The Cultural Vistas Alumni Network encourages alumni from across our programs to connect and engage in a truly global community. With over 150,000 members and counting representing more than 130 different countries, our past program participants truly span the world and an impressive variety of fields.
We’re committed to fostering a robust alumni network by providing a central hub to support alumni in leveraging their exchange experiences throughout their careers.
We look forward to getting to know you and the positive change your experience has brought to your life, your career, and your community.
Emergency Resources & Support for Ukraine
At Cultural Vistas, the health and well-being of our exchange program participants is of paramount importance to us.
We are saddened by the escalation of war in Ukraine and call on a diplomatic solution and a return to peace. We work with civil society organizations and public diplomacy throughout the region and pledge our continued support for those displaced by this action.
This continues to be a fast-evolving situation. As such, we are assessing the impact on our programs, our participants, our alumni and partners throughout the region.
Annual Alumni Awards
Established in 2018, the Cultural Vistas Alumni Awards are designated annually in two categories: Distinguished Alumni Leadership and Alumni Impact. These are the highest honors bestowed on our alumni community. Alumni awardees are given the opportunity to help shape the future of alumni programming and are showcased during our annual awards ceremony.
Cultural Vistas Alumni Council
The Cultural Vistas Alumni Council is made up of a dedicated group of nine experienced and established alumni ambassadors who understand the critical importance of exchanging ideas and collaborating across national boundaries in today’s global workplace. The 2020-21 group represents five different Cultural Vistas-managed exchanges and spans four decades of U.S. and international programming. Read more about their vital role in guiding our Alumni Network
Edmund S. Muskie Professional Fellowship Program, 2018
United Nations Development Program
Lela Akiashvili is a global development specialist with twelve years of work experience in public policy analysis, human rights protection, gender equality, gender in development, women and youth empowerment, post-conflict community outreach, peacebuilding, and non-formal education. Currently, she serves as an Independent expert on Human Rights at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
In November 2019, Ms. Akiashvili was appointed as the Advisor to the Prime Minister of Georgia on Human Rights and Gender Equality. She led the Prime Minister’s Human Rights team that aimed to strengthen human rights protections, introduce human rights-based approaches in public policy-making, and enhance principles of institutional democracy and the rule of law. Prior to the public service, Ms. Akiashvili led UNDP Georgia’s work on gender equality and LGBTQI+ rights.
Ms. Akiashvili holds a Master’s of Public Administration from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Law (LLB) from Tbilisi State University. She spent her junior year as a UGRAD exchange student at the University of Superior-Wisconsin (LLB).
Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program, 2018-19
U.S. Department of Justice
Liudmila is a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs, where she works with foreign partners on international criminal law matters. Previously, she spent a transformative year in Germany where she worked at the German Federal Foreign Office on humanitarian and human rights issues and at Transparency International’s global headquarters in Berlin. Prior to this, Liudmila was an associate attorney at the law firm of Montagut & Sobral, PC, where she specialized on immigration and refugee law across a wide- range of matters including asylum, deportation defense, and family reunification.
Liudmila is committed to expanding opportunities for young minority women in national security and international affairs and serves as a mentor with Cultural Vistas alumni network and the non-profit: En Voz Alta.
A native Spanish speaker, Liudmila holds Juris Doctor from the University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law and a Master’s of Law in International and Comparative Law from The George Washington University Law School. She earned a B.S. in Justice Administration from the University of Louisville.
Alfa Fellowship Program, 2014-15
Andrew is a human rights campaigner and policy advocate who supports nonprofits, coalitions, and communities fighting injustice. Currently, he is a Senior Communications Advisor with Oxfam. Previously, he held roles with Democracy International and Human Rights Watch in Russia.
Andrew has defended activists and conducted human rights work in complex environments. He believes that solving some of our most pressing challenges, from climate change to shrinking civic space, requires a firm commitment to inclusive international dialogue, grounded in respect, equity, inclusion and diversity.
Andrew has commented on foreign affairs, natural resources, and civil society for The Washington Post, Mongabay, and The Moscow Times, among others. He holds an M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies from Stanford University and a B.A. in History and Government from Claremont McKenna College.
Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, 2013-14
MSN Candidate, Johns Hopkins University
Paul is leveraging his international experience and passion for health equity as a candidate for the Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) program at Johns Hopkins University with anticipated completion in August 2022. Formerly, he served as an Urban Forester with Casey Trees, where he worked to restore and protect the tree canopy of our nation’s capital. He has extensive experience in sustainability management and environmental education as an ISA Certified Arborist.
Paul earned his M.Sc. in Sustainable Forest and Nature Management (SUFONAMA), a project of the European Union’s Erasmus+ program, at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in Germany. He holds a B.A. in International Business from Ramapo College where he was awarded the Presidential Scholarship and the Pillars Award for student leadership.
Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship, 2010-11
Dominick serves as the Global Head of G4A at Bayer where he brings healthcare expertise alongside experience across several sectors, including public health, health innovation and entrepreneurship, healthcare communications, and policy.
Mr. Kennerson formally joined the global healthcare arena as a Robert Bosch Foundation fellow, where he was exposed to the mechanisms of the transatlantic alliance, and transformative work experiences with Germany’s National Statutory Health Insurance Association. As Global Head of Bayer’s G4A, Dominick supports one of the industry’s leading platforms for digital health start-up partnership to put people at the center of managing their health in the digital age.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from South Carolina State University, and a Master’s degree in healthcare management from The George Washington University
Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange, 2016
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI)
Mariana joined the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) as their new Director of Strategic Initiatives in July of 2021. Prior to joining CHCI, Mariana served the Michigan Nonprofit Association as well as the office of Detroit City Council Member Raquel Castañeda-López for four years as the Chief of Staff where she worked to advance community advocacy and inclusive policy. Thanks to her work within the office, Detroit ranked the 8th most welcoming city in the U.S. in 2020 by the New American Economy.
Previously, Mariana held roles at the Kresge Foundation and as Chief Program & Strategy officer at Global Ties Detroit. She also served on the Board of Global Ties Detroit. Mariana moved to Detroit from Paris, where she co-managed two properties as Deputy Director for IGESA, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving France’s Ministry of Defense.
Mariana holds a Master’s degree in public administration/non- profit management from Oakland University and a B.A. in Psychology from Western Connecticut State University.
Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals 2002-03
Currently at Unity Technologies, Eva Poppe has over a decade of global experience in the technology and telco industry; establishing overachieving inside operations, whether that be in sales or a sales development function. Prior to this, Eva was a Sales Manager at Oracle, the world’s largest database management company where she focused on creating the Cloud Sales business unit.
Her dedication and drive have been recognized throughout her career. On several occasions she’s been awarded for her outstanding performance, most recently in 2020, where she was winner of the “MCV/DEVELOP Women In Games Award” for Business.
Eva holds a Master’s degree in Economics (MEcon) and a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Leipzig. She also speaks fluent German, English and Spanish having lived in Spain, the Netherlands, the US and now settled in England. This background has enabled Eva to motivate and lead teams in a multicultural, diverse and virtual project environment.
Angie Schmidt Whitney M.A.
Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, 1999-2000
College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University
Angie is a dedicated higher education professional with 20 years of experience in both large research-based and small liberal arts institutions. Her work spans a multitude of areas within higher education focused on increasing leadership capacities. Angie is committed to connecting all students to experiences and reflection. Angie spent a year in Germany through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) program and is passionate about the intersection of career and education abroad. To co-workers and close friends, Angie is known for being outgoing, fun, passionate, enthusiastic, strategic, inclusive and dependable.
Angie holds a Master’s of Art from the University of Minnesota’s Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology Program and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from the College of Saint Benedict.
Ricardo Vanella, Co-Chair
International Visitor Leadership Program, 2010
Strategic International Consultant
Ricardo is a strategic international consultant with more than 30 years of expertise in advising global corporations, institutions, and NGOs on business development, marketing, communications, and international engagement. He is an experienced speaker, speechwriter, author, and television and radio producer and presenter.
He is a member of The SPECTRUM Group which has supported diverse projects funded by the United Nations, European Union, U.S. Department of Commerce, USAID, and the Inter- American Development Bank. Ricardo serves on the boards and in the executive leadership of several professional member organizations in Argentina and worldwide. Among other international distinctions, the Italian government awarded him Knight of the Star Order.
Ricardo has a degree in Law from the National University of Cordoba, obtained an MBA at Bocconi University in Milan, as well as specialized in International Business at The American University of Paris. He is a graduate of the Strategy and Defense Policy Program at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, National Defense University.
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