Meet the speakers who will lead this powerful collaboration

Now more than ever, we need talented people of all ages and from all backgrounds prepared to think critically, communicate across differences and lead in diverse settings. More speakers will be added as they are confirmed.

Leen Alaerts is lecturer, practitioner and researcher in history, research skills, global citizenship and didactics in the field of secondary school teacher education. She has published on heritage, cultural education, practitioner research and on global citizenship education. She also works at the international office for secondary school teacher education and as a history researcher, she is specialized in labour movements.

Mr. Rajesh Awasthi is Principal of Choithram School, India and has a vast experience of teaching and academic administration spanning 28 years. He is a strong global competence advocate. Under Rajesh’s leadership, Choithram School is the first school in the country with a department of Intercultural Learning, winning it many global awards from the British Council and Teach a Man to Fish, a UK based charity. Rajesh was the guest expert at the Forum on Intercultural Learning and Exchange (FILE) VI in Italy in 2015 and a speaker at the AFS Asia Pacific International Global Citizenship Education Forum in New Delhi in 2017.

“It is imperative challenging what we are doing in education to rethink and improve societies where intercultural citizenship is the Polar star.”

Dr. Mattia Baiutti is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Udine in Italy, supported by Fondazione Intercultura Onlus. Mattia holds a Ph.D. (Doctor Europaeus) in Humanistic Studies (Educational Sciences) from the University of Rome “Tor Vergata,” and was a Visiting Researcher at Durham and Newcastle Universities in the UK. He worked as a consultant with the OECD PISA on the Global Competence Assessment. His main interests focus on internationalization of secondary schools, intercultural education and communication, intercultural competence and its assessment, student mobility, intercultural citizenship.

Aléssio Trindade de Barros is the Secretary of State for Education in Paraiba State in Brazil, a professor at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Paraíba, and has held the position of Secretary of Professional and Technological Education at the Ministry of Education. Aléssio supports the Gira Mundo Program, which has already made international exchange possible for 80+ teachers and 200+ students. Aléssio holds a BA, a MA, and a PhD degree in Electrical Engineering. He supports and speaks about the following topics: Tactile Stimulation, Rehabilitation Engineering, Deaf, Special Education.

Kirsty Bashforth is founder and CEO of QuayFive Ltd, and a non-executive director of Kier Group plc, Serco Group plc and GEMS Education. She has an Economics degree from Cambridge University and has worked in BP on commercial leadership, operations and organizational dynamics. At QuayFive, she specializes in equipping senior teams to improve performance and deliver strategy through the alignment of their culture. Kirsty has experience running international operations, leading organizational culture changes and improving business performance with an understanding of risk in business environments.

Dr. Mick Vande Berg has held intercultural and international leadership positions at several institutions and organizations, and has been teaching, training, and coaching interculturally for several decades. He has led multiple intercultural research projects and published widely. His current work focuses on helping educators bridge the cultural gap between multicultural and intercultural education. A founding board member of the Forum on Education Abroad, he is a 2012 recipient of the Forum’s Peter A. Wollitzer award.

“Fostering global awareness and intercultural competence is relevant and crucial to all areas of study and levels of education”

Maureen Blankemeyer, PhD, CFLE is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA. Her research interests include student intercultural competence. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from Bowling Green State University, an M.S. in Family Relations and Child Development, and a Ph.D. in Human Environmental Sciences, both graduate degrees from Oklahoma State University. She is a Certified Family Life Educator and a member of the Ohio Council on Family Relations and the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR), including the International, Education and Enrichment, and Family Science sections of NCFR.

Elisa Briga is Head of Advocacy at the European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL), the umbrella of AFS Intercultural Programs in Europe, where she has worked for seven years. In the past she worked as a trainee and staff member at the EU-CoE youth partnership, a co-operation programme between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth. She has been volunteering for CISV International for 18 years and holds a Masters Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy with a thesis on information on youth mobility opportunities.

“A Global University is one in which international experiences and perspectives are fully integrated into the institution’s teaching and learning, research, and discovery, and outreach and engagement mission.”

William I. Brustein, PhD is the Vice President for Global Strategies and International Affairs at West Virginia University and the Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of History. His work at WVU is dedicated to fully integrating international and multicultural experiences into the academic units within the university, and expanding and enhancing its global reach. He previously served as vice provost for global strategies and international affairs at The Ohio State University, President of Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), Chair of NAFSA’s International Education Leadership Knowledge Community and Chair of the Senior International Officers of the Big Ten Academic Alliance and in many other organizations. Dr. Brustein is widely published in the areas of political extremism and ethnic, religious and racial prejudice.

Lisa Choate is Executive Vice President of American Councils for International Education, overseeing teams responsible for all secondary school programs for international students in the U.S.; U.S. high school students abroad, and educator programs. She also oversees professional programs including the Open World Program. Lisa has been in executive leadership at American Councils for 25 years. She holds a Masters in Education and Second Language Acquisition from Boston University and A.B. from Bryn Mawr College.

Dr. Darla K. Deardorff is the Executive Director of International Education Administrators (AIEA) at Duke University in the United States. She is a research scholar in the Program in Education at Duke University and has held national leadership positions with NAFSA and with Forum on Education Abroad. Editor of The Sage Handbook of Intercultural Competence (Sage, 2009), she has published and presented widely on international education and cross-cultural issues. Dr. Deardorff has served on faculty of Harvard University’s Future of Learning Institute, is faculty at the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication and an adjunct or visiting professor at numerous universities around the world. Watch Darla’s webinar on assessing intercultural competence here.

“There is a real urgency for young people to use the knowledge gained from understanding cultural differences to find solutions to world problems.”

Vishakha N. Desai currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of AFS Intercultural Programs. She is Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University and Senior Research Scholar at its School of International and Public Affairs, where she focuses on innovative approaches to understanding the relationship between culture and foreign policy in Asia. From 1990 through 2012, she served in various capacities at the Asia Society, ranging from being Director of its museum to being the President and CEO of the organization from 2004.

Brechtine Detmar received a MA in Spanish Language and Culture. Currently, she is policy advisor at the International Centre of the Faculty of Business and Economics at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. She advises management and lecturers on internationalisation issues. She is experienced in building and maintaining international relationships. She is the coordinator of the minor “International teams and Organisations” and gives on a regular basis workshop on intercultural communication.

“When you go to teach at a school, you need to learn first”

Balázs Dezsényi leads the team of Teach For Hungary, an organization working to make all Hungarian children’s perspectives equally bright. He is a public policy graduate of Central European University in Budapest. He is actively involved in informal education, leading seminars on English and debating skills at an after-school academy for Budapest high-schoolers. He has interned with the Foundation for Democratic Youth, an organization aiming to promote youth advancement through youth service, democratic debate and professional development. He also served for five years as co-founder and president of the Debating Society of Hungary.

Jose Diez-Verdejo is a Policy Officer at the Directorate-General Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission. He is in charge of Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange, a new pilot project that fosters intercultural understanding and skills development among young people living in European and Southern Mediterranean countries. He also oversees projects helping the integration of refugees in higher education. Previously he worked in the European Commission’s Spokesperson’s Service, DG Home Affairs and DG Competition. Jose is a journalist and holds a masters degree in European Politics from Université Libre de Bruxelles and an MSc in Public Policy and Administration from the London School of Economics.

Erin Dowd is a global education consultant and founder of www.JRNEY.org, a website dedicated to amplifying teacher voices through global stories from the field. As a global educator, Erin is dedicated to helping teachers bring the world to their students in meaningful ways. She is also a board member of the Global Goals Educator Task Force, #TeachSDGs, a 2107 ADCD Emerging Leader, and the Professional Learning Chair for the ISTE Global Collaboration PLN. A former teacher and curriculum director, Erin has spent her career working to provide equitable education for students all over the world.

“If we do education right we can help give young people the confidence and competences they need to improve their communities and the world.”


Barry van Driel
is President of the International Association for Intercultural Education and Senior Editor in Chief of the journal Intercultural Education (Routledge). He is also senior staff at the Anne Frank House, in charge of international curriculum development and teacher education. Barry serves as head of the jury of the UNAOC/BMW Intercultural Innovation Award and he is an expert consultant for the European Commission’s WG 2020 working group on Citizenship Education.

“Education has the power to connect young people across divides and build a shared sense of responsibility for the world.”

Anantha Duraiappah took the position as the inaugural Director of the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) based in New Delhi, India in 2014. An experienced science-policy pacesetter having over 33 years experience, he now plays a key role in positioning UNESCO MGIEP as a leading research institute on education for peace, sustainable development and global citizenship. Dr. Duraiappah is presently focusing on researching and exploring how the neuro sciences of learning can contribute to developing socio-emotional learning through innovative digital pedagogies.

Read about Anantha’s take on global competence in his interview.

Alexandre Fonseca D’Andrea has 25 years of experience as a teacher of vocational education in Brazilian federal institutions. He is the Coordinator of Gira Mundo Finlândia, an international teacher training program for public schools in Paraíba State, Brazil, designed in cooperation with Universities of Applied Sciences in Finland. He works to improve the quality of education focusing on student-centered learning and active learning methodologies. His research centers on Soil Science and Vocational Education. He is a former Pro-Rector of Planning and Administration and  Director of Post-Graduate Studies in the Brazilian Federal Institutes of Southern Minas Gerais State and Paraíba State.

“Educated men and women and girls and boys are in a better position to have a voice in their future, a choice of paths and possibilities. Educated peoples are more likely to choose investment in themselves, their communities and their families and future and less apt to be swayed by demagogues.”

David Edwards, PhD is General Secretary of Education International, a federation of 32 million teachers and other educators affiliated with unions and associations in 173 countries globally. Dr. Edwards previously served as EI’s deputy general secretary directing education policy, advocacy, research and communications. Prior to joining EI, Edwards was an Associate Director at the National Education Association of the United States. He has worked as an Education Specialist at the Organization of American States and began his career as a public high school teacher. His doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership is from the University of Maryland in the U.S.

Pamela Berland Ex (AFS alumna, USA to Brazil, 1975) channeled her high school experience into an international career as a cross-cultural trainer, global career coach and long-time volunteer. She works as a consultant for the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Institute, Voice of America, Ex & associates International, International Coach Federation, and other. For three decades, Pam has prepared her clients, ranging from students to CEOs and ambassadors, to refine their intercultural competence for career success in multinational corporations, the U.S. federal government, NGOs and universities. Pam speaks English, Portuguese and Spanish. 

Patricia Adriana Martins Ferreira is director of the State Language Center in Paraíba, Brazil and a Specialist in School Management with 12 years of experience in teaching English. She graduated in English and Portuguese by the Federal University of Paraíba, Brazil.

Cristina Gallegos has 30 years of experience in business, including as an advisor to philanthropists and nonprofits. She is the Founder & CEO of Sky(lark) Strategies, a Triple Bottom Line, a consulting firm aiming to change the global society through smart strategies, nonprofit impact; systems overhaul; and working on grand challenges – from digitization, to inequality, future of work, future of learning, financial sustainability, AI, the environment and democracy. A skilled facilitator and strategist, Cristina is passionate about the SDGs and works with cities, foundations and NGOs to solve problems using common sense and the neuroscience of leadership.

“Global competence is about focusing on a cooperation-based approach by finding and creating commonalities.”

Thilo Gilsa was a Rotary exchange student in India (2008) and is an AFS alumnus, completing his community service in Paraguay (2011). The early international experience encouraged him to study Sociology, Politics & Economics at Zeppelin University, Germany. His theses entitled “Operationalizing Transcultural Competence“ will be published as a contribution in the book “Transcultural Management”, authored by Prof Dr. Josef Wieland, holder of the Endowed Chair of Institutional Economics at Zeppelin University. Global perspective is also part of his works as a Business Development Manager for the social startup Volunteer Vision. The software company provides a digital mentoring platform to maximize collaborative learning and employee engagement – until now working in 15 countries.

“International dimensions of education are no longer just about moving people, programs, providers, policies, ideas, curriculum, projects, and services across national borders but about access, global competencies and knowledge of pressing world issues.”

Esther E. Gottlieb, PhD, Senior Advisor for International Affairs at The Ohio State University, works on implementing the university-wide internationalization. For a decade, she has facilitated interdisciplinary research on international themes and co-directed a collaboration for educators to internationalize across the curriculum. Her research focuses on assessing students’ global learning and competencies and on universities’ funding of internationalization. Previously she was director of social science research at West Virginia University. She served on the Editorial Advisory Board of ERIC Higher Education Reports and was elected this year to the Executive Board of Comparative & International Education Society. Gottlieb teaches comparative research methods, civic engagement, and values clarification. She holds advanced degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Case Western Reserve University, and a Teaching Diploma from Haifa University.

“The challenge of education in the age automation is to nurture the type of person that machines cannot replicate. Autonomy, playfulness and rigour of thought are each central to this endeavor”

George Greskovits is the Senior Director of Academic Programs and co-founder of Milestone Institute, responsible for all academic activities of the institute as well as teaching history and social sciences. He previously worked as a researcher for historical documentaries and museum exhibits, funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council (A.H.R.C.), and taught through seminars as well as private tuition at UCL. He has a BA in sociology and cultural history from the University of East London, MA in Holocaust Studies at Royal Holloway University of London, and is enrolled to the doctoral program at University College London.

Elisabeth Gudenus is the Regional Director of World Youth Alliance Europe, an organization that works with young people around the world to build a culture that supports and nurtures the dignity of each human person. She has worked as a social media consultant and digital marketing manager in New York and Vienna for different NGOs. Elizabeth holds a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the Free University of Bolzano and two diplomas in Project Management and Online Marketing.

Rosario Gutierrez is the Executive Director For AFS Colombia. In the past she worked as a Communication Consultant for the OEI (Iberoamerican Association for Education, Science and Culture), Coordinator of Professional Emphasis of the Faculty of Communication of the Javierana University in Bogota and University Professor of Communication Theories. Rosario holds a degree in Social Communication with a Major on Development and Education.

Péter Halácsy is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Prezi, and co-founder of Budapest School. An engineer and change agent, Peter is always challenging and transforming the status quo. Prior to Prezi, Peter was a lead developer at Origo.hu, Hungary’s largest internet company, a new media lecturer at Budapest University of Technology, and cofounder of Kitchen Budapest, a cross-disciplinary environment where researchers create experimental projects involving technology and urban spaces. Peter champions rapid growth challenges, he is an engineering coach, continually integrating technology, and taking agile product development to the extreme. He is the resident speaker about all things technology and innovation.

“You need to lead the community, and you need to follow the community.”

Kaya Henderson leads the Global Learning Lab for Community Impact at Teach For All. There, she seeks to grow the impact of locally rooted, globally informed leaders, all over the world, who are catalyzing community and system-level change to provide children with the education, support, and opportunity to shape a better future. She has served as Chancellor of DC Public Schools, a Fellow with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Georgetown University, among other positions. Her board memberships include The Aspen Institute, The College Board, Robin Hood NYC, and Teach For America. She chairs the board of Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC), an organization that she co-founded.

Read Kaya’s take on global competence in her interview.

Kea Hoppe is the Director of European Educational Exchanges – Youth for Understanding (EEE-YFU), responsible for positioning YFU as an expert in intercultural education, creating partnerships and advancing the organization strategically. She holds a Master’s Degree of Psychology from University of Goettingen, Germany, and has been with YFU Germany as an employee since 2006.

Bill Hunter is an experiential educator, global competence researcher and international education administrator. His current title is Director, Fellowship Advising & United Nations Programs, and was recently elected to the UN’s NGO Executive Committee. He was the co-designer of the Global Competence Aptitude Assessment, now used by institutions in more than 100 countries. His current research focuses on global workforce development, the reach and effectiveness of the United Nations, and the growing interest among American youth in international community service projects. A Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, Bill earned his Ed.D. from Lehigh University in Educational Leadership and holds a master’s degree in International Communications from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, and bachelor’s degrees in Secondary Education from Point Park College, and Journalism from Lock Haven University. 

Christi Hunter, President of Global Competence Associates, leads global competence research, assessment, and development. Christi is a primary author of the Global Competence Aptitude Assessment (GCAA®), which measures the global competence of students and professionals, and identifies their developmental needs. Her clients span K-20 education, business, government, and nonprofit sectors worldwide. She has worked in global corporations in R&D and HR capacities, namely talent acquisition and global talent development, including Mars, Kraft Heinz, and Cadbury.

“Global competence feels like the absence of fear when encountering someone who is not from my tribe, however that might be defined. It feels like the kind of learning schools must be about in the 21st century.”

Anthony Jackson leads Asia Society’s work in education which strives to enable all students to graduate high school prepared for college, for work in the global economy, and for 21st century global citizenship. Jackson oversees the Center for Global Education at Asia Society, a global platform for collaboratively advancing education for global competence for all, and also co-authored the seminal follow-up blueprint Turning Points 2000, considered one of the most influential books on middle school reform. Jackson holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and M.A. and Ph.D. in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Sarah-Louise Jones is Director of Learning and Teaching at the University of Hull, where she works part time, and Director of Core Educators. Her interests centre on the use of digital technologies and how these challenge and transform existing pedagogies, particularly those that enable the development of global competency. She is a peer reviewer on two academic journals and founder and deputy chair of the international charity: The Education Futures Collaboration.

Dr. Andrea Juhos is the Managing Partner of the Hungarian affiliate of Lee Hecht Harrison, the world’s leading career management and leadership development company. She is also the Chair of the Competitive Workforce Taskforce of the American Chamber of Commerce in Budapest, the mission of which is to improve the country’s competitiveness through various educational programs. She is also the President of the Board of Salva Vita Foundation supporting people with disabilities re-enter the labor force. Andrea holds the Certificate of Senior Executive Coaching and Mentoring from CIPD, the world’s largest Chartered HR and development professional body based in London.

Nesrin Kacan is the Education and School Responsible and Regional Coordinator in Izmir region at Turk Kultur Vakfi (AFS Turkey), where she focuses on liaising with schools, educators and students. She is an experienced educator since 1988 in Turkey, passionate about making people aware of and learn how to bridge cultural differences. Since 1982, which was her AFS year in the US, she took part in many intercultural projects at national as well as international levels.

Derya Komitoglu Kaplan is the Director of Turk Kultur Vakfi (AFS Turkey), where she has been working in different roles since 2003. She pioneered most of AFS Turkey’s intercultural education activities such as the Spectrum of Education, an international intercultural conference series and Sisters and Brothers of Turkey Domestic Exchange Program. She continues to lead and to motivate AFS Turkey staff, volunteers, participants and educators on the path to becoming global citizens.  

Ankit Kawatra is a social entrepreneur from India with a global vision. He is the Trustee of World Youth Council working towards youth development and Founder of Feeding India working towards zero hunger. For his groundbreaking efforts, he has been recognized as the UN Young Leader for SDGs and Queen’s Young Leader by Her Majesty, the Queen at the Buckingham Palace. Mr. Ankit has also been named in the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his efforts in development space. Mr. Ankit is global youth leader and is highly passionate about global citizenship, experiential learning and entrepreneurship.

Lia Kelinsky-Jones is the Senior Assistant Director for Intercultural Learning and the Program Director for Mozaiko: A Global Living-Learning Community at Virginia Tech’s Cranwell International Center. She oversees intercultural training, curriculum, and assessment. As the daughter of a diplomat, she grew up in five different countries. She speaks English, French, and Spanish. She holds a B.S. in Psychology, M.S. in Agricultural Extension, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Agriculture, Leadership, and Community Education with a focus on international development.

Andrew King has been a State Primary-Middle School Principal for ten years and is a Community of Learning Lead Principal in Tauranga, New Zealand. This is a group of 12 schools representing 7000+ students, with over 50 staff involved in a focus on culturally responsive pedagogy and leadership to raise student achievement. He has a research and strategic background in establishing effective and sustainable intercultural strategies in schools, culturally responsive pedagogy and catering for indigenous cultures. His current school leadership context is an example of a primary school with a thriving intercultural strategy that is recognised locally, nationally and internationally.

“Talking about 21st century competences but refusing to change how we teach seems pretentious and counterproductive”

Dr. Ildikó Lázár is a senior lecturer at Eötvös Loránd University, offering courses on English language teaching methodology, cultural studies and intercultural communication in the BA, MA and PhD programs. She has also worked as a researcher, author and facilitator in many Council of Europe, Comenius, Erasmus and NGO projects, and she has been coordinating a community of practice for teachers’ continuous professional development for happy schools in Budapest. She has published on intercultural language teaching and teacher education with a special focus on ways to bring about change in teachers’ beliefs and practices in the field of intercultural competence development.

“Innovation in education can come from different stakeholders—government and business to NGOs and social entrepreneurs.”

Clive Lee is the Chief Executive Officer of the Yidan Prize Foundation. He is a specialist in social services, and has extensive experience in philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, and working with non­governmental and nonprofit organizations. His contributions to society have earned him numerous awards, leading him to be made Harvard University IMUSE Scholar, Incubatee of Grameen Creative Lab by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, Clinton Global Initiative University Scholar and among many others. Mr Lee aspires to bring positive changes to the world through supporting young leaders. In 2010, he was selected as the only Chinese trainer for the Oxfam Youth International Partners Program in India.

Balázs Lévai is an edupreneur, Co-Founder and CEO of Engame Academy, a Budapest based non-formal educational institution. Engame, which supplements the Hungarian formal education system, focuses on skill building, career orientation and usable language skills. It has 200+ students, most of whom continue their studies at some of the best universities woldwide. Apart from the great results of the students, Engame’s achievements have been awarded with the Co-Founders getting on the Forbes 30/30 list in 2014. Balázs holds a Masters degree in Economics and Entrepreneurship from the University of Budapest.

“Global-ready schools help students build critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are required in all professions. We need global-ready schools because they will build our future-ready population.”

Melissa Liles is the Chief Global Engagement Officer at AFS Intercultural Programs. In addition to heading up education and intercultural learning in AFS, Melissa has extensive marketing experience: She previously worked on Madison Avenue for Tribal DDB and other communications agencies directing accounts for Fortune 500 consumer brands including Pepsi and Procter & Gamble. She was also a founding member of a boutique digital marketing consulting firm in 1999.

Ping Bu Loke has been the Vice President of Strategy and Strategic Projects at Rohde & Schwarz, an international electronics, broadcast & media, cybersecurity, and radio company. He has led multiple strategic initiatives across business divisions and global subsidiaries. Ping sponsors international internships and promotes global citizenship. Ping obtained a Bachelors and Masters of Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. During his studies, he obtained practical experience in Germany. Ping worked for the Singapore Economic Development Board and became the Center Director for Germany operations.

Soraia Arroyo Lynch is the MBA Vice President of Marketing, GMMI, Inc. Originally from São Paulo, Brasil, Soraia moved to the U.S. as a teenager and is fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish. With over 20 years in the medical cost containment industry and having worked for GMMI in many capacities from Account Management, Product Development, Business Development, to VP of Marketing, she has established herself as an expert in medical cost containment and assistance. Soraia’s hands-on experience is backed by a solid business education: a Bachelor of Arts in International Business from Loras College, and an MBA from Nova Southeastern University.

Selda Mansur is an Educational Project Management and Accreditation Consultant, International Baccalaureate Educator, Workshop Leader and Consultant. She previously served as an Expert in Educational Matters for Istanbul Court of Law on intellectual and industrial property right, consultant for education-related projects, school administrator, curriculum coordinator, curriculum writer, teacher trainer, teacher. Selda is an entrepreneur who started her own educational management consultancy company in her late 40s after a 20+ year career as a teacher, curriculum coordinator, school administrator, and teacher trainer. Selda is also an AFS alumna.

Suzan Mansur works as an analyst at an international company. She is an AFS alumna with a bilingual-bicultural family background and international education and work experience.  She is a recent Business Administration graduate. She loves setting higher goals, challenging and expressing herself through sports and dancing. 

Peter Mather is Chairman of BP Europe, BP UK and BP Exploration Operating Company. He is accountable for the governance, reputation, and integration of all BP’s European activities. He has worked in trading, refining, shipping, upstream gas, B2B marketing, corporate strategy, and power – in London, New York, Paris and Brussels. He sits on the Boards of Fuels Europe, ICC UK, the Royal Opera House and British Museum Advisory Boards, the CBI President’s Committee, and the BP Pension Fund. Peter has an MA (Oxford), an MBA (INSEAD) and an Honorary Fellowship (King’s London).

Francisco Petrônio Alencar de Medeiros is a Professor of Vocational and Higher Education at Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Paraíba in Brazil (IFPB), and Program Coordinator at Gira Mundo Finlândia and Gira Mundo Israel. He holds a Bachelor, Master and PhD degree in Computer Science, and took the Vocational Education and Training Course (Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland). Francisco is an experienced Associate Professor with a demonstrated history of working in software engineering, human computer interaction, education technology, active learning and educational data mining.

Luis Henrique Melo is a professor of biology of the State of Paraíba in Brazil, and the study abroad coordinator of the Gira Mundo Program, which promotes diversity and inclusion by sponsoring Brazilian students to participate in intercultural exchanges. Luis graduated in biology at the Federal University of Paraíba and holds a Masters degree in Environmental Management and Development. He also studied Education and Vocational Training at the Häme University of Applied Sciences in Finland.

Kira Mendez is Director of Lehigh University’s Iacocca Institute, which creates transformative experiences that challenge and empower the next generation of global leaders. The Institute hosts innovative programs at the high school, university, and young professional levels. Kira joined Lehigh after 30 years in strategy consulting and is a former partner of The Bridgespan Group, where she worked with NGOs, cross-sector partnerships, and large-scale philanthropic initiatives. Prior to Bridgespan, Kira spent 20 years advising owners and investors of privately held companies and new ventures. Kira holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and engineering degrees from Lehigh University (BSEE) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (MSEE).

György Mészáros is an associate professor at the Faculty of Education and Psychology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary. He worked as a secondary school teacher with Roma students for several years, and he is still engaged in different teacher and educator training practices. As a researcher he focuses on critical ethnography, but his research interests include: democratic education, critical citizenship, pedagogical anthropology, autoethnography, and sexuality and gender topics. He is the head of the Anthropology of Education Research Group at his Faculty, and he is member of the Administrative Council of the Association for Teacher Education in Europe.

Francesca Minniti has worked and volunteered in the social and development sectors for various organisations in Italy and Europe, including Caritas. Since 2011 she has worked on communications and as a Policy Officer in CONCORD, the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs made up of 28 national associations, 21 international networks and 3 associate members that represent over 2,600 NGOs. Francesca took care of the European Year 2015 Project for Civil Society EU Institutions and has worked on the study ‘Global citizenship in Europe: how much do we care?’. She now coordinates the work on Global Citizenship Education & People Engagement.

Chie Misumi received a M.A. in Intercultural Communications from California State University, Fullerton, USA. She is a native speaker of Japanese and has lived in the U.S., Spain, and currently resides in the Netherlands. She is a Senior lecturer in Amsterdam School of International Business at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, and is also a corporate trainer who provides seminars/workshops at various international companies on intercultural management and communications.

Matt Mitton is Head of Partnerships for GVI, a volunteer and intern abroad organization. He oversees the delivery of group and individual programs for global partners, offering service learning programs through to individual internship programs. Matt has worked in experiential learning for over 10 years and has travelled extensively on school group expeditions around the world.

Aaron Moniz is the co-founder of Inspire Citizens, a teacher-created collective that empowers students and educators to co-create globally-minded, holistic, and customized project-based learning environments, and Citizens Public Media, which highlights the worth of investigative journalism and podcasting to build seekers, critical thinkers, and problem solvers. He served as the Grade 7 team leader and the facilitator at the International School of Beijing Innovative Futures Academy. Through providing effective tools, fostering confidence, and creating sustainable, engaging, and practical actions, he strives to positively impact our world.

Tracy Moxley is the Head of Global Citizenship Education for GEMS Education. She has been involved in global citizenship education for more than twenty years and has developed a mainstream curriculum focused on global education in her career. Tracy has worked in international, US and UK education for twenty years and has been an educational trainer for a number of UK educational organizations. She has extensive experience in UK curricula, the International Baccalaureate and is a published author on these topics. Tracy has a Master’s in Media Education and a Professional Diploma in Teaching and Learning, both from the Institute of Education, UCL. As a curriculum developer she is committed to best practice in interdisciplinary, global citizenship education.

Kim Niewolny is an associate professor in the Department of Agriculture, Leadership, and Community Education at Virginia Tech. Her scholarship centers on the role of power and equity in community education and development. Her work is grounded in cultural and participatory community development; critical pedagogy; action research; and sociocultural, transformative, and social movement frameworks for food systems change.  Dr. Niewolny holds research training and experience in qualitative research methods with a special interest in discourse analysis and narrative inquiry.

“Global skills are power skills”

Daniel Obst is President and CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs, a nonprofit international education organization that develops global citizens through innovative intercultural programs. Obst oversees and directs strategy for AFS, with operations in 60+ countries, program activity in 94 countries and a global community of 1 million alumni. This creative thinker and collaborator charged with leading a global movement to develop global citizens also serves on the AFS Board of Trustees. Before joining AFS in 2016, Daniel served as Deputy Vice President for International Partnerships at the Institute of International Education (IIE) where he provided strategic leadership for many groundbreaking IIE initiatives. Daniel currently serves on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

Jamylle Ouverney is a Vocational Education Professor at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Paraíba (IFPB) in Brazil, a federal agency under the Ministry of Education which offers professional, technological and humanistic education to contribute to the labor market and build an inclusive, fair, sustainable and democratic society. Jamyelle is also a member of the Gira Mundo Finlândia Coordination Team and a Specialist in English Language and English-American Literature. She holds a diploma in English Language Teaching for Adults (Cambridge University, England), a Master in Linguistics, and a Doctorate in Interdisciplinary in Human Sciences.

Paul Pack is Principal of Liberty Elementary School and was named the 2018 Washington Post Principal of the Year.  He feels that the Liberty community values the partnerships between staff and families to allow students to participate in teaching and learning opportunities that simulate a technology-enriched, collaborative and complex workforce.  Students actively lead and participate in project-based learning (PBL) experiences and have voice in their learning. Paul holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Education of the State University of New York at Oswego with a Master’s in Administration from the University of Virginia.  He was also recognized as one of Loudoun’s 40 Under 40 in 2015 and Loudoun County’s Principal of the Year early this year. 

“Learners need to know their entitlements and educators need to create enabling environments, which is the fundamental basis to their flourishing futures”

Paul Pahil is the founder of Hungry 4 Learning Ltd and has spent over 25 years empowering diverse cultures to flourish. In 2004 Paul set up a highly innovative and research-based consultancy specialising in developing leaders and teams using a holistic strength-based framework, positivity, emotions and interactions. Hungry 4 Learning’s activities are all based on the belief that all people have the right to experience the richness of optimal functioning. Over the last five years Paul initiated the concept of Budapest’s Happiness Week to further promote social interaction and a sense of communities in Budapest.

Aditi Pathak is an Associate Project Officer at UNESCO MGIEP and is leading the implementation of institute’s flagship programme DICE (Digital Intercultural Exchange).  She has more than 10 years of experience in the field of Education for Sustainable development and Global Citizenship, Teacher Training, Curriculum Planning and Program Design. Aditi has led programs on education, health and livelihood for governments, PSUs and corporates at local and international level.  She has expertise in establishing monitoring and assessment processes, research, managing partnerships, identifying appropriate opportunities for collaboration and creating communication material and strategies.

Lucas da Silva Paulino is a specialist in Spanish and Portuguese language teaching and of the State of Paraiba, Brazil, and the Pedagogical Coordinator of the Gira Mundo Program, which promotes diversity and inclusion by sponsoring Brazilian students to participate in intercultural exchanges. He has a graduate degree in Portuguese and Spanish and undergraduate in International Relations. Lucas has extensive experience teaching Spanish in private and public schools of all levels as well as in foreign language schools. 

“Through education we can empower young people to believe they are capable of making a positive impact in their community… and beyond”

Eliza Popper is Co-Founder and Strategic Director of Konnekt, a Hungarian NGO supporting young people in making more conscious decisions about their future. She also works as an Educational Consultant for the Erasmus Student Network and offers training and consultancy services to organizations, institutions and companies worldwide. Her expertise includes educational design, organisational management, inclusive learning, intercultural communication and competence development. She is also an active youth policy advocate and former founder and president of the National Youth Council of Hungary and member of the Council of Europe’s Advisory Council on Youth.

Arysttotenes da Silva Prata is the Regional Education Manager at Monteiro city in Paraiba, Brazil, and also a writer and poet. He specializes in Spanish and Portuguese languages and Contextualized Education. He has been awarded the Brazilian Popular Cultures Award and the Teachers of Brazil Prize, selected as representative of the state of Paraíba in the Pedagogical Mission in the Parliament, and served as a professor at the International School of Holocaust Studies Yad Vashem, developing pedagogical works of study and awareness of the Holocaust as a tool to strengthen awareness of the Human Rights and the fight against racism.

Aly Rajab is the founder and CEO of Canadian Language Learning College (CLLC) comprised of three campuses across Canada, and CLLC Franchise, Inc., and is uniquely positioned to speak in terms of business development and international language learning. He has extensive international business experience, with 15 years as a manager for ALJ-Toyota Motor Corporation. Following this he committed himself to language learning and international education. Aly has an Executive MBA and a Diploma in Management from Saint Mary’s University, a Bachelor of Engineering degree from King Abdulaziz University, leadership courses from Harvard Business School.

Renu Ramakrishnan is a cross-cultural educator and consultant with 20+ years of global experience in marketing, training and international education. She has served as mentor and facilitator for Ashoka University’s Young India Fellowship, Lehigh’s Iacocca Institute, Aravindam Foundation, GE’s Leadership Program, Hult Prize India and the International Summer School New Delhi. Renu heads SIETAR India’s New Delhi Chapter, was the organizer and facilitator at its 2018 international conference on intercultural competence and was its representative on the steering committee for AFS’s 2017 International Asia-Pacific Regional Education Forum. Renu holds a Master’s degrees from the University of Mumbai, and an MBA from Lehigh University.

“Toddlers, with an open heart and mind, are interculturally the most curious beings on earth.  Then we send them to school”

Nagesh Rao is Special Advisor of Inclusion & Faculty Affairs at Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University. He is also a teacher, storyteller, dancer, listener, statistician, poet, and a proud father of two daughters. His many marginal experiences—first as a Kannadiga in a Tamil State; as an accountant in an artist’s soul; then, for 20-odd years, a teacher-scholar in Mississippi, Michigan, Ohio, and New Mexico; six years back in India taking care of his ailing parents; and now back in the United States—give him a wealth of stories and theories about discovery of self and others, and engaging with a key challenge – How do we, as educators, keep the openness and curiosity alive and engaged as we navigate school, college and life? 

Connie Rensink, World Savvy Programs Administrator, is a global education specialist passionately supporting educators and systems to integrate global perspectives and competencies into the curriculum. She serves as the Global Projects lead for Teach SDGs. Connie was a teacher for 12 years and is an ardent human rights advocate. She serves on the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations (CTAUN) and is an active member of the United Nations Association. She has completed graduate course work in China, a Fulbright–Hays Project Abroad to India, and the Global Competence Certificate, a graduate program for teachers through World Savvy, Columbia University, and Asia Society. 

Ana María Camargo Reyes is a Psychologist from La Sabana University in Bogotá, Colombia and holds a Masters in Cross-Cultural Communication from Newcastle University  in the U.K. She is an AFS Colombia staff member, in charge of organizational development, volunteer management and intercultural learning. Ana Maria is former AFS Colombia volunteer and host family, and has previous experience as a recruiter for a headhunting company, and as the coordinator of volunteers’ activities and events for an alumni association.

“Our education systems must prepare all students to live and thrive in a rapidly changing and increasingly interconnected world.”

Diane Robinson is Global Special Projects Lead at Teach For All. Diane has spent over 20 years at the forefront of education change in the US and globally to empower more students to achieve their full potential. She fundraises to scale and launch new Teach For All partner programs in Africa and to build global partnerships for the network to help students and educators become globally informed. Diane has held various leadership roles at Teach For America, the KIPP Foundation, has consulted with New Leaders and Global Nomads Group, and is also a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Read about Diane’s take on global competence in her interview.

Dr. Roberto Ruffino is the Secretary General of the Intercultura Foundation, after 50 years as the head administrator of the Italian AFS Partner organisation. The Intercultura Foundation” promotes research and experimentation in educational exchanges. From 2008 till 2011 he was the Chairman of the Board of EFIL and of the Italian Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research. He also served on the Italian national Council of the United World Colleges. He has written books  and articles around pedagogical content of international exchange projects and has done research for the European Union and UNESCO.

Melanie Rutten-Sülz is the Secretary General of Youth For Understanding’s Global Office, responsible for overseeing and coordinating the global membership and related services. Melanie is a mission-driven and results-oriented transformational thinker and leader, and a passionate global citizen. She has a strong background in multi-stakeholder convening, sustainability issues and organizational development. Melanie holds a Master degree in Latin American Studies, Economics and Political Sciences from the University of Cologne, Germany, and the Federal University of Ceará, Brazil.

“If we don’t get global competence right, we are building our education systems on sand.”

Andreas Schleicher is Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As a key member of the OECD’s Senior Management team, he supports the Secretary-General’s strategy to produce analysis and policy advice that advances economic growth and social progress. In addition to policy and country reviews, he oversees the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), the OECD Skills Strategy, the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), and the development and analysis of benchmarks on the performance of education systems (INES).

Allyson Rodrigues da Silva is an alumnus of public education programs in Paraíba, Brazil, and an exchange student for the Gira Mundo Program, which promotes diversity and inclusion by sponsoring Brazilian students to participate in intercultural exchanges. Thanks to participating in this program, Allyson enhanced his skills in running projects of social relevance and in the school environment. He is currently taking an undergraduate course in dentistry at the State University of Paraíba (UEPB), Brazil.

Tulhio da Silva is the General Coordinator of the Gira Mundo Program, which promotes diversity and inclusion by sponsoring Brazilian students to participate in intercultural exchanges. Tulhio is also the Executive Director of Student Development of the Government of Paraíba, Brazil. He holds a Bachelors degree in Archivology from Paraiba State University in Brazil, and a postgraduate degree in Public Policies and Human Rights.

Nandini Chatterjee Singh is a senior National Programme Officer for Socio-Emotional Learning and Difference Learning at UNESCO MGIEP. She is a cognitive neuroscientist and leads the Rethinking Learning program. Nandini is passionate about translating neuroscientific evidence on learning and education from laboratory to classroom. She is currently designing a program for socio-emotional learning in school classrooms using interactive digital technologies. Nandini also leads the Difference Learning project at UNESCO MGIEP towards achieving ‘inclusive’ education.

Steve Sostak co-founded Inspire Citizens after fifteen years of teaching humanities, citizenship and journalism internationally and in Chicago. He now coaches teachers and empowers diverse students through authentic project-based learning, civic journalism, and wellness activities that reframe unique community mindsets around empathy and an alignment with UN SDG targets and the OECD/PISA Global Competence Framework and Questionnaire. Working out of Beijing, he travels internationally as a student leadership facilitator, keynote speaker, and curriculum developer in the critical endeavor of helping educators link school standards to impactful global and local action.

Victoria Soto is the Board Chair of AFS Costa Rica. She has 30 years of experience in research, systematization and facilitation of community development in natural resources and the environment in the Central American region, with emphasis on indigenous groups and peasants. Victoria as also spent the last 15 years in promoting and facilitating workshops on intercultural education for volunteers, staff, host families, schools, teachers of AFS Costa Rica and the Caribbean region. She is a member of the evaluation group and a trainer for AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program. Her educational background is in Sociology and Education.

Linda Stuart is the Education & Training Specialist for Sentio Global Education Network, a subsidiary of AFS Intercultural, Inc. where she manages the Global Competence Certificate.  She is President of Alma, Inc. and previously was Global Citizens Network’s Executive Director. Linda is a Qualified Administrator of the IDI, GCI, IES and holds an executive coaching certificate from the U of MN.  Linda has an MA from the University of Chile and a BA from Augsburg College.

Joshwa Tambo is a 2018 Acumen Fellow, 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, and Founder and Advisor to Kibera Community Empowerment Organization having impact on 71,214 people through literacy, social entrepreneurship and food security programs. Joshwa founded Kshoes, a social enterprise, and he was project officer for National Organization of Peer Educators and Center for Disease Control and works with Venture Space, a social venture accelerator. Joshwa is a computer science graduate and studies economics at Daystar University. Joshwa is passionate about changing his community through harnessing the power of social entrepreneurship.

Imen Tekaya is a TeachSDGs Ambassador, MIE Fellow, eTwinning Ambassador, computer science teacher in Sfax in south Tunisia, and also serves as an MIE Expert. She is prized for: the national top five Innovative Educators; the best national eTwinning project 2015; and Top 10 laureates in the national Science Fair for her pupil’s creation for people with disabilities. She is really concerned for children and wants to help by creating a new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs who will think about sustainable development before taking any decision. Furthermore, she wishes to develop a generation of innovators, change-makers, and good global eco-citizens who are armed with empathy and science, while celebrating diversity.

Cassandra Tomkin is the President & COO of Pure Nomad, offering meaningful and intensive service experiences for teens and adults through Cross-Cultural Solutions and Squads Abroad. Prior to her 14 years with Pure Nomad, she was in financial services. An avid traveler, Cassandra has visited 80 countries and has volunteered abroad over 15 times, and is passionate about improving opportunities for child education and child health around the world. She is also an Advisory Member on the National Clearinghouse for Disability and Exchange, an Organizing Committee Member for Service Nation, and a Task Force Member at the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy.

Joe Tort has been working in international education for 15 years with experience in study abroad administration, international student advising, international admissions, and intercultural training. In his current role as Assistant Director for Global Professional Practice at Purdue University, he overseas the GEARE program. His work involves building connections between university and industry partners, advising and mentoring students, and teaching intercultural training courses. He is a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory.

Panna Ujvári is an expert in crowdfunding and communications. She mentors Hungarian NGOs in online fundraising and works on communications for NIOK Foundation and other NGOs as a consultant. In addition to organizational counseling, Panna does trainings and workshops on both crowdfunding and online communication.

Cecilia Vasquez is the Executive Director of AFS Guatemala. In the past she served as the President of Rotary Club Guatemala and an educator with 10 years of experience as an English teacher. Cecilia was the Educational Director of a Chain of Language Academies with 18,000 students for 10 years. She was also a member of the Consulting Team of Teaching English as a Foreign Language of the Ministry of Education in Guatemala. Cecilia holds a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership.

Hans Venderbos was trained as a teacher of English and History and has worked as a teacher of English at various institutions such as FE and College for HE and at Sophianum (pre University education) for the last 25 years. In the role of coordinator of International Contacts and Global Perspectives teacher, he has been involved with teaching of Global Competencies and International Skills for a number of years.

Jan Verschueren works for the Belgian Development Agency where he is the coordinator of the governmental program on global citizenship education (GCE), called Kleur Bekennen. The program supports, inspires and connects all relevant actors in the formal education sector on GCE. He previously worked for the international department of the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities where he was one of the driving forces in the policy transformation from a ‘North-South’ towards a ‘Global’-approach. Jan studied Social Pedagogy and gained an additional master on Cultures & Development Studies.

Pablo Viñas is the Executive Director of AFS Dominican Republic. Since 2006, he has been the Giving Tuesday Global Leader in Dominican Republic, and since 2014 he has been a Board Member of German-Dominican Chamber of Commerce. Prior to his work at AFS, Pablo was a high school teacher of Moral and Civics. He holds a Law degree and an IMBA.

“Quality and inclusive education empowers. It opens doors and enables a life well lived. But education is not only about knowledge – it is about the ability to understand and do, it is about respect for others and for the planet. This kind of education enables positive change in the world.”

Ivana Vrhovski is a policy officer at the European Commission, Directorate General for Education and Culture. She is working on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning and has led the preparation of the European Council Recommendation on Key Competences adopted in May 2018. Her work on Key Competences contributes to the development of European Education Area, where quality education, training and lifelong learning should be provided to all. Ivana also has extensive experience in design and management of the Erasmus+ programme, European Union’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport.

Katherine Yngve, a former Senior International Officer, now co-directs Purdue’s new Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentoring, Assessment and Research (CILMAR). For the last three years, she has led study abroad programs which teach creativity, emotional resilience and teamwork to students in engineering and the sciences. Prior to joining Purdue, she served as founding Director of International Programs at the American University of Beirut, where she concentrated in particular on internationalizing the STEM disciplines, building structures to better support international partnerships, and strategic planning for international student recruitment and retention. Her areas of greatest personal creativity are in curriculum design, intercultural mentoring and garden design. Her MA is from the University of Chicago and her BA from Indiana University.

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