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Meet the Team


Leilas PictureLeila Bekri
Director of International Visitor Leadership Programs

Leila was born in New York City and was raised in Tunis. Her father's service with the UNDP ​took her family to the U.S., Europe, and West Africa before moving back to Tunis. Being exposed to a multitude of cultures, languages and places at an early age, she developed and cultivated a sense of diversity and pluralism which she later reinforced through her education, work and her passion for people and world affairs.

Fluent in French and Arabic, she returned to the United States in the ​Nineties. Leila graduated from the Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Politiques et Sociales de Tunis, Tunis II; and North Carolina State University, where she earned a master's degree in international studies (including ​a few ​PhD level courses) with an extensive focus on comparative legal systems.

She took part in the planning committee for the ​Cary Citizen Diplomacy Summit from 2012 to 2016. ​She has sat on several panels locally and nationally​ on a variety of topics focusing on public diplomacy, peace building, and intercultural dialogue​. In addition ​to these activities​, she advocates for women’s issues, education, freedom of speech, and​ opinion​,​ and information in the media. Today, besides her work at International Focus, Leila is involved with humanitarian organizations. She enjoys the outdoors, literature, music, and films. She is a fan of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival​ in Durham, North Carolina​. Email:


Maria AdoskinaMaria Adoskina
Director of Special Projects (Community Connections, Open World, and Youth Leadership Program)

Maria Adoskina, is a native of Moscow, Russia, and graduate of the prestigious Russian Academy of Sciences with a Ph.D. in philosophy and linguistics. Maria leads special projects, including Community Connections and the Open World Leadership Program. Email:


Wanda CappsWanda Capps
Administrative Support and Bookkeeper

Wanda Capps, a native North Carolinian, has over 30 years of experience in bookkeeping, financial and office management in both the nonprofit and private sectors. Before coming to International Focus, she worked to support the International Visitors’ Leadership and Open World Programs at the International Affairs Council of NC from 2006-2013. Wanda is a life-long learner and has continued to build upon her mastery of her chosen profession. Outside of work, she volunteers her time in the community and at her church in support of various causes both local and abroad. Most importantly, however, Wanda dedicates her time to her family, her children, and her grandchildren. Email:


Board of Directors

nazi picture2016 05 19 13.42.44Nazi Ahmadi Kite

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 8 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 30years. Nazi is also very active with the Persian community in the triangle area. Nazi and her husband Gary live in Cary. Her interests are traveling, volunteer activities, reading and spending time with family and friends.


BeartaBearta Alchacar
Vice President, Director of International Festival

Bearta Alchacar is an entrepreneur in land development and acquisition, business owner, dance instructor, and UNICEF Ambassador. She brings years of expertise in large event planning, marketing and public relations to the festival. Bearta is a Lebanese immigrant, she has made Raleigh her home for over 20 years and is a graduate of NCSU. Bearta loves to travel and is fluent in French, Arabic, and English. Bearta is a cultural diversity expert with several years of experience working with multinational groups. Bearta has received the Presidential Volunteer Award in 2010.

Currently she is directing the International Festival which encourages diversity and respect by telling incredible stories of courage. She loves to bring people together to celebrate what unites us: art, history dance, food, and fun as the Festival brings the world to Raleigh.


Jackie PrillamanJackie Prillaman, CPA

Jackie is a tax partner based in McGladrey's Raleigh, N.C. office. She has more than 18 years of experience providing multi-state and multi-national tax compliance and consulting services. Jackie focuses on advising middle market clients on maximizing tax planning opportunities and aids clients in restructuring, ASC740 calculations, credit maximization and modeling of tax benefits.

Jackie currently works with clients throughout the U.S. and in various foreign countries in the engineering, architectural, construction, software, manufacturing, power, employment staffing, insurance and personal service industries. Her experience includes planning, organizing and supervising all phases of client engagements.

Prior to joining McGladrey, Jackie worked at two Big Four accounting firms and also served as a tax director for a $500 million multinational construction company.


Mike GuassMike Gauss

During his career, Mike has run his own small business, managed new invention institutional sales, served as director of client relations with a commercial construction materials supplier and directed hospitality and organizational logistics for Fortune 500 companies. Early in his career, Mike served as campaign manager for a state Senate candidate in Wisconsin.

Mike currently serves on RTI’s community advisory board, is the co-coordinator of national and international disability accessibility programs for Metropolitan Community Churches and serves as Director of Public Relations for his local church, St. John’s MCC. In addition to this role, he has also served as chair of the Board of Trustees and as a member of the Board of Directors, and as part of the City of Raleigh’s Human Relations Commission Mayor’s Unity Breakfast.


Dikarn KabbendjianDikran Kabbendjian
Board Member

Born to Armenian parents in Nazareth, Dikran had the unique experience of growing up among Palestinians within a Jewish state, and attending a Catholic elementary school as well as a Southern Baptist middle school. While working in his father's photography shop, he was exposed to pilgrims from all over the world. He came to Raleigh in 1976, and while attending Wake Technical College, he worked in Raleigh's first gourmet food store. He accepted a position with IT&T, the predecessor of his current employer, Alcatel-Lucent. After a career in environmental health and safety, as well as in human resources, he is now a corporate real-estate operations manager. He also graduated, Summa Cum Laude, with BS in business administration from North Carolina Wesleyan College. During his many years in Raleigh he remained engaged in the cultural, musical, and multi-cultural scene of this growing city. He is active in the local Armenian community and has participated in the Raleigh International Festival since 1990.


Sam LazarusSam Lasris
Board Member

Originally from Jacksonville Florida, Sam recently retired from 39 years of dental practice in Danville Virginia where he is a past president of the local dental society. Sam has been a volunteer for International Affairs Council in early 2012 and for International Focus since January 2014. Sam has served on the Orange County Planning Board, was original chairman of the Orange County Unified Transportation Board, and is currently on the Orange County Board of Health. His interests include politics, human rights, urban/suburban growth and development,access to health care, theater, arts and culture, and travel.


Sean MaroneySean Maroney
Board Member

Sean anchors North Carolina News at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. Raised in North Carolina, he returned home in 2013 after nearly a decade reporting around the world. Each night, he brings his love of this community and powerful journalism into our homes. Before starting at CBS North Carolina, Sean worked as a Pentagon correspondent for the Voice of America. He covered a wide-range of topics and travelled around the world. Sean graduated with distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he double majored in journalism and Spanish. In his senior year, the prestigious William Randolph Hearst Foundation recognized Sean as one of the country’s top collegiate television reporters. NPR also chose him for its “Next Generation Radio Project.” Sean enjoys traveling, playing guitar, being active outdoors and cooking.

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