Ilir Zherka joined the Alliance for International Exchange as Executive Director in 2016. Ilir and staff are leading the effort to promote exchange programs by creating coalitions and advocacy working groups; initiating local engagement efforts; organizing program impact reports; conducting media outreach; and expanding the Alliance’s an annual conference.
Ilir has dedicated his career to serving the public interest. He has been the Executive Director of three other nonprofit organizations, where he worked on initiatives including advocacy and international issues. Ilir gained policy and political experience working on Capitol Hill, serving as an advisor to five presidential campaigns, and as a political appointee in the Executive Branch.
Ilir is the author of Winning the Inside Game: The Handbook of Advocacy Strategies. He has testified before Congress and has appeared on a wide-range of television and radio news programs. As a recognized community leader, Ilir has received numerous awards including the Whitney M. Young Jr. Leadership Award and the Exponent Award.
Ilir has personal experience with exchange programs. He was an IREX fellow in Albania and helped to create the Hope Fellowship program. Ilir is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Virginia School of Law.
Ilir is Albanian-American. He immigrated as a child with his family to the United States, speaks Albanian, and grew up in New York City.
Director of External Affairs
Laine Cavanaugh is our Director of External Affairs. She joined in June 2016 after graduating from American University with a M.A. in International Communication and a concentration in Transnational Education. During her time in graduate school, Laine completed internships at IREX and World Learning. She also traveled to Kenya to conduct original fieldwork in non-formal schools surrounding Nairobi. Prior to graduate school, Laine participated in City Year, an AmeriCorps program, where she was a mentor for underserved youth in West Philadelphia. As an undergraduate at Ursinus College, Laine had the opportunity to study abroad in Wollongong, Australia while pursuing her B.A. degree in Media & Communication Studies.
Laine is originally from Reedsville, Pennsylvania, and has achieved research proficiency in Arabic.
Associate Manager for Policy and Governmental Relations
Andrea Bodine joined the Alliance for International Exchange in early 2018. Prior to joining the Alliance, she was a transatlantic community analyst intern at The Streit Council for a Union of Democracies, a small international affairs think tank. She holds a Master’s degree in European Studies from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium with a focus on European foreign policy and globalization. Andrea had previously studied abroad at KU Leuven while pursuing her B.A. in Global Studies and Economics at Loyola University Maryland, where she was a Presidential Scholar.
Andrea is originally from Hagerstown, Maryland.
Evelyn Adams joined the Alliance for International Exchange as a Program Fellow in February 2021. After receiving her B.A. in International Affairs and French at Lafayette College, she taught at a public international school in Luxembourg as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. Prior to participating in the Fulbright Program, Evelyn gained experience working with international travel and exchange providers, including CIE Tours International and EF International Language Campus-Boston. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in International Affairs (MAIA) degree at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs with a focus in international education and public diplomacy.
Evelyn is originally from Williamsport, Pennsylvania and is proficient in French.
Kayla McCabe joined the Alliance for International Exchange as a Program Fellow in 2021. She attended Purdue University, where she spent a semester studying abroad in Ireland and earned a B.S in Psychology. After graduating, Kayla worked for two years as a Youth Development Specialist with Peace Corps Thailand and two years as the Program Manager at Kids Rank, a youth focused non-profit in Highland Park, IL. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Public Administration at American University’s School of Public Affairs.
Kayla is originally from Naperville, IL and is proficient in Thai.