Welcome to the Cultural Vistas Alumni Network

The Cultural Vistas Alumni Network encourages alumni from across our programs to connect and engage in a truly global community. With over 100,000 members and counting, our past program participants span the world and an impressive variety of fields.

We’re committed to fostering a robust alumni network by providing tools, training, and connections to support alumni in leveraging their exchange experiences throughout their careers.

We look forward to getting to know our program alumni and supporting them as they bring positive change to their lives, organizations, and communities.

Get Involved

Join us on LinkedIn

By joining our growing LinkedIn group you’ll stay up-to-date on the latest cross-programmatic alumni events and opportunities, and have access to exclusive alumni resources including mentor matching, reentry support, and more.

Share your story

Our alumni have fascinating stories of how their lives and careers have grown and evolved since their international experience.Telling these stories helps others see new possibilities and supports our advocacy efforts on behalf of cultural exchange. If you have an accomplishment you’d like to share, fill out this Alumni Spotlight Q&A.

Host or attend a gathering in your city

We have thousands of alumni all over the world. Many arrange regional get-togethers to connect with our network. Potential events include:

  • Networking happy hour
  • Cultural outing
  • Informal language practice
  • Picnic or BBQ
  • Panel discussion

Or, just join us at an event near you!

Spread the word

Prospective participants love hearing from alumni who have experienced our programs for themselves. Every year we rely on alumni to extend our reach and support our recruitment efforts by representing us at fairs and conferences, for instance, across the U.S. and abroad.

Lend your expertise

Whether it’s taking part in a panel discussion, offering insights into your industry and lessons learned, or sharing strategies for career enhancement, new as well as mature alumni can benefit from your experiences.

Join program-specific networking groups

Want to also stay connected with past and present alumni of your specific program? Here are additional resources to help you.


Cultural Vistas Alumni News + Stories


Meet Our Alumni

At all levels of government, business, and the nonprofit sector, you will find individuals like these whose career paths were radically altered by their exchange experience. Here are just a few of our alumni’s stories:

Bosch Alumnus Influences U.S.-German Relationship as White House Chief of Staff

Denis McDonough, our most prominent Bosch Fellow, currently serves as White House Chief of Staff and is sometimes credited with influencing the positive relationship between President Barack Obama and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the NSA crisis, which had a deleterious impact on German-American relations, President Obama dispatched McDonough to smooth things over with the German government—this even though chiefs of staff are rarely sent overseas. Prior to his Bosch Fellowship, McDonough had worked on the Hill specializing in Latin American foreign policy. Though he had little to no ties to Europe at the time, he recognized that this knowledge would be important to his career. How right this turned out to be.

And though McDonough is often mentioned as a notable Bosch Fellow, his wife Kari Hillstrom McDonough also joined his cohort—as a Bosch Fellow in her own right. This program’s second most visible fellow is easily Sandi Peterson, Group Worldwide Chairman at Johnson & Johnson since 2012.

 

U.K. Native Co-founds Successful Start-up as a Result of his U.S. J-1 Internship Experience

Luke Beard interned in Brooklyn, NY at Elepath, a product studio, through the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. Not long into his internship, Luke developed the idea for Exposure, a sleek and clean-as-a-whistle photography-based storytelling platform. In less than five months in the U.S., Luke created the Exposure platform and launched it to the public. In 2015 it became its own company. Today, Exposure is a sustainable product and business with more than 80,000 members and more than 2.1 million photos within over 50,000 published stories. Learn more at exposure.co.

 

Alfa Fellow Develops Timely Expertise on the Middle East During Program Year in Moscow

Hanna Notte, a German participant on the Alfa Fellowship Program in 2015-2016, focused her time in Moscow examining the relationship between Russia, the Middle East, and the West—a topical theme given current events in Syria. Hanna’s two work placements at the Carnegie Moscow Center and the Institute of Oriental Studies led her to publish “Russia in Chechnya and Syria: Pursuit of Strategic Goals” in Middle East Policy. Hanna presented her research—and in Russian no less—through forums hosted by both host think tanks, while studying Arabic throughout her program year. She is currently a DPhil candidate in International Relations at the University of Oxford, and she will continue her research this summer 2016 at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Manama, Bahrain, through the invitation of a scholar she met while an Alfa Fellow.

 

IVLP Inspires Participants to Advocate for Women’s Rights in Egypt

Sara El Shaarawy, a lawyer and university lecturer from Cairo, joined a group of eight Egyptian women and legal scholars and practitioners for an International Visitors Leadership Program study tour focused on gender equality issues. “This experience reinforced my self-confidence as an independent Egyptian woman that I can serve my country,” she said upon reflecting on her program. Sara was especially inspired by the role social organizations play in American society. Since 2012 she has used her university bully pulpit to encourage students to establish similar social organizations back home. “After this experience, I am in a better position to defend women’s rights and push for legal reform that, among other things, is mindful of empowering women.”

 

Life-changing CBYX Experience Leads Automotive Executive to Advocate on the Hill

When State Department budget cuts threatened the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program, Ian Bolin was first in line to testify on the Hill in favor of the program. He credits the cultural exchange program with shaping his career in the automotive industry. In fact, his internship at Bosch in Stuttgart led to his first job as an assistant to the president of Rolls Royce and Bentley Motor Cars. He then spent 15 years in automotive strategy, sales and marketing leadership roles for Volkswagen, Audi, and Infiniti, including multiple stints overseas. Married to a German woman, he now serves as a consultant at Egon Zehnder providing executive and board search services and leadership consulting. In fact, Ian is only one of many prominent CBYX alumni whose careers have led them to U.S. or German automotive companies.

 

Alumni Leverage International Experience to Create and Lead Successful Enterprises

Many Cultural Vistas alumni leverage their new perspectives and insights to start their own businesses, organizations, and initiatives. While this holds true for alumni from across our portfolio of programs, Columbia School of Business Professor Dan Wang, has shown that 13% of participants in Cultural Vistas’ J-1 Visa program become entrepreneurs back home. U.S. examples include Christian Chabot, Founder and CEO of Tableau Software and Clay Guillory, Founder of Titan Robotics, among others.

 

New Solutions for Agrarian Communities in Nigeria

Along with participants from 12 other African nations, Bosede Oboh, CEO of ACASC Farms in Nigeria, came to the United States for a three-week visit focused on the farm-to-table movement in 2012. This International Visitors Leadership Program project included visits to private farms, universities, and other organizations and has since led to long-lasting relationships and new opportunities. Back in Nigeria she has begun implementing solutions like farm-to-school programs and farmers markets, which she believes will help provide a better life for local agrarian communities. “The exposure I had during the program changed my thinking and opinions of America and its people,” Bosede said. “I count it as a rare privilege and great opportunity for me to change my little world by the things I have experienced in the bigger world.”

 

CBYX Experience Leads to a Career in German Diplomacy

In 2003-4, Katharina Michalczyk of Germany participated in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program. Through the program, she had the opportunity to live with a host family in New Jersey, study for a semester at a community college, and intern for a semester, all while engaging in community service. According to Katharina, one of the program’s benefits was the chance to educate those she came in contact with about Germany, while learning about the United States. She cites a common CBYX refrain, “It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different!” This transformative experience then helped her decide on her career path. Since 2005, Katharina has served in the German Federal Foreign Office. She is currently at the Directorate-General for International Order, the United Nations and Arms Control, following posts at the German Embassy in Norway and India, and in the press department in Berlin. Katharina’s story is not unusual, and she is far from the only CBYX alum working in the Federal Foreign Office!


Our Values

Cultural Vistas created its alumni relations initiative using these guidelines to shape its focus and direction.

International exchange network

We create facilitated access to a network of Cultural Vistas international exchange alumni, which leads to valuable professional collaboration and career advancement.

Professional advancement

We provide alumni with tools, training, and support for leveraging their exchange experience for professional advancement throughout their careers.

Lifelong exchange experience

Through in-person and virtual encounters, we offer alumni opportunities to extend and build on their exchange experience after it has taken place.

Recognition

We celebrate and promote alumni achievements that demonstrate the professional and social-impact value of international exchange.


Cultural Vistas Alumni Council

The alumni council was initiated in 2016 to guide the efforts and activities of the Cultural Vistas Alumni Network. It is made up of a dedicated group of alumni volunteers who serve as ambassadors for and to the organization.

Nancy Mancilla, Alumni Council Co-Chair, CBYX | 1999-2000

Nancy MancillaNancy is recognized as the CEO of ISOS Group, a GRI Certified Training Partner, CDP as Educational Partner, ISO26000 and IPMS Certified GPM (for Sustainability Project Management) Training Partner. In this capacity, Nancy has orchestrated 100+ Certified Trainings, co-taught MBA programs, regularly serves as a conference guest speaker and caters to industry roundtables by providing knowledge of the non-financial reporting process. She conducts sustainability assessments, reporting guidance and external assurance under the consultancy and has catered to many of the world’s best-known Fortune 500’s.

Prior to starting ISOS Group in 2008, Nancy assisted Winrock International in developing their sustainability services and led numerous micro-economic development projects related biodiversity, agronomics and renewable energy. She also developed an innovative technique to analyze the sustainability of Winrock’s hydro-electric projects in the Republic of Georgia as opposed to Russian energy sources. Previous positions included the Little Rock City Mayor’s Sustainability Commission, Arkansas Clean Cities Coalition and the Arkansas Biofuels Alliance. Nancy earned her B.A. in International Relations (IR) with a Minor in Environmental Studies from the U.S. International University in San Diego, California. She also holds a M.A. in IR from the University of Amsterdam, as well as an inaugural M.P.S. (Public Service) from the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas where she dedicated her work to issues of sustainability.

In addition to online SA8000 web tutorials, Nancy has completed courses from the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute. She’s also a Certified Trainer for GRI and CDP, IMPS Certified Sustainability Project Manager, Certified Sustainability Assurance Practitioner (AccountAbility’s CSAP), an ISO 26000 Certified Practitioner and a TSC Service Provider, all of which required advanced training. Her work has earned her a position in the 2016 Leadership California cohort, the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern California Sustainable Business Council and finalist status in the 2014 San Diego Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Award.

Bradley Shingleton, Alumni Council Co-Chair,
Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship | 1986-87

Bradley ShingletonBradley is General Counsel for Deutsche Telekom, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG. He is based in Deutsche Telekom Inc.’s Washington D.C. office.
Prior to joining Deutsche Telekom, Inc. in 1994, Bradley practiced with law firms in Washington D.C., New York and Raleigh, North Carolina, specializing in corporate and international business transactions.
In 1986-1987, he was a Fellow of the Robert Bosch Foundation in Stuttgart, Germany. During the Bosch Fellowship, he served as a visiting attorney in the Federal ministry of Justice in Bonn, and in the Legal Department of Robert Bosch GmbH in Stuttgart. He is also the recipient of a Fulbright-DAAD scholarship, which enabled him to spend an academic year during his law school studies at Philipps- Universität in Marburg, Germany.
Bradley graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1982, from Harvard Divinity School in 1978, and from Dickinson College, cum laude, in 1975. He is admitted to practice in New York, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.

Kristine Angell, CBYX | 1997-98

Kristine AngellA native Midwesterner, Kristine has no problem striking up a conversation. She started Hopscotch Labs in the spring of 2014 to provide human-centered research and innovation strategy to help companies makes things personal. When the City of San Diego, the US’s 8th largest city, turned to Hopscotch Labs for help with their website redesign, her work redefined how residents and visitors experience city services; and created a template for future Code for America projects. She recently turned her talents towards disaster resilience software for the World Bank. Kristine sits on the board of San Diego Experience Design (SDXD), as Head of Events; and volunteers for UXSpeakeasy (IxDA).

Kristine is a proud alumnus of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design and Stuart School of Business, where she holds a Masters in Design Methods and an MBA respectively. Kristine is the winner of the 2012 Chicago Innovation Awards Student Competition and has been featured in “The State of Service Design, 2013”, Forrester Research; and her work featured in “101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization”, Vijay Kumar. She has spoken at UCSD’s Design Forward and run workshops for San Diego Startup Week.

Prior to founding Hopscotch Labs, Kristine spent 5 years innovations in product and service at Ziba California, The Goodman Theatre, RKS Design, and Design Innovation (Milan, Italy); for clients that include industry giants such as SC Johnson, Wrigley, Pepsico and startups BetterAt/ and Omhu. Kristine cut her teeth working in New York City’s design and advertising industry.

Sylvia Becker, Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship | 1990-91

Sylvia Becker

Sylvia is a retired partner and Special Counsel at Kaye Scholer LLP.  Her practice focuses on intellectual property litigation, including the representation of major pharmaceutical companies in complex patent cases.

Sylvia also serves as a Commissioner of the United States Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, a quasi-judicial, independent agency within the Department of Justice, which adjudicates claims of U.S. nationals against foreign governments, under specific jurisdiction conferred by Congress, pursuant to international claims settlement agreements, or at the request of the Secretary of State.   She was nominated for that position by President Obama in September 2012, and confirmed by the Senate in June 2013.

Earlier in her career, Sylvia was awarded the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship in Germany, during which she worked in the German Foreign Ministry, and in both trial-level and appellate courts responsible for intellectual property and competition cases.  She was also awarded a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship in Washington, DC, where she served as staff attorney for the Women’s Legal Defense Fund, working on employment discrimination and family law issues.

Before becoming a lawyer, Sylvia worked at the French Embassy as a librarian and research assistant in the Scientific Mission.  Sylvia received a joint degree in law and international affairs (JD/MSFS) from Georgetown University in 1987.  She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service, awarded by Georgetown University in 1980.  Sylvia is fluent in both German and French.

Cordell Carter, II, Robert Bosch Foundation | 2007-08

Cordell Carter

Cordell serves as Chief Executive Officer of TechTown Foundation, Inc., a center for innovation designed to level the playing field for young innovators through access to state of the art technology, training in 21st century skills and career awareness. Previously he was Chief of Staff and Director, U.S. Programs for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Vice President of Operations for the National

Alliance of Public Charter School; and Vice President of Public Policy, leading the Education and Workforce Committee, for Business Roundtable. Earlier in his career, he served Seattle Public School District as a labor negotiator and Director of School Support Services, a Visiting Attorney/Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow with Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau (KfW) Bankengruppe; and a technology strategy consultant with the IBM Corporation.

Over the last 16 years, Cordell has been honored as a Eisenhower Fellow (China), White House Champion of Change for Computer Science Education, designated as a “40 under 40” by business and civic organizations in Washington State and Tennessee; selected as a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow for Young American Leaders; and Broad Foundation Resident in Urban Education. In Chattanooga he serves on the boards of the United Way of Greater Chattanooga and Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation and is a Rotarian with the Rotary Club of Chattanooga. In his spare time, Cordell advises boards, artists and social ventures and speaks on innovation in the education and workforce industry.

Cordell earned J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School, a M.Sc. in Public Policy and Management Studies from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington.

Jason C. Jarrell, Alfa Fellowship Program | 2006-07

Jason C. Jarrell

Jason is the U.S. Director and Head of the Global Practice for Interel Group, a European-based global public affairs consultancy. He has extensive experience advising senior-level corporate executives on global public affairs strategy development and working with organizations to build or strengthen international capacity.

Jason’s international background crosses the private and public sectors, with more than fifteen years of experience in corporate public affairs, diplomacy, trade, knowledge management and executive education.

Before joining Interel, Jason headed the international practice at the Public Affairs Council in Washington where he led executive programming and research on international public affairs management.

He has also held senior-level consulting positions in Moscow, developing and leading strategic communications and government relations programs across multiple markets in Eastern Europe, and Central Asia for a diverse client list including global blue-chips and international non-profit advocacy groups.  Jason was a participant on the Alfa Fellowship program in 2006-2007, working at the UK-Russian oil & gas company TNK-BP.

Earlier in his career Jason worked for the U.S. Department of State, serving as special assistant on bilateral relations at the American Embassy in Moscow.

John Schmitz, Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship | 1984-85

John Schmitz

For 25 years, John has been the go-to political problem solver for leading U.S. companies facing legal and regulatory challenges in Berlin and Brussels. He has represented U.S. and European companies on complex cross-border transactions in politically sensitive sectors including media, energy and technology.

Additionally, John is fluent in German and has received several American and German awards, including the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit, First Class, from the Federal Republic of Germany (Deutsches Bundesverdienstkreuz, First Class).

Chris Wolz, IAESTE United States | 1982

Chris Wolz

Chris Wolz is president and CEO of Forum One, a digital agency focused on digital solutions to help clients accelerate their impact on global problems.

Chris brings to Forum One’s digital strategy work expertise in communication and collaboration strategies, federal policy analysis, environmental policy, and international development.  He has previously worked in environmental policy review and coordination in the Executive Office of the President/Office of Management and Budget, on Clean Air Act issues. He also worked as a civil/environmental engineer, including in rural Nepal with the U.S. Peace Corps, UNICEF, and CARE. He has a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He recently completed seven years on the Board of Directors of Global Giving Foundation, an online philanthropy portal that connects donors with grassroots projects around the world to make a high impact.

Forum One is a digital agency with expertise in using online strategies and tools to better communicate and collaborate about critical policy issues. They bring expertise in creative strategy and design, in user experience, in developing sophisticated websites and web services, and in ongoing training and support of clients’ teams. Forum One has a team of about 100 staff based in the Washington, D.C. area and Seattle. Its clients include government and non-governmental organizations, such as US Agency for International Development, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and OxfamUSA.


Stay in Touch

We want to stay in touch! Update your contact information to hear about regional events and opportunities.


Support Our Mission

Cultural Vistas warmly invites you to make a generous tax-deductible contribution. Our programs are pivot points in our participants’ lives. Your thoughtful gift will help make these transformative experiences possible for as many as 6,000 students and emerging leaders, ages 15 to 50, from 135-plus countries each year.

Make Your Donation