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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!

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.

Spring 2019 Interns

Fatima Bello, Community Intern

Fatima Bello is a graduate of University of Missouri–Kansas City with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Interpersonal Communication. She also holds a Master's degree in International Relations from Regents University London with a focus on International Law and International Human Rights Law. Moreover, she specializes in women’s rights in northern Nigeria and has worked in Nigeria as a social justice advocate. She has experience with the United Nations Association as a representative for Nigeria. She has also held roles as an elected Student Senate representative, a International Club member, and the African Student Organization social chair. She has also held many volunteer roles in the areas of geriatric adult day care and child development. She is fluent in English and Hausa. She looks forward to a future role in UNICEF, the African union, or the United Nations. Her hobbies include tennis, going to the beach, vacationing, and meeting people of different backgrounds and making new connections.

Beatrice Guerra, Events Intern

Beatrice Guerra is currently a graduate student at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, majoring in Political Science. She has a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Languages for International Relations from the Catholic University of Milan, Italy. In Italy she was an intern at the U.S. Consulate General in Milan and a fashion company Loro Piana. She believes in solidarity and in 2015 began volunteering at the welcome center for refugees called "La Grangia di Monluè," located in Milan. Beatrice loves to travel has studied abroad in California, Spain, the UK, and Malta. Thanks to these experiences she has many memories which will last a lifetime! During her internship, Beatrice looks forward to supporting the staff and improving her skills.

Camille Meeks, Community Intern

Camille Meeks was born and raised in Liberty, Missouri, and remains in the Kansas City area completing her senior year at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. She studies Psychology and Languages & Literatures with an emphasis in Spanish. In fall 2018, Camille spent the semester abroad in Granada, Spain, studying at El Centro de Lenguas Modernas (The Center of Modern Languages) to hone her Spanish abilities and further her studies. After graduation, Camille intends to pursue a Master’s degree in counseling, hoping to eventually serve as a member care provider for missionaries living abroad.

Olivia Schmidt, Audio & Video Production Intern

Olivia Schmidt is currently in her last semester at the University of Kansas, graduating in May with a BSJ in Journalism and a minor in Global and International Studies. For the past year and a half she's been interning for Kansas Public Radio's Retro Cocktail Hour, interviewing a variety of people for the website's podcast extra series. She has also volunteered in editing video for Girl's Rock Lawrence, a community project aimed at empowering young female identifying musicians. Olivia also works at the University's student-run radio KJHK, helping to create video content of the live band performances. In the summer of 2017, she studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, gaining a larger global perspective and becoming addicted to visiting new corners of the world. Her goal is to find a way to travel full time while also assisting those in need.

Austin Thorn, Global Education Intern

Austin Thorn, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, came to Kansas City to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy at the UMKC Conservatory of Music & Dance. Here he hopes to establish himself within the Kansas City community as an individual who serves with music in a unique capacity. He is the vice president and president-elect of the UMKC Association of Music Therapy Students and recipient of the Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship, as well as a proud founder of Phi Gamma Delta at UMKC. He recently participated in a service-learning program in Peru which has ignited an interest in international education and service. Austin practices a variety of instruments including bass trombone, electric bass, guitar, piano, and others. His passion for music and education is supported by traveling and being part of great artistic communities like Kansas City and St. Louis.