“The Alliance is very grateful to Ilir Zherka for his leadership during a uniquely challenging time for the Alliance and the broader exchange community,” said Jennifer Clinton, Chair of the Alliance Board of Directors.
Since Zherka joined the Alliance, the community has significantly strengthened its voice. The Alliance commissioned its first-ever impact reports. Additionally, member and stakeholder engagement increased substantially with greater participation in advocacy days on Capitol Hill and in letter writing campaigns. The Alliance also launched the Exchange Week in the District program to increase grassroots engagement with local congressional offices and the People for International Exchange initiative to increase stakeholder involvement with the Alliance.
“I want to thank the Alliance Board and its membership for the opportunity to serve this important community at such a critical time,” said Ilir Zherka. “Increasing mutual understanding between people around the world is as important now as ever. We strengthen the cause of freedom and prosperity when we couple traditional diplomacy with exchange programs that often create deep, personal relationships between participants and hosts across borders, cultures, and generations.”
Zherka is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Virginia School of Law. He and his family immigrated to the United States when he was a child. Ilir credits the support he received from people in the community and from government programs for helping him and his family succeed. “I have dedicated my life to serving the public interest,” added Zherka. “After taking some time off, I hope to continue making a positive difference in the world by empowering greater engagement in the workplace, in our communities, and with our elected representatives.” More information about Zherka’s background can be found here.
“The Alliance is confident we will select a new executive that will help us take advantage of the emerging opportunities and address the continuing challenges the exchange community is facing worldwide,” Clinton added.
Michael McCarry, a prior Executive Director at the Alliance, will serve in that role again on an interim basis while the Board finalizes its search for its next leader which it hopes to announce at its upcoming Annual Conference on October 18.
The Alliance for International Exchange is an association dedicated to promoting the growth and impact of exchange programs and the effectiveness of its members. Since 1993, it serves as the collective public policy voice for nearly 90 organizations comprising the international educational and cultural exchange community in the United States.