Board Member Spotlight

The Alliance is featuring its newest Board Members and highlighting the great work they are doing within their organizations and in the broader international exchange community.

In this week’s Board Member Spotlight: Laurie Moxley

Laurie Moxley, the Vice President of International Programs at Alliance Abroad Group, has joined the Alliance Board of Directors. Laurie points to her early career and international experience in graduate school as her inspiration for her career in cultural exchange. Laurie joins the board energized to contribute to the growth of the Alliance through serving on the membership committee. Read Laurie’s full interview below.

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

Two quotes sum up my career pursuits perfectly.  One, from Frederick Buechner: “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”  And the other, from The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham: “To love what you do and feel that it matters, how could anything be more fun?”  I spent several years after college working for Envision, a Northern Virginia-based organization, on their student leadership conferences and international career development programs.  A Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship then led me to Dublin for a Masters in Educational Management and Administration from Trinity College.  This collection of experiences helped me realize that cultural exchange was a requirement for any future career opportunity.  I’ve spent over 13 years with Alliance Abroad and still show up to work each day with a keen sense of how our work impacts international students, professionals, U.S. host organizations and communities in ways that enrich lives and support the larger public diplomacy goal of these programs.  I’m proud to be part of an industry that facilitates face to face relationships, connection, mutual understanding and appreciation for different cultures.

  • What influenced you to join the Alliance Board of Directors?

I am energized by the opportunity to contribute to our industry on a new level.  In my tenure at Alliance Abroad, I’ve served on our leadership team, cultivated and grown our partnerships both internationally and with U.S. host organizations, overseen the strategy and operations of five J-1 programs, created and evolved our internal compliance team and developed a positive rapport with our colleagues at the Department of State.  I’ve always enjoyed and benefited from being an active participant at Alliance annual meetings (now conference) and Advocacy Days over the years.  Last year we expanded our advocacy work to include seven local meetings with our TX Senate and House staff members as part of Exchange Week in the District and look forward to building on this in 2019.   I believe in the strength of having a collective voice in Washington, have witnessed the impact of the Alliance’s work first-hand, and am ready to offer my time, energy and support to help achieve Board initiatives and goals.

  • What is your favorite thing about the Alliance community?

I have always appreciated the spirit of exchange we share as members and the relationships formed with trusted colleagues from other organizations.  So much of what we do comes down to relationships.  The rapport we’ve built among members has a positive benefit for each organization but also our programs as a whole, from sharing best practices to collaborating on proposed solutions to program challenges, threats and changes.  Being a part of the Alliance community gives us a chance to step back from our own day to day and connect with the larger scale and scope of exchange happening across our industry, which is inspiring and powerful.

  • What excites you most about the direction of the Alliance, and how will you contribute to it?

This is an exciting and interesting time for the Alliance and the future of the organization.  I’m looking forward to helping the Alliance continue to grow and evolve in sustainable and relevant ways wherever I can, primarily through service on the membership committee and enhanced advocacy efforts and outreach.

 

In this week’s Board Member Spotlight: Amber Bocanegra

Amber Bocanegra has joined the Alliance Board of Directors. Amber serves as the Executive Director of American Work Adventures. In her interview, Amber talks about her numerous experiences abroad and educational background as formative moments leading her to pursue a career in cultural exchange. Amber looks forward to representing AWA and other small J-1 designated sponsors on the Alliance Board. Read Amber’s full interview below.

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

I joined American Work Adventures as Executive Director in 2014.  As a Mexican-Native American woman who was raised in the small town of Hollister, California, by an immigrant mother, I aspired to learn about far-away places, peoples, languages, ideas, and cultures. My aspirations for knowledge paved my pathway towards a B.A. in World Languages and Cultures from California State University at Monterey Bay and provided me with the opportunities to study abroad in Spain, Italy, and Poland. Upon completion of my undergraduate studies and because of my breadth of experiences living abroad, I continued my studies and completed my M.A. in Interpretation and Translation (Spanish) from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and continued with an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from San Francisco State University.

The path that has led me to be a part of youth and cultural exchange programs/organizations, has been about crossing borders. The border of understanding, compassion, and challenging my own spaces. Through my personal, professional, and academic experiences I have been afforded the first-hand perspective on how to work towards overcoming the feelings of being an outsider and the resiliency of working past the subjective sentiments/ideals of others.

  • What influenced you to join the Alliance Board of Directors?

As a member of the American Work Adventures team and a member of a smaller J-1 designated sponsor, I believe that it is important that all Alliance members/affiliates be represented and heard. American Work Adventures and its sister company, Face the World, believe in offering a positive program to all international students and supporting the understanding of other cultures. My willingness to work towards progress has given me the grassroots ability of navigating through spaces and boundaries for cultural exchange.

  • What is your favorite thing about the Alliance community?

Being a member of the Alliance community provides the opportunity to connect to resources and to each other, to successfully bring about the understanding of cultural exchange programs and advocation for program participants and its allies.

  • What excites you most about the direction of the Alliance, and how will you contribute to it?

These are critical times for the understanding, advocacy, and longevity of cultural exchange programs. Taking on an important responsibility—promoting and advocating for cultural exchange programs–is not something I take lightly.  I find satisfaction in energetically confronting tough challenges and working collegially to overcome them by working with others to create a shared vision; objectively seeking answers to challenges; and building strategic partnerships.

 

In this week’s Board Member Spotlight: Russ Hedge

Russ Hedge, President and CEO of Hostelling International, has joined the Alliance Board of Directors. Russ notes his sabbatical in England as a moment that changed his “personal and career priorities”, leading him to become a volunteer for HI USA. As an engaged member of the Alliance, Russ was eager to become involved further in our initiatives and thus decided serving on the Board was a fitting way to do so. Russ looks forward to helping to realize the Alliance’s goals and contribute to its growth. Read Russ’s full interview below.

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in the field?

Largely by chance!   Five years into my economics and finance career I had the opportunity to take a sabbatical abroad to study in England.   Since I had never had the opportunity during college, I also added several months for travel around Europe.  The whole experience changed my personal and career priorities.  Soon after I returned home, I volunteered with HI USA to establish a hostel for international travelers in Washington DC.  That then led me to abandon my economic and finance career and go to work for HI USA as a local organizer focused on volunteer and exchange programs.  Hard to believe that was more than 30 years ago!

  • What influenced you to join the Alliance Board of Directors?

Partly it’s why Hostelling International (HI USA) chose to join the Alliance – we wanted to make a contribution to the international exchange community and viewed the Alliance as the best possible channel.  My involvement with the Blue Sky Working Group introduced me to a new level of engagement with the Alliance on topics such as widening access to travel and exchange for young Americans with limited opportunity and resources.   And the Alliance strategic plan showed an organization both pragmatic (which appeals to my finance orientation) and highly aspirational (which is why I was drawn to the international exchange field).

  • What is your favorite thing about the Alliance community?

The Alliance honors its past while looking forward.  The 25th Anniversary Gala was inspiring for the remarks shared by the speakers, especially their deep commitment to foresight and to exchange values.   The Alliance’s growth and evolution over the years is remarkable.   We didn’t stand still, and I admire that.

  • What excites you most about the direction of the Alliance, and how will you contribute to it?

The willingness to innovate.   I’ve heard wide awareness that, to continue being relevant, we’ll need to continue creating new value for our members, for the wider exchange community and for public policymakers.   And to do that, we’ll need to evolve ourselves in a way that keeps pace with our operating climate.

Besides contributing to those discussions as a Board member, I look forward engaging my professional network where I can to help realize the Alliance’s vision.

 

In this week’s Board Member Spotlight: Katherine Brown

Currently serving as President and CEO of Global Ties U.S., Katherine Brown has joined the Alliance Board of Directors. In this brief interview, Katherine tells us about her background in government and non-profit organizations and her inspiration for pursuing a career in international exchange. She notes that being a part of not just an individual but a collective mission motivates her to be an engaged member of our community. Read Katherine’s full interview below.

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

Public diplomacy and international exchange has been important to me since I was an exchange student as a teenager. When I began a career in international affairs out of college, I became increasingly interested in how non-state actors, people, moved ideas and events that shaped the climate for U.S. foreign policy. After working nearly 20 years in the field for the federal government, Congress, and via non-profit organizations, I’m thrilled to now be running Global Ties U.S. to support the American organizations throughout the country that help create the infrastructure for public diplomacy programming inside the U.S.

  • What influenced you to join the Alliance Board of Directors?

The Alliance’s work has been critical to ensuring that the U.S. government’s public diplomacy efforts are authorized and sufficiently funded, and that Congress sees information, cultural and educational programs as essential tools in U.S. foreign policy efforts. I’m energized to be part of a community that wants to ensure that we’re communicating with Congress and the American public the centrality of this work and the positive impact that it has.

  • What is your favorite thing about the Alliance community?

I love the diversity of the members and how we’re all working to advance international exchange from various angles: private sector exchanges, professional development programs, youth exchanges, etc. Ensuring there are strong networks between America’s emerging leaders with their foreign counterparts takes a vast amount of work and it is gratifying to be part of a talented group committed to not just their organization’s missions, but our collective mission.

  • What excites you most about the direction of the Alliance, and how will you contribute to it?

I’m thrilled to be helping to support the advocacy work the Alliance team is doing and to help determine new ways to communicate exchange programs’ impact to our national security and overall prosperity.