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.


Joshua Aelick, Programming

Joshua is a junior at North Carolina State University, where he is pursuing a double major in English – Creative Writing and German Studies.

Why he is interning with International Focus:

“As a writer, one of the best skills you can develop is the ability to see the same object from different points of view. Interacting with people from vastly different backgrounds helps you to do just that. I greatly value the opportunity to become a more complete person by interacting with a spectrum of different people and seeing the world their way; that’s why I’m interning at International Focus.”

Olivia Baez, Communication and Research

Olivia is a junior at UNC Chapel Hill studying Political Science and Global Studies with a concentration in International Politics in Western Europe

Why she is interning with International Focus:

“I am passionate about helping others and love the appreciation of international communities that International Focus brings to the Triangle.”

Cassia Barry, Communication and Research

Cassia is from a small town in Pennsylvania where she lived until moving to Raleigh for college in 2016.  Now she is a rising senior at North Carolina State University where she studies Spanish, Arabic, and International Studies.  After graduation she hopes to teach English as a second language in the Middle East or Latin America.

Why he is interning with International Focus:

“I decided to intern with International Focus because I love to travel and want to help in the development of cross-cultural communication in the Triangle area.  The work this organization does to increase global understanding appeals to me and I am excited to be a part of their team!”

Noah Lenhardt, Programming

Noah Leonard is a Sophomore at North Carolina State University where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a concentration in International Politics and a minor in German.

Why he is interning with International Focus:

“I am interning with International Focus because as a nonprofit specializing in exchange programs and multiculturalism, they are a fundamental building block of US diplomacy and foreign policy. Through my work here, I can gain an insight into these important topics and ensure the fostering of stronger relationships with other countries.”

Meredith Brown, Communications

Meredith is a senior at Meredith College where she studies Communications with a concentration in Public Relations with a minor in Business Administration.

Why she is interning with International Focus:

“I am interning with International Focus because I am passionate about being a global traveler and learning more about other cultures. I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Italy and the U.K. during the Summer of 2018 and more recently completed an internship with Habitat for Humanity Australia during the Summer of 2019. Through my experiences abroad, I’ve become more aware of the many diverse cultures all around us, even in our own neighborhood and interning with International Focus was the perfect way to get more involved in local international events, like the International Festival.”