AFS-USA, the largest partner in a worldwide network of non-profit, volunteer-based international education organizations, announces five new board members elected at its annual Board meeting on June 26th. According to Tara Hofmann, President and CEO for AFS-USA, “Our international organization, especially our students, families, educators, and volunteers, is poised for the future having come out of the challenges with COVID-19 and we are fortunate to have a roster of impressive professionals to assist us in implementing our strategic imperatives including five new Directors.”
Joining the AFS-USA Board of Directors are: John Bacon, AFS Alumnus from the U.S. to Belgium and the Deputy Chief Development Officer for Planned Giving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; Clara Berger, AFS Alumna from the U.S. to Ghana who is a Scientist and Economic Analyst at Eastern Research Group; Regina Peszat, Educational Program Consultant for World Languages at the Kansas State Department of Education; Peter Robinson, AFS Alumnus from the U.S. to Austria and the President and CEO of the United States Council for International Business; and Alan Williams, AFS Alumnus from South Africa to the U.S. who served as Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Executive Director for NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
The newly-elected Chair of the Board of Directors is Sarah Yancey, AFS-USA Volunteer for more than forty years and former Teacher and Assistant Principal at Parkway South High School in St. Louis, and Vice-Chair Wendy Kuran, Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Engagement at Duke Kunshan University and Duke in China. Collectively, the Board will work with the organizational leadership on its strategic imperatives that focus in the areas of: engaging and supporting the organization’s volunteers based throughout the U.S.; digitally transforming programs and operations; furthering the organization’s focus on inclusivity, diversity, equality, and accessibility and advancing resources for educators for use in the classroom.
Here are thoughts on the AFS Experience from our new members:
John Bacon (U.S. to Belgium, 1980-81)
AFS showed me that one can take chances and change direction when this is needed. My personal, professional, and volunteer lives have benefitted greatly from this perspective, and I gained a second family in the bargain!
Regina Peszat (Volunteer)
Being a member of the AFS club in high school was a transformative experience. As our club sponsor said, it was a club where students learned about each other and about themselves just by being themselves. There was no pressure to be faster, smarter, more talented than other students.
Alan Williams (South Africa to the U.S. 1978-79)
My AFS experience had a profound, transformative impact on me. I began to see the world in a whole new way. In big and small ways, the experience creates thinking, caring, and compassionate people deeply committed to fairness and a better world.
Peter Robinson (U.S. to Austria 1972-73)
A key lesson learned during my AFS year was the need to see yourself and your country through someone else’s eyes and to appreciate that perspective in leading one’s life—something I have benefited from personally and professionally. Mutual understanding is critical to countering divisiveness and to fostering peaceful co-existence; there is thus a continuing need for AFS.
Clara Berger (U.S. to Ghana 2013)
My AFS experience granted me open-mindedness and resilience. These stemmed from the lesson that independence can mean approaching familiar problems in new and sometimes scary ways. These qualities, as well as the strong friendships made during my time abroad, have carried through the years that followed my return.