The Charleston Council for International Visitors

Small-town charm, big-city chops.

The Charleston Council for International Visitors is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization that develops international professional exchange and citizen diplomacy in South Carolina's Lowcountry. As a community-based member of Global Ties U.S., CCIV proudly supports the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program.

By providing its Charleston-area connections and expertise to U.S. government officials and National Programming Agencies, CCIV works to create powerful cross-cultural exchange and professional development experiences which meet the goals of IVLP stakeholders and support U.S. foreign policy objectives.

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Donald Sparks


Donald Sparks is Emeritus Professor of International Economics at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina and University Lecturer in International Business at the Management Center Innsbruck, Austria. Prior to coming to the Citadel Dr Sparks was a staff assistant for Senator Fritz Hollings and later Regional Economist for Africa at the Department of State. He has been a Fulbright Professor at the University of Swaziland and the University of Maribor, in Slovenia, a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Economics at the University of Swaziland and at the African Union Commission's Department of Economic Affairs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He taught at the American University in Cairo for one year, where he also served as department chair. Dr. Sparks serves on the Board of Directors of the Fulbright Association.

Noah Koubenec

Deputy Director

Noah Koubenec is Assistant Director for Fellowships at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He is coordinator for The Citadel's Project GO grant, which funds intensive Mandarin immersion programs in Taiwan. Noah is a 2013 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and a 2010 Truman Scholar.

Board of Directors

Ms. Elizabeth Alston

Mrs. Elizabeth Hunt Alston was born in Charleston, South Carolina. She lived and attended school in Summerville, South Carolina and graduated from Alston High School. She continued her educational pursuits at South Carolina State College, New York University and The Citadel, where she received both her Masters and Education Specialist degrees. She frequently travels for speaking engagements geared toward community engagement, historic preservation and education topics. An educator and historian, Mrs. Alston has served as an evaluative and workshop consultant for the Ethnic Studies Branch, Washington, DC; The National Teacher Corps, Arlington, Virginia; South Carolina Sate; University of South Carolina and many other educational and professional organizations. She has been active in numerous community and civic affairs for several years. During the Bicentennial Celebration, she chaired the Charleston County Black History Committee, which sponsored an African Banquet of which Andre Coulbary, Ambassador from Senegal, was the featured speaker. Mrs. Alston is a current member of the Board of Trustees and former member vice chair of The International African American Museum and Chairperson of Charleston’s Tourism Commission, and she served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees for Emmanuel A.M.E. Church of Charleston and the State Board of Review, which has the responsibility of determining which properties within the state meet the National Register criteria.

Mr. Tom Bradford


Tom’s career at CBS and CBS News spanned 25 years. For many years he produced news broadcasts, but he also served as Director of Recruitment and Deputy Foreign Editor before leading a team that created CBS News overnight broadcasts, laying the groundwork for the network’s online broadcasts of today. Having a lifelong passion for urban design, he has passionately pursued his interest in the connection between cycling and walking with good community planning. In Charleston, he has held leadership positions with the advocacy group Charleston Moves, and (with Mike Messner) co-founded the Friends of the Lowcountry Low Line. He is currently Board President of the Lowline, a member of the Board of the Lowcountry Livability Political Action Committee and a member of the Urban Land Institute.

Dr. Hollis France

Dr Hollis France was born in Guyana in South America. She is the acting chair of the Department of Political Science at the College of Charleston. Dr. France’s ongoing research focuses on diverse and social economies as alternative development models, the intersections of gender and political economy, indigenous epistemologies in the Anglophone Caribbean, and indigenous political mobilization and development discourses. In the wider Charleston community, she is a member of the worker owned Transformative Teaching Collective (TTC) which centers on a social justice praxis of liberation and action, a current board member of the South Carolina affiliate American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and a board member of the Charleston Council for International Visitors.

Mr. Vince Graham

Combining modern advances with time-tested urban principles, Graham first founded the traditional walking neighborhood of Newpoint in 1991. Since that time he has participated in building seven other neighborhoods: the Village of Port Royal, Broad Street, I'On, Morris Square, Hammonds Ferry, and Mixson in South Carolina; and East Beach in Virginia. In addition to garnering numerous design and environmental stewardship awards, these neighborhoods have also been the subject of articles and stories in The Wall Street Journal, Builder, Landscape Architecture, and National Geographic magazines, Home and Garden Television, CNN, the BBC and more. Graham has become a passionate advocate for advancing human-scaled urbanism, and has spoken at architectural and planning symposiums in Australia, Europe, and throughout the United States.

Ms. Gervais Hagerty Del Porto


For more than six years, Gervais headed The Citadel’s Public Speaking Lab. During her tenure, she taught hundreds of cadets, both in the classroom and one-on-one. She also advised the El Cid Toastdawgs, the college’s public speaking club. She left her post early 2020 to write full time, spend more time at home with her young children, and build her speaker coaching business. She is a board member for the Charleston Council for International Visitors and was recently appointed to Charleston's bike and pedestrian committee.

Dr. Carolyn Matalene

Carolyn Matalene, B.A.,Northwestern University, M.A. and Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, taught for many years in the English department of the University of South Carolina. Before joining the USC faculty, she taught at South Carolina State and Benedict, both historically black. She specialized in composition and rhetoric, and her research appears in Worlds of Writing, Professional Writing in Context, Telling Stories/Taking Risks and numerous journals. She was an exchange professor at Shanxi Daxue, Taiuan, China in 1982, a Fulbright professor at Abo Akademi, Turku, Finland in 1989, and she returned there as research professor in 1993 and 1997. She received numerous teaching awards while at USC and in 1998 was the recipient of the Amoco Outstanding Teaching Award and is now a distinguished professor emerita. Since retiring, she and coauthor Katherine Chaddock have edited three books, institutional histories told with primary sources: Carolina Voices: Two Hundred Years of Student Experiences; College of Charleston Voices: Campus and Community through the Centuries; and Vital Signs in Charleston: Voices through the Centuries from the Medical University of South Carolina. She has been a member of the World Affairs Council of Charleston since 2002, serving on the awards committee and on the board. An avid traveler, she has trekked in Nepal, hiked the Inca Trail, walked across England, and taken care of cheetahs in Namibia and sea turtles in Costa Rica.

Ms. Whitney Powers

Whitney Powers is President of the award-winning Charleston, SC, architecture firm Studio A, Inc. She has held visiting appointments on the faculty for architecture at Clemson University, University of Cincinnati, and North Carolina State University. Recently, Ms. Powers led the technology firm Edwink LLC, in the development of its civic engagement platform®, synthesizing solutions to enhance livability in Charleston. Ms. Powers has a long history of advocacy and service. She served on the City of Charleston Board of Architectural Review for four years and on the board of the CDFI South Carolina Community Loan Fund for nine years. She currently serves on the board of Charleston Moves and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Belle W. Baruch Foundation. Ms. Powers holds a B.Arch. from Mississippi State University and a M.S. in Building Design from Columbia University in New York.

Dr. Blake Scott

Historian, writer, professor of International Studies, Blake is interested in the diverse cultures and ecologies that make up the Caribbean world. He teaches in the International Studies Program at the College of Charleston, examining questions of cultural and economic globalization, travel and migration, environmental change, and inter-American relations. He has also written about these topics for academic and popular publications, including: the journal of Environmental History, the Journal of Tourism History, The Caribbean Writer, and The Huffington Post. In support of his studies, he has received fellowships from the Fulbright Program, the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Texas at Austin. When not in the classroom or deep into reading and writing, Blake loves to spend time in nature and on the Lowcountry waterways.

Al Thibault

Albert Thibault is Program Chair of the World Affairs Council of Charleston and serves on the Advisory Board of the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs of the College of Charleston. He retired from the Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, after holding numerous overseas positions including Deputy Chief of Mission in Nepal, Saudia Arabia, and India; US Consul General in Lahore and Deputy Consul General in Karachi; Political Counselor in Saudi Arabia; and Political Officer in Guinea, Sri Lanka, and India. Stateside, he served as Senior Adviser at the US Mission to the United Nations; Desk Officer for Sri Lanka and India; and Director for Europe, Near East, South Asia and Latin America for the Bureau of Refugee Programs during the Bosnian war. He studied Hindi and Arabic at the State Department’s National Foreign Affairs Training Center. He also speaks French and Urdu.