Diversity Abroad is pleased to announce that Wagaye Johannes will join the team as Director of Operations and Organizational Development in September.
Diversity Abroad is the leading national organization advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in international education. Well into its second decade, Wagaye will oversee the growing infrastructure of the organization and work closely with senior leaders to map out and implement Diversity Abroad’s five year strategic plan.
“I am thrilled to join such a entrepreneurial organization which has had a tremendous impact on the field of international education in its first decade, ‘says Wagaye.
Wagaye brings with her extensive experience in international education, scholarship administration, and nonprofit management. Born in Ethiopia and raised with a foot on either side of the Atlantic, Wagaye’s personal and academic background led her to the field of international education. In 2014, she launched the Institute of International Education (IIE)s national campaign “Generation Study Abroad” to increase and diversify study abroad participation, which now has grown to a global network of 800+ partners from higher education institutions, study abroad organizations, foreign governments and the private sector.
“Wagaye is an exceptional leader and is a great addition to our team,” says Andrew Gordon, Diversity Abroad CEO & Founder. “Her contributions will allows us to be even more effective in serving our diverse community of students and professionals.”
A thought leader on international education, access, and diversity, Wagaye’s academic pursuits focused on comparative studies of citizenship and integration between the U.S. and the European Union. She has presented at several conferences on how to expand study abroad and diversity, including Diversity Abroad, Council for Opportunity in Education, Germany Academic Service Exchange, and Fulbright Colombia.
She holds an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Amsterdam and a B.A. in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College. She is fluent in German, speaks some French, and has a basic understanding of Dutch, Hungarian, and now is learning Arabic.
How did you get started in the field of international education?
As the daughter of a German immigrant and an Ethiopian international student, I have always been fascinated by the role of identity when it comes to living and traveling abroad. I grew up in California and Germany, surrounded by multiple languages and cultures. When I got to college, I decided to major in International Relations and planned to go to Austria for an academic study abroad experience. But with a single parent household and limited scholarships offered at that time, it was simply not possible.
It was this pivotal experience that took me to the Director of Study Abroad at Mount Holyoke College and ask about her job. If I couldn’t study abroad, I wanted to see to it that others could. I wanted to make it possible for other students, who may have not had the same global access as me to have an international experience. She told me about NAFSA and IIE.
That very same summer, I managed to secure on my own a summer internship in Japan leading pre-departure orientations for Japanese students headed to the United States for their studies. And years later, I finally studied abroad. I started my Master’s degree in Ethnic and Migration Studies at the University of Amsterdam on September 11, 2001. It was an incredible time to be abroad— I had the opportunity to discover and listen to different perspectives (my classmates were from literally every corner of the world), build a global network, and most importantly discover who I am as an American.
What advice to you have to the those entering the field now?
Be open! Volunteer, intern, and learn all that you can from everyone you meet. With such a small field, you never know who you might work with several years down the road.
I am glad to see the field becoming much more diverse. It is important that those advising and setting policy reflect the growing diverse student population not only in the United States but around the world. My hope is at Diversity Abroad we can continue these efforts especially at mid-career and senior level positions.
Wagaye, a Bay Area native, will be based in New York City and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.