Kaia Benson provides leadership, oversight, and technical guidance to a portfolio that engages youth and young professionals in the Middle East and North Africa in developing key soft skills for professional leadership.
During her career at IREX, Kaia has designed and led a portfolio of youth and leadership programs supporting the career progression of young people from the Middle East and North Africa, Central & South Asia, and Eastern Europe. Through her leadership on the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship Program, youth from all 24 governorates of Tunisia have gained professional and leadership development opportunities, preparing them to contribute to Tunisia’s economic development and gaining employment at twice the national average for youth with tertiary degrees.
With nearly two decades of international youth engagement experience, Kaia supports a cross-regional network of young professionals and community leaders to access opportunities for collaboration and professional engagement through the MEPI Alumni Connection.
Her previous roles with IREX include leading the multi-country educational programs team in the Caucasus and supporting the skills development and engagement of youth in Turkmenistan. As a US Peace Corps Volunteer, Kaia co-directed the first Girls Leading Our World summer camp in the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan, supporting girls in developing life and leadership skills.
Kaia holds a Bachelor’s degree from Pacific Lutheran University with majors in English Writing and Religions and a Master in International Affairs degree from Columbia University with concentrations in International Security Policy and Middle East studies.