AFS Intercultural Programs has elected Amalie Ferdinand (Denmark) as new Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Makiko Haraga (Japan) as the Vice-Chair. They will bring in their extensive experience and skills to advance AFS’s mission to build a more just and peaceful world by developing active global citizens, globalizing schools and institutions, and expanding access to intercultural education. 

“The world needs youth who are global citizens to enter the conversation. Young people must be educated with competencies to listen, understand and disagree in a constructive manner, and have the courage and knowledge to create change in their societies. One of the many strengths of AFS is that we are a large and diverse network that can make this impact on people worldwide,” shared Amalie as she outlined her vision for AFS in the years to come.

AFS International Board of Trustees
Amalie Ferdinand and Makiko Haraga (top row) elected as new Chair and Vice-Chair of the AFS International Board of Trustees. Tolga Dorken, Yasmin Ahmad Merican and Gustavo Sénéchal (second row) also join the Board.

Amalie brings in her strong skills bridging differences and designing solutions that work across cultures and different interests, stemming from her work as a Trade Union Consultant at the Union of Education Denmark. She has a deep understanding of educational issues and how changes in the labor market impact youth. She is an AFS exchange program alumna (to Guatemala) and has been active in AFS for more than twenty years in different roles, from serving as the Board Chair of AFS Denmark to facilitating AFS volunteer training and participating in local AFS activities. “I believe that my many different experiences in AFS, from the grassroots to the strategic level, are important now in ensuring AFS programs continue with quality, without losing sight of the long-term impact we want to achieve,” Amalie added.

Like Amalie, the new Vice-Chair, Makiko Haraga who works as an Independent Writer, Translator, and Adjunct Lecturer at Tokyo Institute of Technology, has been involved with AFS as a Board member and in other capacities for many years. 

AFS is also delighted to add several new members to the Board of Trustees, including Tolga Dorken, founding partner of ID Turkiye AS in Turkey; Yasmin Ahmad Merican, a Marketing Strategist, Brand Builder & Business Transformation Practitioner from Malaysia; and Gustavo Sénéchal, a diplomat and Head of the United Nations Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil. Meet all AFS Board of Trustees members here.

AFS thanks our former Board Chair Dr. Vishakha Desai for her incredible service to our organization. In her farewell message, Vishakha stated: “I am delighted that Amalie Ferdinand will assume the leadership of the organization and will be ably supported by Makiko Haraga and a very committed Board of Trustees. With the able leadership of Daniel Obst at the helm, I step down as the Chair with the comfort that the organization is in good hands. My professional work trajectory was directly inspired by the year I spent in the USA as an AFS exchange student. The last eight years I have spent on the Board, and the last five as the Chair, have been equally transformative for me personally.” 

We also thank outgoing Trustees Eric Lomeli and Isada Hiranwiwatkul for their dedication and commitment during their three-year service on the AFS International Board of Trustees.