The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) builds mutual understanding through carefully designed short-term visits to the United States for current and emerging foreign leaders.
Through the combination of meetings, site visits, and focused cultural events, IVLP, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, promotes a deeper understanding of the political, social, economic and cultural diversity of the United States; a thorough exposure to a range of responsible viewpoints; and the opportunity to develop meaningful professional relationships.
With a 75-plus-year history, it is the longest-running State Department-sponsored exchange program. Cultural Vistas is one of seven National Program Agencies (NPAs) that works together with the U.S. Department of State to administer, design, and implement IVLP projects.
In this role, our staff are responsible for arranging professional and cultural itineraries throughout the United States that directly support and advance U.S. foreign policy goals, while reflecting the interests of each international visitor. We perform significant research into project themes, arranges an orientation session in Washington, D.C., and work with affiliates of Global Ties U.S. to complete each IVLP project.
Since 1940, more than 200,000 visitors have interacted with Americans through the International Visitor Leadership Program. IVLP annually brings approximately 5,000 international visitors from around the world to the United States to meet and confer with their professional counterparts.
The international visitors are current or potential leaders in government, politics, the media, education, the arts, business and other key fields. Alumni of the program include more than 335 former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government, who proudly call themselves IVLP alumni.
The IVLP is organized within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and operates under the authority of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961.
In October 2016, Cultural Vistas celebrated its fifth anniversary of becoming a National Program Agency selected to facilitate the IVLP. This program has created an exciting opportunity for our nonprofit to apply its wealth of experience towards programming short-term visits and exchange opportunities between international and American professionals.
Some of our Cultural Vistas’ previous IVLP participants have met with the following organizations and representatives:
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- U.S. Court of Appeals
- White House
- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
- Chairman of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Martin Castro
In February 2015, Cultural Vistas created a documentary to celebrate the program’s 75th anniversary.
A year later, in February 2016, we celebrated our 1,000th IVLP visitor.
- All IVLP participants are selected and nominated annually by American Foreign Service Officers at U.S. Embassies around the world.
Inside the IVLP Experience
Timothy J. Gibson, Sr. Program Director
Mr. Gibson serves as Cultural Vistas’ International Visitor Leadership Program director and is responsible for all its operations, strategic planning, program administration, and financial management.
He comes to Cultural Vistas from Kazakhstan, where he served as the country director for International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) for the Central Asian IREX offices for the previous five years. In this role, he worked with U.S. Embassies and American and international universities, as well as with government agencies in each of the five nations with which he worked. He also designed and implemented strategic plans to introduce alumni programs, managed all of the social media for IREX, and worked on grant proposals. He also worked for IREX in Washington for two years, spent a year as a research assistant with the Brookings Institution, and two years as a teacher in Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).
Mr. Gibson earned his MA in international affairs and development from George Washington University, and his BA in international economics and Russian from Trinity University in San Antonio, where he also worked for the San Antonio Council for International Visitors. He is fluent in Russian and speaks some Japanese.
Steven Washington, Program Officer
Mr. Washington serves as a program officer with Cultural Vistas. In cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, he is responsible for the design, planning and implementation of a variety of IVLP projects.
He had previously served as a program director with Cultural Vistas for five years, developing and implementing a variety of short-term, experience-based exchange programs for foreign visitors and Americans traveling overseas for both students and professionals. This included the design and implementation of the Global Career Launch program for university-level students from China, Hong Kong, and Macau. He has also been an Alternate Responsible Officer for Cultural Vistas’ J-1 Summer Work and Travel Program and has conducted orientations for participants both in the United States and overseas. In addition, he has nine years of experience as a travel agent for Travel and Transport, including recruitment and training of new staff.
Mr. Washington has earned his MPA and BA in international studies and economics from the University of Nebraska in Omaha. He studied abroad in France and Austria is fluent in French and German.
Paul Champaloux, Program Officer
Mr. Champaloux serves as a Program Officer with Cultural Vistas. In cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, he is responsible for the design, planning and implementation of IVLP projects.
He initially arrived at Cultural Vistas as an assistant program officer with the Train USA Department, where he helped provide J-1 Visa sponsorship for international interns and trainees coming to the United States to develop their professional skills and experience American culture. He additionally served as a Social Events Coordinator and organized cultural activities for J-1 participants across the country. Prior to this, Mr. Champaloux was an assistant teacher on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years in the rural Wakayama Prefecture. There, he taught English at primary and secondary schools and acted as an international exchange representative for a number of professional groups including the Rotary Club Foundation, Lion’s Club, and Bambous Noirs et Pommiers Blancs Sister City Exchange.
Mr. Champaloux earned a MA in French cultural studies from Columbia University in Paris, where he explored issues of European identity and multilingualism. He earned his BA in French studies from Davidson College in North Carolina and studied abroad in Tours, France for one year. He is fluent in French and proficient in Japanese.
Michelle Kulikauskas, Program Officer
Ms. Kulikauskas currently serves as a program officer with Cultural Vistas. In this role, she designs, plans, and implements a variety of short-term professional exchange projects, liaises with and coordinates project goals and objectives with her State Department counterparts, and coordinates IVLP social media strategy with both her Cultural Vistas and State Department colleagues.
Ms. Kulikauskas also assisted in the implementation of the four-day Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Generation EARTH workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia in April 2015. Ms. Kulikauskas came to Cultural Vistas as an IVLP Program Intern after working for one year as a Management Analyst at Human Capital Initiatives, LLC in Washington, D.C. Prior to her work at HCi, Kulikauskas worked for the Streit Council for a Union of Democracies as a Program Intern. As a student, she studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland. As a capstone to this program, she completed a research paper on understanding the dynamics of Switzerland’s neutrality policy.
Ms. Kulikauskas holds a BA in international relations from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs is proficient in French.
Sarah Amin, Assistant Program Officer
Ms. Amin joined Cultural Vistas during the spring of 2015 as an assistant program officer, in which role she is responsible for the logistical planning and implementation of IVLP programs.
For two years prior to this, she served as a research assistant to international fellows participating in the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship program at the National Endowment for Democracy. In this capacity she supported professional and academic fellows in residence from South, Central, and East Asia, the Middle East, and East-Central Europe. She also previously served as a project assistant with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, where she developed an understanding of both grassroots and grass-tops strategies to promote inclusive development and civil society participation for socioeconomically marginalized populations in transitioning countries.
Ms. Amin earned her MA in international affairs with focuses on human rights, gender, and disability at American University, and received her BA in international studies at Dickinson College.
Meghry Awakian, Assistant Program Officer
Ms. Awakian joined Cultural Vistas in the fall of 2016 as an assistant program officer, in which role she is responsible for the logistical planning and implementation of IVLP programs.
Prior to this, she worked in Lebanon as a research assistant to the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) at the American University of Beirut (AUB). In this capacity, she collaborated with local and international organizations to create opportunities for students to become engaged in community projects pertaining to education, refugees, relief, environment, and human rights. She worked closely with students from the USAID University Scholarship Program and U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) as well as AUB international students to enhance their University experience through active participation in Lebanese Civil Society.
Her previous experiences include interning with the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations, as well as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the U.S. House of Representatives. She is actively involved in Armenian nonprofit organizations, and has previously helped lead a Youth Corps project for children in underserved communities within Armenia, Georgia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ms. Awakian earned her bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in philosophy from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Her thesis project explored the effects of regime-type on development and well-being. Ms. Awakian is fluent in Armenian and proficient in Levantine Arabic.
Want to Get Involved?
As an IVLP National Program Agency, we are continually looking to build upon our knowledge of experiential-based learning and to expand our existing relationships with organizations and individuals throughout the United States. If your company is interested in meeting with a relevant group of visitors or if you live in the Washington, D.C. metro area and are interested in hosting an IVLP group, let us know.
International Visitor Leadership Program
National Program Agency
This is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by Cultural Vistas.