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Andrew Gordon, CEO & Founder
Andrew Gordon is a social entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of Diversity Abroad. As an international education expert, he has written and spoken extensively on topics pertaining to access, diversity, inclusion, and equity in international education. With a passion for international education Andrew founded Diversity Abroad in 2006 with a simple vision, that the next generation of young people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds be equipped with the skills and experience to compete in the 21st century global marketplace. Currently Andrew is responsible for the daily operations at Diversity Abroad and serves as the chief national advocate for promoting diversity and inclusive excellence within international education.
A native of San Diego, CA, Andrew is a graduate of the University of San Francisco and studied and interned abroad in Mexico and Spain. He is fluent in Spanish, proficient in French and Portuguese and has traveled throughout Europe, South America, and parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Based on his extensive experience abroad Andrew fully appreciates the value of international education and the power it has to prepare young people for leadership in an increasingly interconnected world.
Andrew has consulted higher education institutions, non-profit and for-profit organizations, and government agencies on developing strategies for increasing access to international education for diverse, first generation and high financial need students. He is a member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, AIEA, EAIE, National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), and the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA). Andrew is an alumnus of INROADS and Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce (AIESEC).
Arielle Gousse, Program Coordinator, Professional Services
As the Program Coordinator for Diversity Abroad, Arielle's role is responsible for assisting in managing the operations and logistics for a variety of Diversity Abroad initiatives including the annual conference, student scholarships, and the AIDE Roadmap Initiative.
Arielle graduated from the University of Florida (UF) with a Bachelor's Degree in Tourism and Recreation Management with a concentration in Event Management. During her time at UF, Arielle had worked in various departments managing events, office operations, and student organization related activities. Post graduation, she managed multiple international exchange programs at UF in the Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management. Arielle recently graduated from the George Washington University (GW) with a Master's degree in International Education with a focus on education and inequality, specifically in Afro-Caribbean countries. During her Master's program, Arielle participated in the Kakehashi Exchange in Japan as well as developed a pre-departure orientation for American teachers who participated in a Teacher Training Conference for Haitian educators in Haiti.
The connection to the mission of Diversity Abroad is very personal to Arielle. As an undergraduate student, she always had the desire to study abroad but did not have the means or resources to do so. It was not until her professional career at UF and her time at GW that she had the study abroad experience and saw how valuable it was to her growth.
Through her role at Diversity Abroad, Arielle hopes to help students realize how invaluable an international education experience is to their education and growth.Arielle was born and raised near Fort Lauderdale, FL but currently resides in the DC/Maryland area. Haitian Creole and French were languages learned from her parents growing up, and living in South Florida lent itself to pick up conversational Spanish. She is excited to continue connecting professionals and students to Diversity Abroad's resources.
Wagaye Johannes, Director of Operations & Organizational Development
Wagaye Johannes is the Director of Operations and Organizational Development, where she oversees the infrastructure of the company and works closely with senior leaders to map out and implement Diversity Abroad’s five year strategic plan.
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.
Erica Ledesma, Director of Professional Development & Member Services
As the Director of Professional Development & Member Services, Erica is responsible for managing Diversity Abroad’s professional development offerings, overseeing the member consortium, and leading the Diversity in Global Education task force initiative. Throughout her career, Erica has been committed to educational initiatives that promote success & inclusion for students of all backgrounds and is a champion of global learning, with over a decade of experience in international education. She holds a Masters degree from the University of MN in Education Policy & Administration with a focus on International Education. Her culminating research examined how a cross-cultural experience abroad can impact the intercultural competence of pre-service teachers, a topic of great importance given the changing demographics in today’s public schools. Erica has studied in Guatemala, Cuba, Jordan, Israel, and Argentina, where she completed an internship for her graduate studies.
Christopher LeGrant, Partnership Development Manager
Christopher is a professional with over 8 years of experience in international education. He completed his last year of undergraduate education in London, England and soon after returning to the United States he began working for the volunteer and teach abroad organization, GeoVisions, helping to build the outbound division of that organization from scratch. During his six years with GeoVisions, he traveled to 17 countries on five continents, creating and sustaining partnerships to create an influential and growing organization. As Director of Recruitment, he was personally responsible for 40 percent of all annual enrollments, which allowed him to speak with thousands of people about the rewards and challenges associated with living, teaching and working in another country.
These experiences (especially in the Global South) lead to his Masters degree in International Studies from the University of San Francisco, instilling a deep understanding and appreciation of global issues, cultures and theories. His education was heightened by living on a farming cooperative in rural Nicaragua, during which he worked with the cooperative members and conducted over two months of sociological fieldwork. This life changing period reinforced the passion for social justice and equity that underlies all of his work.
Before coming to Diversity Abroad, Christopher worked as the Learning Center Manager for Berlitz San Francisco, which also serves as one of the largest study abroad locations for that company in North America. During this time, he managed the daily operations of the school, including the supervision of roughly 25 employees and instructors, setting performance goals, and managing the school’s monthly and yearly financials.
Christopher is passionate about international education and its role in developing the leadership skills necessary to thrive in the 21st century. He believes deeply that these experiences be made accessible and relevant to all people, and is excited to use his global mindset, critical thinking skills and managerial experience to increase the accessibility of international education for underserved populations.
Christopher grew up in Colorado and New England and has lived in the Bay Area for six years. He speaks conversational Spanish and remains active in promoting the importance of social science in creating a globally minded and active citizenry.
Joelle Tolifero, Associate Director, Student Services
Joelle Tolifero’s passion for international education and access began when she realized she did not have funding to study abroad as an undergraduate student and instead began leading student travel/community service programs for high school students. She has explored the countries of Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Galapagos, the United States, Peru, and Greece alongside students for over 7 years. Joelle believes that cultural exchange is a means to peacemaking and cross-cultural understanding and believes all people, in particular students, should have access to this opportunity.