CCWA Staff

Ambassador Heather Hodges

President and Ambassador-in-Residence, R. Henry Norweb Chair

Ambassador Heather Hodges became the President and Ambassador-in-Residence at the Cleveland Council on World Affairs in November 2011 after retiring from 31 years in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Ambassador Hodges did consular work in Venezuela and Guatemala. She was Consul General in Bilbao, Spain, and was deputy chief of mission in Managua, Lima, and Madrid. In Washington she was Peru desk officer and Deputy Director of Cuban Affairs, and had a fellowship to work on the Senate Subcommittee for Immigration and Refugee Affairs. She was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Resources from 2006-2008. Ms. Hodges was Ambassador to Moldova from 2003-2006 and Ambassador to Ecuador from 2008 to April 2011.

Ambassador Hodges is a native of Westlake, Ohio and now lives in Bay Village, Ohio. She has a B.A. in Spanish from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and an M.A. from New York University. She was elected to the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2011. She is a member of the board of the Jocotoco Foundation, an Ecuadorian NGO, and is on the Advisory Council of Rainforest Trust. Both are nonprofit environmental organizations.


Phone: (216) 282-1219


Carina Van Vliet

Chief Executive Officer

Carina Van Vliet joined the Cleveland Council on World Affairs in January 2019 as the Chief Executive Officer.

After moving to Cleveland in 2014, she served as a Senior Advisor to the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Forum. She was most recently a Regional Manager for Business Development and Communications at Jones Day.

Carina Van Vliet served as a Political Affairs Officer at the United Nations from 2006 to 2014, covering Latin American and Middle East issues, disarmament affairs, and women, peace and security issues. Prior to joining the U.N., she was the Director for Policy and Leadership Programs at the French-American Foundation in New York. She also co-authored an economic history textbook in French, and taught international economics in the People’s Republic of China.

Ms. Van Vliet was born and raised in Cannes, France, by American parents. She has a B.A. in Political Science from Bowdoin College, a master’s degree (diplôme) in International Relations from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), and an M.A from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. She was also a Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations from 2011 to 2016.


Phone: (216) 255-9004


Jenni Carney

Director of Development and Marketing

Jenni joined the Council in November 2012. As Director of Development and Marketing, 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, developing philanthropic strategies to secure stronger support for CCWA, and overseeing CCWA’s marketing strategy. Prior to joining the Council Jenni worked in various 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. She is a native of Finland.

Phone: (216) 255-9005


Amy Moniot

Manager of Programming

Amy Moniot joined the Cleveland Council on World Affairs as Manager of Programming in October 2021, and in this role she oversees the organization’s speaker forums, including the Foreign Policy Forum and Cleveland Committee on Foreign Relations, and other programming. Amy has well over ten years of experience in international education programming, including Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Study Abroad, and International Student Support. Amy is passionate about access and inclusion of vulnerable international newcomers in higher education. She was selected by the State Department in 2019 as an English Fellow in Myanmar. She has also lived and worked in Mexico, Thailand, and Georgia, where she was a Peace Corps Volunteer. She holds a degree from The University of Akron (B.A.) and Cleveland State University (M.Ed.). A long-time CCWA Citizen Diplomat, she believes we all have contributions to make toward international understanding.



Elizabeth Colvin

Manager of Global Education, Maura O’Donnell-McCarthy Center for Global Understanding

Elizabeth Colvin joined the Cleveland Council on World Affairs in June 2018. In her current role, Elizabeth is responsible for a cross-cultural communication training program, a globally-minded leadership development experience for young professionals, and professional development programming focused on supporting educators’ capabilities for teaching global issues. Prior to joining CCWA, Elizabeth worked as an elementary school English Language Arts teacher with Breakthrough Schools. Elizabeth also served as a 2015 Teach For America corps member. Elizabeth is a Georgetown University alumnus with a dual degree in Government (B.A.) and Art History (B.A.), and holds a M.S. in Education from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education.



Andrew Kovach

Program Officer, International Visitors

Andrew Kovach joined the Council in June 2015 and serves as Program Officer for the International Visitor Program. Andrew holds a M.A. of Global Interactions from Cleveland State University where he also completed his undergraduate degree in International Relations and Political Science. Andrew first joined the Council in 2015 as Development Assistant, and then assumed a role as International Visitor Program Associate, before being promoted to his current role as Program Officer. Previously, Andrew worked at CCWA as an International Visitors Leadership Program Intern, and a social media volunteer. His other professional experiences have focused on Cleveland’s refugee community through various roles at the International Services Center and Global Cleveland. Andrew is passionate about non-profits, foreign affairs, refugees, and his hometown Cleveland.

Phone: (216) 255-9008


Maria Garcia-Olalla

Program Associate, International Exchanges

Maria Garcia-Olalla joined the Council in October 2021 and serves as Program Associate for International Exchanges. Maria is in the process of obtaining her M.A. in Non-profit Administration from John Carroll University where she also completed her undergraduate degree in International Relations and Political Science.  From 2019-2020, Maria worked at CCWA as an International Visitors Fellow and interacted with young adults from Taiwan, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. A native of Spain, Maria has always had an interest in world cultures, but it was the fellowship experience at CCWA that truly ignited her passion for exchanges and helping people expand their global awareness.


Veronica Ruhe

Program Associate, Student Programs

Veronica Ruhe joined the Council in October 2021 and serves as Program Associate for Student Programs. She is responsible for ensuring the success of our Model UN program, building participation in our annual Academic WorldQuest competition, and engaging students in Junior World Affairs Councils (JWAC) in local middle and high schools. Veronica holds a M.A. in Gender Studies in the Middle East at University of London School of Oriental and African Studies and a B.A. in Political Science at Kent State University. Veronica was President of the Model NATO team at Kent State University. Veronica is passionate about giving students opportunities to lay the educational foundation for their own international studies, and sparking their interest in world affairs.



Grace Blanchard

Office Coordinator

Grace Blanchard joined the Council in October 2021 as Office Coordinator. She is responsible for enhancing the Council’s efficiency and effectiveness by providing high-level administrative support and strengthening office operations. Prior to this, she worked as Development Coordinator for University Settlement. She is an alumna of John Carroll University, where she graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and Theology & Religious Studies. Grace has served as a social justice advocate in various capacities and worked to increase political engagement in the community. A Cleveland native, she is also passionate about human rights, diversity, and global affairs.



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