Message from the Executive Director 

Executive Director

Leila Bekri

It is my honor to lead a talented team with a passion for making International Focus the most impactful organization it can be, expanding educational opportunities and quality of life for the Research Triangle.   


I joined International Focus in November of 2013 as the director of the International Visitor Leadership Program and ensured organizational transitions in the years following. Since then, I have overseen programs, events, operations, annual budget, and our small team of staff. My responsibilities also include collaborating with our board of directors on governance frameworks, strategic planning, fundraising, business development, and communication. Most notably during this period, International Focus has won various local and national awards for peace, diversity, mentorship, and programming excellence. 


In my new role, I will continue to build a relevant presence for international understanding as well as pride in our legacy, history, and the successive contributions of our many supporters over the years. Most important of all is to build a strong organizational profile as a respected partner in these changing and challenging times, by revitalizing our vision to better serve our community at large.   


I again look forward to working with all of you. 



Maria Adoskina (PHD)


Wanda Capps

Graduate Student Fellow

Allissa Witham

Leila’s Bio

Leila was born in New York City and raised in Tunis. Her father’s diplomatic service took her family to the U.S., Europe, and West Africa before moving back to Tunisia. Being exposed to a multitude of cultures and places at an early age, she cultivated a pluralistic perspective which she later reinforced through her education, work, and passion for world affairs.

Fluent in French and Arabic, 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 with a focus on comparative European Legal Systems.

Leila has sat on panels on public diplomacy, peace building, and intercultural dialogues. She is a fan of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

Maria’s Bio

Maria is from Moscow, Russia, where she was a professor of English at the prestigious Academy of Sciences. After emigrating to the USA, she directed the Slavic department of New Life Ministries (NLM) in Apex, NC.
Maria has been International Focus’ Director of Special Programs since 2000, where she has directed more than 25 successful programs via Community Connections, Open World, Youth Leadership Programs, and the Young Leaders of Americas Initiative.

Wanda’s Bio

Wanda, a native North Carolinian, has over 30 years of experience in bookkeeping, financial and office management in 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. 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.

 Allissa Witham, Graduate Student Fellow

Allissa grew up on a farm in northern Illinois. She graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI with a degree in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences and Elementary/Middle School Education. She taught 8th grade, preschool and was a substitute teacher.  She moved with her husband and children to Konstanz, Germany to live for 20 months in 2012.  She previously lived in Illinois for most of her life before moving to North Carolina at the start of 2019.  She is currently a graduate student in the Master of International Studies program at North Carolina State University.  She is married and has three teenagers and likes to travel whenever possible. She likes visiting and learning about other cultures and meeting people from all around the world.