The Collective Public Policy Voice of the Exchange Community

McCarry Leadership Award

Supporting Emerging Leaders in the Exchange Community

As the international education and exchange field continues to evolve, championing emerging leaders in the field who reflect the rich diversity of the United States is essential for its continued advancement and success. The McCarry Leadership Award facilitates the professional development of emerging leaders in the U.S. exchange community by acknowledging their contributions to the field thus far and creating new opportunities for awardees to gain leadership experience and build relationships.  

The award recognizes former Alliance Executive Director Michael McCarry’s commitment to opening doors for early career professionals in the field of international education and exchange. Throughout his career, Michael has advocated for emerging leaders, providing opportunities to develop critical skills, cultivate relationships, and advance in their careers. By identifying and celebrating individuals who demonstrate leadership potential and commitment to the field each year, the Alliance continues Michael’s commitment to cultivating the next generation of international education and exchange leaders.

We are now accepting nominations for the 2024 McCarry Leadership Award cycle! Interested candidates must submit a nomination and candidate application by Monday, August 12, 2024 to be considered. All information and applications forms can be accessed through the buttons to the right.

Please reach out to Gabrielle Cascio at with any questions.

Awardee Testimonials 

How has the McCarry Award impacted your career?

The McCarry Award was a moment of recognition from my organization, and the broader exchanges field, that helped me position myself as a leader. It allowed me to demonstrate my commitment to the work we do and my desire to grow (eventually taking on more responsibility as a director on my team). – Kate Sanders, Director, IVLP Program Management, Meridian International Center 

Why is the McCarry Award important to our field?

The McCarry Leadership Award is significant in our field because it recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to promoting cultural exchange and international understanding. Awards like this highlight the importance of leadership in cultural exchanges, which play a crucial role in promoting global cooperation, and building bridges between cultures. Such recognition encourages others in the field to strive for excellence and innovation in their efforts to enhance cultural exchange programs worldwide. – Mallory Burton, Director of Community Engagement at Cultural Exchange Network (Cenet)

While the award itself is a great honor, the network of former winners has provided a chance for me to expand my understanding of the exchanges field and feel less siloed. The award is an important way for our field to lift up young leaders, connect them with their peers, and demonstrate that the exchanges industry wants to grow and retain great people. – Kate Sanders, Director, IVLP Program Management at Meridian International Center 

Past Awardees

  • Jaime Fahy, Managing Director, One To World
  • Adrienne Jacobs, Senior Program Officer, IREX
  • Trevor Phipps, Overseas Partner Account Manager, Alliance Abroad
  • Tanya Burovtseva, External Engagement Manager, InterExchange
  • Jennifer Chen, Digital Program Specialist, World Learning
  • Kate Sanders, Program Officer, Meridian International Center
  • Mallory Carpentier, Regional Coordinator, GeoVisions
  • Molly McCarthy, Manager, CIEE
  • Mandy Sheriff, Manager, AFS-USA
  • Leslie Corn, Senior Director, Cultural Exchange Network Corporation (CENET)
  • Leslie Costa, CEO & Founder, The International Student Company
  • Janice Fox, Northeast Regional Account Manager, Intrax Work Travel
  • Lisa George, Manager of Latin American Youth Programs, World Learning
  • Elizabeth Azeizat, AIFS – Au Pair in America
  • Alison Gold, Spirit Cultural Exchange
  • Megan Lysaght, American Councils for International Education
About Michael McCarry

About Michael McCarry

Michael McCarry led the Alliance as its Executive Director from October 1994 until December 2015. Prior to joining the Alliance, he spent 18 years with the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) as a Foreign Service Officer. He served as U.S. Cultural Attaché in Beijing in the years immediately following the Tiananmen Square events of 1989. He led negotiations that resulted in the restoration of the Fulbright program after its suspension by the Chinese government. He also served as director of USIS Chiang Mai, Thailand, and as Assistant Cultural Attaché in Bangkok. Michael also had several Washington assignments, including ECA Staff Director and Chief of Advising and Student Services. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Michael worked as a legislative and press aide for Rep. Robert McClory (R-IL), and as a journalist in Illinois and Texas. He grew up in the Chicago area.