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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 recently 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!

April Diaz, Program Coordinator

While April has served with a wide variety of nonprofits, she has a particular passion for international issues and opportunities to promote intercultural understanding. Her academic focus was largely on international development, human rights, and peace studies. Her experience in these fields include working with Peace Action, mentoring refugee families, and coordinating programming at a refugee center. April has Master’s degrees in both Macro Social Work and African Studies, and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations. Additionally, she holds certificates in Nonprofit Management, Fundraising Management, Nonprofit Board Education, and Mediation. Outside of work, she is passionate about reading and learning, foster parenting, and playing more musical instruments than her brain really has the capacity to handle.

Summer 2018 Interns

Ellie Bartlett, Global Education Intern

Ellie Bartlett is a rising junior at New York University. She is double majoring in global public health and sociology and minoring in peace and conflict studies. Ellie is a member of NYU’s Presidential Honors Scholars program and has served as the treasurer for Voices for Planned Parenthood, an NYU club in coordination with Planned Parenthood’s Generation Action. This past semester, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, an experience she will never forget. Her particular interest in the cross sections of health policy and international relations stems from her experience working as a refugee goalie trainer with Global FC, and this experience also inspired her to become active in the International Rescue Committee at NYU. Outside of school, Ellie enjoys writing music, playing guitar, and hiking, and she hopes to one day work for either the United Nations or the World Health Organization.

Morgan Biles, Events Intern

Morgan Biles is currently a rising sophomore at Boston College. She plans on majoring in political science and communications. Morgan is a copy editor for Kaleidoscope, the undergraduate international relations journal at BC. Her interest in international relations stems from her involvement in the International Baccalaureate program in high school. In her free time, Morgan enjoys writing, reading, hammocking, and searching for the best coffee shop in town.


Taelyr Blehm, Membership Intern

Taelyr Blehm is a sophomore at the University of Kansas with majors in Global and International Studies and Business Finance. Taelyr is passionate about global issues, and this has lead her to pursuing a career in international law. She is president of Westwood House, a service organization that provides students with food assistance, and executive member of the Rise KU Student Union, and she is heavily involved in the University Honors Program. Outside of school, Taelyr enjoys staying active on the KU Club Tennis team, running, and hiking at Clinton Lake.




Melissa Donley, Marketing Intern

Melissa Donley is currently a senior at Avila University majoring in Graphic Design. Melissa is passionate about community involvement and volunteer work. She is presently helping organize various volunteer opportunities and outreach programs through her job at Lowe's and is excited to see the store grow. In the future, she would like to continue her education with a graduate degree and study abroad for a semester and enjoy the chance to travel. Melissa enjoys painting outdoors and is an avid book reader.




Reidel Rodriguez Ruedas, Community Intern

Reidel will be a senior in the fall of 2018 at the University of Kansas, majoring in Global and International Studies with a concentration in Latin America and a minor in Business. He is a member of the International Relations Council; he values the impact of this organization on not only local people but others from around the world. Rey is passionate about real estate and helping people with their needs. He has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity several times through KU and on his own. He has worked closely with his sister in real estate, which has set the foundations for him to be an amazing AirBnb host today. He has hosted and exchanged experiences with many people from around the world. In the future, he wants to pursue global and international jobs in the States or abroad where he will meet more people and extend his skills as a bilingual Spanish-English speaker.


Lilah Wilder, Communications Intern

Lilah Wilder is a third-year student at the University of Kansas, double majoring in Global & International Studies and French, minoring in Middle Eastern Studies, and planning to graduate in May of 2019. She grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, but became interested in learning about other cultures and pursuing an international career when she began studying French and Spanish in high school. Lilah then chose to study Arabic in addition to her majors at KU, which gave her the opportunity to study abroad in an intensive Arabic language program during the summer of 2017 at Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco. As she had been studying French since 2010, Lilah then studied abroad during the Fall 2017 semester at IAU College in Aix-en-Provence, France. Now that she has returned to KU, she works as a Peer Advisor in the KU Office of Study Abroad, helping other students gain cross-cultural and international experience through study abroad programs. She also helps raise thousands of dollars every year for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through her membership in Delta Delta Delta at KU. Lilah says that studying abroad twice truly changed her life, as it taught her to adapt to difficult situations and to value global awareness and respect for human diversity more than ever before. Thanks to these experiences, she is excited to promote cross-cultural awareness in Kansas City through her communications internship for the IRC this summer, and she hopes to eventually work for an international nonprofit in North Africa or the Middle East.

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