Recognizing Ilir Zherka

Floor Speech

Date: Aug. 30, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HIMES. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize Ilir Zherka's service as Executive Director of the Alliance for International Exchange. For nearly seven years, Ilir has devoted himself to advancing person-to-person exchanges and fostering greater global connectivity. During that time, the Alliance has forged deeper relationships between its members and federal officials, and federal funding for educational and cultural exchange programs has reached record levels.

Ilir's tenure coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, which derailed countless exchange opportunities and threatened the short-term viability of any international linkages. Under Ilir's steady hand, however, the Alliance helped expand on line programming and worked to ease barriers to participation.

Ilir also recognizes the role that exchanges play in strengthening global democratic networks. I commend the Alliance's work to promote freedom and American values within the international exchange community as a means for reversing the global decline of democracy.

While the exchange community will feel his absence, Ilir's legacy will endure through new and fortified international relationships. I join the Alliance in thanking Ilir for his years of steadfast service, and I wish him the best in his future endeavors.