Barb Olson Headshot

Barbara Olson
Board Chair

Returnee, U.S. to Turkey, 1976-1977

The AFS effect for Barbara (Barb) Olson began in high school, when she was a host sister to an AFS student from Thailand. She then went on the year-long program to Turkey, and she enjoys staying connected with her fellow returnees. She volunteered for the Minneapolis AFS chapter while in graduate school and joined the AFS-USA board in 2020.

Olson served for nearly 25 years as a communications director for K-12 public school districts in suburban Minneapolis. In that role, she led media relations, provided communications counsel to the superintendent and other administrators, led the district’s crisis communications response, forecast issues that could affect the system’s relationships with internal and external audiences, and aligned public relations activities with organizational priorities. Prior to her move to K-12 education, she worked and volunteered for the Minnesota International Center (now Global Minnesota).

Olson holds a bachelor’s degree in French and international studies from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in speech-communication from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She and her husband have two adult sons.