Program Development and Custom Exchanges

At Cultural Vistas, we pride ourselves on creating dynamic means of experiential learning and cultural understanding through a wide array of cross-collaborative programming.

In addition to managing existing programs within our portfolio, we are dedicated to generating new experiences that align with our mission, highlight organizational strengths, and expand our clients’ impact. Some of our primary focus areas include:

  • Experiential Education
  • Entrepreneurship and Business Development
  • Environment and Resource Management
  • STEM
  • Promoting Diversity
  • Professional and Youth Programming

Cultural Vistas thoughtfully delivers high-impact global exchange experiences and internship opportunities tailored to the individual project goals of its partners. If your organization is interested in partnering with us on your next exchange program, please contact us.

Below is a selection of some recent customized exchanges, professional study tours, and initiatives designed and administered by our team.

Our Work

We strive to deliver high-impact educational and professional exchange programs that are designed and administered with the utmost professionalism, and that serve a wide range of stakeholders, from foreign professionals to American students and embassies abroad.

Below is a compilation of some recent customized exchanges, professional study tours, and initiatives designed and administered by our team.

TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program U.S. Tour

Years: 2014-2019
Location: United States
Partners: U.S. Embassy, Tokyo; MetLife, Inc.; U.S.-Japan CouncilUnderstanding there is no ‘one size fits all’ path to success has been one of the major takeaways for the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program. Since 2014, Cultural Vistas has brought 50 female Japanese university students to the United States annually for a weeklong professional and leadership exchange program. As part of this 10-month mentorship program, launched by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the TOMODACHI Initiative and sponsored and supported by MetLife Inc., Cultural Vistas has built interactive, weeklong programs focused on how women achieve success in the modern economy. Cultural Vistas connects these students with female leaders from an array of professional sectors in New York City and Washington, D.C. to inspire the confidence to push past long-held gender norms and towards a more equal future in business.

Wanhua Chemical Group International Internship Program

Years: 2015-2020
Location: United States
Partners: Wanhua Chemical Group of Yantai, ChinaWanhua Chemical Group has partnered with Cultural Vistas to arrange exchange programs for front-line managers to better understand the culture of the American workforce. Through a five-month U.S. training experience, participants engage in English language classes, seminars and site visits, as well as four months of on-the-job training in their fields.

Five Wanhua program participants out on the town.

Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange

Years: 2016-2018
Location: United States and Germany
Partners: The Transatlantic Program of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany through funds of the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi), the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America, BMW Group, and Welcoming America.The Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange (WCTE) was a reciprocal exchange program for integration practitioners and leaders from the United States and Germany, focusing on best practices in local-level integration of refugees and immigrants. The program brought together over 125 individuals from 27 communities to share innovative approaches to integration in both the U.S. and Germany.

Two community leaders shake hands at a WCTE event.



Participating Communities in the U.S.: Anchorage, AK; Atlanta and Clarkston, GA; Boise, ID; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Columbus, Dayton, and Lucas County, OH; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Montgomery County, MD; Nashville, TN; Salt Lake City, UT; St. Louis, MO


Participating Communities in Germany: Landkreis Bautzen, Dresden, Kreis Düren, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt am Main, Freiburg i.B., Hamburg, Iserlohn, Leipzig, Mannheim, Münster, Stuttgart, LK Sächsische Schweiz‐Osterzgebirge, LK Teltow-Fläming

Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI)

In collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Mission to ASEAN, and U.S. Embassies in the ASEAN region

Cultural Vistas has planned and hosted seven mixed-format workshops, regional exchanges, and a small grants program in support of YSEALI.

YSEALI Seeds for the Future
Years: 2017-2021
Location: All 10 ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste
Partners: U.S. Mission to ASEAN
Visit the YSEALI Seeds website

Year: 2017
Location: Manila, The Philippines
Partners: U.S. Embassy, Manila
Visit the YSEALI Summit website

Young Pacific Leaders Initiative (YPL)

In collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Consulate Auckland, and U.S. Embassies in the Pacific region, Cultural Vistas has implemented a small grants program as well as the annual youth leadership conference in support of YPL.

Young Pacific Leaders Small Grants Program
Years: 2018-2019
Location: Throughout participating YPL countries in the Pacific region
Partners: U.S. Consulate Auckland
Visit the YPL Grants website

Official Young Pacific Leaders logo

Young Pacific Leaders Conference
Year: 2019
Location: Suva, Fiji
Partners: U.S. Consulate Auckland

Additional Recent Initiatives have included:

U.S.-UK Community Leadership in Preventing Violence (2017-2018)

Participants of the U.S.-UK Community Leadership in Preventing Violence program.Year(s): 2017-2018
Location: United States, United Kingdom
Client: U.S. Embassy, London

Through a shared goal of establishing resilient communities, the U.S.-UK Community Leadership in Preventing Violence Program brings together British and American leaders to discuss ways of promoting tolerance and curtailing extremism in their hometowns.

This two-way exchange allows representatives of UK and U.S. cities facing similar challenges to discuss best practices to implement in their cities. This includes a Boston marathon bombing survivor traveling to the UK to meet with Manchester and London attack survivors, and a Denver-based non-profit leader receiving the Livingston Fellowship to continue collaboration with Birmingham, UK participants.

Russian Business Exchange and Student Training (2016)

RBEST ExchangeYear(s): 2016
Location: United States
Client: U.S. Embassy, Moscow

In 2016, Cultural Vistas began implementing the Russian Business Exchange and Student Training (RBEST) program, a private-sector exchange, funded by a grant from the Embassy of the United States in Moscow, to strengthen business-to-business ties between Russia and the United States. RBEST offered skilled Russian young professionals the opportunity to complete a 4-6 month internship or training program at U.S. host organizations.

The program began with virtual activities and an orientation seminar in Moscow, followed by 4-to-6 month placements that our staff secured by matching the individual participants with U.S. hosts seeking to advance relations with Russia.

TeamUp Japan (2015-2018)

Year(s): 2015-2018
Location: Japan, United States
Client: U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation (USJBF)

TeamUp is a campaign funded by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and facilitated by the United States-Japan Bridging Foundation (USJBF) to increase the number of U.S. and Japanese undergraduate and graduate students studying in each other’s country by expanding relevant, active, mutually beneficial and innovative agreements among U.S. and Japanese institutions of higher education.

In 2015, Cultural Vistas supported the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation as it brought together 65 senior-level higher education professionals at a forum in Tokyo to advance strategic educational partnerships between the two nations.

In 2016 and 2018, Cultural Vistas implemented short-term professional exchanges for representatives from U.S. institutions to visit Japan and encourage strategic educational partnerships between universities.

Cultural Vistas also administered the TeamUp Micro-Grants Program from 2016-2017 to award U.S. institutions with micro-grants of up to $7,000 each to help establish partnerships with Japanese institutions.

Finally, Cultural Vistas assisted with launching the TeamUp Hybrid Exchange Program in 2018. An innovative new opportunity to increase higher education exchange opportunities between the U.S. and Japan, the Hybrid Exchange Program integrated virtual and in-person exchange models for paired academic institutions to increase accessibility of bilateral student exchange.

U.K. Climate and Energy Leaders (2015)

UK Climate GroupYear(s): 2015
Location: United States
Partners: U.S. Embassy, London

In July 2015, Cultural Vistas welcomed climate and renewable energy leaders from the United Kingdom for a two-week professional visit to learn about American efforts to combat climate change. Emphasizing the important to look at the work taking place at the state level, they came to understand how technology is transforming the way Americans produce and consume energy.

Leaders met and engaged with a variety of organizations and institutions, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York City’s Office of Sustainability, City of Fort Collins Climate Hub, and the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, and returned home with a more nuanced view of American efforts in the climate space, as well as with new ideas and expanded networks for future cooperation.

Thai Political Leaders for Professional Exchange Program (2015)

Participants of the Thai Political Leaders for Professional Exchange ProgramYear(s): 2015
Location: United States
Client: U.S. Embassy, Bangkok

In November 2015, Cultural Vistas designed and implemented a 10-day visit for 10 rising political leaders from Thailand focused on preparations for the U.S. presidential election. This initiative focused on examining the U.S. primary system and election process, including political party management and conflict, anti-voter fraud mechanisms, social media outreach, and other digital campaign tools.

The 10 leaders represented four different political parties in Thailand, including the Peua Thai Party, the Democrat Party, and non-partisan observers, including a member of Thailand’s Election Commission.

American Youth Leadership Program (2014, 2012, 2011)

AYLP 2014Year(s): 2014, 2012, 2011
Location: Japan, Malaysia, Singapore
Client(s): U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

More than 65 American high school students (ages 15-17) and several teachers have been introduced to the people, cultures, and ecology of Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore with a specific focus on these nations’ approaches to sustainable development through Cultural Vistas’ work administering the American Youth Leadership Program, supported by grants from the U.S. Department of State.

These initiatives included four months of virtual learning engagement, three-week study tours in Asia, which included educational, cultural, and community service activities, lectures, sightseeing, and homestays; followed by post-program service projects implemented by all participants within their local communities involving the skills and knowledge acquired during the exchange.

Our Team

Dan Ewert, VP for Program Research, Partnerships, + Innovation

Dan EwertDan serves as the Vice President for Program Research, Partnerships and Innovation, and the National Secretary of the United States affiliate of the International Association of the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE).

He has been with the organization since 1994, including stints as Director of Career Development Exchanges, Director of Program Development and Vice President of Programs and Sales.

Previously, Dan served as the Director of Internships for The Washington Center, where he managed the organization’s business, economics, health and science placements, and was a teaching associate for its foreign policy seminars. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member for the organization since 1991, co-leading a college-level course on research methodology and writing.

Additionally, Dan has been a student advisor at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Director of Personnel for Federal Business Centers in Edison, New Jersey.

Dan also currently acts as the Treasurer and founding member of the Board of Directors of the Global Pathways Project, a non-profit organization that helps expose inner-city Baltimore youth to international events and opportunities.

He has presented at a number of national conferences of NAFSA, the American Society of Experiential Education, the Clean Energy Workforce Education Council, the American Academy of Science, the Cooperative Education International Association, the Chilean-American Chamber of Commerce, AMCHAM Brazil, AMCHAM Vietnam, NAFSA’s Embassy Dialogue Committee, the National Society for Experiential Education, and the Intercultural Management Institute.

Dan holds a masters degree in geography from the University of Washington in Seattle, and a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Asian studies from American University in Washington, D.C.

Email Dan

Dan Ewert's Linkedin Profile

Courtney Nelson, Director

Courtney NelsonCourtney serves as Cultural Vistas’ Director of Program Development, designing and implementing innovative international exchange programs and advocating for cross-cultural engagement.

Courtney joined Cultural Vistas in 2014, previously managing the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program—a summer internship program funded by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by Cultural Vistas, providing Fulbright leaders from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia with professional development in an American workplace. This included sourcing summer internship placements as well as orientation events, virtual programming, and a closing seminar for participants to share work experiences and support career development.

Before coming to Cultural Vistas, Courtney worked at the U.S. Department of State managing programs for the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies, promoting civil society engagement and public diplomacy. She holds a Master’s Degree in International Conflict Resolution from American University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Texas A&M University.

Email Courtney

Courtney Nelson's Linkedin Profile

Phoebe Heibeck, Program Development Officer

Phoebe works as a Program Development Officer within the Cultural Vistas’ Program Development department, assisting and supporting operations for international exchange programs with U.S. Embassies and other private and public entities worldwide.

Through her work at Cultural Vistas, Phoebe has led and supported programs based in the Pacific, Asia, and Europe—including the 2018 Young Pacific Leaders Small Grant Program, United Kingdom Exploring American Values Program, 2018 German Teachers Exchange Program, TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program U.S. Tour, and the 2017 YSEALI Summit.

Before joining Cultural Vistas in 2017, Phoebe worked for Catholic Relief Services, an international development and humanitarian aid agency in Baltimore, Maryland. In this role, she implemented and supported outreach programs in the United States, working with offices in 101 countries around the world. Prior to her international development work, she served as a campaign manager in Missouri and in many different capacities at the university level working one-on-one with students.

Phoebe graduated from Saint Louis University (Go Billikens!) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and international studies. As a student she studied in Madrid, Spain for a semester, where she also had the opportunity to volunteer with the U.S. Embassy.

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Phoebe Heibeck's Linkedin Profile

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