CCWA Welcomes Grace Blanchard and Maria Garcia-Olalla

The Cleveland Council on World Affairs is pleased to welcome two more new colleagues to our team. Grace Blanchard is CCWA’s new Office Coordinator, and Maria Garcia-Olalla joins the international exchange team as the new Program Associate for International Exchanges. They both assumed their new positions on October 18, 2021. “We are excited to welcome Maria and Grace to the CCWA family. Their energy, commitment to global awareness, and unique skills and experiences will help strengthen our mission and programs,” says Carina Van Vliet, CCWA’s Chief Executive Officer.

Maria Garcia-Olalla 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. “I am excited to join CCWA because I get to do work that I am passionate about. I look forward to being a part of a team that helps break down global barriers and show people that we are all human and deal with similar challenges on a global scale. I look forward to meeting international visitors from around the world, facilitating dialogue, and sparking new ideas for the international exchange participants and local Citizen Diplomats alike,” says Maria.

Grace Blanchard joins the Council 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. “It is an enormous privilege to be part of an organization with such a distinguished history and mission. I most look forward to learning from all the incredible people in the CCWA community and growing as a global citizen. To me, the CCWA mission is about sharing our passion for world affairs with the Cleveland community. The mission calls for each of us to do our part in meeting individuals where they are and supporting their growth and learning,” says Grace.

Please join us in giving our new colleagues a warm welcome to the CCWA family. You may reach Maria at and Grace at


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