AIFS Foundation Board of Trustees


As a not-for-profit, independent, public charity, the AIFS Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees comprised of educators, business leaders, and other professionals who share a common interest in fostering international understanding and cooperation.

The Trustees meet regularly to review the effectiveness and quality of the AIFS Foundation’s programs and to approve grant requests from institutions and individuals.

The Executive Director is Melanie French, a professional with over 30 years of experience in the field of international education. Ms. French is assisted by an experienced staff in overseeing the programs and grants.


Benjamin Davenport

Chairman, AIFS Foundation Educational Consultant

50 years as a national and international educational administrator; retired principal of a recognized School of Excellence, School Evaluator for the U.S. Office of Education, and principal of AIFS international summer schools.


Gail Hochhauser

Vice Chairman, AIFS Foundation Senior Director, Organizational Advancement, NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Over 30 years of experience initiating, managing, and maintaining international education programs, publications, corporate partnerships, and other development activities focusing on individuals and associations.


Melanie French

Executive Director, AIFS Foundation

Over 30 years of experience in the field of international education and cultural exchange, Director of the Academic Year in America program, experienced in high level conflict resolution, former host parent and exchange student.


John A Burg

COO and CFO, American Institute For Foreign Study

Over 20 years of experience in the field of international education and cultural exchange, 30 years of accounting/finance experience and former host parent.


Kim Fleming Balkun

Senior Vice President, Global Marketing

10 years of experience in the field of international education and cultural exchange, 21 years of experience in marketing and creative direction.


William Gertz

Chairman and CEO, American Institute For Foreign Study

35 years of experience in the field of international education and cultural exchange, Chairman of AIFS Inc, board member of the National Society for the Gifted and Talented and the Alliance For International Education.


Fanon Howell

Director, The Carmel Hill Fund Education Program

Over 20 years of management and executive experience in the non-profit and education sectors, 15 years of editorial and faculty positions in higher education, board member of the National Society for the Gifted and Talented & the Summer Institute for the Gifted.


Rose Marie Hurrell, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology, The College of New Rochelle

Her 35 year tenure as faculty at The College of New Rochelle includes five years as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.


Peter Jones

President, American Council for International Studies

Over 30 years of experience in international educational and cultural exchange, expertise in program development and marketing and brand initiatives.


Thomas Kiechle

Managing Director, AIFS Germany

Over 20 years of experience in youth travel and cultural exchange, lived and worked abroad in the U.S. and South Africa, former high school exchange student in Arizona.


Karen LaFever, Ed.D

Chief Marketing Officer, Great Minds

Over 30 years experience as an established industry expert, thought leader, and educator. Leads the development of partnerships and initiatives that connect public school/ district achievement concerns with innovative service and program solutions between public education, governmental bodies, and the private sector. Also a proud host parent for high school exchange students.


Peter Machen

Director Public Relations, Retired

15 years experience with AIFS in development and administration of programs in Europe and Asia including responsibility for Academic Year and College Division. Advancement administrator in independent schools in Connecticut. Currently involved in Friendship Family program for international students at the local college.


James Mahoney, CPA

Treasurer, AIFS Foundation

Over 25 years of experience in accounting and finance, board member and supporter of Children’s Help Net Foundation.


Judith H. Parker, Ph.D.

Education Program Director, Retired

Over 35 years of experience as an administrator and teacher in Virginia, 12 years coordinating the Carmel Hill Fund’s education projects in the U.S. and abroad, Chair of the National Society for the Gifted and Talented.


Joseph Renzulli

Neag Professor of Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut

Dr. Renzulli served as the Director of The National Research Center On The Gifted and Talented, and was awarded over 50 million dollars in research grants. He has spent his career on research focused on developing creativity and giftedness in youth and the use of gifted education pedagogy to increase engagement and achievement for all children. In 2019 he was voted number 12 among the 30 most influential educators in the world.


Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.

AIFS Foundation Secretary, President and CEO, Summer Institute for the Gifted

Over 43 years of experience in the field of gifted and talented education working in four US states, holding positions of teacher, coordinator, curriculum director, supervisor, and then academic director for SIG before taking on the role of President. Experienced in gifted education, curriculum development, creativity development, non-profit organizations and leadership, public school education and private enterprise programs, consulting, and advocacy. Also worked as a SIG summer program director for several years.


Peter A. Tcherepnine

President, Loeb Partners Management, Inc.

Board member of AIFS, Inc, experience in international money management and international business.


Paul Watson

Senior Vice President and Executive Director, AIFS Study Abroad

Over 35 years of experience in higher education and study abroad administration. As a student, lived and studied in Japan. Board member of AIFS, Inc.


Sir Cyril Taylor, GBE (1935-2018)

In rememberance of Sir Cyril Taylor, GBE, founder and former Chairman of the American Institute For Foreign Study. A brilliant man who advanced the field of international education around the world.

Sir Cyril Taylor

Trustees Emeritus


Dr. George Urch

Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts

30 years of experience in higher education specializing in international development and Global Education, visiting Professor at Kenyatta University in Kenya and at the University of Malawi.


George A. Kahdy

Educational Advisor

Principal of elementary, middle and high schools in Raleigh, NC, Assistant Superintendent Raleigh schools, State Director of Special Education, Assistant State Superintendent in NC, Education Advisor for two NC Governors, Executive Director of the NC Business Committee for Education, Principal of first AIFS high school group in France, 1964.


David Quattrone, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools, Bronxville, New York, Retired

Over 40 years of experience in the field of education, as a superintendent and head master in Connecticut and Ohio.


Ben Wallerstein

Whiteboard Advisors

Over 15 years advising leading education companies, specializing in the intersection of public policy and innovation. Active education investor and frequent commentator on the challenges and opportunities faced by entrepreneurs.

“The shape of the world a generation from now will be influenced far more by how well we communicate the values of our society to others than by our military or diplomatic superiority.”

—Senator J. William Fulbright, 1964