization's mission, values, and community. Beyond his professional endeavors, Samuel dedicates time to his fiancé and training his beloved dog, Lulia, whilst also indulging in his love for reading.

Kasi Kindred

Multimedia Marketing Consultant

Kasi Kindred in her time with International Focus has been tasked with the development of the International Focus Cultural Newsletters. She was born and raised in Raleigh, NC, and received her certification in Business Administration: Advertising and Digital Media from Wake Tech Community College in May 2022. In her free time, she loves going to Wrightsville Beach, NC, listening to music, and traveling. Ever since she started at International Focus, she knew this was going to be a great internship for her because she is intrigued by learning about other countries' cultures and customs. Getting involved at International Focus has given her the confidence to take on highly skilled roles and work in a professional setting and by applying them in her future career. She is a joy to be around and appreciates everything she is learning at International Focus.  

Ashleigh Millinder

Multimedia Marketing Consultant

Ashleigh Millinder was born and raised in the small Appalachian holler town of Pleasant Gap, Pennsylvania. After finishing her secondary education in Charlotte, North Carolina, she came to Raleigh to pursue her Bachelor degree in Public Relations and Mass Communication from Meredith College, which she completed in Spring of 2023. With a foundation in communication and leadership, as well as her certification in BioWork, she has aspirations to join the biopharmaceutical industry in formulation and, eventually, quality assurance. In the past, Ashleigh has served as a social media intern for International Focus, and now acts as a freelance multimedia consultant for the company. In her role, she contributes to social media posts and ongoing social media campaigns, as well as general marketing. Outside of her interest in interactive and social media, she spends her free time hiking, trying (and failing) to keep her plants alive, collecting cool rocks and vinyls, as well as pampering her two cats, Karma and Glitch.

Sophia Sevillano

International Programming Intern

Sophia Sevillano was born in the United Kingdom and relocated to North Carolina in 2020. She is currently a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, pursuing dual Bachelor's degrees in Economics and International Studies, with a concentration in development and sustainability. Additionally, Sophia is minoring in Spanish. Beyond her academics, Sophia serves as the internal vice president of the Filipino-American Student Union at UNC Charlotte and has been a mentor for international students for the past three years. Having grown up immersed in various cultures, she has developed a multicultural perspective and a deep passion for world affairs. Through her summer internship at International Focus, Sophia aims to build connections within the international community in the Triangle area and explore potential career paths post-graduation. She is particularly interested in the nonprofit sector of international relations and aspires to create positive change in the economic development of developing countries throughout her professional career.

Elliott Howes

International Exchanges Intern

Elliott Howes is a rising senior at American University’s School of International Service. He is majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Justice, Ethics, and Human Rights, a regional focus in Europe and Eurasia, and he is also working towards a minor in Language and Area Studies for Italian/Europe. A Raleigh, NC native, Elliott is excited to help share his hometown with the international community as an intern at International Focus. Elliott enjoys playing soccer, traveling, and biking in his free time.

Leila Bekri

Executive Director

Leila was born in New York City and raised in Tunis. Her father’s diplomatic service took her family to the U.S., Europe, and West Africa before moving back to Tunisia. Being exposed to a multitude of cultures and places at an early age, she cultivated a pluralistic perspective which she later reinforced through her education, work, and passion for world affairs.

Join As a Volunteer.

We are looking for experts/ professionals in these areas: Multimedia/Video editing & Publishing and Grant Writing.

Join International Focus with an Individual or Corporate Membership

Individual Memberships

By joining International Focus as a member, you will discover many perspectives, make new friends, expand your network, and even host international leaders in your home or business.

With a membership, you will get to discover the world in Raleigh through opportunities to:

  • Connect directly with global emerging leaders
  • Connect with other globally minded leaders in the Triangle community
  • Host global visits with homestays and other volunteer opportunities to build new relationships
  • Receive exclusive invitations to Global Socials
  • Receive exclusive invitations to workshops
  • Receive discounts to events
  • Play an important part in supporting International Focus’ mission of changing lives through global experiences
  • Receive our signature cultural newsletter… and so much more!

Corporate Memberships

With a Corporate Employee Membership, you will give your employees the opportunity to discover the world in Raleigh through global engagement opportunities:

  • A membership certificate for display upon request
  • Your business, council, or not-for-profit URL will be featured on our Network web page
  • A subscription to and the opportunity to be featured in our E-newsletter
  • The opportunity for your employees to participate and engage in our Global Socials
  • Early-bird access and discounted ticket prices to events
  • Support our internship and fellowship programs for area students
  • Play an important part in supporting International Focus’ mission of changing lives through global experiences!
Our Vision:

Serving as the cultural and artistic bridge between the Research Triangle and the International Community.

We Have More Than 30+ Years Of Experience.

We uniquely promote North Carolina in the world, conserve the heritage of our international communities, and defend universal values of democracy and freedom of expression.

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