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Matthew Hughes, Executive Director

Matthew Hughes joined the International Relations Council in Kansas City as executive director in July 2016.

Matthew’s professional experience bridges the education and nonprofit sectors. A K-12 teacher for six years and fluent in Spanish, he has worked with students ranging from age 4 through adult learners and has developed curricula, strategic plans, and trainings for schools and nonprofits. Matthew worked for three years with People to People International, supporting the development of international understanding in schools and communities around the world. He has served as board member and committee chair for a variety of organizations, including the World Affairs Councils of America, the Sister Cities Association of Kansas City, and the United Nations Association of Greater Kansas City.

Matthew admires the initiatives, diversity, and enthusiasm of the many international organizations and communities in Kansas City and values opportunities for collaboration. He relishes the chance to travel – six of seven continents and 49 of 50 U.S. states so far – and has experience living internationally, including in South America and on the U.S.-Mexico border.

A Certified Association Executive, Matthew 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, where his thesis explored 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!


Evan Verploegh, Program Coordinator

Evan Verploegh is a recent transplant to the Kansas City area after spending much of his life in Wisconsin. Most recently, he served as event and program coordinator for the Rhinelander, Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, where he oversaw the successful Project North Music, Art, and Environmental Festival. Evan is a 2015 graduate of Edgewood College (Madison, Wisc.), where he earned his degree in Journalism. During his time in college, he embarked on an extensive study abroad period in Morocco where he produced a long-form piece on the Transahara Music Festival in the Sahara Desert. In his free time, Evan is part of the Kansas City jazz scene as a drummer and enjoys other activities such as playing golf, cooking, and exploring the Kansas City coffee shops and record stores.

Natalie Friend
, Education Outreach Coordinator VISTA

Natalie Friend, a former IRC intern, is a Class of 2019 graduate of the University of Arkansas, where she triple-majored in International Studies, French, and Political Science. While at the university, she was heavily involved in K-12 and college student mentorship initiatives, which especially includes her work with the international student population and outreach programs like the International Culture Team or National Residence Hall Honorary. Prior to her spring internship with the IRC as the Global Education Intern, Natalie had previously interned in Washington D.C. for the Association of Diplomatic Studies & Training, an oral histories nonprofit that works directly with former State Department employees. A native of the Kansas City area, she is looking forward to using her AmeriCorps year to continue helping the IRC grow global literacy in the town she loves.

Summer 2020 Interns

Marissa Neumer, Membership Intern

Marissa Neumer will be a senior at Baker University where she will be completing a Bachelor of Arts in International Business, Spanish, and International Studies. Marissa plans to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain, this fall semester, where she will continue her education and hopes to strengthen her Spanish speaking skills. Her passion for international travel stemmed from an opportunity in 2015 where she traveled with the Kansas State Ambassadors for orchestra to eight countries across Europe. Since then, she has been looking for international opportunities through various honor societies and interterm trips through school. Marissa enjoys spending her free time with family and friends, going to the movies, and trying new places to eat.