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.


Rajika Bhandari

Senior Advisor, Research and Strategy Director, IIE Center for Academic Mobility and Impact

Over 20 years of experience in executive and management roles in the non-profit, higher education sector. Senior spokesperson for IIE and a leader in research and evaluation regarding international education and global student mobility.


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.


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.


Kathryn Kaufman

Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Former teacher, with experience on Capitol Hill, in the White House, at the Department of Defense in the Office of the Secretary overseeing U.S.-China Defense Policy, and active partner in College Bound in Washington, D.C.


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.


Russel R. Taylor, DBA

Faculty Emeritus, College of New Rochelle

Trustee of Richmond, the American International University in London and founder of The Taylor Foundation, which supports low income students in pursuit of foreign studies.


Peter A. Tcherepnine

President, Loeb Partners Management, Inc.

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


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.


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


T.C (Ted) Curran

Foreign Service Officer (C.M. - Ret.)

Career Foreign Service Officer with assignments in Germany and the Middle East, former President of the Foreign Policy Association in New York, Coordinator for Youth Exchange Programs in North Michigan.


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