President and Chief Executive Officer

Daniel Obst

Daniel is President & CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs. Under Daniel’s leadership, the 100+-year-old 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. Before joining AFS in 2016, Daniel served as Deputy Vice President for International Partnerships at the Institute of International Education (IIE), and Producer and Director of Product Development at the tech start-up iAgora.com. Daniel has a B.A. in International Relations from the George Washington University (USA) and holds a Master’s degree in European Studies from the 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, and the Advisory Council of Diversity Abroad.


Chief Financial and Operational Officer

Rita Jarecsni

Rita Jarecsni is the Chief Financial and Operational Officer at AFS. She oversees the finances of AFS International, as well as develops financial policy and direction for the AFS Network. She monitors the network organizations’ finances with the prior goal of maintaining financial stability in the Network and providing support to the organizations. In the area of operations she manages the HR of AFS International and oversees the team responsible for implementing the digital strategy of AFS.

Rita previously served as Executive Director of AFS Hungary between 2012 and 2018. During her tenure, AFS Hungary achieved impressive growth, doubling the number of study abroad program participants in a 5-year period. Prior to joining AFS, Rita worked for different financial institutions, including at OTP, the largest publicly-traded financial group in Hungary, and as Executive Director of AXA Mandatory and Voluntary Pension Fund, a French multinational financial group, with nearly USD 700 million assets under management. There, she was responsible for management of the fund’s overall operations, including overseeing the financial management of both the private and the voluntary pension fund business lines and all back-office activities.

Rita received her graduate degree in Economics in Hungary and in International Management from International Business School West Brabant (Bread, the Netherlands).


Associate General Counsel, Corporate Secretary & Data Protection Officer

Maria Grazia Brizi, Esq.

Ms. Brizi has been working at the legal department of AFS Intercultural Programs in New York since 2011.

In her current position as Associate General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Data Protection Officer, Ms. Brizi is responsible for providing legal and corporate advice for the AFS corporation headquarter in New York and for supporting the international operations of the AFS Network.

Ms. Brizi holds a dual Law Degree from Italy and from Spain, a Masters Degree in International Relations from the Barcelona Institute of International Studies, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) Degree from Brooklyn Law School. She is licensed to practice law in Spain and New York State. She is a Certified Information Privacy Professional/Europe (CIPP/E), a certification issued by the International Association of Privacy Professional (IAPP).

Prior to joining AFS, Ms. Brizi provided research and communications services at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office in Managua, Nicaragua, where she conducted extensive human rights and human development research and worked with other UN agencies, local civil society organizations and governmental agencies to develop policy recommendations. She also completed research and volunteering work in Ireland, Argentina, and Brazil. Currently she volunteers for a number of nonprofit organizations, mainly focused on offering legal services to migrants    

Hal Denton

General Counsel & Chief Risk Management Officer

Hal Denton, Esq.

Hal Denton is the General Counsel and Chief Risk Management Officer at AFS responsible for legal work of the international division of AFS and overseeing risk management team and policies for AFS organizations in 60 countries. This includes developing policies, procedures and standards for global operations, oversight of worldwide litigation and claims against AFS and monitoring outside counsel around the world. Hal brings a wealth of experience to AFS, having  worked for several U.S. based law firms advising not-for-profits, software companies and international businesses on corporate law, asset protection, risk management, risk mitigation, international business transactions, acquisitions, software licensing, and intellectual property. Recently, Hal has co-authored a book on risk management, No Complaints, No Lawsuits with Fiona Lally. Hal received his Juris Doctorate degree from the Hastings College of the Law (USA) and his Bachelor’s of Art degree from Syracuse University. He is a member of the New York, Louisiana and California State Bars.

Melissa Liles

Chief Global Engagement Officer

Melissa Liles

Melissa Liles has spent two decades leading efforts to help people and organizations improve how they communicate and connect across differences. As head of global partnerships and thought leadership for AFS Intercultural Programs worldwide, Ms Liles works closely with education authorities, practitioners and academic experts in over 60 countries. Accomplishments include establishing a state-of-the-art global training initiative, The Intercultural Link Learning Program, for 50.000 adult learners worldwide; serving as the first National Director for AFS India; and leading digital marketing campaigns for Global 500 brand clients. Her undergraduate and graduate work is in international relations and communications.

Sheryl Tucker

Chief External Affairs Officer

Sheryl Tucker

Sheryl Hilliard Tucker is the Chief External Affairs Officer at AFS. Sheryl heads a team of experienced communications, branding, customer experience and market intelligence professionals who support and lead AFS’s global visibility initiatives.

Sheryl is an experienced media and marketing executive, with significant  nonprofit board experience developing innovative solutions for organizations in transition. Sheryl has been chief editor of three national U.S. business publications, and was on the senior executive team that managed Time Warner’s  portfolio of more than 100 magazines and digital brands worldwide. As an award-winning journalist and diversity advocate, Sheryl’s work and research helped redefine diversity and inclusion policies in Fortune 500 corporations.

Sheryl is a Trustee Emerita of Cornell University (USA), where she received her undergraduate degree. She received her Master’s Degree from Columbia University (USA), and attended New York University’s Heyman School of Philanthropy (USA).

Bert Vercamer

Chief Program Innovation and Educational Products Officer of AFS, and CEO of Sentio

Bert Vercamer

Bert Vercamer is Chief Program Innovation and Educational Products Officer of AFS Intercultural Programs and CEO of Sentio, the Global Education Network, a subsidiary of AFS. Sentio provides international and global competence programs for young adults. Bert’s team oversees AFS’s  international, virtual and domestic exchanges and intercultural learning journeys in the AFS Network covering 98 destinations, ensuring AFS programs remain vital and relevant for teens and adults around the globe. A trained interculturalist, Bert led the development process for the highly respected Global Competence Certificate that supports university students before, during and after their study abroad experience.

Bert has worked in more than 40 countries implementing a range of organizational development strategies, training methodologies and curricula, especially in the areas of international education, global competency and intercultural conflict and relations. He also has developed global competence programs for international companies and NGOs such as BP, Merck, Pfizer, and Vluchtelingenwerk, a Belgian asylum seeker’s support organization.

Bert received his education at the University of Ghent (Belgium) – where he won a prize from the Belgian government department for development cooperation for his thesis on child labour, University of the Pacific (USA), the School of Management and Law in Zurich (Switzerland), University of South Africa, and the Intercultural Institute in Portland (USA). Bert is also a qualified/certified administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI),  Intercultural Awareness Profile (IAP), the Global Competencies Inventory (GCI) and the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES).


Chief Organization Development and Strategy Officer

Lucas Welter

Lucas Welter is the Chief Organization Development and Strategy Officer for AFS. His team is responsible for engaging 60 AFS Organizations worldwide around AFS strategic global priorities and impact goals. His team also oversees our global human capital development initiatives, providing AFS leadership, staff, volunteers and board members worldwide with the knowledge and skills required to lead a global mission-driven organization.  

Lucas’s nonprofit management experience spans more than 20 years, helping organizations tackle complex challenges in search of innovation. He is a dynamic presenter known for facilitating creative interactive training and planning workshops. Lucas uses design thinking and change management methodologies to build more effective organization development programs and redesign business processes focused on customer needs and greater user satisfaction. He has extensive experience in volunteer management and development, with a track record of helping build the AFS volunteer ranks to 55,000 worldwide.

Motivating and increasing retention rates of volunteers was the subject of his Master’s Degree dissertation. Lucas  majored in Business Administration from Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) in Brazil and holds a Master in Organizational Psychology from The London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Certificate in Social Impact Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to AFS, Lucas was a management consultant with Deloitte.