Dr. Vishakha N. Desai is Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Global Thought, and a Senior Research Scholar in Global Studies at its School of International and Public Affairs. From 2003 to 2012 Vishakha served as President and CEO of the Asia Society, a global organization dedicated to strengthening partnerships between Asia and the U.S. Under her leadership, the Asia Society expanded the scope and scale of its activities with the opening of new offices in India and Korea, a new center of U.S.-China Relations, internationally recognized education programs, and inauguration of two new architecturally distinguished facilities in Hong Kong and Houston. Vishakha serves on the boards of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Teach For All, KREA University, and Mahindra & Mahindra, a major multinational corporation based in India. She also chairs the advisory board for Asian Pacific American Center of the Smithsonian Institution. Vishakha is an AFS alumna, and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Bombay University, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan (USA), and is the recipient of five honorary degrees and numerous national and international awards.
Dr. Vishakha Desai
J. Brian Atwood
Brian Atwood is a Senior Fellow for International Studies and Public Affairs at Brown University’s Thomas Watson Institute for International Studies. Brian is the current Chair of the Population Services International board and a member of the board of the National Democratic Institute and of the Watson Institute Board of Overseers. Brian led the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) during the Administration of President William Clinton. He earlier led the Clinton-Gore transition team at the State Department, and was Under Secretary of State for Management prior to his appointment as head of USAID. He received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award. During U.S. President Carter Administration’s, Brian was Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations. He is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Brian served as Chair and Dean of Global Policy Studies and Professor of Public Policy at the Humphrey School, and the Chair of the University of Minnesota’s Deans’ Council. Brian has been President of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs and a member-elected Chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Brian is an AFS alumnus. He received a bachelor’s degreein government and history from Boston University(USA), and an honorary doctoratefrom American Universitybased in Washington D.C..
Dr. Veronica Boix Mansilla
Dr. Veronica Boix Mansilla is a Principal Investigator and Steering Committee member at Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she leads the IdGlobal Project and chairs the Future of Learning Institute. She co-developed the OECD-PISA framework on Global Competence in 2018, which is part of the PISA standardized testing administered to 15-year-olds worldwide. With a background in cognitive science, human development and education, she examines how to prepare our youth for a world of increasing complexity and interdependence. Her research focuses on three main areas: global competence as it develops among learners and teachers in various world regions; quality interdisciplinary research and education among experts, teachers and youth; and quality teaching and learning in disciplines (history, biology, the arts) as lenses through which to understand the world. Veronica serves as an advisor at a variety of institutions including the Asia Society, Association of American Colleges and Universities, Council of Chief State School Officers, the Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, the International Baccalaureate, World Savvy and Global Kids, among others. She teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has taught the University of Buenos Aires. Veronica holds a doctoral degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education (USA).
Dr. Jackie Chimhanzi
Dr. Jackie Chimhanzi is the CEO of the African Leadership Institute (AFLI), dedicated to developing new African leaders who are self-aware and committed to driving the transformation of Africa. Its flagship program is the highly competitive pan-African Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship delivered in partnership with Oxford University. Jackie, herself, is a 2010 Tutu Fellow. In 2012, Forbes Africa recognized Jackie as one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa shaping the narrative of Africa’s rising. Jackie is a seasoned strategist with academic and practical experience, serving as the former Senior Strategist of the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) and, previously, as Strategy Lead at Deloitte Consultingwhere she led project teams on diverse client engagements, interrogating and informing the strategies of major entities in the power, oil and gas, steel and brewery industries. She was also instrumental in setting up the Deloitte Africa Desk. Jackie has a PhD in Strategic Marketing from Cardiff University (UK). After completing her PhD, she lectured and published her work in various peer-reviewed journals. She is active on many boards and as a keen Africa-watcher, has authored a number of thought-leadership pieces focused on Africa.
Amalie Ferdinand is Trade Union Consultant, focusing on the field of teachers working conditions. Currently, she works for the Union of Education Denmark, with a focus on labor contracts, working conditions and collective agreements. Amalie previously worked as a consultant for the Organisations of Public Employees—Denmark and CO-industri (The Central Organisation of Industrial Employees in Denmark. Amalie is an active AFS Volunteer in Denmark and a former Board Chair of AFS Denmark. Amalie is an AFS Alumna. Amalie received her degree from Roskilde University and followed several subjects at the University of Copenhagen.
Makiko Haraga has written for various publications and published books both as an author and a translator. She is also Adjunct Lecturer in English at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Makiko has managed her family business manufacturing designer handkerchiefs. She also worked in the communication’s office at Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Ltd. AFS volunteer since 1988, including: member of AFS Japan’s Board of Councilors (1998-2000), member of AFS Japan’s Board of Directors (2012-March 2018). Makiko is an AFS alumna. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University (USA) and a Bachelor degree in Sociology from Keio University (Japan).
Isada Hiranwiwatkul is Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Head of BCG Thailand. He has extensive experience in strategy development and execution, digital transformation, people & organization design, and buy-side M&A support. He is currently on the Board of Directors of AFS Thailand. Isada is an AFS alumnus. He has an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management (USA) and a Bachelors of Engineering from Kasetsart University (Thailand).
Ivonne de Leon
Ivonne de Leon is the founding partner at Transilient, a management consulting firm focusing on n human resources and organizational culture in Latin America. Ivonne has been senior executive with more than 20 years of experience in the airline industry, most recently as Talent Vice President for Avianca Airlines.In addition to her considerable experience in human resources processes,de Leon has a =strong background in finance and strategy. Her past experience also includes working in different strategic capacities for World Bank Missions in Guatemala, Aviateca (the Airlines of TACA in Guatemala), and TACA Airlines.She is a member of the Executive Board of Avianca Holdings. Ivonne attended the UCLA Anderson School of Management (USA) and received her Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees from Universidad Francisco Marroquín (Guatemala).
Eric Lomelí is the GIS Supervisor at Bexar County (Texas) Information Technology Department, which provides digital geographical services and solutions to offices/departments and the general public. Eric’s expertise is in geographical information systems/science, demographics, historical digital data, spatial analysis, GIS training, project management, strategic planning, and intercultural learning. He has served on the AFS USA Board of Directors and is the former Chair of their Volunteer National Council. Eric is an AFS alumnus. He holds a Master of Science degree in Geographical Information Systems (Management) from the University of Redlands (USA), and a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (USA).
Najmu Mohammad is the Chief Product Officer at Capria VentureBasecamp. VentureBasecamp partners with local incubators, accelerators and fund managers to deliver world-class skills training to startup entrepreneurs. Najmu is a Member of the Board of AFS India. He is a certified National Qualified Trainer for the AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program, and a former recipient of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Program Scholarship. Najmu holds an MBA with a specialization in Innovation and Intrapreneurship from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune (India) and a Bachelor’s of Technology from the Institute of Technical Education and Research (India). Najmu has been a national finalist and/or winner in numerous national and international business plan competitions. He is also an UNLEASH 2018 fellow, a global talent initiative that brings together top talent worldwide to work on real, scalable solutions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Daniel Obst is President and CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs. Under Obst’s leadership, the 100+-year-old international education organization has developed a transformative new global strategy focused on three mission-driven impact goals: developing active global citizens, globalizing schools and other institutions and expanding access to intercultural education to young people in underserved communities. Daniel oversees the work of AFS organizations in 60 countries that deliver a portfolio of programs in 98 destinations—all supported by 55,000 volunteers and staff.
Prior to AFS, Daniel led several groundbreaking initiatives at the Institute of International Education (IIE). This included Generation Study Abroad, which mobilized 700 international partner organizations to help double the number of U.S. Americans who study in other countries. As the author and editor of many influential books and papers, such as Innovation through Education: Building the Knowledge Economy in the Middle East, Obst has helped shape the international education conversation worldwide.
Obst graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. (USA) and London School of Economics (UK). He currently serves on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, the Advisory Board of the Leading Disruptive Innovation Program at Rutgers University USA, and is the treasurer of the Board of Directors of the German University Alliance. Daniel participated in the prestigious European Union Visitors Program.
Ernesto Rey Moreno
Ernesto Rey Moreno is the Founder & CEO of Empresas REYMORENO and President & CEO PiLife – Felicidad Inteligente. Empresas REYMORENO is based in Colombia and was initially founded in 1978 as a telecommunication and IT company, The company now focuses on tourism and capital investment, with elements of corporate social responsibility and entrepreneurial projects for sustainable development in Colombia. PiLife is a mentoring and life coaching consulting firm. Ernesto has served as the Chair of the AFS Colombia Board. This is Ernesto’s second time serving on the AFS Board of Trustee. Ernesto received Master’s Degrees from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and Telecommunications Executive Management Institute of Canada (TEMIC) and an undergraduate degree from Universidad de los Andes.
Dr. Willibald Plesser
Willibald Plesser is an attorney at law and a partner in Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s global transactions group. He also is a Freshfields country partner for the CEE/CIS region and for Turkey. Willibald focuses on global transactions, esp. mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the financial institutions, energy and media sectors, and on related arbitrations. His core skills lie in negotiating transactions, structuring complex matters, and resolving disputes, and he is often involved in the negotiations of joint ventures. He is well known for his expertise in Eastern Europe as well as in the CIS region and Turkey. For a number of years in a row, Willibald has been ranked as the no. 1 CEE lawyer in Austria by a leading Austrian magazine. Willibald is an AFS Alumnus, he and his wife have hosted AFS students and sent their own 3 boys on AFS programs. He is a committed AFS volunteer and currently a member of the Advisory Council of AFS Austria. He holds Master’s Degrees in Law and Philosophy and a Doctoral Law Degree from the University of Vienna, and is a Member of the Austrian and International Bar Associations
Dr. Roberto Ruffino
Roberto Ruffino is the Secretary General of Fondazione Intercultura. His work focuses on the pedagogy of international pupil exchanges . He has encouraged research in this field by cooperating with UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the European Commission. Roberto founded and served as the Chairman of the European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL), served on the European Board of SIETAR and presided at SIETAR Italy. SIETAR International Congress in Washington awarded him the Senior Interculturalist Award. Roberto is an AFS Alumnus. Roberto holds a doctoral degree in philosophy from the University of Turin (Italy) and an honorary doctorate in education science awarded by the University of Padua for being “an entrepreneurial leader in the field of intercultural education, that he has contributed to introduce into Italian schools.”
Ulrich Voss is the Founder and Managing Partner of Kronberg Advisors, a management consultant firm. Ulrich has been working at the interface of banking, technology and operations for 20 years. As Chief Operating Officer of HSH Nordbank AG , a board member of Avaloq Evolution AG a financial technology company and a seasoned management consultant at McKinsey & Company Inc., Ulrich has extensive experience and an impressive track record in the design and implementation of complex projects. He is a committed AFS volunteer and a member of the Advisory Council of AFS Germany. Ulrich is Treasurer for “Freunde und Förderer der Bischof-Neumann-Schule”, a German charitable association in the field of education. Ulrich is an AFS Alumnus. He has a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University (USA) and a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from Darmstadt Technical University (Germany).
Alex Zlocowski is an Executive Account Director at Teradata, a leader in empowering companies with analytics and big data. Alexis is an experienced enterprise IT professional, holding management positions at AT&T and NCR before joining Teradata. A longtime AFS volunteer, he also served as the Chair of AFS Argentina & Uruguay National Board for two terms, and was a member of the Ashoka-Youth Venture Working Group. Alexis is an AFS Alumnus. Alexis received his graduate degree from the Universidad Austral, Buenos Aires, and a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (Argentina).