Our Interim Directors
Hello, my name is Megan and I am currently working with ICFRC as an Interim Co-Director. I graduated in May 2019 from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor in French. During my college education, I was fortunate to be able to spend several semesters exploring abroad. I studied French at the University Lyon 2 in Lyon, France, worked as an intern in the Political/Economic section of the U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia, and did research for my senior thesis in Paris, France. On campus, I founded and led a student organization that raised funds and awareness to combat the global water crisis. I have also been working with ICFRC for nearly two years now as a student programmer and lead intern. Now, for the 2019-2020 year, I am excited at this opportunity to stay with an organization I have grown to love and to follow in the footsteps of one the best role models I have ever had as we head into another wonderful year of fascinating programs on global issues!
Hi, my name is Alexandra and I graduated from the University of Iowa in May 2019 with a double major in International Relations and French, with a focus in Arabic. My interest in international cultures and affairs began in my youth, when I spent my childhood speaking Spanish at home and moving between San Francisco, Paris, and Granada. In college I had the opportunity to study abroad twice, once in Fez, Morocco to learn Arabic and once in Lyon, France, where I studied French. I also worked as an Assistant in the Consular Department, Front Office, and Cultural Heritage Section at the US Embassy in Paris. On campus, I worked with student organizations to raise advocacy and funds for international issues like childhood vaccines in developing countries and populations affected by the global water crisis. After graduation, I began working as an intern with the UI Center for Advancement, where I connect the University with partners in corporations and foundations and will continue to work as the Corporate Engagement Coordinator beginning in September 2019. In the future I will continue my studies by going to graduate school or law school with the hope of working abroad in development. When I’m not working I like to take my puppy Frankie to the park, settle in at home with a good book, or spend time with family and friends!
Namaste, I’m Laura, an Iowa City native. I am a senior at the University of Iowa pursuing a degree through the Interdepartmental Studies Program with focuses in Sustainability Sciences (certificate), Social Entrepreneurship (mentorship), International Business (certificate), and Global Health (minor). Receiving approval for a self-created curriculum in Design Anthropology (B.A.) has allowed me to combine a deep interest in the human condition with a passion for helping others through creative and systematic design strategies. I am currently interested in studying structural and social design practices which optimize user health and satisfaction while addressing systemic environmental injustice.
The University of Iowa has given me numerous opportunities to apply studies internationally. Studying Chinese business and culture in Beijing and Shanghai peaked my interest in international business and entrepreneurship. I had the wonderful opportunity to study traditional environmentally-integrated architecture in Kerala, India, and returned there to spend the summer of 2018 in Thiruvananthapuram studying Malayalam and engaging with social entrepreneurs and development organizations including Kanthari, Kudumbashree, and COSTFORD.
In my free time you can find me in nature, cafés, or deep thought; on road trips, horses, or film sets. I enjoy recreational activities, freelance bartending, writing music, and pretending that I know what I’m doing with my life (i.e. writing self-promoting personal summaries). I secretly want to be an explorer.
Hello! My name is Jesse Weiss and I am currently a senior here at the University of Iowa. I am a direct admit to the nursing program and an honors program student. My home town is Glen Rock, New Jersey, a small suburb of New York City. I have always had a great curiosity for other cultures and their histories, which is the main reason why I decided to intern with ICFRC. In my first year at Iowa, I was involved in many different activities. I participated in Dance Marathon, and as a sophomore I was a member of the Operations Committee for the organization. As a freshman, I started as a Research Assistant in the Santillan OB/GYN lab. I am a Nancy Creason Young Scientist, which is an award given to nursing students to provide funding to conduct and present research. My research focuses on creating electronic consents for clinical research studies, and I am currently working on getting my research published. For my spring break freshman and sophomore year I had the privilege to travel to Dallas and Little Rock as a student in the Alternative Spring Break class. Starting in the fall of 2019 I will be a student in the Iowa Biosciences Academy (IBA), which is a program that prepares undergrad students for who plan on pursing a PhD. I also work as a Night Manager at the Ronald McDonald House, an organization that is very close to me and my family. I’m excited about my future here at the University of Iowa, and as an ICFRC intern.
Hello, I am Mark Schoen. I grew up in Iowa for a little bit before moving to Singapore for high school. My passion for international connections, cultures, and travel all stem from the large chunk of my life spent abroad. Coming back to the University of Iowa, I thought all of those things would be in limited supply. I was instead met with a vivacious group of students and community members who believe internationalism is a necessity. Many of these people are in close orbit to ICFRC and that is why I chose to become a part of ICFRC. At Prairie Lights you have just as likely a chance of finding me reading the Economist as a book on Caravaggio. Economics and Art are two of my biggest loves and why I am working towards a degree in both. Start placing your bets on the roulette wheel of what job I will end up having because I am also throwing down my chips.Reading novels, running, cooking, drawing, and conversing with strangers are things I love to do in wee minuets of free time I find for myself. If you see me around town I would love to chat. Maybe you can tell me about some exotic trip you went on or where to get the best burger in Iowa City. I’m always here to listen.
Hello my name is Tanner Hawkinson, and I’m a freshman studying Biology with hopes of going to Medical School after getting my undergraduate degree. I was born and raised in Council Bluffs, Iowa and studied Spanish in high school. After high school, I enlisted in the Iowa National Guard and became a combat medic. It was during Basic Training that I realized my appreciation for all the different cultures in the United States alone. During my first year at the University of Iowa, I have already immersed myself in the cultures of the school by joining several clubs that interest me. I am a part of Medicus, UI EMS, UI Biology Club, Dance Marathon, and UI Honors Program. I am looking to begin biology research in a professor’s lab and start volunteering at the University of Iowa Hospitals during the Spring semester.My most memorable cultural experience was during Army Basic Training. I lived and worked with new recruits from all around the country for 10 weeks. We lived, ate, and struggled through it together. We were required to use teamwork to solve problems under stressful conditions. The most interesting thing I took away from my experience was the way I interacted and learned from people of different backgrounds.In my increasingly limited free time, I love going hiking in the woods, running, and playing ultimate frisbee at Hubbard Park. Becoming an intern for ICFRC has already opened my eyes to many new opportunities. I’m excited to see where this internship takes me!
Hello! My name is Margit Herrmann and I’m a senior from Ames, Iowa. I am majoring in Economics and Health & Human Physiology with a minor in French as well as an International Business Certificate. I work as a Nutri-Hawk Ambassador with the dietician on campus, I served as Co-President for Circle K International, and I am a member of the Multicultural Business Student Association. I am interested in the intersectionality of topics such as health, economics, and politics. I also enjoy learning languages; I speak Spanish and I am also learning French. I have been to Italy, Greece, France, Germany, Mexico, and some others. I am also from Ecuador, so my family and I travel there for Christmas every year. I studied abroad at The University of Cambridge the summer of 2017, and I also had the opportunity to study in Paris the spring semester of 2019. I am planning on going to graduate school for health administration, and in the future I hope to work in a hospital to help increase efficiency of health systems and increase access to those who cannot easily access health services.
Hello, my name is Andrew Bohn and I am a sophomore from West Des Moines, Iowa. I am studying journalism and international relations here at the University of Iowa while also trying my hand at a number of creative projects. When I’m not working on school, I enjoy helping some of my friends make music, while gawking over fashion and design with others. Although I have since changed, I started college as a cinema major and screenwriting has since become a favorite hobby rather than an assignment. Growing up in the middle of Iowa, I have always had the desire to get out and explore the other things the world has to offer. Other cultures, food, music and traditions from around the globe have always peaked my interest. I want to study abroad during my time here at Iowa, preferably in Europe so I can catch a Bayern Munich soccer match. I want to keep as many options open for myself after graduation, whether it be more school or taking on a career in one of my respective fields. I couldn’t give you a concrete answer, but at the moment I’d like to be a foreign corespondent for an news organization such as Vice. The 24-hour news cycle doesn’t seem to be in my wheelhouse. I would also enjoy working in defense intelligence, whether for a private firm or the U.S. military. Whatever I find myself doing, I want to have fun and have something fresh to do everyday. During my time interning at ICFRC, I want to build connections with other students, expert speakers and other members of the international community.
Hello! My name is Lauren Williams, and I’m a junior double majoring in Environmental Policy and Planning and Russian at the University of Iowa. As an aspiring city manager, my desire to join the ICFRC stems from an interest in promoting citizen diplomacy at the local level. I think that a large part of fueling cultural understanding happens within one’s own community, through the stories we tell, both orally and in print. This is why in addition to volunteering to help speakers share their stories at the ICFRC, I am working towards a Writing Certificate of my own. In my free time, I enjoy calligraphy and creative writing, particularly exploring issues of cross-cultural interaction in the fantasy genre. Post graduation, I intend to pursue an MPA which will prepare me for my intended career in city management. Through a local career focus, I’m committed to broadening cultural conversations and increasing empathy within and across national borders.
Hi, I’m Josh! I am a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in Finance and Marketing and am obtaining an International Business Certificate and Risk Management and Insurance Certificate. I am an Iowa City native and a second generation Taiwanese immigrant. I have always held a great curiosity for other cultures and have a severe travel addiction. Over the past couple years, I have had an internship in Milan and backpacked Eastern Europe. I enjoy learning about international issues and want to continue broadening my global perspective in Iowa City through my work at the ICFRC. In addition to travelling, I enjoy making music, reading books, and watching movies. After graduation, I aim to combine my passion for other cultures with my business skill set to eventually work as an expatriate in London at a private equity firm.
Hi! My name is Anaih and I’m from Des Moines, Iowa. I am a junior planning to graduating in 2020 majoring in International Studies with minors in Spanish and Translation for Global Literacy with a certificate in Entrepreneurial Management. My interest in different cultures and global affairs started out young since I have always been around a multicultural community coming from the East side of Des Moines. I have traveled to Japan and Puerto Rico and plan on traveling to many more places. I love learning languages and so far I can speak fluent Spanish, mediocre Japanese and have dabbled in Italian and Korean. Arabic is next on the list. In my free time I try to spend as much time as I can outdoors hiking with friends and just exploring all that nature has to offer! Im looking forward to learning more about international affairs through the ICFRC and the events that we host. I have been involved in OASIS a support group for international and domestic students that encourages building relationships on campus. I am also involved in UI Friends without Borders which hosts events with international and domestic students as well. In the future I am looking towards working at an international non-profit or teaching English abroad. Catch me on campus at the IMU Welcome Center and say hi!
Hi! My name is Abbi Denner and I am a Junior from Ankeny, Iowa double majoring in International Relations and French and minoring in Arabic. Despite growing up in the middle of Suburbia, I have always been interested other cultures which led to a love of foreign language, and my passion for debate and government began in high school. I interned with the Iowa Democratic Party during the 2016 elections and after graduating, I served as Page to the Democratic Minority Leader within the Iowa House of Representatives. Now, I am an avid consumer of international news podcasts, and being as informed a citizen of this world as I can is a passion of mine! On campus, I’m also a member of Hawkeye Allies and the Undergraduate Political Science Association. Otherwise, if I’m not at home loving on my roommate’s ornery English Bulldog puppy, I’m running around between my three part-time jobs. Throughout any given week, you can find me at the UI Law Library behind the circulation desk, in North Liberty playing Camp Counselor at Creation Kids Daycare, or at an Iowa City ballpark posing T-ball players for Halverson Photography. In my next two years at the University of Iowa, I plan to study abroad in the Middle East and North Africa, and beyond that I would like to pursue a career working within the United Nations or an international organization geared towards increasing access to government around the world.
Hello! My name is Arisa Hishikawa. I am majoring in International Relations in the Conflict and Foreign Policy Track and I have completed my minor in Philosophy. I am a first-generation immigrant from Japan, and I lived there for a few years until my family moved to and situated in Dubuque, Iowa. I am bilingual in English and Japanese. My interest in different cultures and foreign affairs stems from having grown up and attending school in both Japan and America. Aside from Japan, I have traveled to the Philippines and Canada as well. During my free time, I love to read books (David Foster Wallace, David Shields, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway are among my favorite authors), watch movies, snowboard, go on hikes, and try new cuisines. As a student, I’m a member of Phi Alpha Delta (pre-law fraternity) and debate club. After graduation, I plan to attend law school and hopefully get into International law or pursue my lifelong dream of being a diplomat. Being around like-minded individuals who share the same passion for different cultures and international affairs as I do is the reason why I was so excited to join and be a part of the ICFRC. Through interning with the ICFRC, I look forward to expanding my global perspective even further by listening to all the fascinating stories being shared by our guest speakers. In addition, building connections with other students and members of the international community is something I look forward to during my time at the ICFRC as well.
Hello! My name is Mitch McCarthy, I am in my Senior year here at the University of Iowa. I am an International Studies major, with a focus on European Studies, and a minor in Spanish. I am originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico but I have lived in Iowa City most of my life. Growing up around the University of Iowa, and all of the amazing people in this city, I have always had a curiosity to expand my cultural knowledge and education across international borders and connect with locals. Last year, I was able to study for nine months in Alicante, Spain, where I became fluent in Spanish and had a great opportunity to connect with a culture that is completely foreign to my own. Apart from traveling and studying foreign cultures, I love to play soccer in my free time. My passion for the world’s game has urged me and a group of my friends to create a nonprofit organization called, “La Liga en Cuba” in which we collect donations here in Iowa City, and travel down to Havana, Cuba during the summer to host tournaments and give back to the community. The summer of 2019 marks our second trip as a group down to Cuba, and I am looking forward to many more years to come! After I finish my undergrad here, I am planning to return to Spain to pursue a masters in International Journalism. Returning to Iowa City from traveling, I was looking for a way to stay connected with an International community from home, and the ICFRC is a perfect way to accomplish this all while learning about various topics. I am very much looking forward to becoming a part of this great community, and continuing to get to know our awesome world!
Hi there! My name is Celine Kusnadi and I’m an international student from Indonesia studying at the University of Iowa! I’m majoring in International Relations, with a minor in Business Administration and Economics. Before transferring to Iowa, I earned an Associate of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Edmonds Community College in the Seattle area. Last summer, I had the opportunity to intern at an international development organization called International Executive Service Corps in Washington, D.C. There, I deepened my interest in becoming a liaison or expat in the international relations and development field. Growing up, my parents loved to travel and explore new places, so I had the chance to explore Asia, Europe, and Australia. Through this exposure to so many different cultures and customs I became familiar with various global/intercultural environments. I am excited to join ICFRC because the organization supports my passion and goals in international affairs. In return, I plan to contribute my enthusiasm and personal background to help foster ICFRC’s goals and mission. After graduation, I hope to utilize my Indonesian background by working for an international organization in the US. In my limited free time, I enjoy cooking, exploring local eateries, networking and meeting new people, and hanging out with friends
Hello, I’m Holly Harris! I am a Sophomore majoring in International Studies with a focus on International Communication, minoring in Portuguese and Spanish, and am also obtaining a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Philanthropy. My passion for international affairs sparked the year after I graduated from high school. I had the life changing opportunity to live in Brazil for a year as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student which cultivated my passion for diverse cultures, foreign languages, and creating international connections. I am currently involved with Rotary’s Alumni Program, ROTEX, assisting exchange students prepare for their adventure abroad as well as helping exchange students here adapt to American culture. Through the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU), I have continued my Portuguese studies by assisting a UI professor with his research in Brazilian Culture. Additionally, I intern for the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC) whose mission is to build global ties locally through citizen diplomacy. Looking ahead, I hope to pursue an international career facilitating global connections worldwide in order to foster mutual understanding across borders. In the meantime, you can find me behind an espresso machine making cortados, or outside enjoying the Iowa weather (whatever season it decides to be that day)!
Hello, I am Mason Koelm. I am from St. Louis, but was raised in Cedar Rapids. I am double majoring in International Relations and Criminology, Law, and Justice, with a certificate in Museum Studies, and a minor in Anthropology. After I graduate in 2021, I intend to go to law school. These seemingly unrelated areas of study will hopefully give me a thorough understanding of cultural resource management law. I am a student admin for the Honors Program and the Honors Student Representative for both ICFRC and the Honors Steering Committee. Next semester, I am planning on interning with the Office of the State Archaeologist to plan events, curate their social media, and learn about laws that protect cultural heritage. Outside of class, I enjoy playing the bass, cooking, and playing dungeons and dragons
Hello! My name is Grace Bryant and I am a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Iowa, majoring in International Relations with minors in Spanish and French. Outside of ICFRC, I work as a Program Coordinator for the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities and as the Global Buddies Student Assistant for UI International Student and Scholar Services. I am originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and have spent time living in Paraguay and Spain. I enjoy traveling, cooking, talking politics, spending time with family, and playing tennis in my free time. After graduation, I hope to pursue a career with the State Department.
Hello! My name is Mary Traynor. I’m a University of Iowa senior from Northbrook, Illinois, studying at the College of Nursing with an interest in perioperative nursing/critical care. I’m currently a senior and will be graduating in December 2020 with a BSN. I have a passion for different cultures and international affairs, always in pursuit of new experiences. While access to healthcare declines and xenophobic trends continue to rise, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to make a lasting difference in this complicated world. My long-term career goal is to get my DNP and work as a bilingual family practitioner for underserved, Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. My dream is to work for The World Health Organization. During 2018 I studied abroad in San Sebastián, Spain, studying Spanish full-time and working part-time as a student teacher. I met my boyfriend Luke while abroad and together we have explored a number of different countries, our most recent adventure being two weeks in Morocco. We plan to teach English in China this summer, and I will be nursing in Eswatini next fall. I am always looking for the crossroads between my love for science and my passion for international experiences. I will be moving to Bristol, U.K. after graduation to work for UH Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. I am thrilled to be working for ICFRC and feeding my passion for international affairs! I like to surround myself with curious, like-minded individuals that deny bigotry and embrace other cultures open-heartedly. My favorite city in the world is Lisbon, Portugal. I’m currently learning French and Portuguese. I love scotch eggs and I have to eat a pain au chocolat in every city. In my free time you’ll find me listening to music, perusing art books, looking at plane tickets or cooking up something good.
Hello! My name is Amna Haider and I am a sophomore at the University of Iowa, originally from Omaha, Nebraska. I currently am double-majoring in Philosophy and Ethics & Public Policy, while pursuing an International Relations minor and Human Rights Certificate. As you can see, my interests seem to intersect law, human rights, and international politics. Through these interests, I seek to work with others in cultivating and advocating for universal peace and justice, while also spreading awareness of international conflict and issues to my community and beyond. Clearly ICFRC seems like the perfect medium to do so! Gratefully, I’ve had my fair share in travelling abroad—with my most recent travels being a road trip from London to Nice! I am determined to seek out more international experiences throughout my college years and post-graduate plans. I also speak Arabic and French, hoping to strengthen these skills as I go through life! Simply put, I enjoy learning about different cultures and peoples around the world. I understand that international conflict and cultural clashes most certainly exist, and I hope to one day do SOME small part in mediating such conflicts and foster positive relationships between state actors, non-state actors/institutions, and your average citizens of the world. In the meantime, besides interning at ICFRC, I am involved on campus through being a Resident Assistant, a senator for University of Iowa Student Government, the Finance Director for the Walk-it-Out Multicultural Fashion Show, the Volunteer/Events Coordinator for Iowa Students for Refugees, and a member of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity. With the little time I have, I like to sit in the sun, catch up on world affairs, watch scary movies, and attend public lectures on campus!
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It is with great sorrow that we announce the death of our beloved friend and Executive Director Ed Zastrow on Saturday, July 13, 2019. Ed was the Executive Director at ICFRC since 2012, managing a team of enthusiastic student interns and creating speaker programs on global issues for the Iowa City community. Before that he was the Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa for sixteen years. Prior to RMHC, Ed was the owner/operator of Bushnell’s Turtle Restaurant and Catering for eighteen years and also restored the College Block Building in Iowa City. Following graduation from the University of Iowa, Ed worked for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as an epidemiologist and administrator in Chicago and Springfield, IL for six years. His volunteer work included service as President for twelve local, regional and state social service, library, hospital and foundation boards. He enjoyed a lifelong hobby of travel, including destinations of Japan, Mexico, Colombia, the Caribbean, Denmark and Sweden. Ed was beloved by his interns and the ICFRC community, and he will be greatly missed.