Meet the Study Abroad Staff of AFS-USA and AFSNext!


Guiding people through the many options available through AFS for studying, volunteering, interning, teaching, and traveling abroad is our passion. Our staff reflects this passion through their experience, knowledge, and dedication to making sure every AFS applicant finds the program that best suits their goals and interests.

We invite you to get to know all of our team members working to make your AFS experience your own. If at any time you're unsure about which person to contact, just call or email us:

Study Abroad Specialists

Your AFS Study Abroad Specialist is your personal guide to planning your AFS experience. With a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience in living and studying abroad, they're focused on finding the program and placement that's right for you, answering all of your questions along the way. Your Study Abroad Specialist will be with you from the time you first contact AFS until it's time to depart for your host country!


Justin
Justin DeAndrade

Sr. Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist
646-751-2084

I work closely with our Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialists and the Director of Customer Experience to assist in the operation of our outbound programs and to ensure a seamless customer experience. As a former AFSer, I benefited first-hand from the transformative experience of an AFS program. My semester abroad with AFS in Honduras sparked my passion for travel and intercultural learning. This led me to study International Relations at Brown University during which I spent a semester in Barcelona, Spain. I have been able to travel extensively throughout Latin America and Europe and hope to continue adding new destinations to my list. I am excited to be part of the AFS-USA team and to help others embark on these life-changing adventures!

Johanna
Johanna Jordan

Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist
646-751-2086

I work with some of our West Coast applicants as they navigate the application process. My international experience started at a young age. Since then I have been lucky enough to live in Ireland, to spend a few summers in India, and to sail on Semester At Sea in high school and in college. Before joining AFS I worked with the Girl Scouts on Long Island and served with AmeriCorps at a psychiatric facility for youth in Georgia. Here at AFS, I hope to use these experiences to combine my love of travel with my passion for youth development. I am excited to help our students as they prepare themselves for the trip of a lifetime!

Argina
Argina Girsang

Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist
646-751-2233

My name is Argina Girsang and I am a Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist for applicants throughout the Central part of the United States. I graduated from St. Lawrence University, a small liberal arts school where I majored in Government and minored in Arabic, I studied abroad for one semester in London and another in Amman, Jordan through an AFS partner organization called AMIDEAST. While being in London was very fun, and to be honest comparable to New York City, I believe that being in Jordan changed my life. It was the first time that I ever felt truly out of my comfort zone, going into a country that I did not understand the language, barely knew the alphabet and cultural norms were very different from what I am used to. In my spare time, I hang out with my dog Pistachio, a mini Australian Shepherd mix and am on a never ending quest to find the best tzatziki sauce in NYC!

Kristin
Katrina Gorres

Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist
646-751-2076

I assist applicants and parents through the application process, whether it is selecting a country or walking through the steps of the application online. Outside of AFS, I enjoy dancing and cooking and sometimes both at the same time. I always try to laugh at some point in the day especially during times that are stressful and even upsetting. When the world seems it’s at its darkest hour, both figuratively and literally, creating room to escape and indulge in laughter makes it a little bit easier to work through the knots of the day. I’ve studied abroad in Europe in a semester program with St. John’s University that allowed me to spend about 6 weeks in Paris, Rome, and Seville each. While it wasn’t enough time to fully immerse myself in the culture like our students, I definitely learned my lesson on how to relearn aspects on what I thought I already knew. I hope that the knowledge I’ve gained from my experience will promote the importance of having a malleable perspective and absorbing attitude throughout a semester or year abroad.

Jeffrei
Jeffrei Morel

Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist
646-751-1990

My name is Jeffrei Morel and I am a Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist for applicants in the east coast region of the US. My international experience started when I was about 12 years old and I spent 6 months with my parents doing volunteer work in the Dominican Republic/Haiti teaching basic English to younger kids living in poor villages. This experience truly changed my life because I suddenly grew a desire to make a difference in other people’s lives while continuing to leave footprints around the world. While obtaining my undergrad in New York City, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Paris, France which allowed me to travel all over Europe and the North of Africa. After spending a few weeks in Morocco; I decided to utilize all the skills I had previously gained and work for AMIDEAST a U.S non-profit organization that helps strengthen the relationship between the United States and the Middle East and North Africa region. Since then, I’ve been at AFS-USA helping applicants prepare for an opportunity of a lifetime with hopes that they themselves begin to leave footprints around the world.”

Emily
Emily Haas

Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist
646-751-2096

My name is Emily and I am the Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist for applicants in the Pacific Northwest! From a young age, I’ve been passionate about travel and experiencing different places. In college, I spent my entire Junior Year aboard. The first half of the year I lived in England and traveled throughout Western Europe, and the second half of the year I lived in Cameroon in Sub-Saharan Africa. Both of these experiences further enhanced my passion for international exchange and awareness of different cultures. So much so, that after college I moved to Thailand to teach English for two years! I was lucky to have the opportunity to travel across Southeast Asia and parts of India. Most recently, I spent last summer working in Cape Town, South Africa as a part of the fulfillment of my Master’s Degree in International Affairs. I am thrilled to be part of the AFS-USA team and I’m excited to help students have the same life-changing experiences I’ve had.

Hartley
Hartley Cavallaro

Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist
646-751-2065

I work with applicants and parents by guiding them through the AFS and AFSNext application processes. I graduated from Pace University in Manhattan where I majored in Political Science and minored in Middle Eastern History and Islamic Studies. I studied abroad in Hungary for one semester during my Junior year of college and was fortunate enough to travel throughout much of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East during that time. I have always had a passion for traveling and cause-driven work, which is what led me to AFS. Not only am I helping young people travel, I am sending them journeys that will have a lasting positive impact on their lives. Outside of AFS, I am a huge foodie and keep a list of cafés, bars, and restaurants that I am working my way through. I also love playing tourist in New York City!

Arista
Arista Ely

Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist
646-751-2081

I support applicants throughout New England and the Northeast region of the US. Before I became a Study Abroad/AFSNext Specialist, I worked as an AFS volunteer in my home state of Rhode Island where I discovered the vast network of dedicated volunteers that AFS has cultivated over the years- not just in my community but all over the world! In college, I majored in International Relations and Anthropology. I have always been fascinated by the concept of ‘culture’ and all that is encompassed within a society. During my Junior year, I studied abroad in Italy and traveled throughout Western Europe. While pursuing my Masters in International Development from the University of Denver, I studied abroad in Bosnia-Herzegovina and traveled throughout Eastern Europe. Trying to communicate with someone in a foreign language is something I think everyone should experience in their lifetime. It can be frustrating and embarrassing at times but it forces you to be present and connect with another person on a basic human level. I’m proud to be part of the AFS team because each study abroad program offers a truly unique and immersive cultural experience.


Study Abroad Associates

Study Abroad Associates join our team during the months of February-August, helping Study Abroad Specialists, during our busiest (and most exciting time of the year) to provide exceptional service and outreach to all AFS applicants.


Jon
TBD


AFS Scholarships & Diversity Initiatives Team

Our AFS Scholarships Team helps AFS applicants and their parents navigate the financial commitments of the AFS experience. Each year, the team helps applicants fulfill their AFS dream by awarding scholarships and advising on ways to raise the funds needed to finance their AFS programs. In addition to scholarships, AFS-USA's Faces of America (FoA) Scholarship program provides high-achieving students from low-income families a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study abroad. By partnering with community-based organizations and schools in underrepresented communities, FoA has awarded scholarships to more than 2,120 outstanding teenagers and introduced them to a world of possibilities.


TBD
Jon Meyer
Scholarships Advisor
646-751-2093

At AFS, I assist students with scholarship questions and work with scholarship candidates. I graduated from New York University with a master's in European Studies, with a focus on German culture and cultural policy, and a bachelor's in European Studies and Political Science. During my time at NYU, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Germany. In Berlin, I had the opportunity to do archival research on the punk movement in East Berlin. Since then, I've traveled throughout Europe experiencing all the unique cultures and peoples the continent has to offer. I'm excited to work with our AFS students and help others explore the world and its various cultures!

TBD
Kaitlin Green
Study Abroad Specialist, Faces of America
646-751-2088

Open Position - TBD

TBD
TBD
Senior Scholarships Advisor

Open Position - TBD

Shameeka
Shameeka Leacock

Manager, Scholarships & Diversity Initiatives
646-751-2218

I was born and raised in New York City before attending undergraduate school at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. While at UMass, I became involved in various cultural and student groups such as the Black Student Union. After graduation, I returned to NYC where I joined AFS-USA's Travel and Logistics Department followed by a position as the Program Specialist for Diversity Initiatives. I currently serve as the Scholarships and Diversity Initiatives Manager, where I support scholarships and various diversity initiatives at AFS. I enjoy partnering with community-based organizations and schools to promote AFS programs. On a personal note, I love traveling with friends and playing tennis.


Visas, Documents, and Data Management

Tracking host families, communications, travel information, and securing permissions from consulates to travel abroad can involve a lot of documents and data! AFS staff are here to help you stay organized, every step of the way.


Danny
Danny Pneuman

Visa Specialist
646-751-2064

I work with AFS' global staff and consulates to ensure that all AFS applicants are able to acquire their visas, residence permits, and other types of travel documents prior to their departure. Whenever you have visa, passport and citizenship questions, please feel welcome to reach out to me! In my two years working with AFS, I have also become involved in the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group and LGBT Exchange, where I partner with other AFS staff and volunteers to foster equity and inclusion across our organization. Before working with AFS, I organized study abroad trips for college students to Ghana and Venezuela and led an antiwar and social justice organization in Milwaukee. Outside of work, I volunteer with social justice organizations and you can often find me marching and protesting around New York City.

Erjona
Erjona Koni

Administrative Coordinator
646-751-2110

I have enjoyed working at AFS for the past three years and being part of this big diverse family. Before my current position, I worked in the Marketing Department of AFS, helping promote our programs. Now, I track host family information, direct communications, and work on data management. At a very early age, I started studying foreign languages and realized how much I loved traveling to new places and learning about different cultures. This inspired me to intern at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy here in NYC. I have traveled through all of Europe, the Caribbean, and Brazil, and I speak five languages. Airports are my favorite, that’s where new journeys and experiences begin!


AFSNext

AFSNext offers programs for high school graduates from age 18 and up. Adults of all ages can join global volunteer projects, teach abroad, or pursue university courses while experiencing a new culture. You can learn more about the programs here.


Niki
Niki DePalo

Sr. AFSNext Specialist
646-751-2128

I have been working at AFS since March 2016, and I am part of the Program Innovation Team. I help coordinate Global Prep programs, and I am the AFSNext Study Abroad Specialist. Like everyone at AFS, I love traveling. I worked in Spain for four years, so my home away from home is in Madrid. I visited five continents by the time I was 24 years old, and I’m always looking to travel to new places! In my free time, I try to keep my plants alive at the office.

Camilla
Camilla Paquette

Manager of Program Innovation - Outbound
646-751-2127

My work at AFS has been the perfect culmination of the years I've spent working abroad, traveling, and gaining experience in the nonprofit sector. My love affair with becoming a global citizen began, like most people at AFS, when I studied abroad in high school. Little did I know that those weeks I spent in Spain as a teenager would transform into another study abroad experience in Thailand for college, then a teaching position in Thailand, a year-long volunteer role in Chile, a job as a cook at a villa in Italy, and thousands of travel memories in 30+ other countries. Now, six years later, I continue to have the pleasure of fostering a love of intercultural experiences in others through my role as Manager of Program Innovation. When I'm not working to discover new opportunities for teenagers and adults, I'm at home hanging out with my newborn son, or planning my little family's next adventure!

Jenny
Jenny Davis

Manager of Program Innovation - Inbound
646-381-3327

I work primarily with summer programs that take place in the USA – such as the new Global Prep USA program in San Diego, where students from the United States and around the world gather for a very unique international experience. I’ve been involved with AFS for many years, as a host mom, a parent to an AFSer, an AFS volunteer, and as a staff member. I was born in Tokyo, Japan; have an Indonesian daughter-in-law, and many AFS ‘sons and daughters’ around the world.


Department Oversight

Our department aims to provide the best customer service possible through the coordination efforts of a team of managers and directors. By setting and monitoring the department's quality standards and team priorities, our senior management (below) works with the goal of making the AFS application experience seamless, easy, and fun! If you have comments, questions, or concerns regarding any aspect of our service, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Caitlin
Caitlin Schneider

Director of Customer Experiencer
646-751-2126

I work with all of the Study Abroad Specialists and with our AFS international partners around the world to facilitate the implementation of our intercultural exchange programs. My passion for international travel began in high school and continued through my higher education and professional experiences. I’ve been to many countries around the world, including China, Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, and I lived in Tanzania for a semester in graduate school. I believe that living abroad is the best way to truly immerse yourself in a particular culture and really learn about a country, including the communication styles, values, customs, and languages. The experiences I’ve had have been some of the most valuable of my life, and I am very pleased to be heading a department that works hard every day to offer young people the opportunity to learn and grow through intercultural exchange!

Melvin
Melvin Harmon

Sr. Director, Customer Experience & Program Innovation
646-751-2129

When I was 17, I left my small town in North Carolina to spend a year in Malaysia through AFS. Little did I know that my AFS year would be the most pivotal and impactful experience I would ever have. It shaped who I am today and continues to influence my world view and my ability to be a contributing global citizen. My entire adult life and career have been dedicated to helping provide similar life-changing programs to young people throughout the world, and this endeavor has taken me to more than 50 nations in all corners of the globe. Today, at AFS-USA, I'm proud to lead an exceptionally dedicated and knowledgeable team of professionals, all focused on the goal of creating the next generation of skilled, empowered, and globally-minded citizens. In my spare time, I look after a colony of twelve New York City feral cats and help with community efforts to curb the feral and abandoned cat population. In addition to having been an AFS student myself, I've also been an AFS volunteer and a host parent (eight times)!