Academic Programs International Staff

Connect with Us

Discovering Croatia

This post is from our official student blogger, Sarah Al-Arshani. Sarah is from the University of Connecticut, and is a Communications and Journalism Major studying in Dubrovnik, Croatia. When I signed up to spend a semester in Dubrovnik, no one told me I would be living right by a movie set. Every day as I [...]

The post Discovering Croatia appeared first on The API Abroad Blog.
















Academic Programs International Staff Directory

Board of Directors

Photo of Jennifer Attal Allen
Jennifer Attal Allen
President/ Executive Director/Founding Mother

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Salamanca, Spain

Favorite travel location: Cuba

Education: Bachelor’s in Communications with an International focus from the University of Texas at Austin, Diploma in Hispanic Studies, Master’s in Spanish Language & Culture from the University of Salamanca.

Fun fact: Jennifer would love to learn how to salsa dance.

Photo of Sharon Foerster Ph.D.
Sharon Foerster Ph.D.
Academic Advisor/Founding Mother

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Madrid, Spain

Favorite travel location: Innsbruck during Christmas.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Montclair State University, Master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Boston University and Ph.D. in Intercultural Communications from University of Texas.

Fun fact: Sharon once had James Michener and his wife as surprise dinner guests at her house!

Photo of Julie Leitman
Julie Leitman
Associate VP for University Relations and Outreach/Founding Mother Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

Hometown: Brookline, MA

Study abroad experience: Madrid, Spain

Favorite travel location: Too many to name, but a big piece of Julie’s heart is in Spain!

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature from Hamilton College, Master’s degree in Spanish from Middlebury College

Fun fact: Julie once had a 100 pound Great Pyrnees/Golden Retriever that thought she was a lap dog!

Photo of Brittany Norman
Brittany Norman
Executive Vice President/Founding Mother

Hometown: Temple, TX

Study abroad experience: Rotary student in Belgium; College student in Lyon, France

Favorite travel location: Brittany loves every place she has been, as each one is different and special. If she had to pick one, it would be Paris.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in International Studies/Economics and French from Austin College.

Fun fact: Brittany has a heart for orphans. She and her family hope to add more children to their family from other countries within the next few years! She also loves to knit – her family has an over-abundance of scarves!

Health and Safety

Photo of Luis Reyes
Luis Reyes
Health and Safety Officer

Hometown:  Austin, Texas

International Experience: Mr. Reyes has an international law practice and for several years now he has traveled frequently to Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Favorite Travel Location: Barcelona, Spain

Education: Undergraduate Degree from the University of Texas; Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Texas School of Law

Fun fact: From 2001 to 2011 he held senior positions in the government including several years at the United States Department of Justice and the White House.

Student Services

Photo of Carolyn Boudreau
Carolyn Boudreau
Program Coordinator: Argentina – Buenos Aires, Mendoza; Chile – Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar; Costa Rica – San Joaquin de Flores, San Jose; Cuba – Havana; Spain – Cadiz, Salamanca

Hometown: North Andover, Massachusetts

Study Abroad Experience: Salamanca, Spain

Favorite Travel Location: San Sebastián, Spain

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Vermont

Fun Fact: Carolyn was a championship Irish step dancer, having danced competitively for 12 years.

Photo of Natalie Brady
Natalie Brady
Program Coordinator: Italy – Florence

Hometown: Forest Hill, Maryland

Study abroad experience: Madrid, Spain (with API!)

Favorite travel location: Madrid (Spain), Seville (Spain), Heraklion (Greece), Prague (Czech Republic)… It’s impossible to pick just one!

Education: BA in Spanish, English (Writing & Rhetoric) from Salisbury University

Fun Fact: Natalie has participated in a Greek dance troupe for over 13 years, and the group placed Best In Show for 4 consecutive years at their regional metropolitan Folk Dance Festival!

Photo of Paige Clark
Paige Clark
Co-Director of Student Services & Admissions

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Granada, Spain (with API!)

Favorite travel location: Paris, France

Education: Bachelor’s degree in International Studies with minors in Spanish & Business from Texas A&M University.

Fun fact: Paige has a passion for tap dance!

Rebecca Cott
Program Coordinator: Australia – Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Outback, Sydney; Croatia – Dubrovnik; France – Caen, Grenoble, Paris; New Zealand – Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Study abroad experience: Faculty-led month in Egypt; Angers, France; Paris, France

Favorite travel location: Dublin, Ireland; Prague, Czech Republic

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies with a regional track in Europe from St. Edward’s University

Fun fact: After completing her final semester at St. Edward’s University studying abroad in Angers, France, Rebecca stayed in Paris for as long as she could get away with! She spent her time studying French and had the opportunity to visit 9 different countries. She hopes there will be many more travels in the future!

Lauren Daniels
Program Coordinator: England – Leeds, London; Germany – Berlin; Hungary – Budapest; Poland – Krakow

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Granada (with API!) and a faculty-led trip to Berlin

Favorite travel location: Lagos, Portugal

Education: Bachelor’s in International Studies from Texas A&M University

Fun fact: Lauren collects coins from around the world. So far, she has collected coins from over 20 countries.

Photo of Courtney Greene
Courtney Greene
Senior VP of Organizational Operations

Hometown: Shelby Township, Michigan

Study abroad experience: Quito, Ecuador

Favorite travel location: Courtney enjoys traveling most when she can stay long enough to truly get to know local people and adopt new habits.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Economics & Spanish from Kalamazoo College, Master’s degree in International Development Studies from The George Washington University.

Fun fact: Courtney has visited Malaysia, Ethiopia and Cuba, but she’s never been to the UK. Not even for a layover!

Photo of Juliana Lindsey
Juliana Lindsey
Program Coordinator: Bhutan – Thimphu; Ecuador – Quito; Spain – Barcelona, Granada

Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland

Study Abroad Experience: None formally but Juliana was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala in Tierra Blanca Totonicapan and Chiche, Quiche.

Favorite Travel Location: Undetermined as there are still so many places to explore but things that pull Juliana’s heartstrings are: level of community, food, flora, fauna and music!

Education: Tufts University B.A. Child Development and Community Health (undergraduate) and Master of Science in Social Work University of Texas at Austin (MSSW): Community Administration and Leadership, Nonprofit Studies Portfolio (both graduate school)

Fun Fact: Juliana has a multicultural (Central America/US/China Shar Pei breed) that she brought back from Guatemala!

Photo of Carolyn Lutes
Carolyn Lutes
Senior Director of Student Services & Admissions Student Services

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Study abroad experience: Dijon, France

Favorite travel location: The Rodin museum and gardens in Paris, France.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in English from Wake Forest University.

Fun fact: Carolyn’s first trip abroad was when she was five – she went with her family to Australia with a stop-over in Tahiti. Carolyn most vividly remembers the sharks in Tahiti and koala bears in Australia.

Photo of Meghan Merchant
Meghan Merchant
Co-Director of Student Services & Admissions

Hometown: Plano, TX

Study Abroad Experience: Maastricht, The Netherlands. I also completed my master’s degree as an international student in Leeds, England.

Favorite Travel Location: My favorite cities are Istanbul and London, but my favorite vacations are to the mountains or a remote beach.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies from Baylor University. Master’s degree in International Communication from the University of Leeds.

Fun fact: One of Meghan’s life goals is to travel through all 7 continents and all 50 U.S. states.

Photo of Rachel Mogan
Rachel Mogan
Program Manager: Ireland – Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick; Italy – Rome, Taormina, Three Cities, Tuscania, Venice; Scotland – Edinburgh, Stirling
Hometown: Knoxville, TN and Paducah, KY

Study abroad experience: Salamanca, Spain (with API)

Favorite travel location: Salamanca, Granada, or Béjar (home of the Moss Men)

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Language and World Business with a concentration in Spanish from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Fun fact: Rachel is an expert baker. Her specialty is caramel-apple pie with pecan crumble topping. She prefers to bake while listening to metal!

Photo of Jennibeth Rodriguez
Jennibeth Rodriguez
Transcript and Visa Processing Coordinator

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study Abroad/International Experience: Angers, France

Favorite Travel Location(s): Paris, France; Lucerne, Switzerland; Berlin, Germany and Rome, Italy

Education: Bachelor’s in Global Studies with a concentration in European Studies from St. Edward’s University, Master’s in International Studies from Texas State University

Fun Fact: Jennibeth loves yoga and watching foreign films!

Photo of Jaclyn Whitehead
Jaclyn Whitehead
Program Manager: Portugal – Lisbon; Qatar – Doha; Spain – Bilbao, Madrid, Seville; United Arab Emirates – Sharjah

Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri

Study abroad experience: Córdoba, Spain

Favorite travel location: Gozo, an island off of Malta

Education: Bachelor of Science in Family Studies and Human Services with a minor in Spanish from Kansas State University

Fun Fact: Upon graduating from college, Jaclyn and her fiancé spent almost a month traveling around Europe!

Administrative and Special Projects

Photo of Vija Mendelson Ph.D.
Vija Mendelson Ph.D.
Director of Intercultural Initiatives

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA & Medford, New Jersey

Study abroad experience: Paris, France; Seville, Spain; Salamanca, Spain

Favorite travel location: Istanbul, Turkey; Paris, France; Barcelona, Spain; Venice, Italy; Lisbon, Portugal

Education: Bachelor’s degree in French and Spanish, Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics

Fun fact: Vija is a visual artist!

Photo of Holly Prendergast
Holly Prendergast
Executive Assistant to the President

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Bangor, Wales, UK; Bologna, Italy; Granada, Spain

Favorite travel location: Holly had an amazing experience couch-surfing around Switzerland – Geneva, Bern, Lucerne, and Zurich to be exact. One of her couch surfing hosts even threw an authentic fondue party with about 20 other couch-surfing hosts and their guests!

Education: Bachelor’s degrees in Italian and Spanish from Bangor University, Wales.

Fun fact: Holly has been an extra in about 12 films/TV movie/TV shows. The highlight of these experiences was meeting Gael Garcia Bernal on a set a few years ago!

Photo of Kimbell Sadler
Kimbell Sadler
Administrative Coordinator

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Costa Rica

Favorite travel location: Victoria Island in BC

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Government (specifically political theory) from Patrick Henry College, with a second major in Elementary Education (with a focus on ESL) from the University of Texas at Austin.

Fun fact: Kimbell loves to bake chocolate chip cookies and dance to rap music.

Financial Services

Photo of Aimee Degroff
Aimee Degroff
Senior Financial Services Associate – Overseas Accounting

Hometown: Originally born in Seoul, Korea, grew up in Glendale, CA; lived in various cities around Los Angeles, now in Austin, TX!

Study abroad experience: None, per say, but see above!

Favorite travel location: All of the islands of Hawaii: Oahu, Maui, Kaui, the Big Island; Montreal, Canada; New York, NY

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Business

Fun fact: Aimee likes to create art! Drawing, painting, photography, or jewelry to name a few specific crafts.

Photo of Jill Denton
Jill Denton
Chief Financial Officer

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Study abroad experience: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Favorite travel location: Throughout towns & villages in Mexico.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Master’s degree in Taxation from Texas A&M University.

Fun fact: Jill and her husband both are identical twins.

Photo of Sophie Dinkin
Sophie Dinkin
Senior Financial Services Advisor

Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA

Study abroad experience: Sophie didn’t study abroad in college, but lived in Australia for a year and traveled Southeast Asia for 4 months.

Favorite travel location: Vietnam because the people, coffee, scenery and pho were amazing!

Education: Sociology at CU Boulder

Fun fact: Sophie will put hot sauce on almost anything!

Photo of Peggy Hanna
Peggy Hanna
Financial Services Associate

Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana and Washington, DC

Study Abroad Experience: None, but Peggy hopes her son, who is majoring in German, will study abroad in Berlin with API.

Favorite Travel: Cuba and Italy

Education: Bachelor of Science in Social Work from TCU and Masters of Science in Social Work from Temple University

Fun Fact: Peggy loves to give house concerts to promote musicians and to benefit CASA of Travis County, an advocacy program for abused and neglected children.

Morgen Hardin
Financial Services Assistant

Hometown: Miami, FL

Study Abroad Experience: Madrid

Favorite Travel Location: Western North Carolina – the most peaceful place on Earth

Education: BA in English with a Spanish minor from Rollins College, and a Masters in Secondary School Counseling from Kutztown University

Fun Fact: Morgen went on a 2 week bicycle trip around Europe when she was in high school, starting in Luxembourg and ending in the Swiss Alps.

Photo of Andrea Hayes
Andrea Hayes
Financial Services Advisor

Hometown: Pratt, KS – However, Andrea has spent almost half of her life in Texas!

Study Abroad Experience: Andrea had two short-term experiences in Quito, Ecuador and Cuernavaca, Mexico and also worked in Madrid, Spain for an academic year as an English Assistant.

Favorite Travel Location: Andrea had an amazing Christmas experience in Salzburg, Austria complete with Christmas markets, a sleigh ride, and of course a Sound of Music tour. However, Spain and Portugal are still her top favorite countries so far.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Education with a minor in English from East Texas Baptist University.

Fun Fact: Andrea is a big fan of contra dancing!

Photo of Shirley Hoyer
Shirley Hoyer
Financial Services Assistant

Hometown:  Houston, TX

Study Abroad: None, but lived abroad in Germany 2 different times in my life.

Favorite Travel Location: Cassis, France

Education: BBA in Marketing from UT Austin

Fun Fact: Shirley is a self-proclaimed “crazy volunteer-Mom”!  Her favorite volunteer activity is working as a docent at the Blanton Museum of Art.

Photo of Julia Lydick
Julia Lydick
Financial Services Assistant

Hometown:Corpus Christi, TX

Study Abroad Experience:Julia has traveled through Europe with her family.

Favorite travel location: Scotland

Education:Fashion Merchandising from Texas State University

Fun fact: Julia has been a volunteer chaperone for high school band trips and is learning and working with aquaponics.

Customized Programs

Caitlin Beasley
Customized Program Coordinator Argentina, Cuba, Mexico

Hometown: Richmond, VA

Study abroad experience: summer faculty-led program in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Caitlin also lived almost 4 years in Argentina to complete her Master’s degree.

Favorite travel location: Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina

Education: B.A., International Affairs and Spanish, James Madison University; M.A., Development Management and Policy, Georgetown University & la Universidad de General San Martin

Fun fact: Caitlin enjoys road cycling, cooking homemade pasta, and wine tasting.

Photo of Tracy Cohen
Tracy Cohen
Senior Customized Programs Manager Costa Rica, France, South Africa

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Study abroad experience: In high school, Tracy spent a summer studying Spanish in Madrid, Spain. During college, Tracy took a semester of of school to enroll in a TEFL certification program based in Prague, Czech Republic. Upon completion of the program, Tracy stayed in Prague for a few months teaching English to both children and adults.

Favorite travel location: She has two! South Africa and New Zealand.

Education: BA in Applied Learning and Development with Elementary and Special Education Certification from the University of Texas at Austin

Fun fact: Tracy loves the USPS and sends at least one snail mail letter a week!

Celeste De La Rosa
Customized Program Coordinator: Cuba, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, UAE, Qatar

Hometown: Austin / San Antonio, Texas

Study Abroad Experience: Celeste didn’t study abroad in college, but taught English for 2½ years in Madrid, Spain. During this time she was able to absorb the Spanish culture and travel extensively throughout Europe!

Education: Bachelors Degree in Communication from St. Edward’s University

Favorite Travel Location: There are far too many to list but Italy, Greece and Morocco would be the top contenders.

Fun Fact: Celeste enjoys dancing flamenco as a hobby and often reminisces about the day she met and enjoyed a conversation with Anthony Bourdain.

Photo of Kristin Maverick
Kristin Maverick
Customized Program Coordinator Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Qatar, UAE

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Kristin studied abroad for a year in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She also worked on location as a Program Coordinator for an argentine study abroad company in Buenos Aires.

Favorite travel location: Trindade, RJ, Brazil.

Education: BA in Spanish and Philosophy from Southwestern University.

Fun fact: Kristin was the songwriter/vocalist for an Argentine musical duet called “Los Cohetes”.

Photo of Sarah McNeely Ph.D.
Sarah McNeely Ph.D.
Senior Customized Programs Manager England, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain

Hometown: Fairfield, IL

Study abroad experience: As a student, Sarah participated in a faculty-led study abroad program to London, Brussels, and Trier. As faculty, she taught in Florence.

Favorite travel location: Casa Guidi, the apartment where poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning lived in Florence.

Education: BA and MA in English from Texas State University; PhD in English Literature TCU.

Fun fact: Sarah once traveled to Istanbul to see a concert (Ane Brun!)

Photo of Amy Newman
Amy Newman
Customized Program Coordinator Australia, Bhutan, China, France, Italy, New Zealand, Qatar, UAE, and Parsons Paris

Hometown: Green Brook, NJ

Study abroad experience: Paris with API, summer faculty-led program in Istanbul/Berlin

Favorite travel location:Berlin, Germany

Education: French and Int’l Affairs from Northeastern

Fun fact: Amy went to boarding school to study ballet and has danced at Lincoln Center twice.

University Relations and Outreach

Photo of Elizabeth Adams
Elizabeth Adams
Regional Director

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio and Wilmington, North Carolina

Study abroad experience: Tours, France and Salzburg, Austria

Favorite travel location: Collioure, France

Education: French and German (undergraduate), International Administration (Masters)

Fun fact: Liz loves to cook, loves to dance, and loves to watch vintage movies, not all at the same time.

Kerianne Baylor
University Relations and Outreach Coordinator Region: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania

Hometown: Millstone Township, New Jersey

Study abroad experience: A year in Madrid, Spain (with API!); a year teaching English in Barranquilla, Colombia (…with API again!); and a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Maceió, Brazil

Favorite travel location: My heart could never decide between Spain, Colombia, and Brazil, but Lençóis Maranhenses National Park and Fernando de Noronha—both in Brazil—are indescribable.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Communication/Public Relations and Spanish from Marist College

Fun fact: Kerianne tries to send herself (and her parents!) postcards from where she travels. She literally can’t travel without a journal, or several. Journaling every day is the goal!

Photo of Jeff Clifton
Jeff Clifton
Senior Regional Director Region: Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina

Hometown: Seneca, South Carolina

Study abroad experience: Madrid, Spain & Paris, France

Favorite travel location: Machu Picchu, Peru

Education: Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Michigan State University, Master’s degree in Higher Education and Counseling fr0m Clemson University

Fun fact: Jeff worked for the Tour de France in 1991-1992.

Photo of Jenny Doder
Jenny Doder
Outreach Coordinator College, High School, Gap

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Study abroad experience: Studied in Florence, Italy (with API) and volunteered in Reynosa, Mexico building houses for a local neighborhood

Favorite travel location: Cinque Terre, Italy and Seville, Spain

Education: Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Saint Anselm College

Fun fact: Jenny was a Division II student-athlete and played 4 years of volleyball while in college!

Photo of Martha Flinter
Martha Flinter
University Relations Coordinator

Hometown: North Grafton, Massachusetts

Study abroad experience: Martha has been on many site visits!

Favorite travel location: Italy and Ireland

Education: Bachelor’s degree in English

Fun fact: Martha has 6 children and 15 grandchildren!

Photo of Ryan Ingalls
Ryan Ingalls
Regional Coordinator Region: Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Wyoming

Hometown: Center City, MN

Study abroad experience: Tokyo, Japan

Favorite travel location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Communications from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Fun fact: Ryan used to be a competitive barefoot waterskier, has a definite nerdy side, and loves dessert.

Photo of Christie Johnson
Christie Johnson
Vice President for University Relations, Outreach and Diversity Initiatives

Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia/Vienna Austria/Virginia/Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Although Christie did not have an official study abroad experience, she has lived in Colombia, Burma, Hong Kong, and Austria.

Favorite travel location: Salzburg, Austria

Education: Bachelor’s degree in German from the University of Texas at Austin.

Fun fact: Christie ran her first marathon on a whim, signing up three days prior. Before the marathon, she had never ran more than 9 miles!

Photo of Chelsea Kindred
Chelsea Kindred
Director of Alumni Development

Hometown: Houston, TX

Study abroad experience: Grenoble, France (with API!)

Favorite travel location: Chelsea’s favorite travel spot is a tiny bed & breakfast on the outskirts of Stratford-Upon-Avon, England. Heaven on earth!

Education: Bachelor’s degree in English and French from the University of Texas at Austin; MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University

Fun fact: Chelsea has attended every Harry Potter midnight release (book & film).

Photo of Jason Kouba
Jason Kouba
Senior Regional Director Region: Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin

Hometown: Onalaska, WI

Study Abroad Experience: Seville, Spain

Favorite Travel Location: Mexico and anywhere that I have never been!

Education: BA in Spanish and MS in College Student Development and Administration from the University of WI-La Crosse

Fun Fact: Jason was a flight attendant for 3 years and spent at least 2 days every week in Mexico. He is also full of useless facts about the state of Wisconsin, and would challenge anyone to a Golden Girls trivia contest.

Photo of Julie Leitman
Julie Leitman
Associate VP for University Relations and Outreach/Founding Mother Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

Hometown: Brookline, MA

Study abroad experience: Madrid, Spain

Favorite travel location: Too many to name, but a big piece of Julie’s heart is in Spain!

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature from Hamilton College, Master’s degree in Spanish from Middlebury College

Fun fact: Julie once had a 100 pound Great Pyrnees/Golden Retriever that thought she was a lap dog!

Photo of Leiann Mar
Leiann Mar
Regional Coordinator Region: Alaska, northern California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Study abroad experience: Leiann studied abroad with API in Rome, Italy.

Favorite travel location: There are so many places I have yet to explore – ask me again in 30 years!

Education: B.A. in Intercultural Communication and minor in Business from Washington State University

Fun fact: Leiann tries to collect rings from every place she travels to!

Photo of Emily Nagle
Emily Nagle
Regional Coordinator Region: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

Hometown: Guilderland, New York

Study abroad experience: academic year in Florence, Italy and semester in Taormina, Sicily

Favorite travel location: Anywhere in Italy!!!

Education: Bachelors degree in English with a concentration in writing and minors in Italian, psychology, and global studies from Marist College

Fun fact: Emily loves fashion and relaxing in her hot tub!

Photo of Hannah Olevson
Hannah Olevson
Regional Coordinator Region: Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah

Hometown:  Carver, MN

Studied Abroad:  Seville, Spain (with API!)

Favorite travel locations: Vienna, Austria & Portugal

Education: Marketing with Spanish and Organizational and Profession Communication minors from University of Wisconsin- La Crosse

Fun Fact: Hannah collects postcards from everywhere she travels. She also loves it when people send her postcards!

Photo of Joan Solaún Ph.D.
Joan Solaún Ph.D.
Institutional Development and Relations Coordinator

Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida

Study abroad experience: Havana, Cuba; Paris, France

Favorite travel location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies, Ph.D. in Latin American Literature

Fun fact: Joan enjoys spending time with her Jack Russell Terrier, Estela.

Photo of Bridget Thompson
Bridget Thompson
Regional Coordinator Region: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

Hometown: Atlanta GA

Study Abroad Experience: Salamanca and Semester at Sea

Favorite Travel Location: Vietnam

Education: Communications major at Clemson University

Fun fact: Bridget makes soap in her spare time!

Photo of Ilene Tillman
Ilene Tillman
Senior Regional Director Region: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

Hometown: Springfield, MA

Study abroad experience: Summer in Corrientes, Argentina; semester in Cuernavaca, Mexico; year in Granada Spain (with API!).

Favorite travel location: Jerusalem, Israel

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from The University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Fun fact: Ilene loves to sing karaoke!

Photo of Julie Van Vechten-Smith
Julie Van Vechten-Smith
Senior Director of University Relations and Outreach Region: Alaska, Arizona, California (southern), New Mexico, Texas

Hometown: Victoria, TX

Study abroad experience: Au pair – Biarritz, France; ESL instructor – Pusan, South Korea

Favorite travel location:Anywhere in France

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Journalism (Texas State University), M.A. in Foreign Language Education (U.T.-Austin)

Fun fact: Julie learned backstop weaving in Guatemala, cooking in France, and surfing in Costa Rica and can’t wait for her next international learning experience!

Photo of Amy Whitish-Temple
Amy Whitish-Temple
University Relations Representative Region: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

Hometown: Mineral Point, WI (now based in Boston, MA)

Study abroad experience: Oaxaca, Mexico and Madrid, Spain

Favorite travel location: Peru or Haiti

Education: Bachelor’s in English and Spanish (double major) from University of Wisconsin, Madison, Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Fun fact: Amy was valedictorian of her high school class


Photo of Mark Ciani
Mark Ciani
Publications Director

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Salamanca, Spain (with API!)

Favorite travel location: Mt. Huangshan

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Texas State University, San Marcos.

Fun fact: Mark has never told a lie.

Photo of Jeramy Johnson
Jeramy Johnson
Vice President of Marketing and Development

Hometown: San Antonio, TX

International experience: Jeramy has visited many of API’s locations during site familiarization and program development trips, including Barcelona (Spain), Berlin (Germany), Bilbao (Spain), Budapest (Hungary), Doha (Qatar), Dublin (Ireland), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Galway (Ireland), Florence (Italy), Grenoble (France), Krakow (Poland), Leeds (England), Lisbon (Portugal), London (England), Rome (Italy), Reykjavik (Iceland), Sharjah (UAE), and Tuscania (Italy).

Favorite travel location: Dubrovnik, Croatia, Dubai, UAE, Reykjavik, Iceland

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin, Master’s degree in Media & Public Affairs from The George Washington University

Fun fact: Jeramy once served as Tim Duncan’s bodyguard (well, sort of…)

Photo of Alyssa Neville
Alyssa Neville
Social Media Marketing Coordinator

Hometown: Longmeadow, Massachusetts

Study abroad experience: Rome, Italy (with API!)

Favorite travel location: I probably haven’t visited my all time favorite yet, but for now it’s definitely Sorrento, Italy.

Education: Bachelor’s in Graphic Design and Digital Media from Champlain College

Fun fact: Alyssa loves all things children’s literature and likes to collect children’s books from or about the places she travels to.

Photo of Rachel Skinner
Rachel Skinner
Marketing Content Coordinator

Hometown: Maple Grove, MN

Study abroad experience: Stirling, Scotland (with API) and Quimper, France.

Favorite travel location: Lisbon, Portugal and Lucern, Switzerland

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with minors in Management and French from Luther College

Fun fact: Rachel is working to become fluent in French!

Photo of Marc Smith
Marc Smith
Creative Director

Hometown: Houston, TX; Paris, France; Los Angeles, CA

Study abroad experience: Although Marc did not study abroad, he did spend six months working abroad on the Disneyland Paris Work Exchange Program.

Favorite travel location: Marc’s favorite travel experiences include: Living and working in Paris, France; hang gliding in Rio de Janiero, Brazil; sky diving in Kauai, Hawaii; surfing in Santander, Spain; diving in the great barrier reef, Australia

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Creative Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin.

Fun fact: Marc walked down the red carpet of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie premiere with fans yelling out “I love you Marc!” only to find out those kind words were meant for Mark Hoppus of the band Blink 182 who was walking behind him.

Information Technology

Photo of Fernando Dávila
Fernando Dávila
Information Technology Director

Hometown: Monterrey, Nuevo Léon, México

Favorite travel location: Real de 14, SLP, México

Education: Ingeniería en sistemas de información, Universidad Regiomontana, A.C.

Fun fact: Fernando is a great cook, likes to experiment with new grill recipes, and has a vast knowledge of different beer varieties.

Photo of Omar E. George Farray
Omar E. George Farray
Information Technology Assistant

Hometown: Cienfuegos, Cuba

Favorite travel location: Cuba

Education: Ingeniería Informática, Universidad de Cienfuegos, Cuba

Fun fact: Omar is a great Cuban coffee maker.

Experiential Programs

Photo of Brittany Boehr
Brittany Boehr
Experiential Program Manager

Hometown: Malvern, Pennsylvania

Study abroad experience: Granada, Spain (with API!)

Favorite travel location: Tuscany

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies & Spanish from Grove City College.

Fun fact: Brittany tends to carry her water bottle closer to her than her cell phone!

Photo of Claire Hero
Claire Hero
Assistant Director of Teach, Work, and Volunteer Programs

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Study Abroad Experience: Annecy, France; Bordeaux, France; Medellin/Manizales/Monteria/Bogota, Colombia

Favorite Travel Location: Amazon Rainforest, Leticia; Guatape, Colombia; Anywhere where there are rolling hills or mountains.

Education: BA in French and World Geography from Eastern Michigan University; MA in International Education from SIT Graduate Institute

Fun Fact: I used to teach weekly French lessons to a group of 84 to 92-year-olds in a retirement home. The best part about it was seeing their progress!


Octavia Sims
Experiential Program Coordinator

Hometown: Hopkins, South Carolina

Study abroad experience: 厦门市(Xiamen, Fujian Province, China) for one summer to study mathematics and Bangkok, Thailand for one summer to attend an ethnographic field school

Favorite travel location: She is torn between Sorrento, Italy and Chiang Mai, Thailand

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology with a minor in Asian Studies from the College of Charleston

Fun fact: Octavia is very passionate about continuing her studies in Mandarin Chinese, as the university she attended had a growing Chinese
Studies department with limited opportunities for advanced language study. She hopes to one day live and work abroad in China for an extended period of time.

Photo of Barbara West
Barbara West
Vice President of Internships and Partner Outreach

Hometown: Hobart, Indiana

Study abroad experience: A year abroad at Justus Liebig Universitt in Giessen, Germany.

Favorite travel location: Barbara’s top travel experiences have been in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Japan.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in German and Geography (Travel and Tourism) from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

Fun fact: Barbara has traveled to over 25 countries so far and hopes to keep adding the list each year!

Regional Directors

Photo of Carmen Alvarez de Toledo
Carmen Alvarez de Toledo
Regional Director, Latin America

Hometown: Buenos Aires

International experience: Ten years living in the U.S. – Five teaching Spanish at Yale and five working at American University in Washington DC.

Favorite travel location: Wherever I go with my family, but if I have to choose it would be the south of Italy, or Patagonia.

Education: Licenciada en Sociología – University of Buenos Aires (UBA)

Fun fact: Carmen collects trinkets from around the world (they have to be given as a gift though!). She already has objects from 138 countries and two continents!

Photo of Inma Borrego
Inma Borrego
Spain Regional Director

Inmaculada (Inma) Borrego Ledesma serves as the Regional Director for Spain and France, 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.

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

Hometown: Marie was born in the north of Provence but never lived there; she mostly grew up in Paris.

International Experience: Marie did some language exchange while in high school in England, Ireland and New-York City. She lived for 3 years in Montreal, Canada, where she studied communications at the Université de Montreal. She also has traveled throughout the U.S., Canada, and other parts of the Americas.

Favorite Travel Location: Marie’s can’t narrow down just one, but has several items on her bucket list, including: seeing an Iceberg… spending a night in the wild Amazonian forest…  hiking in the desert… or just rest in a country house on the French Brittany seashore!

Education: Bachelor’s degree in French History from the Sorbonne in Paris

Fun Fact: When she is retired Marie wants to buy a mobile home and visit all the students that she’s met all around the US and south American countries!

Photo of Federica Guerrieri
Federica Guerrieri
Italy Regional Director

Federica, Resident Director in Florence, began working with the API Florence Program in 2002. She grew up in Terracina, south of Rome, and studied in Florence, where she graduated with a degree in Tourism. Federica’s hobbies include travel, music, cinema, and interior design.

Photo of Pilar Llamas
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.


Photo of Mona Miller
Mona Miller
Regional Director – Asia and South Pacific

Hometown: None really. Mona grew up in seven different towns in Oklahoma — Sooner born and Sooner bread!

International Experience: Mona lived abroad 7 years with the Peace Corps in Gabon, Burundi and Togo.

Favorite Travel Location: Colorado River, three weeks through 225 miles of the Grand Canyon. Mona has done this once in a lifetime rafting adventure twice!

Education: B.S. Political Science, Oklahoma City University and M.A. International Administration, SIT

Fun Fact: Mona loves playing her electric guitar and drum kit.

Photo of Rachel Wellborn
Rachel Wellborn
UK Regional Director

Hometown: Sheffield, Yorkshire, England

Study abroad experience: 6 months in Merida, Mexico and 6 months in Lisbon, Portugal. Also 4 months working in San Diego and 1 year working in Santiago, Chile.

Favorite travel location: Too many to list, but Machu Picchu and Ancient Mayan sites are up there in the top choices.

Education: University of Bristol – BA Hons Hispanic Studies with Disctinction in Spanish Language

Fun fact: I have always been obsessed with Spain and Latin American and as a child I used to wear a flamenco dress and black wig and pretend I didn’t speak English!