The 2021 EducationUSA Forum is open to:
NOTE: Remarks by participants during the 2021 EducationUSA Forum are off the record and not intended for attribution. Should members of the press wish to issue a formal inquiry or interview request, please contact ECA-Press@state.gov
The 2021 EducationUSA Forum will be held virtually and registration is free. The EducationUSA Forum is open to accredited U.S. postsecondary institutions and U.S. higher education community stakeholders seeking to recruit, enroll, and support international students. Forum participants will gain practical skills and explore strategies for utilizing EducationUSA resources and services to engage international students and ensure their success on campus. Concurrent sessions will provide insights into regional mobility trends and recruitment tips, outline models of good practice in campus internationalization, and provide opportunities to exchange knowledge with EducationUSA staff from around the world, U.S. higher education representatives, and government officials. To learn more about the EducationUSA network, visit EducationUSA.state.gov.
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Gain insights from innovative keynote, panel discussions and breakout sessions
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Enjoy fun activities with a chance to win exciting prizes
Core topics include Modernized Infrastructure; Cloud Security; Operations and Management. Cloud experts specializing in networks, cloud security, data protection, monitoring and innovation will show you how to modernize your cloud infrastructure and ensure your clouds perform optimally in a secure environment.
Note: This schedule is tentative and subject to change. Updates will be made to this site regularly. All times are in EDT
Bio coming soon
Alexis Alexander is the Program Officer for EducationUSA covering Sub-Saharan Africa. Alexis joined the Foreign Service in 2012 after completing her Master’s Degree in International Affairs at American University. She has served in Mexico, Israel, and Afghanistan, managing a wide array of foreign policy portfolios. Alexis is passionate about facilitating international education, and cementing the educational and cultural bonds between the United States and the rest of the world.
Brooke Spelman, Branch Chief, EducationUSA, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC. Brooke Spelman serves as EducationUSA Branch Chief for the U.S. Department of State’s Educational and Cultural Affairs. She has been a Foreign Service Officer since 2005, having served in India, China, Washington, DC, and most recently as Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Osaka, Japan. Before joining the Foreign Service, she worked for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, Switzerland, involved in conflict mediation. Ms. Spelman earned a B.A. from the College of William and Mary, a DES from Université de Genève, and was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Kanazawa, Japan. She spent much of her childhood in Asia, and speaks Chinese, Japanese, and French.
Coleen Gatehouse is a program officer in the Office of Global Educational Programs at the U.S. Department of State, where she manages EducationUSA international student advising activities throughout East Asia and the Pacific. Coleen has worked on international education and exchange for more than 20 years, with the State Department, the U.S. Peace Corps, the American Council on Education, U.S. diplomatic missions overseas, and private exchange organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in international affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Erica Burman is the Program Officer responsible for strategic communication for the U.S. Department of State's EducationUSA program, the worldwide network of over 400 international student advising centers in more than 170 countries. Prior to joining the State Department, Erica was the Director of Communications for the National Peace Corps Association, the alumni association for former Volunteers and taught basic media to graduate students in the International media program at American University's School of Communication. Erica served in the Peace Corps in The Gambia from 1987-1989. She holds a MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; and a BA in international relations from George Washington University. As an undergraduate she studied at Ludwig Maximilian Universität in Munich, Germany.
Jarred Butto is Senior Advisor to the global EducationUSA network in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State. His portfolio includes direction of outreach and strategic communications to interagency, foreign government, and higher education sector stakeholders, and he advises on department-wide policies impacting international student mobility and global engagement across academia and the research enterprise. Prior to his current role, Jarred served as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Office of Public Diplomacy in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, where his portfolio included managing large-scale public diplomacy grants, serving as liaison to the department's Global Engagement Center, and assessing/countering foreign influence in civil society sectors at home and abroad. Previously, Jarred served as EducationUSA Program Officer for the East Asia/Pacific region and as Acting Branch Chief for the EducationUSA network (2015-2016). He has also held temporary detail positions as Public Diplomacy Desk Officer for China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mongolia and as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Prior to joining the State Department, Jarred was Senior Program Specialist in the Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement at the American Council on Education. He holds a BA in East Asian Studies and Anthropology from Bucknell University and an MA in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.
Jennifer Brown is a Program Officer in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). She supports EducationUSA’s international student advising activities across the Western Hemisphere region. She has been overseeing academic exchange programs at ECA since May 2012. Before joining the Department of State, Jennifer managed AmeriCorps programs at the Corporation for National and Community Service and was a Desk Officer in the Africa Region of Peace Corps headquarters. Jennifer has also worked at several non-profit organizations including AFS and a non-profit organization supporting refugees and has served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, AmeriCorps VISTA member, and a fourth grade teacher. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lewis and Clark College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Pomona College.
Bio coming soon
Matt Washburn is a Program Officer for EducationUSA at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. He is responsible for managing a network of educational advising programs in 46 countries and territories in Europe and Eurasia. Matt also manages a cooperative agreement with American Councils for International Education. Prior to joining the State Department in 2009, Matt worked for Peace Corps in Washington, Ulaanbaatar, and Bishkek and he lived in Central Europe for four years. Matt holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Richmond and an M.A. in History from Central European University in Budapest.
Rebecca Pisano is a Program Officer for EducationUSA with a focus on domestic outreach and engagement. Prior to joining the State Department, she worked in international program administration at several universities in the U.S. and abroad. Rebecca has also held volunteer positions in Ecuador, Paraguay, and Poland. She regularly presents at international education conferences and has published on the topic of international service-learning. She holds a B.A. from Miami University (Ohio), a M.A. from George Washington University, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Robin Lathrop is a Program Officer with a focus on higher education engagement for EducationUSA at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Robin connects with the U.S. higher education community to build collaboration with the EducationUSA network, strengthen international student mobility, and promote resources to strengthen internationalization. Before joining EducationUSA, Robin spent the previous 10 years managing a variety of U.S. government and privately funded international exchange, research, and training programs in Eurasia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She has presented at both domestic and international conferences to promote international education. Robin holds B.A. in English literature from Wesleyan University and an M.A. in Russian Studies from American University.
Bio coming soon
Ana Villavicencio is the Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for South America –Andean Region (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela). She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies and International Relations and two Masters in political science and public administration from U.S. institutions. Ana lived 12 years in the U.S. before returning to Ecuador. She has worked both in the U.S. and in Ecuador in the public and non-profit sector on issues related to international relations, including international education, for more than 6 years. Her last position was as Senior Adviser for EducationUSA and the Fulbright Commission Ecuador for two and a half years. Prior to joining EducationUSA in 2012, she worked as the International Relations Adviser to the Minister of Higher Education of Ecuador.
Countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela
Charles Hornstra is based in Bangkok, Thailand on behalf of EducationUSA as the Regional Education Advising Coordinator (REAC) in Mainland Southeast Asia & China, Australia, New Zealand, and Samoa. Charles oversees the coordination and management of 20+ EducationUSA advising centers, regional/global EducationUSA events, and adviser professional development for 30+ advising staff across the region. The REAC role allows Charles to support EducationUSA's talented group of advisers on a day-to-day basis while also reporting student mobility trends and international student recruitment best practices for the U.S. higher education community. Charles works in close consultation with the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassies/Consulates across the East Asia and Pacific region to promote the U.S. higher education sector. Charles is a United States Fulbright alumni and graduate of Rutgers University.
Countries: Australia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, New Zealand, Samoa, Thailand, Vietnam
Clara Priester is the Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for East and Southern Africa based in the U.S. General Consulate Johannesburg, South Africa. Clara’s portfolio includes 25 EducationUSA Advisers in 21 East and Southern Africa countries. Clara relocated to Johannesburg in 1998 as McDonald's South Africa's first Director of Marketing and Communications. After leaving McDonald’s, Clara served as the Director of Marketing and Communications for Wits Business School from 2003-2006. Clara currently serves as a Women's Private Equity Fund trustee, a member of the International Women’s Forum South Africa (IWFSA), and the Marketing Association, South Africa. From 2003 to 2009, she was Chair of the Business Woman's Association (BWA) Johannesburg branch. Clara has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Secondary Education from Kansas Wesleyan University, a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from University of Chicago, and is a Chartered Marketer, CM (SA).
Countries: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Diane Weisz Young is the Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for EducationUSA for West and Central Africa, based in Accra, She assumed this position in November 2018. From 2008 – 2013, Diane served as program officer for EducationUSA for Sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Department of State.
Diane has also held two positions working with the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), in Lusaka, Zambia with USAID and in Abuja, Nigeria with IREX. Diane was the secondary counselor for the Center for Teaching and Learning in Abuja from 2017 – 2018. Earlier in her career, Diane worked for the Institute of International Education as the Fulbright Program Officer in Hanoi, Vietnam; she also worked at Colegio Maya International School in Guatemala City, Guatemala; and she served in student services positions at Edinboro University, Grinnell College, Alfred University and Marymount University.
Countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo
Faith Wairimu is the Regional EducationUSA Adviser Coordinator (REAC) for East and Central Africa. She covers Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Faith served with EducationUSA for over seven years, having worked as an EducationUSA Adviser at the US Embassy in Nairobi.
Faith has a key interest in service which includes creating content for TV aimed at inspiring youth engagement in leadership and entrepreneurship; giving food donations to orphanages; and founding a women’s economic empowerment association for widows. Faith currently holds three degrees and is currently completing a Global MA in Law and Diplomacy through the Fletcher School.
Gordana Mirchikj is the Regional Advising Coordinator (REAC) for Central and Southern Europe. She is based in Budapest, Hungary and covers 17 countries in the region. Gordana works with approximately 45 EducationUSA advisers on their training and professional development, promoting U.S. colleges and universities to international audiences and developing strategies to advance collaboration with the U.S. higher education community. Originally from North Macedonia, she joined the Institute of International Education (IIE) in 2017. Prior to joining IIE, she developed a semester exchange program for international students for ISEP in Washington, DC. Gordana also worked in international development for USAID and Open Society Foundations in North Macedonia and was an EducationUSA adviser in her home country. She holds a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) from Indiana University where she studied as a Fulbright student, and a BA in English Language and Literature from Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, North Macedonia.
Countries: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Malta, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Turkey
Karen Bauer is the Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for the Middle East and North Africa, as well as South and Central Asia. Based out of the U.S. Consulate in Dubai, UAE, Karen supports over 32 EducationUSA advisers in 26 countries throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. She presents often on government scholarship programs, challenges, and opportunities in the Middle East and recruiting in the region. Previously, Karen lived and work abroad in the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. She holds a B.A. in International Affairs and History from Holy Names University in California and an M.A. in International Education from the School for International Training (SIT) in Vermont. She also earned an ESL teaching certificate from Notre Dame de Mar University and a certificate in college counseling from the University of California-Los Angeles.
MENA Countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan
SCA Countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan
Karen is also currently overseeing: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka
Katherine (Katia) Scodova has worked in the EducationUSA network for nearly 9 years, first as the Russia Country Coordinator and now as the Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for Europe and Eurasia. With a B.A from Oberlin College and a M.A from The Ohio State University, she has personal insight on the benefits of both small liberal arts colleges as well as large public institutions. She is a two-time winner of the prestigious Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship (for Russian and Uzbek languages). Prior to joining EducationUSA, she completed Peace Corps service in eastern Ukraine in the higher education field. Based at the IIE office in Kyiv, Katherine is responsible for EducationUSA adviser professional development and monitoring in 13 countries in Europe and Eurasia.
Countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine
Countries: Brunei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Timor-Leste
Melissa Deschamps is a Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) with EducationUSA, based in Doha, Qatar. She manages a dynamic portfolio of centers covering 13 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. With over 20 years of experience in the field of international education, she has worked in non-profit, university and governmental settings. Throughout her career, she has facilitated intercultural learning experiences, developed educational programs, managed exchange opportunities, and worked with both students and professionals in an advisory capacity. Melissa completed her education in the United States, earning a Bachelor’s in Communication from Seton Hall University and a Master’s in International Education, from New York University.
Melissa joined EducationUSA in February 2018 and covers these specific countries:
Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia & Yemen
Maria Mercedes Salmon is the Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean working out of the Institute of International Education. She oversees a network of 54 EducationUSA advising centers in 24 countries. Daily information, guidance, and support are provided to advisers; multi-day workshops and training programs are organized; and comprehensive evaluations and follow-on to centers are conducted. In her leadership, issues related to U.S. higher education are addressed with stakeholders including U.S. Embassy Public Affairs sections, foreign government agencies, U.S. and foreign universities, and Fulbright Commissions. As a REAC, she also provides resources and information on international student mobility and regional educational systems, as well as represents the region at regional, national, and international conferences. Prior to assuming REAC responsibilities, María Mercedes Salmon was the EducationUSA Country Coordinator at the Fulbright Commission in Ecuador for 10 years and Acting Executive Director for 18 months between 2007 and 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in International Affairs from Ohio University where she attended as a Fulbright grantee.
Countries: Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago
Peter Baker has served as the Regional Educational Advising Coordinator for 16 countries in Western and Northern Europe for the past 2.5 years. His career in international education stretches back 20 years, starting as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic from 1999-2001 then as the Office Director for American Councils in Odessa, Ukraine. Peter was a Peace Corps Fellow during his graduate studies when he also taught high school on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. Following his graduate studies, he was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow and served as a Program Officer in the U.S. Department of Education's International and Foreign Language Education office. Immediately before his current tenure as a REAC, he returned to his home state of Montana and served as the University of Montana's International Program Development Officer where he focused on short-term programs for international students, sponsored student recruitment and management, and partnerships. He then started as a REAC in November 2016. In his free time, Peter enjoys running, biking, and skiing but, although from Montana, he cannot fish.
Countries: Belgium, Bermuda, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Rita Moriconi is one of the 14 REACs (Regional Educational Advising Coordinators) worldwide that works under support from the Educational Information and Resources Branch at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA/A/S/A) responsible for the EducationUSA program. Her responsibilities for EducationUSA currently include the countries of South America’s Southern Cone, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. She is based in Brazil and has been a member of the Global EducationUSA network for 27 years and as a REAC for the past 11 years. Rita provides professional leadership, support, and assessment to the EducationUSA network of 50 Southern Cone offices, working with advisers on topics about international student mobility and advancing ECA public diplomacy efforts in the region. Rita also works with the public affairs section at local U.S. Embassies and Consulates counseling them on student mobility trends, advising programs, and providing guidance and training to advisers. Rita has held leadership positions at NAFSA and she is currently part of the EducationUSA policy guidance working group. She is a fan of international education and has attracted many U.S. associations to travel to Southern Cone countries and establish governmental partnerships strengthening the mobility to and from the United States.
Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay
Vincent (Vinnie) Flores is the EducationUSA Regional Educational Advising Coordinator for Northeast Asia and the Pacific. His region covers Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan, and the Pacific Islands. Originally from Sinajana, Guam, Vincent first came to Korea as a taekwondo competitor, and eventually returned as a Fulbright grantee in 2000. He has lived in South Korea for 17 years working in various positions in the field of education, including over eight years teaching in the city of Pohang, and as an EducationUSA advisor and the English Program Manager at the Korea Fulbright Commission. Throughout his career, Vincent has worked extensively to build youth programs that encourage creativity, provide unique educational opportunities, and promote cultural exchange. He is particularly interested in building educational opportunities in alternative markets outside of capital cities, and for underserved communities.
Countries: Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan, Pacific Islands