Friday, September 19ththrough
Sunday, September 21st
The International Festival of Raleigh is presented annually by International Focus, Inc.
International Focus, Inc. is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization with the mission to support North Carolina's international communities and promote American ideals through cross-cultural communication, education, understanding, and the celebration of culture, arts, and cuisine from around the world.
Clodagh Lyons-BastianExecutive Director
Irish born, Clodagh Lyons-Bastian was raised in Dublin and Berlin before moving to the US in early adulthood. She completed her BA in Sociology and Psychology Magna Cum Laude at North Carolina State University. Clodagh has been working in cross-cultural communication and language acquisition in Europe and America since 1985.
Bearta Al-Chacar PowellFestival Committee: Dance Demos
Bearta Al-Chacar Powell is an author, a dance instructor, and a UNICEF Ambassador. As a Lebanese immigrant she has made Raleigh her second home for over 20 years. A graduate of NCSU, she speaks three languages and currently learning Spanish. Bearta has received the Presidential Volunteer Award in 2010. Currently she is devoting some time to help with various projects in the Lebanese community and the International Festival as the festival brings the world to Raleigh.
Shy ButlerFestival Committee: Volunteers
Shy grew up a military family, and has lived all over the country. Shy has a deep appreciation and understanding of different cultures all over the world. She has had the opportunity to attend school and work alongside individuals from various countries such as Lebanon, Italy, Portugal, Tanzania, and Switzerland, just to name a few! Shy moved to Raleigh, NC in 2001 and joined the International Festival in 2010. Shy is currently serving as the Co-Chair on the Volunteer Committee.
Renee ChouBoard of Directors
Renee Chou is a weekend morning anchor/reporter for WRAL-TV News in Raleigh. She joined WRAL in October 2004 as a general assignment reporter and was promoted to the anchor desk six months later. Her work has earned recognition from the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas, Iowa Associated Press Broadcasters Association, and Missouri Broadcasters Association. Prior to WRAL, she was an anchor/reporter for KCRG-TV, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for five years. Renee earned her broadcast journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She’s also a founding member and past president of the North Carolina chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association. Originally from Michigan and living most of her life in the Midwest, Renee is thrilled to call North Carolina home with her husband, Mike.
Chad CochranBoard of Directors
Chad Cochran is an attorney at Vann & Sheridan, LLP in Raleigh wherein he focuses on various forms of business litigation throughout North Carolina. He is involved in numerous community activities including leadership responsibilities with the North Carolina Bar Association and YMCA. Chad moved to Raleigh in 2006 with roots in Knoxville, Tennessee. He first met Clodagh Bastian during their participation in Leadership Raleigh where Chad's excitement for the possibilities of International Focus, Inc. began to flourish. Chad travels internationally multiple times per year and says, "Life is all about interacting with people from different cultures and backgrounds." International Focus, Inc. provides a vehicle to accomplish exactly that.
Rafe ColburnFestival Committee: Website, Registration System
Rafe Colburn is a Texas native who has lived in the Raleigh area for the past 15 years, attending the International Festival regularly for nearly that long. He is a professional software developer, and is responsible for building the registration system for International Festival participants. He and his wife are involved with the Portuguese Association of North Carolina. He specializes in recommendations about what to eat at the Sidewalk Cafes, so don't be afraid to ask.
Greg DahlinFestival Committee: Sophia's Corner
Gregory K. Dahlin is an Upper Elementary Educator at the Montessori School of Raleigh, where he is best known to all as Mr. D. Greg believes young people are the greatest resource our planet possesses, and has been honored to serve as Chair of the Sophia’s Corner Committee for the International Festival of Raleigh. He lives in Raleigh with his wife, Christine, and his son, Noah.
Karen EdwardsBoard of Directors: Past President
Festival Committee: Main Stage
Mrs. Edwards has been involved with the International Festival since its inception. She has been in charge of the Main Stage for twenty-one years and the Young People.s Matinee prior to that. Karen Edwards is owner and principal teacher of The Dancer.s Studio. She is Artistic Director of Concert Dancers of Raleigh, a youth ballet company beginning its 35th year. She is a regular reader for the Triangle Radio Reading Service and a judge for the Silver Arts Follies of the Senior Games. She was given the 2005 City of Raleigh Medal of Arts Award in recognition of her volunteer service and commitment to teaching.
Deniz EnderFestival Committee: Cooking Demo
Deniz Ender, born and raised in Turkey, moved to United States 25 years ago. Now she works as a medical librarian at Rex Hospital and teaches Turkish cooking classes at her free time. She is also the coordinator of Turkish Cooking Club since 2006.
Imogen HoyleBoard of Directors
Dr. Imogen Hoyle works for Broadreach and Academic Treks College year-round as their College Programs Director and resident Marine Biologist. She can be found out on the ocean during the summer months leading study abroad programs for teenagers and College students. Since moving to the U.S.A in 2009, Dr. Hoyle has led Marine Biology and Shark Behavior and Conservation programs in Fiji and the Caribbean. Imogen has worked with various non-profits and student boards in the UK and Europe. Imogen is excited to be a part of such a fantastic orgabnization, and can't wait for this years festival!
Glenn HuntBoard of Directors: Secretary
Glenn Hunt is a lifelong resident of North Carolina. Although he had to be physically dragged to the first festival he attended in 1993, he has marked his calendar and eagerly anticipated it every year since. To anyone who will stand still long enough, Glenn can be heard telling them that in his opinion the International Festival is the best event of the year in Raleigh. Glenn joined the Festival Committee in 2009 and was invited to join the board of directors in 2010. He currently serves as the board secretary and on the Finance committee. He is also working on the Programing Committee to plan and launch new International Focus events including an International Dining Club and an International Travelers Lecture series.
Nazi KiteBoard of Directors: President
Nazi Kite has been involved with the International Festival since 1987. At first, she was involved with the Iranian Cultural Society of NC and helped present Persian culture in the Cultural Booth, Dance Presentation, Demonstration and Iranian Sidewalk Café. In Early 1990, she joined the International Focus Board of Directors. Since then she has served in different capacities including 6 years as the President of the Board and member of the Festival committee for several years. Nazi is an experienced Project Manager in the IT area and has worked in RTP over 27 years. Nazi is also very active with the Persian community in the triangle area. Nazi and her husband Gary live in Cary. Her interests are in travelling, volunteer activities, reading and spending time with family and friends.
Susan McNallyBoard of Directors
Growing up in a military family, Susan has had the opportunity to live and travel around the world. From Italy and Ireland to Japan and Australia, she has experienced other traditions and cultures first hand. In 1985, Susan moved to Western NC and spent many summers enjoying the International Folkmoot USA Festival in Haywood County. She came to Raleigh in 1993 and graduated from North Carolina State University in the Engineering program. Susan currently works for Avaya Inc as a Project Manager and is active in numerous community activities. She spent 7 years volunteering with Special Olympics and is serving the International Festival in her second year as Volunteer Coordinator.
Janice MrkonjicFestival Committee: PR & Marketing
Janice Mrkonjic hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She has broad professional experience spanning social work, education, eLearning, mLearning, sales and business development in both Canada and the United States. Janice is a natural communicator with extraordinary emotional and networking IQ who loves bringing people together to enjoy common interests while learning about new ones too. She has a Master of Education in adult education from Mount Saint Vincent University and is the Vice President of Business Development at NuVue Business Solutions, a sales and leadership training company. Her Croatian heritage coupled with her Canadian and now American citizenships led to her involvement with International Focus Inc, an organization for which she is a raving fan.
Barbara MuffolettoCoordinator Extraordinaire
Barbara recently completed her year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in the City Manager's Office where she worked on the Project LIFT program, an initiative that improved the quality and availability of nonprofit services by increasing the capabilities and capacity of local nonprofit organizations. Barbara graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in May 2010 with a BA in Political Science and Spanish. During her college career, Barbara spent much of her time directing the University women's a Cappella group and participating in the Obama campaign.
Tim PaloFestival Committee: Cultural Exhibits
Tim was born in Finland but grew up in Waukegan, Ill., outside Chicago. Tim helped his parents, who were members of the local Finnish community, prepare and setup for the local International Festival held annually in Waukegan, Ill. Tim left home to join the Army and was discharged from the Army at Ft. Bragg, N.C. In 1988 Tim moved to Raleigh, N.C. where he joined the Triangle Finnish Association (TFA) in 1989 and started to become involved with the TFA in the International Festival of Raleigh in 1990. Tim has been an active participant with the International Festival since with the TFA, and during the last 5 years also with International Focus.
Padhu PattabiramanFestival Committee: Documentation
Padhu is a Researcher in Ophthalmology at Duke University. Born and raised in India and after his Phd in Neurobiology in Italy, moved to USA a few years back. He has served as the Cultural Coordinator and Vice President of Tamil Cultural Association of North Carolina and is currently the Community Ambassador for Association of India Development (AID), Duke Chapter. His passion in Photography and his interest in the Cultures of the World has got him into International Festival of Raleigh and he forms the part of Media and Documentation Team.
Sheila RennertBoard of Directors: Treasurer
Sheila is the owner and president of Quick Bookkeeping, Inc., a company specializing in QuickBooks training and providing bookkeeping services for small or startup companies. She brings her 20+ years of accounting experience to our board to handle the Treasurer position. Sheila moved from Long Island, New York 16 years ago. She lives in Raleigh with her husband Bruce, two children, a dog and a cat. “I am extremely excited to be involved with International Focus and working with the variety of cultures in our community.”
Jonathan SerxnerFestival Committee: Sidewalk Cafes
Jonathan has been a participant in each International Festival since the first one in 1986. He started out as a member of the Dutch cultural club, DeWieken, helping set up and working in the Cultural Booth, World Bazaar and the Dutch Sidewalk Café. In 2003, Jonathan joined both the Board of Directors of International Focus and the International Festival Committee. For three years he served as Village Square section chair and then took over as the Sidewalk Café section chair of the Festival Committee. For three of his six years on the Board of Directors he served as the Secretary.
Karin ShankFestival Committee: Cooking Demo
Karin Shank is a scientific and business research librarian in RTP. She has always had a fascination with cultures different from her own, and remembers a favorite childhood activity of writing to embassies to request information, photos and other souvenirs from their countries. Now she explores other cultures mainly through a love of food and cooking, eating at international restaurants and learning new dishes from friends and at events like the International Festival. Karin is thrilled to be able to participate behind the scenes with this year's cooking classes at the Festival!
Shaheen SyalBoard of Directors
Shaheen Syal is the Director of Communications and Outreach for the e-NC Authority, an organization established by the General Assembly to connect all North Carolinians to high-speed broadband. Prior to this position, Shaheen worked in various aspects of television news and video production. Shaheen was born and raised in Raleigh, enjoys volunteering with non-profit organizations across the Triangle area and traveling around the globe as often as possible. She has been involved with the International Festival in some capacity - dance performer, volunteer, main stage announcer - since its inception in 1985. Since last year, the festival’s 25th anniversary, Shaheen has served on several festival committees including Marketing and Public Relations (Chair) and Main Stage (Co-Chair). Shaheen is committed to expanding the mission of International Focus, Inc. and is proud to help bring the world to her hometown year after year.