Where Are They Now? A Spotlight on Former International Focus Interns

Mary Sauerborn, past intern 2014-2015

Interview by Tugce Tumer

Mary Sauerborn accepting her Global Ties U.S. Excellence in IVLP Programming Award of “Outstanding Program Associate.”

Mary Sauerborn with other recipients of the 2019 Global Ties U.S. Excellence in IVLP Programming Awards.

We are excited to congratulate Mary Sauerborn, a former intern and volunteer at International Focus, on her recent promotion to the position of Full Program Officer at Meridian International Center in Washington D.C.!

Inspired by her programming work at International Focus with the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Mary has been working within the IVLP at Meridian for the past four years. Due to her hard work and commitment to the IVLP, she was promoted multiple times, beginning at Meridian as a Program Associate, graduating to an Associate Program Officer, and then finishing with her most recent promotion to Full Program Officer. Additionally, she is a recipient of the 2019 Global Ties U.S. Excellence in IVLP Programming Award of “Outstanding Program Associate.” 


When asked about the influence of her internship at International Focus on her career track, Mary credits it with introducing her to professional international exchange and propelling her to work within the IVLP at Meridian. Prior to interning at International Focus, Mary knew that she wanted to pursue a career in international relations; however, she was unsure of what track to follow. As a graduate student at North Carolina State University enrolled in the Masters in International Studies (MIS) program, Mary interned, and then continued on as a volunteer, at International Focus where she worked directly with IVLP director Leila Bekri on coordinating programs to the Raleigh area.

She credits mentor and team with trusting her and providing her with the independence and guidance to manage her own programming projects. She also cites her time at International Focus as teaching her a variety of skills, such as organization, persuasion, communication, and planning skills, through the variety of tasks she accomplished.

When asked to give advice for other interns at International Focus, Mary encouraged all interns to try new things in order to determine what they enjoy doing. She feels that ultimately, it is important to engage in work that one feels passionate about. For Mary, her passion is centered around the IVLP and the realm of professional exchange. She sees her work on each program as making a small difference in the world, since each exchange that she coordinates addresses a different global issue.

As someone who enjoys working with people, Mary greatly appreciates the moments where she meets the international visitors upon their arrival in the United States. We thank Mary for her contributions to International Focus, and look forward to seeing all of her future accomplishments in the realm of diplomacy and international relations!