API Mission Statement

Design and deliver international experiences that inspire learning and enrich students, partners and communities.

API Vision Statement

To lead advances in global learning.

API Core Values

We believe doing what you love can change the world.

We bring creativity, a collaborative spirit, and the resources to develop transformative and accessible experiences for students.

We foster respect, empathy and perspective.

We promote personal growth and learning from the world at large.

We deliver exceptional experiences with student well-being as our highest priority.

We are committed to honest, ethical practices and adherence to social and governmental norms wherever we operate.

API History

Academic Programs International (API) was founded in 1997 by four women (the Founding Mamas) dedicated to providing high-quality, affordable study abroad programs for U.S. students. Their diverse experiences abroad, first as students and later as professionals, shaped their philosophy on the value of international education as a means of promoting intellectual curiosity, cultural sensitivity and holistic personal development. API firmly believes that extensive pre-departure preparation, coupled with strong support services on-site, facilitates academic, cultural and linguistic learning. Within the supportive environment of the API programs, API participants are encouraged to explore their host communities and become increasingly independent and confident in their own abilities. API also believes that international educational experiences should be accessible to as many participants as possible, and in that vein, seeks to include as many components in the program price as possible for participants at a low cost.

API has grown rapidly since its founding over 20 years ago. We now send more than 4,000 participants abroad annually to nearly 50 cities in over 25 countries in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Oceania. Our portfolio has expanded beyond college study abroad to include international internship programs, teach, volunteer, and work abroad options, and international programs for high school and gap year students. Our success is owed in large part to the dedication of our staff, both stateside and abroad, and the strong relationships we have cultivated with partner institutions and universities. We strive to provide individual attention to every participant and attract participants from across the U.S. and the world.

Founding Mamas
Jennifer Allen

Jennifer Attal Allen

President and CEO

Jennifer Attal Allen

President and CEO

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Salamanca, Spain

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.

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Julie Leitman

Associate Vice President of Institutional Relations and Outreach

Julie Leitman

Associate Vice President of Institutional Relations and Outreach

Hometown: Brookline, MA

Study abroad experience: Madrid, Spain

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

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

In 1982, my anthropology professor and his family called me from Spain and asked if I could come to teach a small group of American middle schoolers in Sevilla, Spain. They said I had 24 hours to get there. I said “sure”, of course, and jumped on a plane from Berkeley to Boston, and then to Sevilla. Besides my professor and his family, I had one name in my pocket, Dr. Sharon Foerster (my mom’s friend’s daughter’s friend; later one of the founding “mamas” of API). We finally ran into each other at the U.S. Embassy at Thanksgiving. We became friends and, then, coincidentally, she and her family ended up living right across the hall from me, so we became very good friends.

I went home after that first year and a year later Sharon called me again to come back and teach English and work with Americans on their junior year programs. I, of course, said “yes.” I loved Sevilla, my friends, the food (the tapas and Las Rayas icecream), the ambiance, the orange trees, the horse-drawn carts, the 114 degree days….I was hooked. Little did I know that these connections and this magical city would eventually lead me to the other founding mothers of API. Sharon returned home to Austin, and connected with Jennifer and Brittany, in Austin, and then called me (once again) to ask me to begin API with them. The rest is history!

Sharon In Sevilla

Sharon Foerster, Ph.D.

Academic Advisor

Sharon Foerster, Ph.D.

Academic Advisor

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Madrid, Spain

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.

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Brittany Norman

Advisory Mama Board Member

Brittany Norman

Advisory Mama Board Member

Hometown: Temple, TX

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

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

What part of your work at API are you most proud of?

I’ve done a lot of jobs in API over the years. When we founded API, Jennifer and I worked in our living rooms and soon after I pushed a stroller to the post office daily, with catalogs to mail and forms to collect. Those were the days when we were excited to be able to fax forms instead of just using the postal service! I have spent time creating forms, calling universities and students and parents, collecting payments, writing documents and policies, recruiting, fairs, leading director trips, interviewing, leading and mentoring VPs, and more. We moved from our living rooms to a small space in San Marcos on the square, to a larger space on the square, to a building we bought, to the current beautiful space in Austin. But my most special aspect of all of it has been working alongside Jen, Sharon, and Julie. We have worked together for over 20 years now and we know that we have something special. If you ask people about going into business with other people and starting companies, you often will get a list of dos and don’ts. One of the don’ts, is don’t go into business with friends or people you have never met. We did both. And we wouldn’t trade it for anything. As a foursome, we have cried and laughed and traveled and sat around wrestling with how to do whatever was best next for API and talked and talked and talked and hugged and dreamed. We know each other in ways that others can never know each of us. We together make each other better. There is a part of me who wouldn’t be, were it not for these three ladies. We share a passion to play a role in changing people’s lives by opening to them a piece of another part of the world. API was my first child and I wouldn’t change much about how the four of us have walked this journey. I give thanks for them and the part they have played in my life, and am proud that we didn’t listen to other advice when we joined together to found and make API what it is today.

Board of Directors
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Shoshana Vernick

Chairman of the Board

Shoshana Vernick

Chairman of the Board

The daughter of an entrepreneur and elementary school teacher, Shoshana Vernick grew up in Northwest Indiana and has spent the last 20 years as a business builder and investor. She's been an unwavering presence at private equity firm Sterling Partners for the past 16 years, an advocate for responsible capitalism, and a board member to over 16 for and not-for-profit organizations across multiple sectors. In 2015, Shoshana and her two colleagues launched Sterling's first-ever, sector-specific investment fund, the $252 million Education Opportunity Fund, which provides growth capital and strategic guidance to organizations in the education and employment sectors. Shoshana is a graduate of Indiana University and fondly remembers her semester abroad to Maastricht, The Netherlands as one of those experiences that changed her life forever.

Jennifer Allen

Jennifer Attal Allen

President and CEO

Jennifer Attal Allen

President and CEO

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Salamanca, Spain

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.

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Jeffrey Keith

Board Member

Jeffrey Keith

Board Member

Jeffery Keith has founded or co-founded multiple successful companies in various sectors including education, industrial services, financial services, and commercial real estate. Currently, Jeffery is an operating partner at Sterling Partners, a $2.6 billion private equity fund that invests in education. He is the chairman of the board for Sterling education companies Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology and Edcura, and serves on the board of several other Sterling owned companies. He is a special peer reviewer for the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Additionally, he serves on the board of the University of Dubuque, Alliant International University, and Calumet College of St. Joseph. Jeffery was the chief visionary and architect of the TCS Education System (TCSES) where he served as an executive. TCSES was the first Type II SO nonprofit system created in education and includes various colleges and universities (The Chicago School, Saybrook University, Pacific Oaks College, Dallas Nursing Institute, and the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law).

He holds an M.B.A. and B.S. in economics and management from Purdue University and an M.S. and Ph.D. (ABD) in finance from the Stuart Graduate School of Business at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Additionally, Jeffery has a graduate certification in financial law from the Kent College of Law and attended Harvard’s Graduate School of Education IEM program and Yale’s Endowment Institute.

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Brian Schwartz

Board Member

Brian Schwartz

Board Member

Brian Schwartz is a Principal of the Education Opportunity Fund. He has over 13 years of private equity experience investing across multiple sectors.

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Jane Swift

Board Member

Jane Swift

Board Member

Jane Swift is the Former Governor of Massachusetts. She is a well-recognized and respected voice on education policy and women’s leadership. Jane has deep experience and success in leading mission-focused organizations in the education and employment sectors.

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Patrick Vogt

Board Member

Patrick Vogt

Board Member

Patrick Vogt is the CEO of The National Research Center for College & University Admissions™, which is now a part of ACT®. He has more than 30 years of experience building innovative technology and products, accelerating company growth, and establishing mission-based organizational cultures.

As the CEO of ACT | NRCCUA, Patrick is responsible for setting the overall direction and strategy for the company. He leads the effort to integrate new design, product, and technology platforms to better support students and universities to make more intelligent decisions that will improve overall graduation success rates.

Prior to NRCCUA, Patrick served as CEO for both public and private digital media technology companies and has held senior executive positions at some of the most prestigious brands in the world, including The Weather Channel, Sony, HP, and Dell. Patrick was most recently CEO of HealthiNation, an Emmy Award-winning health and wellness digital video company. Prior to HealthiNation, he was president of The Weather Channel’s (TWC) International Division where he led all business outside of the United States and across all product categories including digital, professional, and TV.

Patrick received a bachelor of science degree in business from the State University of New York and holds an MBA from the Hagan School of Business, Iona College.

Management
Jennifer Allen

Jennifer Attal Allen

President and CEO

Jennifer Attal Allen

President and CEO

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Salamanca, Spain

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.

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Kim Capano

Human Resource Manager

Kim Capano

Human Resource Manager

Hometown: Boise, Idaho and Portland, Oregon

Study abroad experience: I did not study abroad, however I spent the summer of my junior year in college in Milan, Italy. I had the opportunity to travel around Italy and Greece for over two months. I loved both countries so much, as both were so rich with art, history, food and wine! I've since been back to Italy once and look forward to other travel abroad opportunities with family and friends.

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Portland State University

Where in the world would you like to travel and what is it about that location that inspires you?

Next on my travel list is Ireland. I have heard it's a wonderful place to visit, very welcoming, with beautiful countryside. Being part Irish, I'd love to visit the country where so much of my ancestry has history.

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Chris Ciani

Senior Director, Financial Planning and Analysis

Chris Ciani

Senior Director, Financial Planning and Analysis

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study Abroad Experience: Madrid, Spain

Education: Economics

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API? I studied abroad with API in Madrid and loved everything about it! I believe in the mission of API and want to help grow the company.

John Endrud

John Endrud

Chief Business Officer

John Endrud

Chief Business Officer

Hometown: Crystal Lake, IL

International Experience: John has worked extensively across Europe and Asia

Education: Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota; MBA from Benedictine University

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

I have a very special memory of New Year’s Eve in Rome with my family. It was the end of a wonderful two-week holiday and the last few days in Rome – the history, people, food (did I mention food), all of it – was very special and the city was electric. It ranks among one of the very best travel experiences and I look forward to returning again.

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W. David Gingrich

Vice President, University Partnerships

W. David Gingrich

Vice President, University Partnerships

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: While I did not travel abroad during college, I have traveled extensively with my family. I have been fortunate enough to travel to over 15 countries that span three continents. It is due to these experiences that I find an importance of embracing global perspectives and applying them in our everyday lives.

Education: B.S. Journalism, Texas A&M University

Where in the world would you like to travel and what is it about that location that inspires you?

Japan. With much tradition and beauty the culture and landscape seem to offer another colorful lens in which to look at one's earthly and spiritual journey.

Ecuador

Courtney Greene

Senior Vice President of Organizational Operations

Courtney Greene

Senior Vice President of Organizational Operations

Hometown: Shelby Township, Michigan

Study abroad experience: Quito, Ecuador

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

What is your most important accomplishment at API; or, what have you done at API that you are most proud of, and why?

They always say that time flies when you are having fun! In my ten plus years working at API, I have enjoyed serving in multiple roles but my favorite responsibilities are always those that allow me to work with our coordinators and directors abroad. I am most proud of the work I have done supporting our team as they handle emergencies and developing new sites in Latin America for API.

Having studied abroad in Ecuador as an undergraduate student, Latin America will forever hold a place in my heart. I never tire of promoting our locations there to potential participants. During the summer of 2016, I traveled to Quito, Ecuador, to train our newest director. I was accompanied by my husband and then two-year-old son and had the distinct pleasure of introducing them to my Ecuadorian host family who I had not seen in person for almost 17 years!

For me, my experiences living and working abroad serve as an important reminder to enjoy every moment, challenge ourselves, and cherish the personal connections we have the good fortune to make with people from around the world.

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Joey Janisheck

Vice President of Technology

Joey Janisheck

Vice President of Technology

Hometown: El Paso, TX

international Experience: Born in small town in a country that no longer exists, I'm the proud son of a military father and wonderful German mother. I never studied abroad but was lucky enough to travel throughout Germany, Japan, England, France, Canada and Mexico for my career as a software developer. I'm also lucky enough to have travelled to 48 of these beautiful United States (Maine and Alaska, I'm gonna get to you soon enough.)

What is your most important accomplishment at API; or, what have you done at API that you are most proud of, and why? API Abroad is gonna do even more amazing things over the next several years and I'm excited to be a part of such a stellar group. In technology, there are no finish lines. Just incremental releases. So, I'm always the most proud of the "next" project we are working on. Can't wait to show you. Don't rest on your laurels. Get your popcorn ready.

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Christie Johnson

Vice President for Institutional Relations, Outreach, and Diversity Initiatives

Christie Johnson

Vice President for Institutional 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.

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

I have been traveling since day one! I was born in Bogota, Colombia, and spent multiple years in Rangoon, Myanmar (Burma), Hong Kong, and Vienna, Austria. I attended the American International School in Vienna for elementary and middle school (which was comprised of students from well over 100 nations), and traveled throughout Europe during my time there – so you might say that travel and intercultural communication is my life story! After majoring in a foreign language in college (German), I knew that whatever career path I followed would be tied to international education in some way. As fate would have it, my first real job out of college was working for another international education provider, where I learned the ropes and fell in love with the field. After a few years, I knew I wanted to move my family back to Austin, and again the stars aligned. I had heard great things about API from others in the field and submitted an application. Soon thereafter, I was on a plane to Italy as I took on my initial role of API Italy Program Manager, and I’ve never looked back!

William Johnson

William Johnson

Senior Vice President of International Development

William Johnson

Senior Vice President of International Development

Hometown: Austin, TX

International Experience: William has lived, worked and raised his family in Italy; created and managed educational programs in Europe for 20+ years; taught and led tours in Mexico.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin; TEFL certificate; Italian language fluency certificate from University of Perugia

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

Sicily! Rising in the center of the Mediterranean as a result of the African and European sub-plates colliding, the island has prompted mythical figures, historical tales and controversy throughout millennia.
I first landed on the Island of Sicily in 1989 when I was studying abroad in Italy. In two weeks over the Easter break, I made lifelong friends, was invited to celebrate the holiday in their homes, and forever mesmerized by the beauty of the land, the warmth of people and lure of the sea. I can’t get enough and have been going back for 30+ years! In Sicily, it’s easy to see how one can be eternally captured by a place; it is infinite with discovery at every turn.

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Courtney Link

Senior Vice President of Organizational Development

Courtney Link

Senior Vice President of Organizational Development

Hometown: Dallas/Austin, Texas

Study abroad experience: Sevilla, Spain and Salamanca, Spain

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin. Master’s in Spanish Language & Culture from the University of Salamanca.

Where in the world (that API has programs) would you like to travel, and what is it about that location that speaks to you?
My own life-transforming study abroad experience as a college student in Seville, Spain over 20 years ago is what inspired me to get into the international education industry, and continues to guide the work that I joyfully do every day! I can still remember vividly the excitement (and nervousness!) I felt the day that I met my host family. So, even though I have been privileged to visit many of our API sites around the world, I would have to say that it’s still Spain- it’s people (especially all my API colleagues), it’s language (which I put to use almost daily) and it’s rich culture — has a special place in my heart . I can’t wait to travel there with my family, hopefully someday soon!

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Barbara West

Vice President of Internships and Partner Outreach

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.

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

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

Japan! There is so much to love about this country, and I can’t wait to go back. The food, the temples, and the culture are all so unique and intriguing. However, the best aspect by far was the people. The Japanese are the most friendly, polite, respectful, and inquisitive people I have ever met while traveling in a foreign country.

Enrollment Management
Paige Clark Ca

Paige Clark

Director of Student Services, Admissions, and High School/Gap Programs

Paige Clark

Director of Student Services, Admissions, and High School/Gap Programs

Hometown: Austin, TX

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

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

What international experiences led you to your role at API?

I am API’s Director of Student Services and Admissions and as such, I direct a team of Program Coordinators and Managers and work closely with on-site staff to serve API programming participants, parents/guardians, and API’s institutional partners. I studied abroad with API in Granada, Spain and my daily work facilitates for thousands of others the transformational experience of spending time abroad with API. I have developed extensive support services to aid in times of challenge and to help provide the best experience possible for each API participant, including study, work, teach, volunteer, intern, and high-school participants. I also work to create programming to meet the diverse needs of API participants. My time abroad in Spain shapes the work I do each day and has informed my favorite travel opportunities, from spending time across the world in Australia and New Zealand to my domestic travels across California. I am a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and graduated with honors from Texas A&M University with a degree in International Relations, Business, and Spanish.

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Rebecca Cott

Program Manager

Rebecca Cott

Program Manager

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

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

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

I came into the world of international education through trial and error, as oftentimes people fall unexpectedly into their chosen careers. In college, I studied Global Studies and was convinced that diplomacy was my chosen field. I later discovered that politics was not the path for me and actually came to this realization while studying abroad in France. I wandered and traveled, for time, but was never truly lost, just seeking. I then fell into the world of college admissions and higher education. As much as this role was a great fit, I wondered, how do I combine my background in travel and international studies with higher education? And then it dawned on me– international education! I found a home with API, an organization that shared my philosophies in student development and creating opportunities for expanding global awareness. While API is an organization that reaches all corners of the earth, all people- including participants and employees alike are treated with the same welcoming hospitality that I have experienced from people in each country I have had the chance to visit.

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Lauren Daniels

Program Manager

Lauren Daniels

Program Manager

Hometown: Austin, TX

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

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

Did you participate in an API program? If so, where, and what lessons stuck with you the most?

I studied abroad with API in Granada during the summer of my junior year. I fell in love with the city immediately! The people I met, the food we ate, and the places I visited all made a lasting impression. I think my greatest takeaway from my experience abroad was the importance of listening. Not only did it help my language skills, but it also helped me gain a better understanding of my new environment. I had always loved learning about history and culture, but getting to hear first-hand accounts was such a special experience! Everyone I met had their own story and their own take on the world. I returned from my time abroad with a greater appreciation for people and all of the experiences that make us unique.

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Mariana Delmonte-Gladstone

Program Coordinator

Mariana Delmonte-Gladstone

Program Coordinator

Hometown: Greenfield, Massachusetts

Study abroad experience: Kigali, Rwanda

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Women & Gender studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

What is your favorite travel destination?

My favorite international destination (thus far) would have to be Rwanda, aka “The Land of a Thousand Hills.” Studying abroad in Rwanda helped me grow in ways that I would never have imagined. I studied peace-building and reconciliation while I was there, and learned how an entire country could promote unity through hyperlocal initiatives.

I surprised myself every day. I went from being a picky vegetarian who loved avocados to a picky omnivore who never knew avocados could taste so good. I learned a new language, Kinyarwanda, and had conversations with friendly locals who always taught me new things. This experience solidified my desire to work in international education. I wanted to help students see how they could surprise themselves with their ability to adapt in new situations, appreciate cultural differences, and learn how drastic change fosters immense growth.

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Courtney Greene

Senior Vice President of Organizational Operations

Courtney Greene

Senior Vice President of Organizational Operations

Hometown: Shelby Township, Michigan

Study abroad experience: Quito, Ecuador

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

What is your most important accomplishment at API; or, what have you done at API that you are most proud of, and why?

They always say that time flies when you are having fun! In my ten plus years working at API, I have enjoyed serving in multiple roles but my favorite responsibilities are always those that allow me to work with our coordinators and directors abroad. I am most proud of the work I have done supporting our team as they handle emergencies and developing new sites in Latin America for API.

Having studied abroad in Ecuador as an undergraduate student, Latin America will forever hold a place in my heart. I never tire of promoting our locations there to potential participants. During the summer of 2016, I traveled to Quito, Ecuador, to train our newest director. I was accompanied by my husband and then two-year-old son and had the distinct pleasure of introducing them to my Ecuadorian host family who I had not seen in person for almost 17 years!

For me, my experiences living and working abroad serve as an important reminder to enjoy every moment, challenge ourselves, and cherish the personal connections we have the good fortune to make with people from around the world.

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Ryan McCann

Program Coordinator

Ryan McCann

Program Coordinator

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

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

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Christopher Newport University

Did you participate in an API program? If so, where, and what lessons stuck with you the most?

Studying abroad in Florence, Italy through API was a completely transformative experience. I remember being somewhat anxious when I started the program since I barely knew any Italian and I only had limited interactions with foreigners. By the time I ended the program, I made several Italian friends, developed a working knowledge of Italian, volunteered as a tour guide in Santa Croce church, and got a plethora of positive memories along the way. One of the hardest things about studying abroad is picking and choosing stories and lessons to share due to the sheer quantity of wonderful experiences. Of the many lessons that I learned abroad is that your familiar is someone else’s exotic. While I was constantly amazed by what Italy had to offer, Italians would ask me questions about America and my home city of Philadelphia. For the first time, I realized that some of the opportunities and sights at home were considered unique and interesting in the eyes of a foreigner. When I returned home, I developed a newfound respect for the things that I usually took for granted. Even though my study abroad experience was two years ago, it is something that I constantly reflect on and learn from. I feel that study abroad is much less of a small chapter in college but an important and unforgettable opportunity in life.

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Kelsey Patton

Program Coordinator

Kelsey Patton

Program Coordinator

Hometown: West Lafayette, IN

Study Abroad Experience: Aix-en-Provence, France

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and French from Grove City College

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

Lisbon, Portugal is a city set apart for marveling, basking in the sun’s glow, and indulging in all the good things life has to offer. Visiting this dazzling city had me in disbelief at how the one-dimensional pictures I’d googled prior to my trip could quickly transform into three-dimensional realities in my mind, now associated with tangible feelings and memories.

My senses were awakened like never before:

  • Taste: “Petiscos” (like Spanish Tapas), which I believe should be included in everyone’s gastronomic vocabulary.
  • Touch: A free walking tour of the city, my tired, but eager, feet venturing up and down winding and steep streets, bordered by smooth and intricate tiled walls.
  • Smell: The sea — a salty spray from the Atlantic Ocean, the swirling, fresh aroma of authentic Portuguese food.
  • Sound: Languages from around the world, spoken by fellow globetrotters, the cries of seagulls, the jingle of the streetcars.
  • Sight: Detailed tile patterns, vibrant buildings, the city of Sintra, just outside Lisbon, where I visited the Pena Palace, a brightly colored, fantasy-like castle, practically in the clouds (especially if you visit on a foggy day), with surrounding tropical gardens — a mystical travel destination.

Through this trip, and others, I’ve learned what the world is capable of evoking in me. New sights and sounds from abroad sweep the depths of my heart, push the boundaries of my mind and intellect, open me up to the extent of my sensations, and beg me to listen to and learn from the stranger. Each new location stirs something within me and stretches a new fiber of my being. These experiences led me to the field of International Education. I’m so thankful to have the incredible opportunity to encourage students to study abroad, and discover for themselves what the world has to teach them about who they are, about cultural sensitivity, and about the global nature of our world!

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Manuel Ramirez

Program Coordinator

Manuel Ramirez

Program Coordinator

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study abroad experience: Beijing, China

Education: Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Global Studies from the University of Texas, Austin

What international experiences led you to your role at API?

I was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and came to the US when I was 8 years old. As a first-generation college graduate and the first undocumented student in the state of Texas to study abroad, I can attest to the impact an abroad experience can have on a student’s life. It has been my dream job to support students to study abroad and give students the opportunity that I was afforded to learn from a life-changing cultural exchange program. I have been vegan for 6 years and enjoy the outdoors, dancing, and magic tricks.

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Hannah Stack

Program Coordinator

Hannah Stack

Program Coordinator

Hometown: Hawley, PA

Study Abroad Experience: Spent a month in Havana, Cuba (with API!!), a semester in Valparaiso, Chile, and 3 weeks in Heredia, Costa Rica

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and Public Policy from Vanderbilt University

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

When I was 15, I went on my first international trip to Costa Rica. Before that, I had really only dreamed about traveling to European destinations, but I fell in love with the ruggedness and beauty of Central America. The trip inspired in me a passion for all things Latin American. In college, I studied abroad in Cuba, Chile, and again in Costa Rica. There are many other places I plan to someday visit, but Costa Rica will always remain one of my favorite destinations.

Luis Reyes

Luis Reyes

Health and Safety Officer

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.

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

Miriam Wasserman

Miriam Wasserman

Student Outreach Coordinator

Miriam Wasserman

Student Outreach Coordinator

Hometown: Lenexa, KS

International experience: San Jose, Costa Rica and Salamanca, Spain (with API)

Education: Bachelor’s of International Studies with minors in Marketing and Spanish from the University of Arkansas

Did you participate in an API program? If so, where, and what lessons stuck with you the most?

Both of my study abroad experiences were with API and I am so grateful for all of the lessons I learned through those programs. I knew while I was abroad that I wanted to work for API after I graduated college. I was so thankful for the people that helped me throughout the entire experience of going abroad and I knew that I wanted to do the same for others if I ever got the opportunity to do so. This company gave me a passion for something that I wanted to share with everyone and that is something that I continue to do every day and absolutely love it!

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Brittany Boehr

Outreach and Enrollment Services Coordinator

Brittany Boehr

Outreach and Enrollment Services Coordinator

Hometown: Malvern, Pennsylvania

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

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

I’ve loved experiencing other countries and cultures almost as long as I can remember. Both of my parents traveled internationally during college, and I grew up hearing stories of their experiences. By the time I hit middle school, I had already decided that I would study abroad. I ended up in Granada, Spain with API and absolutely loved it!

Wrestling with the question of career during college, I struggled to come up with a strong idea of what I wanted to do after graduation. Looking back, I remember standing in the API Center in Granada during my study abroad program thinking, “What a cool job! How do these people get to do what they do?” I never imagined I’d actually work for the very same company just over a year later! What started out as me following through on a longtime dream – studying abroad – ended up landing me in API’s alumni development program (Global Leadership Academy) which opened the door to a job at API, introducing me to a professional field of passionate lovers of learning and culture. I struck gold. Even now, many years later, I still feel that way.

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Emma Freese

Internships Program Manager

Emma Freese

Internships Program Manager

Hometown: Canaan, NH

Study abroad experience: Beijing, China

Education: Bachelors of Art from Loyola University Maryland; Masters of Art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

One of my favorite places I've ever traveled to is Norway. After I graduated college I traveled through Norway via boat. I started in Vadsø and slowly made my way south through the fjords to Tromsø, I then ended my trip by flying to Oslo. Northern Norway is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. This trip was special because I was able to visit an international student who had lived with my family for a year when I was younger. I had the opportunity to meet her family and friends, participate in her town's festival, and try some amazing food (which is always my favorite part of traveling). It was such a unique experience that allowed me to truly gain an understanding for life and the people in Norway.

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Octavia Sims

Internship Program Manager

Octavia Sims

Internship Program Manager

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

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

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

My most impactful travel location would have to be China. I studied abroad in Xiamen, Fujian Province the summer after my freshman year and learned so much about the world and myself there. Although I was in China to study math, I left with a thirst for understanding people and a newfound appreciation for being myself. I found a love for studying language and culture which encouraged me to pick up Asian Studies. I also learned about grief, how to navigate ambiguity and to conquer problems that seemed so monumental back home. In China I found people and adventures welcoming, challenging, supportive and confrontational – all of which has shaped me to be unapologetically me: laid back, curious and goofy!

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Barbara West

Vice President of Internships and Partner Outreach

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.

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

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

Japan! There is so much to love about this country, and I can’t wait to go back. The food, the temples, and the culture are all so unique and intriguing. However, the best aspect by far was the people. The Japanese are the most friendly, polite, respectful, and inquisitive people I have ever met while traveling in a foreign country.

Student Success
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Courtney Greene

Senior Vice President of Organizational Operations

Courtney Greene

Senior Vice President of Organizational Operations

Hometown: Shelby Township, Michigan

Study abroad experience: Quito, Ecuador

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

What is your most important accomplishment at API; or, what have you done at API that you are most proud of, and why?

They always say that time flies when you are having fun! In my ten plus years working at API, I have enjoyed serving in multiple roles but my favorite responsibilities are always those that allow me to work with our coordinators and directors abroad. I am most proud of the work I have done supporting our team as they handle emergencies and developing new sites in Latin America for API.

Having studied abroad in Ecuador as an undergraduate student, Latin America will forever hold a place in my heart. I never tire of promoting our locations there to potential participants. During the summer of 2016, I traveled to Quito, Ecuador, to train our newest director. I was accompanied by my husband and then two-year-old son and had the distinct pleasure of introducing them to my Ecuadorian host family who I had not seen in person for almost 17 years!

For me, my experiences living and working abroad serve as an important reminder to enjoy every moment, challenge ourselves, and cherish the personal connections we have the good fortune to make with people from around the world.

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Claire Hero

Student Success Director

Claire Hero

Student Success Director

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan

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

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

Having been raised in a multicultural household, I’ve developed the habit of building on the already multicultural lifestyle I’ve created for myself. Interacting with those who are culturally unique is one of my greatest natural energizers. As a young adult, my experience living and working in France and Colombia settled the foundation for my personal and professional development and is really what solidified my dedication to being involved in strengthening global understanding, however big or small my contribution.

Since college, I have had a hard time staying put – always daydreaming about my next unique travel adventure. While working in Chicago a couple of years after graduating, the world’s callings had become too loud for me to ignore. I saw teaching English abroad as an open door to living an independent international experience, so I got my TEFL certification and got my first teaching job in a language institute in Manizales, Colombia. I grew to love teaching English, both abroad and ESL courses in the states, and continued doing so for the next 5 years before deciding to get my Master’s in International Education at SIT Graduate Institute. This industry is now my lifework, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves!

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Chelsea Kindred

Director of Alumni Development and Research

Chelsea Kindred

Director of Alumni Development and Research

Hometown: Houston, TX

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

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

What is your most important accomplishment at API; or, what have you done at API that you are most proud of, and why?

I studied abroad with API in Grenoble, France and when I returned home, I wanted to motivate other first-generation college students and those from underrepresented backgrounds to explore the world because I firmly believe prolonged experience in different cultural environments is integral to a global society that promotes tolerance and inclusion. For more than 10 years, my work at API has supported our returned program participants after their life-transforming experiences abroad and guided their application of international experience into their personal, academic, professional, and civic communities. I developed API’s Global Leadership Academy for returned participants and co-developed the API Learning and Engagement Digital Badge program, a co-curricular opportunity to help guide engagement and development throughout the education abroad experience in five core competency areas: career development, community engagement, intercultural learning, leadership and mindful travel. I also hold volunteer leadership roles with NAFSA, the Global Leadership League, and I have served on the advisory board for Lessons From Abroad. I wrote the chapter on Re-Entry Programming in the NAFSA: Guide to Education Abroad 4th Edition and co-authored a publication on re-entry titled “Beyond Travel: Making Meaning of My International Experience.”

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Carolyn Lutes

Associate VP, Student Health, Safety and Success

Carolyn Lutes

Associate VP, Student Health, Safety and Success

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Study abroad experience: Dijon, France

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

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?
My favorite travel destination is Paris, both for what the city offers and also for nostalgic reasons. I love that Paris is a big, cosmopolitan city that holds on to its unique culture and history. You can feel the history everywhere and picture the city’s past when you walk through the various parks and neighborhoods. I also love Paris because it reminds me of the ways studying abroad contributed to my personal development. I studied abroad nearby in Dijon, a smaller, student-friendly city where the locals were patient with us struggling to use our French when purchasing food or stamps and postcards. That was not the case with the busy Parisians and so I set a goal that by the end of my semester, I wanted to be able to spend a weekend in Paris and speak well enough that locals wouldn’t be inclined to speak with me in English. I reached my goal, so now, when I think of Paris, I remember more than my favorite spots in the city. I remember who I was at the beginning of that semester and who I became during that semester, after months of facing and overcoming challenges every day, gaining confidence and self-assurance at every step. In my career in International Education, I have enjoyed contributing to and watching other students have similar experiences through study abroad.

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Jennibeth Rodriguez

Visa and Transcript Director

Jennibeth Rodriguez

Visa and Transcript Director

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study Abroad/International Experience: Angers, France

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

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

My first International jaunt was to Europe. I was filled with pure excitement to finally visit France, the country that I had read and seen for years in textbooks, movies and even in my dreams! I recall the moment I fell in love with Paris … it was my first gaze on Le Tour Eiffel. I was left speechless. Ironically, what struck me the most about that first view was not the tower itself instead it was the hundreds of Parisians lying on the grass in front of it. Looking at them—the way they laughed leisurely, leaning back on their palms with their faces turned up toward the moon—I recalled the French phrase joie de vivre. After that moment, I fell hopelessly, helplessly, head-over-heels in love with the city. The various travel and study abroad experiences in Europe solidified my desire to work in the field of international education. I grew a passion for wanting to learn more about its languages and cultures. Collectively, they helped me develop a global perspective. I am honored to be an advocate for international education as it’s been a priceless experience I’ll never forget.

University Relations and Outreach
Jay Bartletti

Jay Bartletti

Senior Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Jay Bartletti

Senior Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Hometown: Vista, CA

Study Abroad Experience: Morelia, Mexico and Barcelona, Spain

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Latin American & Iberian Studies from UC Santa Barbara, Master’s degree in International Education from The George Washington University

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

As a kid growing up in San Diego, CA I frequented Mexico on weekends and vacations with my family. I began to understand the value of international experiences at a young age and it was solidified through studying abroad in Mexico and Spain in college.

After graduation, I worked for three years with a couple start-up “.coms” and decided that I needed a bit more international adventure. I embarked on a 500-day backpacking trip to South America where I traveled from Venezuela to Tierra del Fuego by bus. I followed my passion for international education and got my masters degree and in 2007, I began my career in this field.

I’ve worked for a variety of study abroad organizations over the past decade in a university relations capacity and believe the value a global perspective provides US college students is more important than ever. API’s staff and programs are the best in the business and I’m excited to be a part of this great organization!

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Jeff Clifton

Senior Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Jeff Clifton

Senior Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Hometown: Seneca, South Carolina

Study abroad experience: Madrid, Spain & Paris, France

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

I first studied abroad on a gap year program in Madrid, Spain as a senior in High School and the experience definitely changed my life and career path. I also studied in France for a semester during my undergraduate career and then worked for the Tour de France just after college. I was given the opportunity to enter the field just after graduate school and spent 12+ years developing a study abroad program at a land grant public university in South Carolina. Fast forward and now going into my eighth year with API; Long story short I met one of the founding mamas and was able to get to know API thru my connection with Julie Leitman. Julie was and is still one of the main reasons I am with API today. The history, the culture, the innovation, and the real sense of family at API is what keeps me inspired each and every day.

Shannon Gillen

Shannon Gillen

Institutional Relations and Outreach Coordinator

Shannon Gillen

Institutional Relations and Outreach Coordinator

Hometown: Providence, RI / Charlottesville, VA

Study abroad experience: Studied in Italy and Scotland

Education: Bachelor’s of Arts from Elon University and Master of Arts from the University of Glasgow

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

My grandparents immigrated to New York City from Italy in the early 1900s, and I loved learning about the Italian culture through their stories. I studied International Studies and Italian at Elon University, and after studying abroad in Italy for a semester, I knew I wanted to move back and have my own immersive experience.

Upon graduation from Elon, I moved back to Italy, and for two years I taught English to Italian students between the ages of three and eighty-two. I received my master’s degree in international education from the University of Glasgow, and have now been in the field for about seven years. What attracted me to API is the team’s genuine friendliness and willingness to help, and the passion that the entire API team has for cross-cultural learning. I truly believe in API’s mission and core values!

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Christie Johnson

Vice President for Institutional Relations, Outreach, and Diversity Initiatives

Christie Johnson

Vice President for Institutional 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.

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

I have been traveling since day one! I was born in Bogota, Colombia, and spent multiple years in Rangoon, Myanmar (Burma), Hong Kong, and Vienna, Austria. I attended the American International School in Vienna for elementary and middle school (which was comprised of students from well over 100 nations), and traveled throughout Europe during my time there – so you might say that travel and intercultural communication is my life story! After majoring in a foreign language in college (German), I knew that whatever career path I followed would be tied to international education in some way. As fate would have it, my first real job out of college was working for another international education provider, where I learned the ropes and fell in love with the field. After a few years, I knew I wanted to move my family back to Austin, and again the stars aligned. I had heard great things about API from others in the field and submitted an application. Soon thereafter, I was on a plane to Italy as I took on my initial role of API Italy Program Manager, and I’ve never looked back!

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Jason Kouba

Senior Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Jason Kouba

Senior Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Hometown: Onalaska, WI

Study Abroad Experience: Seville, Spain

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

Studying abroad was the single best decision I ever made, without question. I chose to study abroad as I wanted to improve my Spanish language skills, and I did, but I also learned so much more about the world, life, and my myself. I knew that I wanted to help encourage others to have that same experience, and there was no better way to make that happen than to pursue a career in the field of study abroad. Since I began my career working at various institutions, my first interactions with API were from the other side of the coin — I sent hundreds of students on API programs and was always impressed by the program offerings, the professionalism of the staff, and the commitment to the entire student experience. When the opportunity arose for me to transition into my current role with Institutional Relations, it was an easy decision to make! I get to continue to be able to help students embark on amazing journeys, and work for an organization that I truly love!

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Julie Leitman

Associate Vice President of Institutional Relations and Outreach

Julie Leitman

Associate Vice President of Institutional Relations and Outreach

Hometown: Brookline, MA

Study abroad experience: Madrid, Spain

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

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

In 1982, my anthropology professor and his family called me from Spain and asked if I could come to teach a small group of American middle schoolers in Sevilla, Spain. They said I had 24 hours to get there. I said “sure”, of course, and jumped on a plane from Berkeley to Boston, and then to Sevilla. Besides my professor and his family, I had one name in my pocket, Dr. Sharon Foerster (my mom’s friend’s daughter’s friend; later one of the founding “mamas” of API). We finally ran into each other at the U.S. Embassy at Thanksgiving. We became friends and, then, coincidentally, she and her family ended up living right across the hall from me, so we became very good friends.

I went home after that first year and a year later Sharon called me again to come back and teach English and work with Americans on their junior year programs. I, of course, said “yes.” I loved Sevilla, my friends, the food (the tapas and Las Rayas icecream), the ambiance, the orange trees, the horse-drawn carts, the 114 degree days….I was hooked. Little did I know that these connections and this magical city would eventually lead me to the other founding mothers of API. Sharon returned home to Austin, and connected with Jennifer and Brittany, in Austin, and then called me (once again) to ask me to begin API with them. The rest is history!

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Leiann Mar

Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Leiann Mar

Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Hometown: Seattle, WA

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

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

Did you participate in an API program? If so, where, and what lessons stuck with you the most?

I am an API alum of the John Cabot University program in Rome! For financial reasons I never thought studying abroad was an option during college. However, through my experience with API, I learned how to fight for what I want, and be confident in my decisions in life; personally and professionally.

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Emily Nagle

Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Emily Nagle

Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Hometown: Guilderland, New York

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

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

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

Growing up with an Italian grandmother, much of my understanding of Italy consisted of oversized pots of warm, simmering tomato sauce and Sundays spent around the dining room table with family. I had an incredible taste of the pride and passion that epitomize the Italian culture, but spending three semesters studying abroad in Italy gave me a full feast. Italy is so much more than my favorite travel destination–it is one of my favorite parts of life. Through an academic year in Florence and then a semester in Taormina, Sicily with API, Italy filled me with more than enough enchanting experiences, and of course, exquisite cuisine, to share my love for study abroad with countless students almost every single day. Thanks to Italy, I not only found a career path where I can help send others overseas but also a way of life that embraces the Italian custom of taking time to slow down and enjoy each moment.

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Hannah Olevson

Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach, Outreach and Alumni Coordinator

Hannah Olevson

Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach, Outreach and Alumni Coordinator

Hometown: Carver, MN

Studied Abroad: Seville, Spain (with API!)

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

Where in the world (that API has programs) would you like to travel, and what is it about that location that speaks to you?

If I had the chance to visit one API location it would be Bhutan. I love the idea that the Bhutanese take such pride in their natural surroundings. Did you know that Bhutan is the only zero-carbon emitting country in the world? As a plant lover and someone who tries to be environmentally conscious, I think this is absolutely amazing. Also, they seem to live a very intentional life and embrace a slower pace of life. It would be a drastic change from the United States, which is why Bhutan is at the top of my travel bucket list.

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Brittany Palmer

Institutional Relations & Outreach Coordinator

Brittany Palmer

Institutional Relations & Outreach Coordinator

Hometown: Huntley, IL

Study abroad experience: Semester at Sea, and a faculty-led semester program through Western Illinois University to Salamanca and Castellon, Spain

Education: B.A. in Recreation, Park & Tourism Administration, and Spanish from Western Illinois University; M.S. in Recreation Administration from Aurora University

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

I chose to work in the field of international education because my personal experience studying abroad was extremely transformative, it’s all I could think about! I could not imagine working for a better cause than helping send people to a new place to learn, work, and play outside their comfort zone in a new culture. The amount of growth that happens on an international experience is outstanding and will forever sculpt participants for the rest of their lives. It is so cool to be a part of that!

API attracted me with their incredibly kind and genuine people. Everyone here is dedicated to the mission and core values of what API stands for. It is an honor to work beside my colleagues here and change the world one API program at a time!

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Bridget Thompson

Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Bridget Thompson

Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Hometown: Atlanta GA

Study Abroad Experience: Salamanca and Semester at Sea

Education: Communications major at Clemson University

Where in the world (that API has programs) would you like to travel, and what is it about that location that speaks to you?

I would absolutely love to travel to Florence! I really wanted to study abroad in Italy as an undergrad, but chose Spain because the language was more applicable here in the U.S. My cousin Gillian studied with API in Florence, and she had the most wonderful time — she even took a cooking class!! Half of my family is Italian, so it would be fantastic to spend some quality time learning about the culture. I would love to take a summer course in Florence and study jewelry making and learn to cook delicious Italian food — what a dream!

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Ilene Tillman

Senior Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Ilene Tillman

Senior Regional Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Hometown: Springfield, MA

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

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

Did you participate in an API program? If so, where, and what lessons stuck with you the most?

I studied abroad with API in Granada, Spain and I learned an incredible amount throughout that year. The most important lesson that stuck with me is that everyone’s study abroad experience is different and it’s all what you make of it. It’s up to you to put yourself out there, to challenge yourself to make new friends and to live like a local. I had to learn to adapt and embrace new cultures. I loved studying and living abroad and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world! My experience with API motivated me to work in the field of international education. My position at API allows me to encourage a new generation of students to participate in the transformative experience of studying abroad.

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Julie Van Vechten-Smith

Senior Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Julie Van Vechten-Smith

Senior Director for Institutional Relations and Outreach

Hometown: Victoria, TX

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

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

Through my experience living and working abroad in Biarritz, France and Pusan, South Korea, and volunteer teaching refugees and international students in the U.S., I learned the value of international education and knew I wanted to be a part of this great field!

After completing my Master’s in Foreign Language Education and teaching English as a Second Language to college students for a number of years, I worked as a university international student and study abroad advisor and had the good fortune during this time to see API in action in Spain. I was hooked! The level of care and attention that was given to every aspect of the program was stellar and everyone I met from API was kind, caring, and went above and beyond to ensure that the students had a positive, safe, and meaningful experience abroad. I’m proud to say that I have worked at API for over 12 years and look forward to many more!

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Amy Whitish-Temple

Regional Director, Institutional Relations and Outreach

Amy Whitish-Temple

Regional Director, Institutional Relations and Outreach

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

Study abroad experience: Oaxaca, Mexico and Madrid, Spain

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

Until I was 10 years old, I lived a very small town in Wisconsin (population 408!) and didn’t meet many people from different parts of the world. The only exception to this was the fact that my grandparents had German friends who would visit them yearly. And when they didn’t visit our small town they sent the most beautiful dresses for my sister and I and delicious chocolates for both Easter and Christmas. This couple had a daughter who was a few years older than me, and whenever they visited we would play, talk, and explore the town on bikes.

The best part of this experience is that I would learn a lot about Germany (and the world) from my friend Heike during these chats. I believe that it was these experiences with Heike and her family that made me long to want to see the world, learn more about it, and help others go beyond the borders of their own towns, cities, and country. I love working for API because of the fact that we try to make programs affordable to all students, making study abroad accessible and the opportunity to see the world (beyond your own town) more possible.

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Devon Garufi

Institutional Relations and Outreach Coordinator

Devon Garufi

Institutional Relations and Outreach Coordinator

Hometown: Mansfield, MA

Study abroad experience: semester in Prague, Czech Republic and academic year in Sevilla, Spain (with API!)

Education: Bachelor's degree in Modern Languages with a concentration in Spanish from Framingham State University

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

Traveling has been my passion since day one. I grew up hearing stories from my dad's backpacking adventures and my mum's life in South Africa, and visiting family in England on a consistent basis. I made it my goal to study abroad in college- as this would be the perfect opportunity to live in another country. Although I expected I would love my experiences abroad, I couldn't have been prepared for the immense impact they each had on me. Prague taught me acceptance and how to be open. I grew so much in those short four months. And Sevilla taught me how to live! I fell in love with the liveliness of the city.

Overall- these two exceptional cities taught me how to be myself! I chose to work in international education because I wanted to help other students go on their own journey. API has been the most phenomenal place to achieve this goal. As a student, I was able to witness the compassion, sincerity and attention to detail that both the on-site and stateside API staff have towards their students. As an employee, I am grateful to work alongside such welcoming coworkers who all share the desire to help others have an immersive, international experience.

Customized Programs
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Caitlin Beasley

Customized Program Manager

Caitlin Beasley

Customized Program Manager

Hometown: Richmond, VA

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

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

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?
I studied abroad during a faculty-led program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, then moved to the city and lived there for almost 4 years after graduating. Both studying and living in Argentina was both exciting and challenging, where I was learning the language, customs, and cultural values of a country not my own and deciding what things I wanted to be part of my own beliefs and values. This experience helped to shape my understanding of the world as well as my place in it. I can’t express how important it is to go out and explore beyond your cultural boundaries so that you can learn so much more about the world, its possibilities, and your place in it!

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Tracy Cohen

Director of Customized Programs

Tracy Cohen

Director of Customized Programs

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.

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?
After ten years of teaching in an elementary school setting, I decided it was the right time to explore another career path. Making the shift took a lot of forethought and soul-searching. I realized that it would be important for me to continue having a part in shaping youth to promote a well-rounded future. As an immigrant to the U.S. (I am from South Africa), cultural awareness has always been powerful for me. I was also lucky enough to study abroad in high school and teach abroad in college, and those experiences have forever shaped me. Knowing that I’d have a part in assisting other high school and college students have successful experiences studying in other countries, and learning about other cultures, international education seemed like a great fit for this next adventure in my professional life. What solidified working at API for me, is that my supervisor is best friends with the mother of a former third-grade student of mine! Upon meeting her, there was no question that API would become my new ‘family’.

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Liz Laura George Farray

Administrative and Customized Programs Assistant

Liz Laura George Farray

Administrative and Customized Programs Assistant

Hometown: Cienfuegos, Cuba

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Havana

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

I’m from Cuba and I used to be a journalist there. A year ago my life drastically changed when I moved to the US. I left behind my family, but fortunately, I found another one, so different in many ways, but definitely so warm and supportive. I had always studied far away from my city of origin, but always in my country; and traveled to work outside Cuba for short amounts of time, but I did not notice the change until I came to the US. Most of my colleagues studied or worked abroad, many of them several years. They have an immense capacity to understand people from other cultures. That’s why we do what we do — so that students have the greatest experience abroad and are able to immerse themselves in the new culture, learn the new languages and new things about their field of study and about life. This is my highest motivation for being in the field of the international education and belonging to API… here I am not the only one who faced this change and its challenges. Indeed, going out from my comfort zone was the best experience ever!

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Hannah Jones

Customized Program Manager

Hannah Jones

Customized Program Manager

Hometown: Clinton, MS

Study Abroad Experience: Pontlevoy, France; Paris, France; Orléans, France; Berlin, Germany; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; London, England

Education: Bachelor’s degree in French Language & Literature from The University of Southern Mississippi

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

After my semester-long exchange program in Orléans, France, I traveled for 5 weeks through Portugal, Spain, and Italy. While in Italy, I decided to go off the beaten track a bit and ended up on a small island off the coast of Italy called Procida. It was the first stop on the ferry route and not a very popular tourist destination compared to the other islands. Once there, I rented a small apartment and a Vespa. I spent the next four days exploring all of the beaches...most of which I had to myself. I barely had a phone connection and there was no wifi to be found. No one on the island spoke English or French...meaning I couldn’t communicate with a single person (other than my poor attempts at charades). However, with all that being said, it is my favorite travel destination to date! We spend so much time glued to our phones or planning for the future that we miss all of the beautiful things around us in the present. During my time in Procida, I soaked up everything around me, I got out of my comfort zone, and I tried to interact with the locals with what little Italian I had. Overall, I feel like this experience taught me to stop every once and a while and be in the present.

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Courtney Link

Senior Vice President of Organizational Development

Courtney Link

Senior Vice President of Organizational Development

Hometown: Dallas/Austin, Texas

Study abroad experience: Sevilla, Spain and Salamanca, Spain

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin. Master’s in Spanish Language & Culture from the University of Salamanca.

Where in the world (that API has programs) would you like to travel, and what is it about that location that speaks to you?
My own life-transforming study abroad experience as a college student in Seville, Spain over 20 years ago is what inspired me to get into the international education industry, and continues to guide the work that I joyfully do every day! I can still remember vividly the excitement (and nervousness!) I felt the day that I met my host family. So, even though I have been privileged to visit many of our API sites around the world, I would have to say that it’s still Spain- it’s people (especially all my API colleagues), it’s language (which I put to use almost daily) and it’s rich culture — has a special place in my heart . I can’t wait to travel there with my family, hopefully someday soon!

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Rachel Mogan

Customized Program Manager

Rachel Mogan

Customized Program Manager

Hometown: Knoxville, TN, and Paducah, KY

Study abroad experience: Salamanca, Spain (with API)

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

Where in the world (that API has programs) would you like to travel, and what is it about that location that speaks to you?

Having “been there, done that” with Western Europe through my own API study abroad experience in Salamanca, Spain, I want to tackle new and radically different parts of the world than what I’ve seen so far. Dublin is cool and Paris is great, but Chile has captured my traveler’s imagination. The complex history and incredible national parks are a huge draw for me, but I’m not going to lie, the main reason I’m interested in Chile is mostly that they produce some of the best wines in the world!

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Amy Newman

Sr. Customized Program Manager

Amy Newman

Sr. Customized Program Manager

Hometown: Green Brook, NJ

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

Education: French and Int’l Affairs from Northeastern

Did you participate in an API program? If so, where, and what lessons stuck with you the most?

I am a proud API Paris Spring 2011 alumna! The speed at which I fell in love with Paris, and study abroad in general, was a direct result of the fact that my program started on Valentine’s Day. Just kidding – but really, I fell hard and fast for the beautiful City of Light. Throughout my time there, I made a ton of memories and learned more about myself than I ever imagined I would. Many of those lessons have stuck with me.

One big lesson I learned was that if I wanted to improve my spoken language skills, I had to accept that making mistakes would be an integral part of that. No matter how hard it is to fumble your way through asking for directions, there’s really no better time or place than during a semester abroad. Plus, it’s fun to return home and share a funny story with your family and friends, like the time you were looking for the library so you asked for directions to the “librarie” and wound up at a bookstore (I’ll never mix those words up again!). But I think the most important lesson I learned is that a meal of bread and cheese (preferably with a side of Eiffel Tower) is perfectly acceptable whenever, wherever.

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Meghan Ryan

Customized Program Manager

Meghan Ryan

Customized Program Manager

Hometown: Columbia, SC

Study abroad experience: Barcelona, Spain in high school, and Angers, France in graduate school

Education: BA in Art History & Psychology, Agnes Scott College; MA in Student Development, St. Edward's University; MS in Leadership & Change, St. Edward's University (anticipated)

Where in the world (that API has programs) would you like to travel, and what is it about that location that speaks to you?

This is the hardest question as I'd love to go to all of our locations. But right now, I'd love to travel to Bhutan and experience the country's philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Our program managers say that to visit Bhutan is to step into a different world, one full of happiness, tranquility, and curiosity. Part of why I love to travel is the experience of another way of life. Traveling makes us humble, offers a new perspective, and allows us to see how life can be lived in a different way than we're used to. To visit Bhutan would offer a new perspective on how to live this life filled with a sense of balance & happiness and can't we all use a dose of that?

Marketing Team
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Marc Smith

Creative Director

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.

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

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Rachel Skinner

Marketing Manager

Rachel Skinner

Marketing Manager

Hometown: Maple Grove, MN

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

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

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

My favorite travel destination is actually the place I studied abroad – Scotland! Scotland is a truly magical place filled with rich history, gorgeous architecture, and stunning landscape at every turn. Don’t even get me started on the Highlands! The Scottish people are some of the most genuinely kind people I’ve encountered on my travels. These strangers who have become friends have shown me that a kind word or gesture goes a long way and I try to remember that with every conversation and smile I give.

Lauren Gardner

Lauren Gardner

Marketing Coordinator

Lauren Gardner

Marketing Coordinator

Hometown: Kaysville, UT

International experience: Although she didn’t study abroad, she’s had the opportunity to visit Mexico, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Austria, and France! Scotland and Australia are next up on her bucket list.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations & Advertising with minors in Political Science & French from Weber State University.

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and direction?

I had the opportunity to visit the amazing little town of Oberammergau, Germany, in the summer of 2018 and it was life-changing! It’s nestled in the “German Alps” and is one of the most beautiful, peaceful places I’ve ever been to. Families there take life a lot slower than Americans, which I loved; I learned that being constantly in a hurry can be a really silly way to live! I also fell in love with German food and have been trying (unsuccessfully) to recreate the asparagus soup I had in a cozy cafe there ever since!

Finance Team
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Sophie Dinkin

Senior Financial Services Advisor

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.

Education: Sociology at CU Boulder

Where in the world (that API has programs) would you like to travel, and what is it about that location that speaks to you?

If I could travel anywhere in the world it would be Bhutan. There are the most beautiful mountain treks that would not only challenge me but also expose me to pristine natural beauty and wonderful people. Bhutan has the highest Gross National Happiness and is one of the most hospitable countries in the world!

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Shannon Czimskey

Senior Financial Services Associate

Shannon Czimskey

Senior Financial Services Associate

Hometown: Garner, NC

Study abroad experience: Oulu, Finland

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

For the fall semester of my sophomore year of college, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Oulu, Finland completely on a whim. Once I arrived, I found that everyday tasks had become new and exciting! Buying food to eat became a chance to explore the local grocery store, and group meals were an opportunity for us to share foods and customs from where we grew up. Walking home from evening events required us to stop and marvel at the Northern Lights as they rolled in green waves through the night sky. Even studying for an exam or writing a paper for a class had an added thrill, as I worked with students from other countries and cultures. That experience led me to be more adventurous with my life choices, including after college moving from North Carolina to Texas and bringing me here to work at API! Sometimes taking a chance on the unknown can lead you to wondrous places.

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Julia Lydick

Financial Services Assistant

Julia Lydick

Financial Services Assistant

Hometown: Corpus Christi, TX

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

Education: Fashion Merchandising from Texas State University

Tell us about your life in Austin
I am a native Texan, excited for a new chapter in life, (empty nesting)! If you ran into me during the week, I would probably be walking around Lady Bird Lake or hiking in the hill country around the Austin area with my husband and our golden retriever. If you visit our API Austin office, there is always free candy at my desk.

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Andrea Hayes

Senior Financial Services Associate

Andrea Hayes

Senior Financial Services Associate

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.

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

I’ve chosen to work in the field of international education because I’ve seen the impact that going abroad can have on one’s life. Traveling and studying abroad can open your eyes to so many different things around the world. I love working with API because of the dedicated and passionate staff who care about every single program participant and work to ensure the best possible experience abroad.

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Chris Ciani

Senior Director, Financial Planning and Analysis

Chris Ciani

Senior Director, Financial Planning and Analysis

Hometown: Austin, TX

Study Abroad Experience: Madrid, Spain

Education: Economics

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API? I studied abroad with API in Madrid and loved everything about it! I believe in the mission of API and want to help grow the company.

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Katherine Schroeder

Cash Application Specialist, Financial Services

Katherine Schroeder

Cash Application Specialist, Financial Services

Home Town: Mission, TX

Education: 4-year Conservatory of Theatre Arts, Webster College, St. Louis, MO

4-year program, Uta Hagen’s HB Studio, New York, NY

I have been deeply involved in theatre all my life, and my work there has repaid me in countless ways…but not with the folding green. Luckily the other side of my brain displayed an early affinity for numbers, which is how I wound up here. I just kind of dumb-lucked into API; came here as a temp and found a home, and am really, really glad to be here.

IT Team
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Sarah McNeely

Business Analyst

Sarah McNeely

Business Analyst

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.

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

Reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “Casa Guidi Windows” to my students while looking out of the windows of Casa Guidi in Florence was the moment I knew that international education was the career for me. Learning abroad transforms students (and teachers) in profound ways we carry with us for the rest of our lives. In my role at API, I get to work with faculty to provide study abroad experiences for hundreds of students every year. It is fulfilling to know I play a role in so many students’ life-changing experiences abroad.

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Fernando Dávila

Information Technology Director

Fernando Dávila

Information Technology Director

Hometown: Monterrey, Nuevo Léon, México

Education: Ingeniería en sistemas de información, Universidad Regiomontana, A.C. // & // Licenciatura en Tecnologías de Información, Universidad de Guadalajara.

Where are you from, and what do you do at API?

I came from an engineering background, but I love helping people learn about other cultures! I come from a big hometown where most people travel abroad. I thought my career pathway would lead me to work in an IT services company, but I seem to have been bitten by the academia bug! My background is more Cibersecurity, data protection and systems. I truly enjoy be part of API.

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Joey Janisheck

Vice President of Technology

Joey Janisheck

Vice President of Technology

Hometown: El Paso, TX

international Experience: Born in small town in a country that no longer exists, I'm the proud son of a military father and wonderful German mother. I never studied abroad but was lucky enough to travel throughout Germany, Japan, England, France, Canada and Mexico for my career as a software developer. I'm also lucky enough to have travelled to 48 of these beautiful United States (Maine and Alaska, I'm gonna get to you soon enough.)

What is your most important accomplishment at API; or, what have you done at API that you are most proud of, and why? API Abroad is gonna do even more amazing things over the next several years and I'm excited to be a part of such a stellar group. In technology, there are no finish lines. Just incremental releases. So, I'm always the most proud of the "next" project we are working on. Can't wait to show you. Don't rest on your laurels. Get your popcorn ready.

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Ryan Dempsey

Salesforce Administrator

Ryan Dempsey

Salesforce Administrator

Hometown: Nacogdoches, TX

Study Abroad Experience: In 2010 I was fortunate enough to attend the World Cup in South Africa to watch my brother play for the United States. I was there for slightly over a month. In addition to attending games, I got to experience an amazing country with an abundance of wildlife and culture. In Johannesburg we visited the Apartheid Museum and several communities within Soweto, including Vilakazi Street. We learned a lot about the history of South Africa and some of the resulting socio-economic issues. We saw much of the country-side and went on a Safari where we saw much of the beautiful wildlife that only exist on the African Continent. I hope to go back someday and visit Capetown.

Education: Bachelors of Business Administration, Stephen F. Austin State University

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

I believe that cultural experiences lead us to appreciate each other's differences as well as shaping our personal values. API is a leader in the space and the people here are so passionate and amazing to work with!

Administrative and Special Projects
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Jean-Marie Dina

Executive Assistant, Chief Business Office and Chief Financial Officer

Jean-Marie Dina

Executive Assistant, Chief Business Office and Chief Financial Officer

Hometown: Houston, TX

Study abroad experience: London, England; Madrid, Spain

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Houston

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

I studied abroad for a semester in London, taking architecture and English courses. My semester abroad was such a positive experience that I decided to finish up my undergraduate Spanish credits in Madrid for six weeks one summer. My most recent travels abroad involved an expat experience with my husband and two sons. We had an amazing two years in Munich and we were lucky that our return took us to Austin. It is amazing and life-changing to be able to spend time in a different country and immerse yourself in the language and culture

While in middle school my son took a faculty-led trip to Costa Rica with API. I was really impressed with the service and organization that API provided. The trip was fast-paced and the kids had a blast. A few years later I was told about an open position at API and here I am one year later loving my job here. The professionalism and attention to detail here are amazing and I love hearing about our programs. If I could pick one API program to attend it would be to Bhutan. Bhutan seems amazing and the people friendly and I have not been to Asia!

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Vija Mendelson Ph.D.

Intercultural Initiatives Specialist

Vija Mendelson Ph.D.

Intercultural Initiatives Specialist

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA & Medford, New Jersey

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

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

What is your most important accomplishment at API; or, what have you done at API that you are most proud of, and why?

As a member of the API team since 2004, I’ve had an opportunity to work in many different roles and with many different audiences at home and abroad. The project that has best woven together these threads into a cohesive program designed to benefit all our participants is API’s latest online learning initiative: the API Learning and Engagement Badge Program. Through this optional online curriculum, API participants are encouraged to prepare for their international experiences by mapping their goals and knowledge, to explore their host culture through deliberate engagement with local people and sites, and to discover connections between their host and home cultures, as well as between their API program and future professional, educational, and personal endeavors. There is something for everyone in the program, with activities designed for varied learning styles and interests — all that’s needed is your own curiosity to spark discovery along your journey! Runner-up for my most positive contribution to API? Helping to launch our college study abroad programs in Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Qatar, and the U.A.E. I love that so many students have been able to explore these locations and cultures a bit more “off-the-beaten-path”, in study abroad terms.

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Holly Prendergast

Executive Assistant to the President

Holly Prendergast

Executive Assistant to the President

Hometown: Austin, TX

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

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

Why did you choose to work in the field of international education, and what attracted you to API?

After completing my undergraduate degree abroad across 3 countries, I returned to my hometown of Austin, TX. I spent several years working in other industries but did not feel fulfilled or passionate about my work. Since I was already informally sharing my experiences and knowledge with students heading overseas on their own study abroad adventures, I decided to investigate careers in international education advising. In my research, I came across API and was impressed by the level of support their programs offered and by their active social media presence. I emailed a resume and cover letter on the off-chance that they might need someone with my experience and expertise. Several months later, I was hired as a Program Manager for sites in Spain and Italy and have taken on a variety of roles and tasks in the years since. I am proud to work for a female-led organization that shows such genuine care and support for employees and participants and which strives to make international experiences accessible to diverse populations of students.

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Stacy Lutsch

Director, Curriculum Solutions

Stacy Lutsch

Director, Curriculum Solutions

Hometown: Eugene, Oregon

Study abroad experience: Undergraduate semester study abroad at Universidad de Sevilla; an undergraduate internship abroad in Costa Rica; graduate fieldwork and research in Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Brazil; four years' as a Visiting Lecturer in the Facultad de Filología Inglesa at the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain

Education: B.A. in Spanish and Journalism from the University of Oregon; M.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of Kansas; M.S. in International Tourism Management from the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

My favorite travel experience is not actually a destination per se but rather a "way": the Camino de Santiago. Living at the end of the Camino de Santiago for four years made it impossible to avoid the much-maligned "turigrino" culture, but it wasn't until I set out on my own Camino experience (fun fact, there are multiple Caminos; not just el Francés) that I understood what all the fuss was about. The luxury of stopping for a cortado or a copa when the rain came down too hard or the sun beat down too relentlessly, the physical challenge of pushing yourself up the last hill when the blister on your heel has just popped, the strangeness of your own company, and the even stranger strangeness of meeting people from around the world who are seemingly on the exact same path as you but whose journey could not be more different. To summarize: why I travel, in a scallop-shell (the official symbol of the Camino).

Regional Program Directors
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Carmen Alvarez de Toledo

Latin America Regional Director; Buenos Aires Resident Director

Carmen Alvarez de Toledo

Latin America Regional Director; Buenos Aires Resident 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.

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Inma Borrego

Spain Regional Director; Salamanca Resident Director

Inma Borrego

Spain Regional Director; Salamanca Resident Director

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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Marie de Rocca Serra

Grenoble, France Resident Director, Regional Director

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.

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Federica Guerrieri

Italy Regional Director

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 a 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!

William Johnson

William Johnson

Senior Vice President of International Development

William Johnson

Senior Vice President of International Development

Hometown: Austin, TX

International Experience: William has lived, worked and raised his family in Italy; created and managed educational programs in Europe for 20+ years; taught and led tours in Mexico.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin; TEFL certificate; Italian language fluency certificate from University of Perugia

Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?

Sicily! Rising in the center of the Mediterranean as a result of the African and European sub-plates colliding, the island has prompted mythical figures, historical tales and controversy throughout millennia.
I first landed on the Island of Sicily in 1989 when I was studying abroad in Italy. In two weeks over the Easter break, I made lifelong friends, was invited to celebrate the holiday in their homes, and forever mesmerized by the beauty of the land, the warmth of people and lure of the sea. I can’t get enough and have been going back for 30+ years! In Sicily, it’s easy to see how one can be eternally captured by a place; it is infinite with discovery at every turn.

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Pilar Llamas

Director of European Operations

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).

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

Joan Saloun

Joan Solaún Ph.D.

Director of Caribbean and Latin American Programming

Joan Solaún Ph.D.

Director of Caribbean and Latin American Programming

Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida

Study abroad experience: Havana, Cuba; Paris, France

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

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Rachel Wellborn

UK Regional Director, Leeds Resident Director

Rachel Wellborn

UK Regional Director, Leeds Resident Director

Hometown: Leeds, England

International Experience: Rachel was born and raised in Yorkshire but caught the travel bug early on during an exchange programme to Spain at 16. She took a gap year studying and teaching English in Barcelona prior to commencing a degree in the UK with 6 months study abroad in Merida, Mexico and 6 months in Lisbon, Portugal. She also did BUNAC working in San Diego for 6 months. Then came a 6 year career as a broker in the City of London, specializing in Latin American contracts, and one year working in Santiago, Chile. Next came a move to Austin, Texas where Rachel discovered a love of promoting the benefits of study abroad and worked in the API Texas office for a period of 3 years. But the call of home beckoned and Rachel now lives in Leeds with her 3 boys and Luna the labrador, from where she runs the Leeds programme and manages the UK & Ireland programmes. Rachel combines a love of all things from Yorkshire with a love of the fabulousness, history and culture of the UK and Ireland in general, and loves to share her knowledge of all aspects of British and Irish life with the students.

Education: Rachel is a graduate of The University of Bristol with a BA Hons in Hispanic Studies. Rachel was president of the Latin-American Society throughout her degree and was introduced to US culture by living with study abroad students from the US.

Favorite Place: Mexico! Peru! And anywhere Spanish is spoken, history is rich, architecture is ancient, the people are friendly and the food is delicious...oh, and where they dance salsa!

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Renata Hade

Middle East, Asia, and South Pacific Regional Director; Brisbane/Gold Coast Resident Director

Renata Hade

Middle East, Asia, and South Pacific Regional Director; Brisbane/Gold Coast Resident Director

Renata was born and raised in Brisbane. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from 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. For over 20 years she conducted business throughout Australia and New Zealand and lived in every major city in both. She loves travel and her favorite countries (so far) are India, Morocco and Peru. Now, living back in her hometown, she enjoys sharing her passion for learning and travel, by helping American students enjoy their experience abroad in Australia.

I loved API! Everyone was so helpful. It wasn't easy the first week or two adjusting to a totally new place, but API was welcoming and provided tons of information to make the transition comfortable. I loved studying in Florence and hopefully will be back again to visit one day. It was amazing being able to travel and experience new cultures in order to gain new perspectives.

REBECCA R. UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND

“Interning abroad is an opportunity that could change your life. I say it could change your life because I strongly believe that what you get out of an international experience is what you put into it. So, if you are considering an internship abroad, be prepared to give it all you have. Not only do fewer than 1% of American college students study abroad, but even fewer of those do an internship abroad. It is an opportunity to set yourself apart from your peers and have the experience of a lifetime learning and living in a new culture."

Corby M.
Chile Patagonia Student Hiker 552773935
Thailand Chiang Mai Latern Festival Yi Peng 322530497
France Paris Student At Louvre

Are you looking to build on your international experience by pursuing a career in the field of international education? There are many great opportunities - you just need to know where to look. Consult the resources below to start on the next phase of your international journey!

Spain Barcelona Student Making Heart 544760872
Employment with API

API is always looking for talented individuals with international experience and a global worldview. Occasionally we may post open positions on this site, or on our Facebook alumni group and LinkedIn alumni group. We're also able to receive resumes at jobs@apiabroad.com at any time.

API alumni are encouraged to apply for the Global Leadership Academy (GLA). The GLA fosters the development of communication and outreach skills to help you share your experience in your community, on your campus, and in job interviews. Participants earn a certificate for their contributions, and leave the GLA with an edge in the global marketplace and a strong contribution to their résumé!

Iceland Student In Ice Cave 206973841
Middle East Camels
Croatia Dubrovnik Student Taking Photo 448913260
Ireland Dublin Spire And City 117146131 Hero