The Collective Public Policy Voice of the Exchange Community

For immediate release: January 11, 2016

Contact: Kaitlyn Chriswell, 202-293-6141,

Washington, DC – Ilir Zherka recently joined the Alliance for International Exchange as new Executive Director.

Zherka, who served as Executive Director of the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), will lead the Alliance in its continued efforts to promote the growth and impact of exchange programs.

Alliance Chair William Gertz said, “The Board feels that Ilir is the right person to build on the Alliance’s significant track record of success, maintain and grow the organization’s internal structure, and represent the Alliance’s interests in Washington, D.C.” Zherka succeeds Michael McCarry, who retires after 21 years as the Alliance’s Executive Director.

An exchange program alumnus himself, Zherka helped establish Hope Fellowships, a women’s leadership exchange, after the war in Kosovo. Prior to his work at NCoC, he led DC Vote in its efforts to raise public awareness about Washington, DC’s lack of voting representation in Congress, and co-founded the National Albanian-American Council (NAAC). Ilir also worked on Capitol Hill, for the Clinton Administration, and for a number of presidential campaigns.

“We are happy to have Ilir as a strong voice in support of the exchange community,” said State Department Assistant Secretary Evan Ryan. “Educational and cultural exchange programs are vital to U.S. public diplomacy, and the Alliance is an important partner in our efforts.”

With strong relationships on Capitol Hill, Zherka has developed a solid track record in advocacy, and is experienced at fundraising and media relations. “Throughout the two decades I have known Ilir, he has demonstrated passion for advancing the public interest, strategic insight, and dogged determination,” said Congressman Eliot Engel. “He is the right person to advance the cause of international exchange.”

The Alliance for International Exchange is an association of 90 nongovernmental organizations comprising the international exchange community in the United States. As the voice of international exchange, the Alliance promotes the growth and impact of exchange programs and the effectiveness of its members by engaging in advocacy and building public awareness of the power of exchange. More information is available at