LEARNING LIFE PEOPLE
This page introduces you to our staff, Board of Directors, and Board of Advisors. You can also click on the following links to learn about our international family diplomats, and current or recent interns:
Interested in interning with Learning Life? Click here for details.
Interested in becoming an international Family Diplomat? Click here for details.
Paul Lachelier, Ph.D., Founder & Director
Paul Lachelier is a sociologist and social entrepreneur passionate about making the world a better place through civic innovation. Born and raised in France until age 11, he moved with his family to the United States in 1983. His experience as a French-American dual national made him more curious about the world around him, and especially about societies and their cultures. This curiosity spurred Paul to study sociology, and to learn and write about American culture and politics first as an undergraduate at Georgetown University, then as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned his Master’s and Ph.D. Paul taught sociology, political science and social theory for over a decade at a variety of higher education institutions, including the University of Wisconsin, Tufts, Harvard, and Stetson. In 2012, Paul left academia to found Learning Life with the mission to inform and empower more people by spreading learning in everyday life beyond school walls. His published writings have appeared in academic journals, online media as well as newspapers including the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the Orlando Sentinel. You can learn more about Paul and read some of his writings on democracy, diplomacy and education on our News & Blog page, at his personal website and his academia.edu page.
Patrick Cole is Director of Investor Relations at Unite America. Patrick has more than a decade of experience in fundraising, nonprofit management, and policy analysis. He has worked for small and large-scale entities, including think tanks, advocacy organizations, and Colorado state government. He has a bachelors degree in international studies from the University of Denver and a certificate in nonprofit management and leadership from the University of Maryland. He has lived in the DMV since 2014.
Miguel Trindade Deramo has been an activist, a scholar, an analyst, and a diplomat. He started his federal career with the Department of State, serving as a Foreign Service Officer in São Paulo, Brazil and then as an intelligence analyst with the Department of Homeland Security. He had previously worked on mobilization projects in the Brazilian-American community in Massachusetts, founded a youth-oriented political action committee, and managed a local political campaign. He holds a B.A. in international affairs and political science from Northeastern University and an M.A. in Islamic studies from McGill University. Miguel has called Washington, D.C. home since 2017.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Interested in joining Learning Life’s Board of Directors? Click here for details.
Joe Toles, Chair
Joseph Toles is a New York State-licensed Mental Health Counselor, founder of The Joseph Toles Foundation, entrepreneur, and father of eight adopted young men. He received his MS in Sports Psychology from Brooklyn College, and he specializes in the comprehensive assessment of adolescent needs. A former Division One All-American Track and Field Athlete at Auburn University, Joseph also earned the honor of leading the Tigers team as Captain. Having grown up in the New York State foster care system, Joseph has dedicated his entire professional career to working in community-based schools and nonprofit service agencies. In 2005, Joseph formed The Joseph Toles Foundation so he could expand his work of supporting families beyond what could be done via a social service agency. At age 49, Joseph opened his home to adolescents who had also grown up in the foster care system. To date, he has adopted eight sons, his most recent son, Trenton, in winter 2022. Joe believes that a loving family is the best way to help a child who has been placed in the foster care system. In 2016, Joseph retired from his full-time responsibilities as a counselor in the public school system to evolve. He has since assisted professionals seeking a license as a Mental Health Counselor by teaching graduate courses at Alfred University, hosted a series of video shows for The Dad, created multi-media videos, which he distributes via social media, and authored his first book, The Spirit of Christmas. Joseph spends most of his time working towards educating and encouraging people to learn more about the plight of children who are living their lives in the foster care system. He uses his own story to demonstrate the power positive connections can have on a child, and how family is the most powerful elixir.
Nusrat Sultana, Treasurer
Nusrat Sultana is an experienced financial professional with 17+ years of proven success in business, government and nonprofit accounting. As Director of Financial Reporting at George Mason University, Nusrat oversees the Financial Reporting Office responsible for all internal and external reporting requirements of the University. She manages a team of seven, presents financial information and audit status to the Board of Visitors, and provides financial information and accounting recommendations for university wide strategic initiatives. Prior to joining Mason, she was the Senior Manager of Budgeting and Forecasting at Internet Society, a nonprofit with a mission to make the internet accessible to everyone. At Internet Society, Nusrat oversaw all aspects of budgeting and forecasting as well as preparing the quarterly financial reporting package for the Board. Prior to that she was the Accounting Manager at another nonprofit organization, ASIS International Inc., where she was responsible for all aspects of accounting and finance. Nusrat has also worked at large public companies such as CAE Inc. and American International Group Inc. and was an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Masters in Accounting from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. She is licensed to practice as a Certified Public Accountant in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is currently pursuing an MBA degree at George Mason University. Nusrat was born in Bangladesh, spent her childhood days in Africa, her adolescent years and early adulthood in Canada, before settling down in the USA. Nusrat loves to travel, has visited 16+ countries and speaks five languages: English, French, Bengali, Hindi, and Urdu. Nusrat currently lives in Herndon, Virginia with her husband and her two young children. In her spare time, Nusrat likes working on DIY projects and spending quality time with her family and friends.
Suzanne Lachelier, Secretary
Suzanne Lachelier has 30+ years of legal experience working in all three branches of government, with specialization in criminal justice and national security. She began her career as legal counsel to a subcommittee of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. She then served as a federal public defender, legal trainer, appellate attorney, and U.S. Navy Judge Advocate, developing expertise in criminal and military justice practice, including complex cases involving terrorism, RICO, wire fraud, drug conspiracies and immigration offenses. In her service with the U.S. Navy Reserves and as a French-American dual-national fluent in French, Suzanne has facilitated military justice diplomatic missions from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mali to Washington, DC, and led rule-of-law trainings for military lawyers and soldiers in the DRC and Chad. Since 2008, Suzanne has served as Supervisory Defense Counsel on Guantanamo Bay capital cases, developing deep knowledge of the complexities of death penalty work as well as the U.S. national security apparatus around terrorism investigations. As a volunteer, Suzanne has served as a consultant for the American Bar Association’s International Legal Resource Center-U.N. Development Program, a guest lecturer at the Boston University and Thomas Jefferson Schools of Law, a Moot Court Judge at the George Washington University Law School, keynote speaker to the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a Learning Life mentor helping to open the world to girls from lower-income families.
BOARD OF ADVISORS
Interested in joining Learning Life’s Board of Advisors? Click here for details.
Begüm Burak is an independent political scientists whose research, teaching and writing focus on democracy, media, human rights, online freedoms and cyberspace, Turkish politics, and critical discourse analysis. Dr. Burak served as a Turkey country expert for V-Dem Institute, a Sweden-based democracy research organization, and currently serves as a board member for The Journal of Applied Learning and Teaching, and the Social Sciences Advancement Dialogue Network. Her publications include the book, The Image of the Undesired Citizens in Turkey (2022), based on her 2015 Ph.D. dissertation, and numerous articles in peer-reviewed academic journals plus news and opinion outlets including History Studies, Cyberpolitik Journal, e-Journal of Media & Society, European Journal of Economic and Political Studies, Modern Diplomacy, and Foreign Policy News. Dr. Burak earned her Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations from Fatih University, her M.A. in Public Administration from Istanbul University, and her B.A., in Political Science and International Relations from Marmara University, all in Istanbul, Turkey, where she is based.
Janine Branch, a Senior Program Officer and Onboarding Champion for the Global Connections Department at FHI 360, is a certified and compassionate servant-leader with over fourteen years of international exchange program management and talent management experience. Currently, Janine manages a portfolio of three-week public diplomacy and educational exchanges for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs International Visitor Leadership Program. Janine began her career at the World Trade Center Institute in Baltimore, rising through the ranks from intern to her final appointment as the Director of Professional Exchanges and Talent Development. At WTCI, she created, developed, and executed complex small and large-scale in-person professional exchange programs and events, such as the Global Pathways for Students and the Maryland Global Gala. In January 2021, the Global Ties U.S. network recognized her work ethic and drive to empower others with the Decade of Impact Award. And in March 2022, Janine received the Global Ties Network Innovation Award as a member of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Working Group, which focuses on ensuring that international exchange programs are inclusive of individuals and resources that represent the diversity of U.S. communities. Janine earned a B.S. in Business Administration and International Business at Towson University and an M.S. in Global Affairs and Human Security from the University of Baltimore. She also has a certificate in Servant Leadership from Cornell University and a certificate from the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy. Janine is also a dedicated wife, mother, fibromyalgia warrior, and small business owner (www.ElemnoPins.com).
Bert Brandenburg is a senior advisor at Ward Circle Strategies, where he advises nonprofit organizations. He currently chairs the Board of Directors of the National Institute on Money in Politics. Bert previously served on the boards of the Lois Roth Endowment, which supports cross-cultural exchange and cultural diplomacy, and the National Peace Foundation, which supported conflict resolution programs around the world. Prior to his current job Bert was President of Appleseed, a nonprofit network of 17 public justice interest centers in the United States and Mexico working to break down barriers to equal opportunity. For more than a dozen years he was Executive Director of Justice at Stake, a national, nonpartisan partnership to keep courts fair, impartial and independent. Bert was the U.S. Justice Department’s Director of Public Affairs and Chief Spokesperson under U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, where he supervised media strategy and press relations for the Justice Department, the FBI, DEA, INS, and 93 U.S. Attorney’s offices. He served in policy and communications positions for the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, the National Performance Review, the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and presidential transition team, Congressman Edward Feighan, and the Progressive Policy Institute. Bert holds a J.D. and a B.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.
Dandan Chen is an instructor and Ph.D. student in educational psychology (with a focus on large-scale assessment and survey) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. With a master’s degree in international education policy from the George Washington University, Dandan has had two years of work experience with international organizations, including UNESCO, the Education Commission and the World Bank Group, three years of research experience in academia, and stints across multiple sectors, including media, nonprofit management, and social entrepreneurship. She has worked in China, Uganda and United States. She envisions learning/education as a powerful means to a societal change and an end by itself for humanity.
Amy Fisher Bruey is the managing director and lead trainer of Equilibrium Coaching & Consulting. She works with people and organizations around the world to foster their sense of purpose and effectively leverage their leadership strengths to help them be their best. Before this role, she worked for almost two decades at the intersection of education, international development, and activism at universities, nonprofits, and in government, including IREX, World Learning, The George Washington University and the U.S. State Department. She is passionate about organizational management and helping people connect with themselves and lead their teams to holistic success. In addition to being a certified professional coach, she has a master’s degree in International Education from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and International Studies from John Carroll University. She lives in Washington, DC where she is also a yoga teacher and mother of two small humans.
Daria Housman is Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at Global Citizens Initiative (GCI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the next generation of ethical leaders. With over twenty years’ experience in global education, Daria spent much of her career at the Institute of International Education (IIE) where she designed and implemented international programs in partnership with a diverse range of clients including universities, corporations, foundations and nonprofit organizations. As IIE’s Global Head of Outreach and Selection, she led a global team of 60 people responsible for outreach strategy development, student recruitment, and application and selection (admissions) operations for competitive undergraduate and graduate higher education opportunities and scholarships/ fellowships abroad. Since 2018, Daria has focused on global higher education consulting, advising leading universities on outreach and recruitment strategy, developing strategic plans to increase study abroad participation, conducting market analysis and devising branch campus strategy for universities seeking to expand. Additionally, she serves as an annual admissions reviewer for prestigious scholarship programs and volunteers on various advisory boards/committees. Daria holds a Master’s Degree in International Education and Cross-Cultural Training from New York University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Boston University, and is a certified Global Mobility Specialist (GMS). She has traveled to more than 50 countries across 6 continents, fueling her passion for learning about and experiencing different cultures.
Loren Hurst is a strategic communications professional with over 25 years experience in public diplomacy, government relations, and digital communications. He specializes in the strategic use of virtual technologies to engage stakeholders, research target audiences, and build reputation management solutions. Currently, he builds interactive virtual program strategies in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Global Public Affairs. As an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, he teaches strategic communications for professionals in the intelligence community. Mr. Hurst has extensive overseas experience as a student and professional in France, Romania, and Belgium. In Brussels, he led the public affairs office of a sustainable energy trade association and coordinated public diplomacy awareness activities for all U.S. embassies in Europe. In Washington, DC, he created the U.S. State Department’s first global audio production and podcasting program, built social media strategies for U.S. Defense Department environmental programs, and created an interactive online project focused on interactive learning for the green economy. Mr. Hurst holds degrees from the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, and California State University, Fullerton. Originally from California, he is an avid fly-fisherman, kayaker, and paddle boarder. He resides in Washington, DC with his wife and son.
Darrell D. Irwin is a sociologist and criminologist, and Assistant Professor in Residence at the University of Connecticut and former Dean of the School of Sociology at Central China Normal University. For over 25 years he has been actively involved in internationalizing higher education, and is the 2009 recipient of the Faculty Global Citizen Award at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Dr. Irwin played a major role in working towards internationalization of Central China Normal University, a leader in higher education in China. He has given invited lectures throughout China, including at Beijing University and Jiao Tong University-Shanghai. Dr. Irwin has a great appreciation of cultural diversity, an entrepreneurial drive, and a positive attitude. His own research portfolio explores comparative sociology, criminology, and economics. Dr. Irwin is the author of numerous scholarly articles, and the book, Case Studies of the Use of Drug Testing in Large Corporations.
Joyce P. Kaufman is Director of the IWA Women, Peace and Security Program and Professor Emerita of Political Science at Whittier College. Dr. Kaufman’s teaching has been primarily in the areas of international relations and American foreign policy. Her research interests follow two main paths: the use of simulation, especially computer-assisted simulation, for teaching and learning, and international security, broadly defined. Kaufman’s more recent research looks at the impact of the war on women and women’s response to conflict. Her books include: Introduction to International Relations, 2nd edition (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018); A Concise History of United States Foreign Policy, 4th edition (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017); Women and Post-Conflict Transformation: Lessons of the Past, Implications for the Future, edited by Kaufman and Williams (Routledge, 2017); Women at War, Women Building Peace: Challenging Gender Norms (Kumarian Press, 2013); Women and War: Gender Identity and Activism in Times of Conflict (Kumarian Press, 2010); and Women, the State and War: A Comparative Perspective on Citizenship and Nationalism (Lexington Books, 2007), and NATO and the Former Yugoslavia: Crisis, Conflict and the Atlantic Alliance (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002). At Whittier College, Kaufman created and directed the “International Negotiation Project (INP),” a community assisted simulation of international negotiation and foreign policy decision making for high school students, and the “International Negotiation Modules Project (INMP),” a similar simulation for community colleges. Kaufman has served as Project Director for grants from the United States Institute of Peace, the National Science Foundation, the US Education Department Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, and the Parsons Foundation, all in support of the INP and the INMP. Kaufman received her Ph.D. in 1978 from the University of Maryland in International Relations and Comparative Politics, and her BA and MA in Political Science from New York University.
Cindy Mah works with leaders to build organizational alignment with a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and sustainability. Prior to co-founding Generation Bloom, a specialized consulting practice, Cindy was at the Institute of International Education (IIE), a leading global nonprofit organization, where she developed some of IIE’s signature private sector programs and oversaw large program functions. She led organizational change efforts to align operational functions and processes to support business strategy. Her expertise is in private-sector engagements, having worked with Fortune 100 companies, international agencies; universities and other partners; launching and scaling global scholarship and award competitions; and implementing experiential learning programs for post-secondary students and mid-career professionals. Her notable works include assembling global teams to implement outreach and selection activities for groundbreaking initiatives such as New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus, a four-year liberal arts and sciences college with engineering, and the Schwarzman Scholars Program, a one-year master’s degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing founded by Steven A. Schwarzman, CEO of The Blackstone Group. In her current work, Cindy is committed to helping organizations create people-centered, joyful workplaces that foster high levels of employee engagement, performance, and continuous learning. She has developed and delivered employee training programs that strengthen communication and collaboration skills. Cindy holds a BA in East Asian Languages and Area Studies from Rutgers University and is pursuing graduate studies in leadership and organizational development. Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Cindy is currently based in New Jersey.
Curtis Raynold is an expert in global affairs and the Principal Consultant at Curtis Raynold Consulting, LLC. Before retiring from the United Nations in 2016, Mr. Raynold served as Secretary to the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. During his service at the UN from 1985 to 2016, Mr. Raynold first worked at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, Austria. While there, he participated in peacekeeping field mission assignments for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in Namibia, South Africa, Liberia, the Central African Republic and Kosovo. He moved to New York in 2004 to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs where he focused on weapons of mass-destruction, in particular, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. His leadership roles in Disarmament included serving as Secretary to the UN Panel of Governmental Experts on Missiles from 2005 to 2008, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Nuclear Weapons Free Zones and Mongolia in 2013, and Secretary to the Nuclear Disarmament Working Group of the United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) from 2005 to 2012. Prior to his UN career, Mr. Raynold worked for the Government of Saint Lucia in the Ministry of Finance and later the Saint Lucia Diplomatic Service as a desk officer for economic affairs and international trade. Mr. Raynold holds a MA in Government from Harvard University, a Post-Graduate Diploma in International Relations and a BA in Economics and Law from The University of the West Indies.
Emily Samose is the founder and principal of ECS Consulting, LLC. Emily established her consulting practice after more than 20 years of experience leading education programs and partnerships in support of children, youth and families. She is skilled in developing cross-sector partnerships, designing and conducting research, creating content, facilitating networks and managing projects that cultivate a community’s education ecosystem. Recent clients have included the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Higher Achievement, the Institute for Educational Leadership and Parents for Public Schools, among several others. Emily was previously the director of education and learning initiatives for the Urban Libraries Council, a membership association of North America’s leading public library systems. In this role, she conceptualized and led national initiatives to advance public libraries as essential education institutions. Prior to joining ULC, she spent seven years with the Corporation for National and Community Service (now called AmeriCorps) and over ten years at the intersection of national service and education in California, developing and executing service-learning programs for universities and afterschool programs. Emily holds a Master’s degree in education from San Francisco State University and is a graduate of the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Education Policy Fellowship Program.
Scott Warren is a Fellow at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and a Youth Civic Engagement Specialist at USAID. He is currently organizing a global network of youth activists and scholars focused on promoting democracy, called Democracy Moves, working cities to promote civic participation and democratic engagement, and helping Johns Hopkins University in exploring its own role as a beacon of civic engagement and democracy. Warren is the founder of the national civics education organization Generation Citizen, where he currently serves on the Board of Directors. He served as the organization’s CEO for more than 11 years, helping grow Generation Citizen to become one of the preeminent civics education organizations in the country, promoting action civics across diverse geographies through best-in-class programming and concrete policy change. Warren has also served as a Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Brown University and Tufts University, and published a book in 2019, Generation Citizen: The Power of Youth in Politics. Warren was named an Echoing Green Fellow in 2010, and a Draper Richards Kaplan Fellow in 2012.
James H. Williams, Ed.D., is the UNESCO Chair in International Education for Development at The George Washington University. Dr. Williams received his doctorate from Harvard University in international educational planning, administration, and policy. He has done extensive educational development work in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia; worked with USAID in the Africa Bureau; taught in Japan for a number of years, and served as Director of GW’s International Education Program. He currently directs GW’s PhD Program in Education. He teaches classes in education and development. His research interests include education and conflict; education for marginalized and conflict-affected populations; school textbooks and national identity; incorporating social and emotional learning into textbooks in low and middle income and conflict affected settings; and the internationalization of higher education in East and Southeast Asia.
Ben Yavitz is the Founder of B. Yavitz Consulting LLC. As an education and design consultant, he collaborates with companies to bring their visual concepts and messages to life. He serves clients across industries, including finance, technology, agriculture, education, real estate, and healthcare. His success in this area is a culmination of his background as a public school educator and administrator as well as a corporate trainer and project manager in the private sector. He holds a Master’s in Education from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ben’s mantra is “always strive to live the art of possibility!”, and his unique career journey and approach to life speaks to this concept. While Ben resides in Chicago, Illinois, as a world traveler, he looks forward to new adventures!
Golnar Abedin, Ph.D., is a visionary founder and accomplished leader in the field of education. She completed her doctoral studies in Organizational Leadership and Education Policy at the University of Maryland, her Masters degree in Special Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Rutgers University. Dr. Abedin founded Creative Minds International Public Charter School in Washington D.C. in 2012, and was the Head of School until July 2019. As founder/executive director, she was responsible for the design of the School’s innovative, international, projects and arts-based program, with the goal of implementing a student-centered and inclusive pedagogical approach to address the needs of students with a wide range of learning profiles. She is currently a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, and an inclusive education consultant who supports schools, teachers and parents, providing training to implement innovative approaches, including Universal Design for Learning (UDL), to maximize student engagement in learning.
Joe Brinker is a proven operational leader, policy-maker, strategic thinker, communicator and advisor on foreign policy, democracy and governance, development, elections assistance and management, NGO and association management, and post-conflict stabilization. As the Executive Director of Cincinnatus Development Consulting in Brussels, Belgium, Joe leverages decades of experience working in and/or with the United Nations, European Union, US Agency for International Development, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, International Organization for Migration, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the World Bank, providing senior-level advisory services on international development, foreign policy, and security to a global portfolio of clients. Joe is a seasoned leader of internationally diverse teams in varied and often high-profile, intense transitional and post-conflict environments across four continents in support of operations with as many as 10,000+ staff. For instance, Joe played a pivotal role in the relaunch of USAID’s democracy and governance programming in post-revolution Tunisia, including the design, procurement and management of over $75 million in elections, civil society, decentralization and local governance initiatives. He specializes in strategic planning, research, assessments, business development, program design, evaluations, and representation of client interests. He is an expert in international elections management including global best practices, electoral systems, operations and logistics, domestic and international observation, voter education and outreach, elections security, and voter registration. Joe has presented to a variety of audiences including the White House, US Congressional committees, US presidential campaigns, international foreign policy think thanks, universities, press clubs and advocacy institutions.
Ștefan Cibian is Executive Director of the Făgăraș Research Institute, and an Africa Program Academy Associate with Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs). Stefan also teaches international development courses at Babeș-Bolyai University. Previously, Stefan worked with the Association for Community Relations, the European Commission, the EU Delegation to Senegal, and the Central European University (CEU). In his teaching and research, Stefan focuses on development and statehood in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central & Eastern Europe, and the European Union, as well as Africa relations, development policy, international relations theory, peacebuilding, democratization, civil society, migration, and human rights. Stefan is the President of FOND, the Romanian NGDO Platform and GRASP, the Global Romanian Society of Young Professionals and the Treasurer of CONCORD – the European NGO Confederation for Humanitarian Aid and Development. He serves on the Board of the following organizations: Țara Făgărașului Community Foundation; the Romanian Federation of Community Foundations; the Romanian Association for International Cooperation and Development; and UiPath Foundation. Stefan graduated with a B.A. in political science from Babeș-Bolyai University, and an M.A. in public policy and Ph.D. in political science and international relations from CEU. He has also studied or conducted research at UCLA, the University of Ljubljana, and Salzburg University.
Matt Clausen works for the Inter-American Foundation (IAF), a nimble and transformative U.S. government agency that invests in community-led development across Latin America and the Caribbean. He is responsible for leading efforts to identify, develop, implement and manage partnerships to bring greater technical and financial resources to bear to achieve IAF’s grassroots development goals. Prior, in addition to numerous strategic advisory roles, Matt was President of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), fighting for human rights in Latin America and at the U.S. border. Previously, he spent fifteen years in the senior leadership of Partners of the Americas, a non-profit organization that brings together people, governments, and local organizations to address challenges in the hemisphere, including building resilient civil societies and by promoting citizen engagement and transparency. Matt was part of the Brookings Initiative on International Volunteering and Service, working with global and cross-border volunteering advocates to form the Building Bridges Coalition (BBC), and then to serve as its chair. He also led President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. Matt currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE).
Maia Comeau is the Founder and CEO of Comeau & Company, an international government and public affairs consulting firm based in Washington, DC that advised countries, companies, foundations and nonprofit organizations on how best to develop a policy presence and network of influencers around the globe. She is also the Co-Founder of the The Keepers of the Commons, a nonprofit organization disrupting the traditional leadership development paradigm by supporting leaderful communities as opposed to individual superstars. Prior to starting her own firm, she served for twelve years at the German Marshall Fund of the United States where she founded both the Congressional Affairs Department in 2004, and the Richard G. Lugar Institute for Diplomacy & Congress in 2013. She began her career in DC at Bergner, Bockorny, Castagnetti, Hawkins & Brain. She is a graduate of the 2016 class of Presidential Leadership Scholars, led by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. She has been awarded fellowships with the Bucerius Young Leader Summer School on Global Governance, American Council on Germany, and the Draeger Foundation. Maia is a Senior Fellow with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and The Lugar Center. She also serves on the Boards of iMMAP, The National Civic League, Prosecutor Impact, The PA30Day Fund, and the Interactivity Foundation. Maia is a former professional ballet dancer, a graduate of Penn State University, and the current owner of a historic farm in central Pennsylvania.
Patrick McDermott is a Salesforce Business Analyst for School Specialty which provides educational ecosystems so students can flourish. Prior to joining School Specialty, he was the Digital Operations Manager for Common Threads, a national nonprofit that provides children and families cooking and nutrition education to encourage healthy habits that contribute to wellness. He started with Common Threads as a DC Chef Instructor back in 2013 and loved being able to teach kids how to cook and eat healthfully all across the District! He loves technology and the power it offers people across the country to do their good work better and faster than they ever have before. He has previously worked in the nonprofit sector for Americans for Informed Democracy as their Global Peace and Security Fellow, and has held numerous positions in the food and beverage industries since 2008. In his spare time, he occasionally freelances and consults on projects ranging from website design to enhancing productivity through technology. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Moravian University and lives in Annapolis, MD with his wife and daughter.
Sherry Lee Mueller is Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the American University’s School of International Service (SIS), where she teaches courses in cultural diplomacy. She is also President Emeritus of Global Ties U.S. (formerly NCIV), and served as President from 1996 to 2011. Before NCIV, Dr. Mueller worked for the Institute of International Education (IIE) for eighteen years, first as a program officer and then as Director of Professional Exchange Programs. Prior to joining IIE, Dr. Mueller served as an Experiment in International Living Leader to the former Soviet Union, a Liaison Officer for the U.S. Department of State, and a lecturer at the University of Rhode Island. She is also an active volunteer. After serving for 3 years as the President of the Public Diplomacy Council, she served as the Co-President of the newly merged organization, the Public Diplomacy Council of America. Dr. Mueller has also served on the boards of other nonprofit organizations including World Learning, PYXERA Global, Friendship Force International, Business for Diplomatic Action, the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy, and the International Student House in Washington D.C. Among other awards, Dr. Mueller received IIE’s Centennial Medal in 2019, the American University SIS Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017, One To World’s Fulbright Award for Citizen Diplomacy in 2011, and the U.S. Information Agency’s Award for Outstanding Service in 1996. She has served as a speaker for the U.S. Department of State in Saudi Arabia and Japan, giving lectures and conducting workshops on leadership development for nonprofit organizations. Selected publications include “The Impact and Practice of Citizen Diplomacy” (2012) in Public Diplomacy Magazine, and “Professional Exchanges, Citizen Diplomacy, and Credibility” (2008) in America’s Dialogue with the World, and her 2008 book, Working World: Careers in International Education, Exchange, and Development, coauthored with Mark Overmann, the second edition of which was published in 2014. Dr. Mueller earned her Master of Arts in Law & Diplomacy, and Ph.D. from the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Andreas Sami Prauhart works as a power and transformation catalyst with clients around the world, with a particular focus on Presidential and Ministerial Offices as well as multilateral organizations in the Middle East. He is the co-founding manager of Y-Motions International, a boutique consulting firm founded in 2008, and provides coaching and consulting services for managers engaged in internationalizing their companies. He is a lecturer and executive coach in creative confidence, entrepreneurship, organizational sociology, group dynamics, negotiation, and building social capital. He currently teaches at the International School of Management in Bangkok and is a regular guest lecturer at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy, the Ban Ki Moon Center for Global Citizenship, and the United Nations University training practicing diplomats in cross-boundary leadership, multilateral negotiation, and cross-cultural management. He has taught the flagship course ‘Cosmopolitan Leadership for a Complex World’ at the Austrian School of Management, Ecole Centrale in Paris, and the Preparing Global Leaders Academy of Georgetown University. Andreas Sami is invited regularly as a speaker to international conferences on government and educational reform to leadership education and conflict transformation. He hosts a monthly webinar series called Insight/Out focusing on relevant global topics for a diverse international audience. Andreas holds a Master in Public Administration and Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, a LLM from the University of Graz, Austria, and a Master in the Practice of Management from Lancaster University.
Bill Schneider is Professor Emeritus at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. He was the Cable News Network’s (CNN) senior political analyst from 1990 to 2009, and a member of the CNN team that won an Emmy for its 2006 election coverage and a Peabody for its 2008 coverage. Schneider is the author of Standoff: How America Became Ungovernable, published by Simon & Schuster in May 2018, and co-author, with Seymour Martin Lipset, of The Confidence Gap: Business, Labor and Government in the Public Mind. He has covered every U.S. presidential and midterm election since 1976 for The Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic Monthly, CNN and Al Jazeera English, and has written extensively on politics and public opinion for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Politico, Reuters, National Journal, the Huffington Post and NBC News “Think.” Schneider has been labeled “the nation’s electionmeister” by The Washington Times and “the Aristotle of American politics” by The Boston Globe. He has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, Boston College and Brandeis University. Schneider received his B.A. from Brandeis University and his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.
John Schorr devoted his career to teaching and research as a professor of sociology first at the City University of New York, then for forty years at Stetson University in Florida, where he taught courses in community sociology and developing societies. During his career, he also served as a Fulbright Fellow and a Kellogg International Fellow, and conducted research in Germany at the Paedagogische Hochschule Freiburg and Universitaet Kiel, and in Austria at the University of Innsbruck. For many years he was very active in community service projects in Latin America through Partners of the Americas (POA), including as Vice-President of the POA International Board. He retired to Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2014. That same year, he became a charter member of the first English-speaking Rotary Club in Northern Thailand, The Chiang Mai International Rotary Club (CMIRC), the focus of which is community service, especially in child safety, health, and education. John has since served as the CMIRC’s treasurer, president, membership chair, and fundraising chair, and developed and chaired its Children’s Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Program and School Vision Screening Program. In addition to his CMIRC work, John serves on the Rotary District 3360 Youth Exchange Committee. John received a BA from Hartwick College, MA from the New School for Social Research, and Ph.D. from Brown University, all in sociology. He speaks English, German, Spanish and Thai.