Clodagh Lyons-Bastian, Executive Director

Clodagh was raised in Dublin and Berlin before moving to the US in early adulthood. She holds a BA in Sociology and Psychology and an MS in Communication from North Carolina State University. Clodagh has worked extensively in foreign language acquisition and cross-cultural discourse in Europe and the US. Her executive experience across for- and non-profit sectors and her expertise in intercultural communication have equipped her to negotiate multicultural settings in a variety of business, community, and diplomatic environments. 

Leila Bekri, Director of International Visitor Leadership Programs

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.

Fluent in French and Arabic, Leila graduated from the Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Politiques et Sociales de Tunis, Tunis II; and North Carolina State University, where she earned a master’s degree in International Studies with a focus on comparative European Legal Systems.

Leila has sat on panels on public diplomacy, peace building, and intercultural dialogues. She is a fan of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

Maria Adoskina, PhD, Director of Special Projects

Maria is from Moscow, Russia, where she was a professor of English at the prestigious Academy of Sciences. After emigrating to the USA, she directed the Slavic department of New Life Ministries (NLM) in Apex, NC.

Maria has been International Focus’ Director of Special Programs since 2000, where she has directed more than 25 successful programs via Community Connections, Open World, Youth Leadership Programs, and the Young Leaders of Americas Initiative.

Wanda Capps,  Administrative Support and Bookkeeper

Wanda, a native North Carolinian, has over 30 years of experience in bookkeeping, financial and office management in the nonprofit and private sectors. Before coming to International Focus, she worked to support the International Visitors’ Leadership and Open World Programs at the International Affairs Council of NC. Wanda is a life-long learner and has continued to build upon her mastery of her chosen profession. Outside of work, she volunteers her time in the community and at her church in support of various causes both local and abroad. Most importantly, however, Wanda dedicates her time to her family, her children, and her grandchildren.

DeAnne Dotson, Volunteer and Event Coordinator

DeAnne is a native North Carolinian who has lived and traveled all over the world. She grew up in tobacco country in Stokes County, studied in Finland and Russia (ultimately graduating from UNC-G with a Communications BA in 1995), taught English in South Korea, and worked for the USO on US military bases in Kuwait and Afghanistan.  Along the way, she has backpacked across five continents, enjoying the food, the culture, and the people she encountered.  Her commitment to non-profits began at a young age, inspired by her mom who was a Den Leader for both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  DeAnne translated this commitment into a stint with AmeriCorps where she worked with disadvantaged youth in Austin, Texas.  She has continued to volunteer in a varienty of ways with various organizations throughout the years, such as recruiting alumnae to adopt residence halls at The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (her alma mater), staffing the USO center at the at RDU Airport, and leading a group of friends to set up an apartment for an incoming refugee family with US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

Diane S. Smith, IVLP Community Coordinator

Diane was born and raised in northern New Jersey, 30 miles from New York City, and then moved with her family to Wake County, North Carolina where she finished high school. She attended UNC-Greensboro and NC State University before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania where she attained a summa cum laude BFA double-major in painting and life drawing with a minor in education. Diane moved to Aruba N.A. with her husband for three years doing extensive community volunteer work, back to Pennsylvania for several years, and then returned to North Carolina, She worked as a non-profit arts administrator at the Durham Arts Council and Artsplosure, the Raleigh Arts Festival, and was then employed with the City of Raleigh Arts Commission. Later she transferred to the Raleigh City Manager’s Office as a Management Coordinator working directly with the City Manager. She retired from the City in 2017.

Diane has volunteered with many non-profits over the years in support of events, fundraising and marketing efforts including The ARC of Wake County, Pinecone-The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, the Visual Art Exchange-VAE, International Focus, the Storytelling Festival of North Carolina, the North Carolina Museum of Art and Ocrafolk Music and Storytelling Festival on Ocracoke Island NC.


Allie Lucas

Ali Lucas is a senior at NC State University majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Spanish. 

Why she is interning with International Focus:

“I am interning at International Focus because cultural understanding is something I am very passionate about. Coming from a bi-cultural family, I know firsthand what misunderstanding of another culture looks like, even within a family! I love that International Focus works to promote global understanding and foster communication between cultures!”

Caitlin Hall

Caitlin Hall is a senior at NC State University majoring in Public Relations, Psychology, and International Studies.

Why she is interning with International Focus:

“I’m interning with International Focus because I love the impact it has on the communities, as well as the career ready skills I can learn working in a non-profit organization.”

Hayden Leonard

Hayden Leonard is a Sophomore at NC State University majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Global Relations and a minor in French

Why she is interning with International Focus:

“I love learning about other cultures and sharing this knowledge with others. There is a lot that we can learn from each other. International Focus will allow me to learn even more about the global community while I am a student in Raleigh.”

Maddy Merz

Maddy Merz is a senior at NC State University majoring in Anthropology and International Studies.

Why she is interning with International Focus:

“I am interning with International Focus to gain more experience with International Affairs. My career aspiration is to work in international affairs focused on sustainable development. This internship is an amazing opportunity to gain more insight about that work. I also hope to learn more about the international community in Raleigh and how we can serve them.”

Meredith Brown

Meredith Brown is a senior at Meredith College majoring in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Business Administration.

Why she is interning with International Focus:

I am interning with International Focus because after studying abroad in Italy, the U.K., and Australia, I realized my passion for International Relations. I am also planning to attend grad school for higher education with the hopes of working with International Programs at institutions within North Carolina.”

Michelle Elrod

Michelle Elrod is a senior at NC State University majoring in International Studies with a minor in Nonprofits.

Why she is interning with International Focus:

I chose to intern at International Focus because I really enjoyed the international festival and because I liked the mission and values of the of the organization.”

Mollie Sullivan

Mollie Sullivan is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill double majoring in Global Studies and Peace, War, and Defense and minoring in Environmental Science and Studies. Within Global Studies she focuses on Nation-States, Politics, and Social Movements in Western Europe and the European Union.

Why she is interning with International Focus:

“I believe in International Focus’ mission and in the power of cross-cultural diplomacy to prevent conflict on an international scale. I am so excited to help facilitate face-to-face interaction and understanding between our visitors and our community.”

Neomi Mariscal

Neomi Mariscal “Mimi” is a sophomore at NC State University majoring in International studies with a minor in Nonprofits.

Why she is interning with International Focus:

“For my nonprofit class I chose to work with International Focus because I believe it will help in getting a more visual insight and experience of working with a nonprofit that helps build connections around the globe!”