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Matthew Hughes, Executive Director

Matthew Hughes has been executive director of the International Relations Council since July 2016.

Hughes’ professional experience bridges the education and nonprofit sectors. A K-12 teacher for six years and fluent in Spanish, Hughes has worked with students ranging from age 4 through adult learners. He has developed curricula for schools and nonprofits, is a dynamic trainer and presenter, and has served on the board of several organizations, including the United Nations Association of Greater Kansas City and the Kansas City Sister Cities Association. Matthew relishes the chance to travel and has experience living internationally, including in South America and on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Prior to the IRC, Hughes managed Global Education Programs for People to People International. In this role, he developed a Global Student Fair – attended in its first year by more than 600 elementary students, 350 high-schoolers, and 70 local organizations – to show students just how global Kansas City is. He admires the initiatives, diversity, and enthusiasm of the many international organizations and communities in Kansas City and values opportunities for collaboration.

Hughes holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Arts degree in Global & International Studies from the University of Kansas. His thesis discusses “Opportunities for Global-Competence Education in Secondary Extracurricular Programs.” He has also completed a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management & Innovation from the University of Missouri–Kansas City.

Please do reach out with your questions, feedback, or ideas!

Rachel White
, Program Coordinator

Rachel White graduated from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Romance Languages, focusing on Spanish, French, and Portuguese. While attending Truman, she studied abroad in Seville, Spain, for a semester and Angers, France, for a summer. Rachel has spent the majority of her life living and working in the Kansas City area. She has a professional background in event coordinating, international education, and higher education. In her free time, she enjoys playing board games, playing and coaching volleyball, and traveling around the U.S. and abroad.

Jonathan Hartnett
, Membership Assistant

Jon Hartnett is a class of 2019 graduate from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, focusing on Middle Eastern Policy, in addition to a Bachelor of Arts in History. He was involved across campus with HWSVotes, Day of Service, and the club soccer team. Jon has spent time studying abroad in Athens, Greece, where he took part in an archeological survey and geo-mapping project, and Galway, Ireland, where he studied the growing concern for the environment and how it impacted Irish politics. A native of Upstate New York, Jon is looking forward to experiencing life in Kansas City.


Fall 2019 Interns

Michael Bené, Project Management Intern

Michael Bené is currently a Law student and a Master’s student in Economics at the University of Kansas. His primary areas of interest are international trade law and agricultural regulation. His past work experience includes working with foreign governments and individuals in the aviation industry. He has also held legal internship positions for Kansas City-based attorneys. Michael is a member of the Hispanic American Law Student Association at the University of Kansas and previously served as vice president of the organization. He is also currently the vice president of the KU Flying Club and a pilot. In his free time, Michael enjoys flying, traveling, and baking.

Sarah Zitter
, Project Management Intern

Sarah Zitter is a senior International Relations and Spanish major at Park University. Their research interests include embodied cognition, labor migration, and sustainable agriculture. Sarah has worked with a variety of international issues and organizations including an internship with the Bureau of Populations, Refugees, and Migration at the U.S State Department. They are fluent in Spanish and currently study French and Swahili. Additionally, they hold a love for the Kansas City community and have worked on a local State House campaign and spent years mentoring high school youth in the area. In their spare time, they are a baker, a writer, an artist, and an aspiring yogi. Sarah is always found reading a book.