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API Safety Update – Westminster Car Crash

Earlier today a small car drove into a crowd of pedestrians near the British Parliament in London, injuring three people. British authorities have arrested a man on suspicion of terrorism, and the situation is now under control. API has confirmed the safety of all API England staff and participants.  We will remain in close contact with [...]

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Academic Programs International Overseas Directors

API has more than 60 Resident Directors in our 23 host countries. Depending on the size of each respective host city, some sites have several Resident Directors with specific responsibilities, such as oversight of housing placements or cultural activities, whereas other sites have one director who manages all program components.

Parents and advisors are asked to work directly with the API Texas office rather than our Resident Directors. This allows the Resident Directors to concentrate more fully on the needs of the student participants and ensures accurate communication of API policies and procedures.

*Note – this page will be continually updated as we update our API Resident Director bios and photos.

Photo of Carmen Alvarez de Toledo
Carmen Alvarez de Toledo
Buenos Aires, Argentina Resident Director Latin America Regional Director

Carmen was born and raised in Argentina, and holds a degree in Sociology from the University of Buenos Aires. After moving with her husband to the U.S., she began her professional career teaching in the Spanish Department at Yale University for five years. Having enjoyed the contact with American college students, when she returned to Buenos Aires, she decided to join the local office of a study abroad program of a consortium of U.S. universities, where she was Assistant Director of the Program, and Resident Director of the summer program, together welcoming over 200 American students per year. When her family relocated to Washington, D.C., she decided to stay in the Study Abroad field and joined the American University Study Abroad Office in June, 2004. Now, back in her beloved BA, she is thrilled to have again the opportunity to help American students make the most of their experience in Argentina.

Photo of Jimena Alvarez de Toledo
Jimena Alvarez de Toledo
Buenos Aires, Argentina Assistant Resident Director

Jimena Alvarez de Toledo was born and raised in Buenos Aires. She worked for many years as a professional Congress Organizer (PCO) where she organized many international events and was able to visit the U.S. and other countries several times – these experiences truly sparked her love for learning more about other cultures. Jimena is married and has four kids(two girls, and two boys). Her family has hosted several international students and they have loved the experience! She enjoys working and being in contact with young people and to share her love and knowledge of Argentina! Jimena loves traveling around Buenos Aires and Argentina and discovering new and different places in her home country. She loves getting out in nature and is always looking for new adventures!

Photo of Rodrigo Lemos
Rodrigo Lemos
Mendoza, Argentina Resident Director

Rodrigo was born and raised in Mendoza Argentina, and holds a degree in Tourism Business Administration from the UTN National Technic University.  He has been involved in the tourism industry since 1995, working for companies in the travel agency, hotel, airline and, winery sectors. He has also been teaching tourism for 10 years in the International Tourism School and still serves as an internship tutor. Now, he is leading the promotional wine tourism department from the Government of Mendoza, and he is the responsible for promoting Mendoza in the Brazilian market. He also is a tango dancer and tai chi professor.


Photo of Renata Hade
Renata Hade
Brisbane/Gold Coast, Australia Resident Coordinator

Renata grew up in Brisbane and has lived in numerous other cities throughout Australia and New Zealand.  She has traveled extensively to over 30 countries in all corners of the globe, worked with culturally diverse groups, and enjoys experiencing new places and cultures.

Renata has many years of experience in business management and currently works in a Sales and Marketing role.  She has completed studies at three Queensland universities – she has a Bachelor of Laws from the Queensland University of Technology, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Queensland, and a Graduate Diploma in Education Studies from Australian Catholic University. Renata understands the power of education abroad to provide unique global competencies. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge and love of South East Queensland with API students and providing the support needed to live and study here.

Photo of Aaron Hutchinson
Aaron Hutchinson
Sydney, Australia Resident Coordintaor

Aaron is the resident coordinator for Sydney. He has lived in Sydney predominantly his whole life, living briefly in both England and America. He is a keen traveler, spending 6 months abroad in 2017 with 4 of them being apart of a study abroad program in Michigan
Aaron is currently studying at Macquarie University completing a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting and Marketing. In his spare time, he enjoys playing and watching sport including soccer, rugby league, and basketball.

Photo of Rachael Impey
Rachael Impey
Melbourne, Australia Resident Coordinator

Rachael is the Resident Coordinator for Melbourne. She grew up on a sheep farm 2 hours north-west of Melbourne, before moving to La Trobe University to study. She has a Bachelors degree in Biomedicine with Honours in Biochemistry. Rachael is currently studying her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and is working in the development of new antibiotics, while also teaching undergraduate science practical classes. Rachael enjoys many different types of sports, including cricket, NFL, but mostly Australian football (AFL). Rachael has travelled through much of Europe, spending 6 months in 2017 living and studying in the UK.

Photo of Sonam Choden Tshering
Sonam Choden Tshering
Thimphu, Bhutan Resident Coordinator

Sonam was born and raised in Thimphu, Bhutan. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and Environmental Studies from Royal Thimphu College and finished her high school in Macleod College, Australia. Currently, Sonam owns a business and works as a wine merchant importing wine from Australia. She enjoys watching movies, traveling to new places, meeting new people, and playing jigsaw puzzles. Having lived and studied abroad, Sonam has experienced how it feels to be away from home and adapting to a new culture. In this regard, she is here to help API students adjust to the Bhutanese culture and country and to ensure that they have an enjoyable and memorable experience in his country.

Photo of Claudia Aliaga
Claudia Aliaga
Santiago, Chile Resident Director

Claudia was born and raised in Santiago, but thanks to her father’s work, she was in permanent contact with people from different countries and cultures from an early age. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Advertising from the Universidad de Chile, and then moved to Barcelona for 8 years to perform a graduate degree in communications. She then worked for a time in children’s television, before returning to Chile to pursue a career in higher education, first as a teacher in the area of communications, and then in charge of the unit related to graduates and career services. She likes to travel whenever possible, to and runs half marathons! She sees her role at API as a great opportunity to continue to be in contact with students and to share her love and knowledge of Chile!

Photo of Alejandra Rojas
Alejandra Rojas
Valparaíso/Viña del Mar, Chile Resident Director
Originally from the south of Chile, Alejandra has lived in the Viña/Valpo area for nearly 20 years.  Alejandra is a journalist by training and holds a degree in social communication from the Universidad Del Desarrollo.  She is married and has two daughters, 11 and 13 years old.
Corrine Zhou
Shanghai Resident Coordinator

Born and raised in China, Corrine received a Master’s degree in Great Britain. She has taught full-time in Shanghai’s prestigious universities for nearly ten years. Before moving to Shanghai, Corrine worked as a full-time bilingual business course teacher and co-coordinator of the overseas joint-program at Beijing’s University. Corrine currently holds a “Teaching Foreigners Chinese Certificate,”
authorized by the International Professional Certificate Association. She also provides training to expatriates working for multinational companies in Shanghai on cross-culture communication knowledge and skills. Corrine loves getting to know people from all over the world and exploring different cultures. She has traveled to most parts of China and twenty other countries on five continents.

Photo of Esteban Lopez
Esteban Lopez
San Joaquin de Flores, Costa Rica Resident Director

Esteban López was born in San José, Costa Rica and has lived there most of his life. As an undergraduate, he studied Spanish Philology at the University of Costa Rica. Esteban also learned French during a study abroad year at Université Laval in Québec, Canada, and nowadays he is working towards a Master’s degree in Latin-American Literature at the UCR. Esteban taught Spanish for more than 10 years in Costa Rica, Switzerland and Canada. He likes outdoor sports, especially hiking and mountain biking. He also likes all kinds of jazz music, good books, traveling and meeting new people from all over the world. Esteban has been working for API since early 2007.

Photo of Francy Orozco
Francy Orozco
San Jose, Costa Rica Resident Director

Francy Orozco was born in Heredia, Costa Rica and has lived there all her life. She studied psychology at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), where she continued to work for three years after graduation in the International Affairs and External Cooperation Office. At UCR, Francy worked with exchange students from every part of the world, who helped her to learn about other cultures, as well as to see her own country and customs with different eyes. Francy has also done volunteer work with the “Brigada de Intervención Psicológica en Situaciones de Desastres” since 2004. This is a group of UCR psychologists that come together when disasters affect the country; her work with the Brigada has included counseling after earthquakes, floods and landslides. In her free time, Francy likes to walk, read, watch television, and spend time playing with her son. Francy has been working with API since fall 2008.

Photo of Ivana Bajurin
Ivana Bajurin
Dubrovnik Resident Director

Ivana is a local, born and raised in Dubrovnik, Croatia. She spent extended time abroad during her childhood and studied in Trieste, Italy and Havana, Cuba, and has also enjoyed traveling to Dubai, Paris, and Vienna in recent years. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Foreign Trade, and has been working at Libertas International University since its inception.

Fun fact: Ivana is crazy for salsa dancing and water-skiing!

Photo of Nada Raic
Nada Raic
Dubrovnik Resident Director

Nada is a native of Mostar, Bosnia, and has lived in Croatia more most of her life. She has worked at Libertas International University since its inception, and is currently working on her Ph.D. Nada holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in philosophy and history of Croatian culture, and attended a medical high school in Dubrovnik.

Fun fact: Nada is writing an article about “Scandalous Practice and Behavior in the 18th Century Dubrovnik!”

Photo of Helen Jouen
Helen Jouen
Cuba Resident Director

Helene Jouen, was born and raised in France, and holds a degree in Foreign Languages Applied to Business and Trade – English and Spanish – from the University of Paris – La Sorbonne Nouvelle. After studying in France for four years and in Ontario, Canada for a one-year exchange program, Helene began her professional career assisting the president of a French-American university exchange non profit organization based in Paris. Then after seven years working for an American higher education provider coordinating student life in Paris, in 2013, she moved with her family to Cuba for a thrilling new life experience. She had the opportunity to teach English to primary and secondary schoolers at one of the international schools of Havana. Helene is the happy mother of two children. She has been working and traveling to the U.S. and other countries for many years and – though born and raised in France – she truly knows both cultures, so don´t be afraid to ask! She has been traveling around Cuba with her family for the last two years. Some of her hobbies apart from traveling are music, salsa dancing and photography, she’s also a cartoonist.

Photo of Emily Moran
Emily Moran
Havana, Cuba Assistant Resident Director

Emily is from New Haven, Connecticut and has first-hand experience living and studying in Cuba. She was a study abroad student at the University of Havana in 2013! After studying Spanish throughout high school and college, classes in Cuban literature and AfroCuban religion influenced her decision to study abroad in Havana. She has been finding ways to travel back and forth to Cuba ever since. Emily loves Cuban music especially fusión and jazz, she is also a fan of Cuban cinema and painting. After returning from her semester abroad, she graduated from Bard College with a degree in Sociology and Spanish. Emily wrote her senior thesis on the job market in Havana, and the different ways that young people find their place in it. Prior to joining API in Cuba, Emily lived and worked in New York City as a chef. Aside from cooking, Emily loves to listen to live music and draw.

Photo of Andrea Coba
Andrea Coba
Quito, Ecuador Resident Director

Andrea lived in the United States for over 17 years. She worked in the finance industry as Relationship Manager in the Asset Management Division for the Latin American Market for over 10 years. She worked in banks such as JPMorgan in New York City and Deutsche Bank in Miami, Florida. She mainly enjoys cultivating relationships with people of all cultures and strongly believes that quality service is a key factor for success. Andrea has lived in different cities and she is an avid explorer of the local cultures and surroundings. She enjoys traveling, music and learning about new cultures.

Photo of Marilyn Grundy
Marilyn Grundy
London, England, Director of Internships

Marilyn is Caribbean-American, grew up in New York and Connecticut and has lived in the UK for almost 10 years. The travel bug began in high school while traveling with high school bands and orchestras. This continued while in college in upstate New York. Having worked in higher education in both the USA and UK, Marilyn has extensive experience helping students discover their academic and career passions as well as British culture. She enjoys trying new cuisine, museums, sports, theatre and traveling.

Photo of Nadia Jennings
Nadia Jennings
London, England Assistant Resident Director

Nadia is Portuguese-American and is an API Study Abroad alumna from the University of Westminster, 2009-2010. Since studying abroad with API she has lived in both London and Berlin, Germany, and has travelled extensively throughout Western Europe. She looks forward to sharing her love of London with you and how to get the most out of your time abroad. Some of her hobbies include writing, film, fine art, and vegan cooking. Nadia is a graduate of Lesley University with a BA in Holistic Psychology, and is currently a post-graduate student at Regent’s University in Writing for Screen and Stage.

Photo of Heather Lees
Heather Lees
London, England Assistant Resident Director

Heather is Filipino-American and grew up in California, Washington, and Iowa. She is a graduate of the University of Evansville. During university, she spent two semesters abroad, one in the UK and one in China. After graduating she started a career in higher education, eventually spending three years at Harlaxton College, the British Campus of the University of Evansville as Assistant Dean of Students. Heather Later returned to join her British partner and work in Residence Life at the University of Sheffield. Heather is excited to share her experience as an immigrant in the UK and love of British culture with students. In her spare time, she enjoys rowing, crochet/knitting, baking, cuddling her cats, and visiting ruined abbeys across the UK.

Photo of Rachel Wellborn
Rachel Wellborn
UK Regional Director

Rachel spent her childhood in Yorkshire, but caught the travel bug early on during a school exchange program to Spain. She spent a year studying in Barcelona prior to commencing her degree in Hispanic Studies at Bristol University. As part of her degree program Rachel studied for 6 months in Mérida, Mexico and for another 6 months in Lisbon, Portugal. Then came a 6-year career as a re-insurance broker in the City of London, specializing in Latin American contracts, during which time a year was spent in Santiago, Chile. Next came a move to Austin, Texas where Rachel discovered a love of promoting the benefits of study abroad and joined the offices of API Texas for a period of 3 years. But the call of home beckoned, and Rachel now lives in North Yorkshire, from where she runs the UK programs. Rachel combines a love of all things from Yorkshire with a love of the fabulous cosmopolitan metropolis of London and shares her knowledge of all things British with her students. A genuine love of English history and a passion for all things old is unmissable during her excursions.

Photo of Laure Bettencourt
Laure Bettencourt
API Paris Coordinator

Laure was born and raised in Paris, France. She has always been curious about other cultures and has had the chance to travel to many European countries. After spending several summers studying English in Bath, Great Britain, Laure caught the travel bug. Laure spent a year abroad in San Diego, CA and received her bachelor’s degree. She then lived in Australia, interning at a sustainable energy company. After her internship, Laure moved to Barcelona, Spain where she earned her master’s degree in Marketing. Laure worked in market research for 5 years, then returned back to school, earning her degree in Tourism in Paris, France. Laure realized her desire to introduce the world to her beautiful country and city of Paris, France and has enjoyed doing so since.

Photo of Francine Bost-Millischer
Francine Bost-Millischer
Paris, France Resident Director

Francine is truly multiculturally oriented; she was born in Congo and grew up in Côte d’Ivoire — no wonder she developed a real curiosity for foreign countries, foreign languages and foreign cultures! Her professional experience started in the U.S. as Head of the Maison Française on the Hendrix College campus in Conway, Arkansas where she promoted the French Art de Vivre to the American students and became committed to international education. Upon her return to France she worked for American companies in various business fields as a supply chain manager. She has experience in management and operational organization acquired within multinational companies. Following these experiences, she longed to reorient her career to work more directly with people, and she has been able to fulfill this need quite well through working with young study abroad students. Francine is also the mother of three boys — so she definitely knows what it is to comfort, support and encourage young people!

Photo of Marie de Rocca-Serra
Marie de Rocca-Serra
Grenoble, France Resident Director, Regional Director

Attracted by North American culture, Marie lived for some years in Canada, and later returned to France where she served as a host family for 10 years. Now, as a Resident Director, she is delighted to devote herself to welcoming American students. Marie likes helping students understand, discover and appreciate her country and its specific culture. Even though she is a Parisian, she loves living in the middle of the gorgeous Alps, in Grenoble, where she can spend lots of time in the outdoors, hiking and skiing as well as taking advantage of the historical and cultural environment of this part of France.

Photo of Anna Exertier
Anna Exertier
Grenoble, France Resident Director

Anna Exertier is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and has lived in Grenoble since September 2004. Anna graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s in French. She first came to Grenoble as an API student, and she loved it so much that she stayed! Anna is married with two young daughters. She loves to travel and learn about new cultures. She is also very active and enjoys sports. On the weekends or in her free time, she enjoys hiking and skiing in the Alps. Anna loves meeting the new students who come and sharing in their study abroad experiences with API Grenoble!

Photo of Caroline Lemenager
Caroline Lemenager
Caen Resident Director

Caroline was born in Caen, so she knows a lot about the city! As a child, she spent 11 years in Algeria, and thus began her love of traveling and learning about new cultures. After graduating high school, Caroline spent a year in Michigan as an AuPair and was able to live with an American family and learn a lot about American culture. Upon returning to Caen, she studied English at the University of Caen, and then later returned to the U.S., where she studied at the University of Delaware and served as a teaching assistant.

As with most people in France, Caroline is really close to her family. She has two children (an 11-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son), and they live in the countryside, just 20 minutes from Caen. In her free time, she enjoys visiting new places, walking, horse riding, reading, etc. Caroline has been working with study abroad students for many years, and loves assisting students with any question they may have and helping them with their new life in France and discovering a new culture.

Photo of Violaine Peladan
Violaine Peladan
Paris, France Assistant Resident Director

Violaine grew up in a small village in Southern France. After having obtained her Bachelor’s degree of Communication from the University Paul Valéry of Montpellier, she decided to take a gap year in Australia where she made a five month road trip across the country. After this exciting first experience abroad, she obtained a Master’s degree of Cultural Management at the University Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris during which she led a research project about the link between fiction and reality in TV shows. Fascinated by American culture, she moved to the US to become a French instructor at the University of Wisconsin‐Madison and a French resident assistant at The French House on campus. Two years later, she’s back home in France where her passion for cultural interactions, languages, and her desire to keep working with American students have led her to work in the study abroad world as an academic coordinator for API in Paris.

Photo of Peggy Retka
Peggy Retka
Paris, France Resident Director (Parsons Paris)

Peggy has a passion for travel and is a firm believer in the positive impact that international education can create in our lives. A francophile at heart, Peggy left her home state of Minnesota in September 2015 where she had been working as the Director of the Office for Education Abroad (OEA), at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University (CSB/SJU)  to return to her second home in Grenoble. She then started the French side of her career as the Manager of Incoming Students in the International Relations Office at Grenoble IAE, the Graduate School of Management, at the Université Grenoble Alpes. Now, Peggy has joined the API team in Paris! With a great passion for travel and a firm belief in the positive

Peggy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Business Administration, with a concentration in International Business, from Wartburg College (IA) in 2003 and her Masters of Science degree in College Counseling and Student Development from St. Cloud State University (MN) in 2008.

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Rose Tierny
Paris, France Resident Director (Parsons Paris)

Rose is from Paris.  She spent 1 year in the U.S. on a youth exchange when she was 18, and stayed with a host family and attended university. When she returned to France she started a trilingual bachelor’s degree program in Applied Foreign Languages (French, English, and Spanish).  She spent her 3rd year of undergrad in Latin America as an exchange student, with 6 months in Puebla, Mexico and 6 months in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After that, she started a trilingual master’s degree in Intercultural and International Management, specializing International Travel Management. Rose has since worked for another study abroad organization in Paris as a Program Advisor, and also in Denmark as an Intercultural Workshop Facilitator on work to complete her master’s degree.

Photo of Christopher Pepin
Christopher Pepin
Berlin, Germany Resident Director

Christopher was born and grew up in Heidelberg, Germany. After graduation, he traveled through the U.S. He then studied modern languages, cultures, and administration, as well as English and Portuguese (the latter in Salvador da Bahía, Brazil). Christopher enjoys traveling to countries and getting to know new cultures. During the past few years, he has worked as a tour manager for group journeys in Germany and Europe. Christopher has a strong connection to and experience with American culture and is eager to bring that connection between the U.S. and Germany to API students.

Photo of Claudio Schoeneberger
Claudio Schoeneberger
Berlin, Germany Resident Coordinator

Claudio is the child of a Peruvian mother and a German father, who worked for an international company. He spent most of his childhood in South America before moving to Germany at age 12. After graduating from high school, Claudio relocated from a small city in the Upper Rhine Valley to the university town of Giessen, where he studied modern languages, cultures and business studies with a major in Spanish language. During his studies, Claudio spent one semester abroad in Spain, which for him was a very special experience where he learned a lot and had a great time. Traveling and getting to know new people and cultures has always been important for Claudio and something he enjoys very much.

Photo of Reka Futasz
Reka Futasz
Budapest, Hungary Resident Director

Reka has been working for API since 2004. Her qualifications include MAs in English and Latin Language and Literature, and a degree in Translation and Interpretation Studies. She is currently pursuing PhD studies in Language Pedagogy, specializing in Academic Writing. She is interested in languages and meeting new cultures, and has traveled to many countries of the world. She spent one year in Australia as an exchange student.

Photo of Sara Kothay
Sara Kothay
Budapest, Hungary Assistant Resident Director

Sara was born in Szeged. She studied at the University of Szeged, where she earned her BA degree in Film History and Film Theory. After graduation, she moved to England, where she spent almost 3 years in different parts of the country: Cambridge, London and Southend. After returning to Hungary, Sara joined API in 2014 October. Sara has a passion for movies and has made many short movies and animations. Besides working for API, she is also writing screenplays in English.

Photo of Hjördís Lára Hreinsdóttir
Hjördís Lára Hreinsdóttir
Reykjavik, Iceland Resident Director

Hjördís grew up in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. In 1999 she received a scholarship to study at University of West Georgia, USA; where she graduated with a BSc in Mass Communication in 2014. Following that, she continued her education and studied International Studies at the Peace and Conflict Institute at Uppsala University, Sweden. After moving back to Iceland, she worked at the Canadian Embassy in Iceland until she started her current position at Reykjvik University. Hjördís works as a Program Administrator at the School of Science and Engineering, assisting students and faculty with daily tasks.

Outside of work, Hjördís enjoys reading, traveling, watching documentaries, and spending time with family. She is married with two children and is currently on maternity leave from her position at Reykjavik University.

Hjördís looks forward to receiving international students from the US and return some of the hospitality she received during her studies abroad.

Photo of Sophie Bonheim
Sophie Bonheim
Dublin, Ireland Resident Director

Sophie grew up in the affectionately named, “sunny” Southeast of
Ireland. Beguiled by her parent’s stories of adventure, she has
backpacked through parts of Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia. She lived and taught English in Vietnam for nearly two years, before ending her time there with a two-month motorbike trip along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Sophie has many hobbies and loves trying new things, much to the dismay of her housemates, who graciously put up with bicycles, wetsuits, canvas’ and other paraphernalia around the house. However, her real passion is for film-making, which she studied at Trinity University alongside World Religions. She went on to pursue an MA in Public History and Cultural Heritage, due to her love of history and the arts. She has worked as a city and mountain
guide in Dublin, so she knows the city like the back of her hand. She has a lot of experience working with international students in
Ireland, guiding them through the cultural offerings of Dublin and
helping them make the most of their study abroad experience.
Sophie loves to meet new people and looks forward to welcoming
you in Ireland!

Photo of Maria Cooney
Maria Cooney
Limerick, Ireland Resident Director

Maria is a native of Limerick, born and bred. She studied English Literature and Philosophy both at Bachelor and Masters Level at the University of Limerick. She has a great interest in study abroad and worked as the Study Abroad Intern in the University of Limerick as her Junior Year placement. Maria is very proud of her Irish heritage. She enjoys sharing with others the literature and lore of the Emerald Isle. She is a voracious reader and her dearest ambition is to be a writer someday. Maria is an avid traveler and traveling the globe is her heart’s desire as she loves to learn new languages and experience new cultures. Maria looks forward to welcoming you all to Ireland with a céad míle fáilte!

Photo of Fionnghuala (Finn) Geraghty – Hennessy
Fionnghuala (Finn) Geraghty – Hennessy
Galway, Ireland Resident Director

Fionnghuala Geraghty has been with API since 2001. She is commonly known as Finn. She is a native of Galway. She studied her MSc. in Environmental science at Queens University Belfast, PhD. in Zoology from NUI, Galway, and she has a B.Ed. from Hibernia College Dublin. She is an outdoor enthusiast (loves nature and sport). Her husband and best friend is Kevin and they have three little leprechauns! She has a passion for sharing her knowledge of Galway and her country with her API students and believes strongly in lifelong learning. She will enthusiastically welcome you and introduce you to Ireland and Galway!

Photo of Kevin Hennessy
Kevin Hennessy
Galway, Ireland Resident Director

Kevin studied Information Technology studies in GMIT, Galway and he has a Higher Diploma in Management from DIT, Dublin. He loves Irish history, Irish culture and the Irish humor. He has a love for cars, travelling and his family. Kevin is friendly, knowledgeable and always ready to help everyone. He knows where all the great places are in Galway.

Emilie Noble
Ireland Internship Coordinator

Emilie is from Dublin, Ireland. She studied French, Spanish and Italian in school and spent many summers as a student in Europe. Emilie studied Arts in Trinity College and University College Dublin and during that time worked as a student abroad in the USA and France. She has many years of experience in marketing and business and holds a post-graduate Certificate in International Marketing. Her experience working with students includes organizing English language and cultural programs for international students in Ireland.

Photo of Patrick O’Donnell
Patrick O’Donnell
Cork, Ireland Resident Director

Patrick grew up in Tipperary, a region in the South East of Ireland. Cork has been a second home to him for the last ten years, as he has both studied and worked there during this time. He holds a Bachelors degree in Music and a Masters degree in Music & Cultural History from University College Cork (UCC). As a performer, he has extensive experience, having toured both nationally and internationally in various ensembles including pop, funk, soul and original music. He has worked as a tutor in the Music Department in UCC, which was followed by a number of years working in high-end retail and customer service. He currently teaches instrument studies at a number of dedicated music schools.

Patrick has acquired considerable experience in teaching and mentoring students from a variety of cultural backgrounds and he appreciates the cultural differences that many visiting students encounter during their time in Ireland. He looks forward to welcoming visiting students to Ireland and introducing them to all that Cork has to offer! vibrancy of Cork city.

Photo of Alessio Balduini
Alessio Balduini
Rome, Italy Resident Director

Alessio has a degree from La Sapienza University in Communication and Mass Media and a Master’s degree from Humber College, Toronto, in Arts Administration and Cultural Management.

After completing his Master’s in Toronto, Alessio lived in Los Angeles from 2006-2011 and worked in the Cultural Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and also for the Italian/American Foundation.

Back in Italy he has continued working for a cultural foundation through the Foreign Ministry. Alessio has a vast experience in arranging cultural programs and activities.

Photo of Matteo Berni
Matteo Berni
Tuscania, Italy Resident Director

Matteo Berni was born in Viterbo, Italy, and has a degree in Modern Literature, Art, Music and Theater. He lived in Barcelona for six months and worked as a journalist for two years. He is interested in humanities, Italian culture, and Italian food. He likes to cook and he loves to eat. He rides a Vespa and he loves to discover new places in his region, a beautiful countryside. He has lived 6 months in Barcelona and he has experience in planning events and logistics.His hobbies are video making and DIY projects.

Photo of Monica Gabbrielli
Monica Gabbrielli
Florence, Italy Resident Director

Monica is from Florence, and serves as the coordinator of student relations in the API Florence office. She has a degree in languages (English, French, and Spanish), has studied accounting, and is currently pursuing studies in cultural communications. She loves to travel, and has lived and worked in the United Kingdom and Thailand, but her favorite destination is Corsica, France. As a hobby, Monica makes eco-friendly products for her home!


Photo of Federica Guerrieri
Federica Guerrieri
Italy Regional Director

Federica was born and raised in Italy, and holds a degree in Tourism Economy at the University of Florence, Italy. She began her professional career in the Tourism industry working for several years as tour leader in Greece, Tunisia, Egypt and North Europe. She continued her professional career working for the most important exhibition company in Italy, and in 2002 she joined the API Family as Florence Resident Director. In 2013 she took over as the Regional Director for Italy. Federica’s hobbies include art, travel, music, cinema, interior design and of course…Food!

Photo of Ellen Oyasaeter
Ellen Oyasaeter
Florence, Italy Resident Director

Ellen, co-Resident Director, has been with the API Florence Program since January 2003. She was born and raised in Norway and has been in Florence since completing her studies there in 1987. Ellen’s interests include fine arts, languages, and travel.

Photo of Valentina Scalini
Valentina Scalini
Florence, Italy Resident Director

Born in a small town near Ancona, Valentina moved to Florence in 2007 to follow her passion for art with a degree in Modern Art at the University of Florence, where she ended up falling in love with Florence itself and all it has to offer to a young and curious person. After working in a museum and collaborating on the staging of some contemporary art exhibition, she started working with API in 2014.  Valentina studied abroad in England and Spain, where she had the chance to improve her English and Spanish, and now she hope to help API students to live the best experience of their lives in Florence! Her hobbies include visiting art exhibitions, opera and theatre shows. Like most of the Italians, she loves good food — both cooking (desserts and cakes most of all) and discovering new restaurants to add to the list of favorites.

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Daniele Sirna
Taormina, Italy Resident Director

Daniele graduated in 2005 in Foreign Literatures and Languages (English and Spanish) at the University of Catania. He also received a certificate (CEDILS) from Cà Foscari, University of Venice, to teach Italian as Foreign or Second Language (L2). Daniele lives in Taormina, Sicily where he has been teaching Italian Language for five years at Babilonia, Center of Italian Language and Culture. Daniele is also interested in the arts in general. He collaborates with the Cultural Center ZO doing stage design and production of many dramatic works and concerts. He enjoys traveling and discovering other authentic cultures. That is why he loves his work; it gives him the opportunity to be in contact with people from other countries and to share with them a portion of his own culture and traditions.

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Naike Valeriano
Rome, Italy Resident Director

Naike grew up in Calabria, a region of the south of Italy, and studied in Rome. She has two degrees from La Sapienza University in English Translation and Modern Languages and Culture. Her interests include travel, music, writing, theatre and fine arts.

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Lewis Johnson
Wellington, New Zealand Resident Coordinator

Lewis is a proud born and bred Wellingtonian and has spent most of his life within the region, living in both rural farming areas as well as in the heart of the inner city. He is currently in the final semester of his English Literature and Geography degree at Victoria University and will likely pursue post-graduate study in Geography and Sustainability. Lewis has traveled extensively throughout New Zealand following both his sporting interests and various outdoor pursuits and is highly passionate about his country. In addition, he has also spent some time abroad competing and traveling around Australia, the U.S Midwest and has studied at the University of Hawaii at Manoa during 2017.

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Tiana Meintjes
Auckland, New Zealand Resident Coordinator

Tiana graduated from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) with a bachelor of communications, and did her student exchange in Mexico. She remembers her study abroad experience as a phenomenal time – she met some wonderful people, saw some amazing places, and she can’t wait to share her native New Zealand with API students so that they can have their own phenomenal experiences!

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Kelsey Paterson
Dunedin, New Zealand Resident Coordinator

Kelsey was born in Invercargill (near the bottom of the South Island) and raised in Dunedin. She hopes to one day complete a Masters of Dietetics so that she can become a Registered Dietitian, work with top level athletes, and head to the Olympics one day as the team Dietitian. Kelsey is a very outdoorsy, sporty individual who loves being in touch with nature. She has played many sports such as netball, water polo, badminton, underwater hockey and was also a swimmer for many years. When not studying or working, she is often volunteering, working out, meeting up with friends and family, walking along the beach or shopping. She loves being busy and challenged! She cannot wait to share the Kiwi culture with you while learning about your different cultures and backgrounds!

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Piotr Gebalski
Krakow, Poland Resident Director

Piotrek was born in Torun, city of Nicolas Copernicus and delicious honey cakes. He is a graduate in Law from the Jagiellonian University, and did postgraduate work in European Administration. He is a big fan of sci-fi literature and movies, and loves the mountains (biking, hiking, skiing).

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Carlos Loureiro
Lisbon, Portugal Resident Director

Carlos was born and raised in the north of Portugal and graduated in Office Management and Administration from Aveiro University. After graduation he started working at Oporto Polytechnic Institute and started having contact with the Portuguese higher education system. Afterwards, Carlos moved to Lisbon to start working at ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon as the Exchange and International Students Advisor from 2010 until the end of 2015, whereupon he joined the API Lisbon team. Carlos has a strong interest in theater, and has been with the production of an immersive theater presentation in Lisbon. He loves to be with family and friends, and loves to travel and to meet people from different nationalities and cultures.

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Alexis Webster
Scotland Resident Coordinator

Alexis was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but did not stay there long. She had a nomadic childhood living in Texas, Hawaii, and California after Arizona. She graduated from Humboldt State University in 2012 with a BA in Anthropology as well as a BA in Religious Studies. Her first experience in another country was a semester abroad in Bangalore, India during her junior year. The delicious diversity and extreme contrast to her own culture was exciting and strangely satisfying, and she knew she needed more. Alexis has participated in archaeological excavations in the Belizean jungle, surveyed Punic tombs and Neolithic temples in Malta, vacationed in Egypt and Spain, and lived in Ireland and the U.K.. Originally coming to Europe for an Au pair position, she made her way to Edinburgh for her MSc in Mediterranean Archaeology. Alexis now lives in Falkirk with her Scottish husband and daughter, and could not be happier with how her journey has gone. Study and travel have shaped who Alexis is and how she thinks, and she knows it all started with her first adventure studying abroad in India.

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María Angeles García
Madrid, Spain Resident Director

Mª Angeles was born in Madrid. From the very beginning she decided to study Tourism so she could have the opportunity to travel. When she finished her career she went to New York for an internship and after that she went to Munich to work as an au-pair. When she came back to Madrid she started to work for API part-time, and nowadays she is working full-time as the Assistant Director and as Resident Director for Summer courses with the Antonio de Nebrija University.

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Lola Bernal
Seville, Spain Resident Director

Lola was born in Seville in 1966. She graduated with a degree in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada. She studied German and English, specializing in Literature, and she studied for one semester in Heidelberg, Germany at the Karls-Rupert University for Translators. Lola lived in Stuttgart, Germany for three years, and had an internship in Bern, Switzerland working in a hospital. She returned to Seville in 1992 and started working for API in January 2000. Lola is married and has a daughter.

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Miguel Blanco
Salamanca, Spain Assistant Director

Miguel was born and raised in Salamanca, Spain. He holds a BA in English Studies and is now working on a Masters Degree in Linguistics applied to the teaching of Spanish as a Second Language and a specialization in TESOL (with Arizona State University). Miguel has worked with American students for more than 10 years, and he loves American culture (fun fact: he doesn’t like soccer, but he is an NY Giants fan!).


He loves his job and showing American students the real Spanish culture. He has also worked for several years as an English teacher. In his free time, Miguel loves cooking (he has a cooking blog!) and music (he plays the guitar). He spends most of his free time playing guitar, cooking and attending to concerts of all kinds of music (from choirs to Metallica!).

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Quique Blanco Lopez
Madrid, Spain Resident Director

Enrique (Quique) was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. Quique’s parents are both Spanish but because of his father’s job he got to live in many different countries: Uruguay, Brazil, Morocco, Spain, and the United States. He began working as Resident Director with API in the fall of 1999 in Madrid. He earned his degree in English Philology at the University of Granada. In 1993 he went to NYU and to NYIT and earned a degree in Economics. He then worked for Citibank and in 1998 moved to Madrid, where he worked as an English teacher for a year. Quique enjoys working with students because it gives him the opportunity to learn from and interact with young people from all over the world. Since he has spent time abroad, Quique is great at helping API students adapt to their new life in Spain and showing them how to get the most out of their time abroad.

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Inma Borrego
Regional Director for Spain Resident Director in Salamanca

Inmaculada (Inma) Borrego Ledesma serves as the Regional Director for Spain as well as the Resident Director of the Academic Programs International programs in Salamanca. Inma is a native of Spain. She holds degrees from the University of Salamanca in both English and Spanish Philology and she went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language at the same University. She published her master’s thesis focused on the topic of Learning Spanish. She worked as a teacher of Spanish Language in the International Courses of the University of Salamanca and in the University of Stockholm, where she lived for two years. Inma was also a former Erasmus scholar in England. Since she has lived in many different countries, she understands our students’ needs very well and she helps them to overcome any difficulty that may arise. She has developed a great ability to closely connect with American study abroad students.


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Juan Calvo Salazar
Seville, Spain Resident Director

Juan was born in Seville. At the age of 15 he went to the United States for one year to study at a high school located in northern New York State. There he had the chance to learn English and the culture of a different country. After he went back to Spain, he finished his high school studies and went to the University of Seville, where he studied Philosophy for five years and Computer Systems for one year.

Since Juan finished his studies he has had many interesting kinds of jobs: promotional jobs for Smart and BMW, organization of an environmental conference in Córdoba, planning and design of the new Seville bike path system and a particular bike system for Andalucía´s government workers, and the restoration of damaged buildings as a vertical worker (applying climbing and alpinism techniques to access difficult parts of buildings).

Juan loves rock climbing and alpinism. He also enjoys traveling to new places and natural locations, mountain biking and playing guitar and bass guitar.

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Alicia Castillo
Barcelona, Spain Resident Director

Alicia is the Resident Director for Barcelona. She has been involved in international education since 2010 — first as an Art History professor, and then as a coordinator.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Cultural Management from Maastricht University, Holland and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Cambridge, UK. Her academic expertise is in Contemporary Art. She particularly loves sharing her Catalan and Spanish culture with students, and she is eager to assist them in their international adventure. She is passionate about traveling and loves practicing any kind of sports such as diving, skiing, running, and yoga.

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Carmen Chico Mohedano (“Curra”)
Granada, Spain Resident Director

Curra was born in Cordoba, not far from Granada. She studied Hispanic Studies in Granada and as many others fell in love with this magical city. After some years in Madrid, she managed to come back to her personal paradise. In Granada, she started to work in this field, first as a host-mother for American students and soon afterwards with API, helping within the student services area. Later on, she started to use her experience as host mother to work on the students’ accommodation area.

In total, she has 6 years of experience in the study abroad field. During this period, she has been in charge of excursions, housing and student services in general.

Her hobbies are photography and writing; and traveling, of course. She is determined to increase the red crosses on her personal map.

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Ruth Gómez Layola
Barcelona, Spain Housing Director

Ruth is from Hospitalet de Llobregat, in the suburbs of Barcelona, but considers herself a native of Barcelona since she spends most of her time in the city. She speaks Spanish, Catalan, and English fluently, and has some background in Italian. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Philology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and a Masters degree in Intercultural Communication from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Ruth studied abroad in London and in Maryland, USA. She has also been several times in East Africa volunteering with an NGO she is an active member of. She loves to travel and learn from other cultures. One of her last trips was to Finland and she loved hiking in those landscapes.

She has experience in the Study Abroad field working with American students both in the U.S. and in Barcelona. She has been a part of the API Barcelona team since Spring 2017.

Ruth is passionate about culture and language. She has taught Spanish at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and English at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. In her free time, Ruth enjoys learning from other cultures either by traveling, reading, or taking classes. She finished a Postgraduate program on African Societies from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra de Barcelona. She loves this job because of the intercultural exchange and experiences students live in her hometown, Barcelona. She really likes to take part in their cultural immersion.


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Andrea Gorritxo Morales
Bilbao, Spain Resident Director

Andrea was born in Bilbao and has always lived here. She started liking English language when she was young, so she studied and got a degree in English Philology from the University of Deusto. She spent some summers in London, working as an au-pair, and she loves that city, so she goes there whenever she can. She enjoys what she calls “passive hobbies” – listening to music, going to the cinema, and, most of all, reading. She used to work as a teacher in academies, teaching English, and she has worked for API since September 2005. For her, the best part of her job is meeting people and traveling. She also loves animals and lives with a dog and a cat.

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Marta Herencia
Seville, Spain Resident Director

Marta Herencia was born in Seville and decided to stay for university because of her love for this Andalusian city. She specialized in Arabic Philology due to her interest in Islamic culture, the Arabic language and history. Marta has also studied English, French, and Italian. After completing her major in Arabic, she worked for a non-profit agency where she taught Spanish to Moroccan women in 2000. Marta has also studied solfeggio, and enjoys singing. Marta has been working for API as a Resident Director since 2001, managing various programs in Seville. She is happy that she can work with students and help them learn about the rich Spanish culture.

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Pilar Llamas
Director of European Operations

Hometown: Vélez-Rubio, a small and beautiful town in Almería (province of Andalucía, Spain)

International experience: Pilar studied abroad in Bournemouth, London and Newcastle (England) while in college.  She spent 3 wonderful and key years in Albuquerque, NM (USA).

Favorite Travel location: it changes as life does.  Could not settle for one.

Education: BA in English Philology (University of Granada, Spain);  MA in Spanish Literature and TESOL (University of New Mexico)

Fun Fact: Pilar wears fun ties and colorful socks.  Her favorite tie is one with many white sheep and one black one.

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Carmen López
Granada, Spain Resident Director

Carmen has served as API Resident Director in Granada, Spain since 2002. A native of Santander, Carmen has lived in different cities (Santander, Madrid, Ciudad Real, Granada, and London), but Granada is by far her favorite. Carmen moved to Granada to study at the University of Granada, and holds its degree in English Philology. Carmen also completed a course for Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo. She lived in London for three falls studying at Westminster College and had also previously traveled to Ireland as an exchange student. This experience gave her a knowledgeable sense and sensibility for the job she has now. Attending to students’ needs and understanding students’ cultural adjustment is her main concern. She thoroughly enjoys transmitting her understanding and love for Granada. Carmen is an enthusiastic person who loves social relations, meeting new people from other cultures and traveling. Her passion for languages and traveling has taken her to study Italian, French and German and to travel throughout Europe and Northern Africa.

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Mireia Pujol
Barcelona, Student Services Director

Mireia Pujol is from La Roca, less than one hour away from Barcelona. She holds a BA in Tourism Management from the Universitat de Girona, and speaks fluent Spanish, Catalan and English. She also has some background in German, French, Italian and Polish. She lived for three years in Ireland, and also spent three summers working in the United States.

Mireia has been with API since Spring 2012, and has also worked for another study abroad program in Barcelona. She has extensive experience working with international students and tourists, having taught English and Spanish for foreigners. She also served as a tour guide for soccer teams in Barcelona and Catalonia. She holds a BA in Tourism Management from the Universitat de Girona.

In her free time, Mireia enjoys traveling and learning foreign languages and cultures. She is really into sports, especially team handball, and also likes socializing and going to cinemas and theaters. She is married.

Mireia loves this job because she can be in contact with English speakers and it is related to her educational background and professional experience.




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Vicky Rodríguez García
Cadiz, Spain Resident Director

Victoria (Vicky) Rodríguez García was born in Cádiz and holds a degree in Tourism and a master´s degree in Communication. Vicky spent a year studying at the International School of Management in Dortmund, Germany. Upon completing her degree, Vicky spent another year in Berlin, Germany, studying German and working in the tourism industry.

Upon completing her Master’s degree from the University of Cadiz, Vicky went to Edinburgh, Scotland to study English, International Business Management and Marketing at Heriot Watt University.

At the University of Cádiz, Vicky has worked organizing excursions, housing and assisting students in general. She says that her most rewarding job is what she does now – helping students that come to Cádiz as she would have liked to be helped when she studied abroad.

She loves traveling, socializing, walking on the beach and sports, especially basketball and water sports.

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Arnau Roma Sansa
Barcelona, Spain Academic Director

Born and raised in Barcelona, Arnau considers himself a language lover. He speaks Catalan, Spanish and English fluently, he is good with French and has basic notions of Portuguese. It’s no surprise then that he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpreting (English-Spanish) from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Also, he finished a 2-year Bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Universitat Pompeu Fabra de Barcelona.

Arnau spent a year studying in Canada and has been to the USA several times. He has also visited a fair share of European countries and during the summer of 2009 he backpacked through Indonesia for a month and a half.

Despite not being able to play any instrument, listening to music and attending concerts is one of Arnau’s passions. His other pastimes include sport (especially basketball), writing about indie music and reading detective novels.

In a bustling and dynamic city like Barcelona, he loves to rediscover his favorite spots and is really excited to find new ones. When working with American students, his aim is to exchange experiences and to help them immerse themselves in Spanish and Catalan culture so they feel less like tourists and more like real “barcelonins”.


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Rose Armour
Sharjah, UAE Resident Director

Rose is from Texas, U.S. but has lived and worked all over the world. She moved to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates in 2017 from Washington, D.C. In D.C., Rose was the Training Manager for the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), an initiative created by President Obama to combine public and private resources to grow the impact of evidence-based community programs.

Prior to joining the SIF, Rose worked with the Peace Corps as the Director of Programming and Training in Fiji and as a Program Officer for the Small Enterprise Development Program in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Rose worked with rural Oregon communities as the Assistant Director for an AmeriCorps Program based at the University of Oregon. Rose began her career working with the Near East Foundation’s rural women’s associations in Morocco.

Rose’s interest in traveling and cultural exchange was sparked by her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer inCôte d’Ivoire, West Africa. Rose earned her Master of Community and Regional Planning at the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Resource Management from the University of Texas, at Austin.