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Staff Leadership

Ambassador Heather Hodges
President and Ambassador-in-Residence
(216) 255-9010

The Cleveland Council on World Affairs appointed Heather Hodges as President and Ambassador in Residence in November 2011. Ambassador Hodges was U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador from August 2008 to April 2011. In April 2011, the Government of Ecuador declared her "persona non grata"  and expelled her in reaction to the publication of confidential State Department cables by WikiLeaks. In May 2011, she was assigned to the Headquarters of the U.S. European Command as interim Civilian Deputy to the Commander and Foreign Policy Advisor. Prior to going to Ecuador, Ambassador Hodges was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Director General of the Foreign Service in Washington, DC. She served as U.S. Ambassador to Moldova from September 2003 to May 2006. During her career she also worked in Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, and Spain. She left the Foreign Service in September 2011 after 31 years of service. Ambassador Hodges is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She has a B.A. in Spanish from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and an M.A. from New York University and speaks fluent Spanish. She is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and is on the Board of Directors of Magnificat High School.

Maura O'Donnell-McCarthy

Executive Director
(216) 255-9004



Maura joined the Council in February 2012. She brings extensive experience in planning and logistics as well as a familiarity with the Council through a long time association with CCWA.  Maura’s international experiences started at a young age having ‘grown up’ in Seoul, Korea while her father served as the first country director of the U.S. Peace Corps to Korea. Maura combines her love of international travel and living with a strong family commitment to citizen diplomacy. Together with her husband and four children they have home-hosted 12 student exchanges over the last 13 years, in addition to hosting many adult foreign visitors.  Her experience as a former executive director of The Civic Development Corporation of Ashtabula County will assist the Council in strengthening their development efforts. Immediately prior to joining CCWA, Maura was an independent consultant and facilitator working with non-profits and community based organizations in the area of strategic planning. Maura is a graduate of Boston College.

Ryan Ouellette
International Visitors Program Officer
(216) 255-9008



Ryan Ouellette joined the Council in February 2013 as the International Visitors Program Officer. He comes to the Cleveland Council with five years of nonprofit and university experience. A native of New Hampshire, Ryan earned a BS in Finance and a dual-Master’s degree in Public Administration & Diplomacy from Seton Hall University. Recently returning from working in Iraqi Kurdistan, Ryan is a strong believer in citizen diplomacy, the heart of the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). While there, Ryan taught English and Political Science at a local university, helped establish a Career Development Center, and tried to open an NGO providing pro-bono consulting. Ryan will provide leadership to establish community connections and really grow the IVLP program.

Madeline Rife
Global Youth Programs Officer
(216) 255-9007


Madeline Rife joined the Council in January 2013 as the Global Youth Programs Officer. She is handling the Kosovo Youth Exchange Program (KYEP), other international youth exchange programs, the Model United Nations program for middle school and high school students, distance learning, and other youth-centered programs run by the Council. Madeline just completed two years of service with the U.S. Peace Corps in Ukraine, where her primary assignment was teaching English as a Foreign Language in a Ukrainian school. On weekends and over the summer, she was a director of “Camp Excite,” an English-immersion and leadership camp for secondary school students in north-central Ukraine. Prior to Peace Corps service, Madeline worked at ACDI/VOCA, an NGO in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Jenni Carney
Membership and Development Manager
(216) 255-9005



Jenni joined the Council in November 2012 as the Membership and Development Manager. She is a native of Finland. Jenni brings in versatile experience in development, donor stewardship, events and database management. She is committed to strengthening and stewarding CCWA’s donor and member base, and developing philanthropic strategies to secure stronger support for the CCWA. Prior to joining the Council Jenni worked in different development roles at the Achievement Centers for Children, The Cleveland Orchestra and the American Red Cross. Jenni has a M.A. in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations from Helsinki University.


Sue Gundich
Office Manager
(216) 255-9009

Sue joined the CCWA in 2006 when the Cleveland International Program merged with the Council. In her current position Sue keeps the office running smoothly. She has worked in international programs for the past 10 years. Her background is in business affairs.