Meet the Team

Our success – our people. Behind any successful organization stands a diverse group of committed people. Our staff of over 30 people spans four continents, five time zones, and many cities. Our main U.S. office is located in the historic center of Annapolis, Maryland; we welcome your visit anytime. From our home office we personally connect with all program participants from the initial phone call up until your arrival in your host city. All of the Global Experiences team members have personal experience living and working abroad and are here to pay it forward!

Emily Merson
Co-founder and CEO

Emily is the co-founder and CEO of Global Experiences. Since co-founding in 2001, Emily has grown the program to 11 cities globally, and expanding the global team. In 2013 Emily took over as CEO and has focused her attention on expanding partnerships with universities and colleges in the US and building an award winning global career readiness program. Global Experiences has helped almost 8,000 young professionals further their career through international professional experience and global understanding.

Emily was the driving force behind Global Experiences innovative partnership with Gallup Education in 2012 that lead to the organizations award winning career development program. In 2015 she was awarded the Enterprising Womens Magazine Award, and lead GE to 2 goabroad.com innovation awards and inclusion in the Inc5000. Emily has served on the NAFSA committee for Work Internship and Volunteer since 2015 and has presented at national and international conferences on the topics of international education, internships and career development. Emily is originally from Sydney, Australia and holds three passports (Australia, US and UK) and has degrees from the UNSW in Sydney, Australia, and Uppsala University in Sweden. Emily is passionate about innovation in the US Education system and changing the lives of young people through global engagement and career development experiences.

Carri Orrison
Vice President of Operations

Carri Orrison is our Vice President of Operations and is thrilled to working with Global Experiences. Originally from Maine she feels happy when she is near water so working in Annapolis is a dream come true.She graduated from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania with a degree in French and was on the tennis team at this Division III school.

After graduating she moved to the Washington DC area and spent 13 years working at the Australian Embassy assisting students get to Australia, advisors understand educational system and ensuring everyone knew that Australia has more to offer besides beaches and beer. She also worked for The Scholar Ship which was a semester study program (based on a ship) which sent US and non-US students around the world to study and develop cultural awareness. She has traveled to France, Italy, Greece and Australia. She is a mom to two brilliant, talented, sporty kids and one furry dog.

Dr. Shawntia Key
Global Program Director

Shawntia joins Global Experiences with more than ten years experience in international education. Shawntia discovered her love of international education through working with the international student organizations in college which eventually lead to studying abroad in Japan and working in China. Shawntia received a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other langauges) certificate; BA in international studies; MA in international education; and EdD in higher education management. Shawntia will lead our global program and advisor team, oversea program delivery, program development, and housing and location partner agreements.

Duncan Hamshere
Head of Global Business Development

Duncan Hamshere is our Head of Global Business Development. Duncan is delighted to have joined Global Experiences. Duncan is originally from Manchester in northern England but has had a varied international career taking him to a number of different countries, including roles working as a services manager for the UK National Recognition and Information Centre, as a Development Manager at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics and most recently as a senior international trade Advisor for the UK Government. Duncan is a qualified teacher and has worked in and travelled to over 40 countries.

Kelly M. Holland
Director of Institutional Partnerships

Kelly Holland is the Director of Institutional Relations for Global Experiences. In her role she works closely with university partners around the United States on marketing, promotion, and ensuring a successful experience for both intern and office. A Pennsylvania native, Kelly first left the U.S. at age 20 to spent a semester in Granada, Spain with the American Institute of Foreign Study (AIFS). She returned several years later to teach English for the Spanish Ministry of Education in Andalucia.

Kelly holds an M.Ed. in Comparative and International Education from Lehigh University, and a B.A. in International Business and Spanish from Moravian College. Kelly was previously the Associate Director of Study Abroad at Towson University in Maryland, and Interim Director of Study Abroad at Eastern Illinois University in Illinois. Her travels cross more than 25 countries and counting including favorites like Hungary, Greece, Spain, and Turkey. If she doesn't have her nose in a book, Kelly can be found in the kitchen cooking or baking.

Melissa Buerkett
Director of Partnership Development

Melissa Buerkett is the Director of Partnership Development for Global Experiences. Prior to her current role, Melissa was the European Placement Director based in London. Melissa is a licensed professional counselor and lecturer with a masters degree in Mental Health and Wellness from New York University. Melissa has been working in higher education for several years, counseling, teaching and supervising the internships of college students in New York City and London. She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois and has extensive international experience, studying abroad at Oxford University, working on a fishing and boat in Australia and serving as the European Placement and London Program Director for Global Experiences.

Melissa has special academic and clinical interests in the areas of career development, well-being, experiential education and wilderness therapy, and practices strengths-based counseling. Her own Top 5 Gallup Strengths are Communication, Maximizer, Adaptability, Woo and Achiever.

Augusta Viccellio
Director of Sales and Marketing

Augusta Viccellio is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Global Experiences. Starting at Global Experiences in 2014 as an Admissions Counselor, Augusta spent 2 years working directly with future interns before moving into the position of Sales Manager. She earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology and History from Indiana University, where she spent a summer interning in Tanzania before moving to Paris after graduation. Augusta is passionate about helping others make the decision to leave their comfort zone and experience the world in a professional setting!

Molly Haskell
Marketing Manager

Molly is our Marketing Manager joining us after living in Sydney, Australia, for five years. After graduating from East Carolina University in 2011, she hopped on a one way flight to Sydney not knowing what was ahead. Molly started her marketing career where she gained extensive experience in direct and digital marketing, lead generation, advertising, social media, partnerships, project management, and events. While living in Sydney, Molly formed life-long friendships, she had the opportunity to travel around Asia, and grew professionally and personally. She is originally from a farm outside Philadelphia, but loves to venture out and explore new places. She says, "living abroad was the best decision she made!""

Amy Wilson
student Accounts Manager

Amy is an office assistant at Global Experiences. She brings years of knowledge as a program consultant to a role that includes managing employer relationships in Sydney, New York, and Washington, DC. Amy Wilson is a longtime employee of Global Experiences. In her previous role she helped connect students to employers in some of our program locations, and is excited to further our alumni efforts. Amy has traveled to South Africa, Portugal, and many other countries.

Larry Komrower
Programs Manager

Larry is a Programs Manager with Global Experiences, and he loves helping students get the most out of their international internship programs. Prior to joining the GE team, he spent four years working in the study abroad offices at Marymount University and Texas A&M University. Larry’s experience abroad includes a semester in Paris, France, two years as an English language assistant in Annecy, France and in Almansa, Spain, and two summers in St. Brieuc, France. He has also led student groups overseas to Barbados, Belize, and the Netherlands.

Larry holds an MA in French linguistics from Indiana University Bloomington and a BA in French with a minor in theater from Ithaca College. In his spare time, you can find him in the kitchen baking or at the dog park playing with his corgi, Teddy.

Jen Mackin
Program Manager

Jen Mackin is a Program Manager at Global Experiences. Originally from outside of Philadelphia, she graduated with a B.A. in History from Ursinus College in Pennsylvania in 2013. Jen studied abroad in Rome in 2011 and interned in London in 2013. She taught high school in Pennsylvania before transitioning to higher education and joining the GE team in 2015 where she gets to help send college students abroad. Jen enjoys crossing new cities off of her travel bucket list, spending time outdoors and cheering on her beloved Philadelphia Eagles.

Sara Morgan Watters
Program Advisor

Sara Morgan Watters is the Program Advisor for all students going to Dublin, New York, and Washington, D.C. for Global Experiences. In her role she works closely with students to prepare them for their internship and time abroad. A Maryland native, Sara Morgans first abroad experience was a summer in Ecuador. After graduating college she went on to live in Barcelona for several years where she worked as an English teacher.

Sara Morgan holds an MS in Cross-Cultural Psychology from Victoria University of Wellington, and a B.A. in Psychology from St. Marys College of Maryland. Sara Morgan has lived and traveled to almost 20 countries including her favorites being Spain, New Zealand, and Norway. Outside of advising students, you will likely find her pursuing some of her hobbies in sports such as sailing or field hockey.

Hailey Morris
Program Advisor

Hailey is the Program Advisor for Global Experiences' NYC and Washington D.C. Programs. While studying at Virginia Tech, Hailey spent a summer studying in Madrid, Spain in 2014 and had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland and France. She is looking forward to combining her passions for travel and higher education to help students grow professionally in an international setting. She holds two Bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Spanish. Outside of work you will either find her in the kitchen or at the driving range.

Ashleigh Franks
Program Advisor

Ashleigh is a Program Advisor at Global Experiences. While studying Marketing at Virginia Tech, she spent a semester abroad on the Gold Coast of Australia. She fell in love with the Australian culture and climate and moved back to Sydney for a year after graduating. More recently, she spent two years living abroad in Munich, where she worked as a native English teacher and enjoyed exploring Europe. Throughout her travels, she has been fortunate enough to visit more than 20 countries. Ashleigh joined GE in 2017 as an Admissions Counselor, but now enjoys working with our London interns and getting them ready for their life changing adventure abroad!

Katherine Adams
Admissions Counselor

Katherine is an Admission Counselor for Global Experiences. During her undergrad at the University of Delaware, Katherine got her first taste of international travel while studying abroad for a semester in Paris. Upon graduating with a B.S. in Marketing with a minor in Entrepreneurship, she decided to move back to Paris to work as an au pair for two amazing years. In 2016, she decided to ditch baguettes and escargot for Vegemite and Tim Tams and move all the way to Melbourne, Australia. She spent a year working, traveling, and enthusing over the AFL- go Bulldogs! Throughout her extensive international travels, Katherine has visited over 20 countries and 5 continents! She now works at GE and is ecstatic about helping others embark on their life-changing international journeys.

Andrew Parr
Admissions Counselor

Andrew is an Admissions Counselor at Global Experiences. A Pennsylvanian-native, he moved to the Annapolis area in 2013 to teach English and theatre in a public high school. While at the school, he re-established the German American Partnership Program (GAPP) via the assistance of the Goethe-Institut with a Gymnasium in Germany. The program has been successfully running for the last four years. In his free time, Andrew can usually be found in one of two places: the theatre or the gym. He teaches at a local dance studio and writes theatre reviews for the Baltimore-DC Metro area. He enjoys spending time with friends, family, coffee, and his two chinchillas, Pinot and Brie.

Brooke Matta
Admissions Counselor

Brooke is an Admissions Counselor for Global Experiences. Born and raised in Virginia, she loves living near the mountains and the ocean. She has studied abroad in Costa Rica, taught English in Spain and Colombia, and now resides in Maryland with her fiancé and dog. She holds B.A.s in International Affairs and Sociology, and developed a passion for international education during her time in Costa Rica. She’s thrilled to be working at GE and supporting people who love going abroad as much as she does! Besides traveling, her favorite hobbies are hiking, cooking, reading, and yoga.

Emily TahaBurt
Admissions Counselor

Emily is an Admissions Counselor at Global Experiences. She grew up in Cairo, Egypt and Annapolis, MD, and graduated with a degree in International Studies from Macalester College. She completed study abroad programs in Jordan and Oman focusing on Arabic language and Middle Eastern Studies. She feels very lucky to have traveled throughout parts of Europe for the first time in 2016 for four months, and completed a work exchange in Montefegatesi, Italy for one month. She then moved to Ireland for a year where she lived in Dublin and spent the summertime in Cork. Some of her favorite travel experiences include a Game of Thrones tour just outside of Belfast, seeing Hamilton in London, and visiting Petra in Jordan.

Karl Jacobs
Admissions Counselor

Karl is an Admissions Counselor for Global Experiences. A Pennsylvania-native, Karl's wanderlust began in 2007, when he attended a German Gymnasium (high school) outside of Stuttgart through his local Twinning Association. He holds a B.A. in International Studies from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. During his studies he studied and interned abroad in Brussels, Belgium, which convinced him that he had to live in Europe. In 2013, he jumped on a plane for Graz, Austria, where he completed his M.A. in Southeast European Studies. He spent a year studying in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, before returning to Graz to work as an English and History teacher for 4 years. Since returning stateside, he enjoys spending time catching-up with his family and friends.

Rachel Vandegrift
Admissions Counselor

Rachel is an Admissions Counselor at Global Experiences. She attended Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, studying Intercultural Communications. After studying away in New York City, she was inspired to complete a marketing internship in Barcelona, Spain in the summer of 2018 with Global Experiences. Upon her return, she continued working with students seeking study away and international internship opportunities. She's very happy to have returned home to Maryland, where she spends time cooking, gardening, and checking destinations off her travel bucket list.

Kate Ziegelstein
University Programs Coordinator

Kate Ziegelstein is the University Programs Coordinator for Global Experiences. Kate works closely with our university partners around the US. She holds BAs in Psychology and Spanish from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While in college, Kate spent a semester in Madrid, Spain. Following graduation, she worked at Franklin and Marshall in the Office of International Programs. She later moved to Valencia, Spain where she worked at the Universitat de Valencia. She has traveled to over 15 countries. Kate is always eager to learn more and get involved and is passionate about issues like global engagement and expanding access to education.

Lydia Theologus
Student Experience and Marketing Coordinator

Lydia is part of the team at GE as the Student Experience and Marketing Coordinator! Growing up in a huge Greek family, Lydia learned at a young age how important it was to embrace different cultures. After spending a month in Greece in a Greek Orthodox summer camp when she was 15, she knew that she had caught the travel bug.

Graduating from Salisbury University in 2016 with a dual degree in Public Relations and Psychology, Lydia was first connected with GE when she spent her fall semester of her senior completing a three-month marketing internship in Florence, Italy. As an alumna of one of our programs, she loves knowing that she is able to help countless students have the same invaluable experience as she did!

Joe Gruendl
CFO

Joe is the CFO of Global Experiences, responsible for the organization’s financial health and strategic planning. When not looking after the organization’s financial planning, Joe spends his time with his three children, or enjoying a round of golf.

Peter Ballagh
Ireland Placement Director

Peter Ballagh is the Director of the Dublin Program with responsibility for Placements, Programming and Student Welfare. He joined GE in 2013 and has a background in secondary school teaching and training as well as experience in the field of cultural tourism as a tour guide in Dublin and consultant with the Heritage Council of Ireland. He has been an active member of the EU Election Observation Missions since 2002 and has completed numerous missions throughout Africa and Asia.

Rachel Smith
Italy Program Director

Rachel is the Italy Program Director and Program Advisor for Italy and France locations. She started with Global Experiences in 2014 as a Location Coordinator in Florence, Italy and has grown her career within the company. She has lived in Florence since 2013, speaks fluent Italian and has a bilingual dog Stella. Rachel has two bachelor degrees and a masters degree in Art History and considers herself an expert in "all-things-Italian."

Anna Fornabaio
Italy Placement Director

Anna Fornabaio is the Italy Placement Director for Global Experiences. Born in a little town in the south of Italy, she moved to Arezzo in Tuscany when she was 14 years old. She currently lives in Florence, where she has been working closely with employers in Milan and Florence for over nine years. Anna studied Political Science at university and received her master’s in Event Planning and Management of European Study Abroad Programs. As a student, Anna interned and studied abroad in Brussels, so she has been in our interns’ shoes and is familiar with the experience they are about to embark upon. While interning abroad is a wonderful experience, she recognizes that it can be challenging. Not only is she there to help find our interns find a life-changing internship, but she’s also also there to help them adjust to their new life in Italy!

Inma Lopez
Barcelona Program Director

I earned a Bachelors degree in English Studies in the University of Granada, as well as a degree in Tourism and Conference and Events Management from the University of Edinburgh. I have an extensive experience in the Study Abroad industry with on-site directing programs in Barcelona for many years, as well as organizing and leading trips and activities as tour leader, and working as a tour guide showing the clients the taste of the culture, history and personality of this captivating city through walking, gastronomy and cultural tours.

I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Granada and before moving to Barcelona in 2008 I traveled throughout Europe, Morocco, and the U.S. and lived in several cities of Europe such as Toulouse, London, Liverpool and Edinburgh for many years.

What I love the most about this job is the huge impact that I make on students' lives through my guidance and how their lives change thanks to the experience of living abroad and getting immerse in the culture. I would recommend students to Take your study abroad experience as something that is part of growing up and enjoy this unique opportunity to the fullest because this chance may only happen once in your lifetime.

Andrea Hay
Sydney Program Director

Andrea Hay is the Sydney Program Director for Global Experiences. Andrea works to ensure that the interns have a great experience in Sydney with successful and fulfilling internships. Andrea holds a B.A in Recreation Management from RMIT, Australia. Though she originally hails from Eastern Europe, Andrea moved to the Australian outback at age 11 and has been on the move ever since. She lived in Washington DC for 15 years, returning to Sydney to be closer to family in 2012. She has traveled to more than 25 countries with Cuba, Egypt and Tahiti among her favorites. When she is not traveling, or working, Andrea is super mum to three wonderful daughters.

Kristi Philius
New York City Placement Manager and Location Coordinator

Kristi is the New York City Placement Manager and Location Coordinator who is passionate about inspiring more people of color to take part in international experiences. Originally from New York City, she found it easy to adjust to Annapolis living because she did her undergraduate studies not too far away at Morgan State University in Baltimore. While at Morgan, she was awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship for a study abroad program on the beautiful island of Cyprus. From that day on, Kristi has always been an advocate of International Education which led her to get a Masters from New York University in Media, Culture and Communication with a focus on Global and Transcultural Communication. While she is not helping prospective interns plan out their future, she loves to travel, prepare vegan meals and binge watching Netflix series with her dog.

Carmen Chamorro
London Location Coordinator

Carmen is the London Location Coordinator for Global Experiences. In her role she works closely with the students to ensure a successful intern experience in London. A Spanish native, she loves learning about new places and cultures and strongly believes that travelling helps people get the best of themselves. She has been living in 4 different countries and has extensively travelled the world.

Carmen has a portfolio career and a wide range of experiences to ensure she can connect with each of the interns in a personalised way. She is a certified life and executive coach and has done many courses in Mindfulness, as well as two years of university study in Psychology. With a degree in Architecture, she is a registered architect and has commercial experience working in corporate environments, having worked for 8 years at Foster + Partners, one of the biggest architectural firms in the world. She has also worked in many other areas: event organiser, blogger, graphic designer, teacher, waitress, PR, strawberry picker, media runner, writer, sales…

Carmen is really passionate about people and education and wants to get the best out of each student so that they can enjoy their time in London as much as possible.

Shaania Saini
London Placement Coordinator

Shaania is the London Placement Coordinator at Global Experiences. Born and raised in London, she graduated with a 2:1 in Social Sciences at St.Mary’s Twickenham in 2015. Shaania has traveled abroad every year from India to the US to Hong Kong as her dad works for British Airways. She has worked within the education sector since graduating and has internal experience across the globe. Shaania enjoys exploring new cities and crossing them off her bucket list, spending time going for long walks with her dog and supporting her beloved team Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Chrissie Skead
London Location Coordinator

Chrissie is very excited to help interns enjoy the city she loves and has called home for 10 years. During that time she has been coaching and training interns from all around the world who were doing a gap year serving needy communities in the UK. Chrissie studied Spanish and International Relations while spending time at universities in California, London and Santiago, Chile. Chrissie is a dual British and US Citizen and she embraces opportunities to spend time with local people in new places. Some highlights have included hearing people's stories in Cuba, Hungary and South Korea. Chrissie is passionate about empowering people to grow as they take steps outside their comfort zone and encounter people different than themselves!

Lara Schenke
Dublin Location Coordinator

Lara grew up in Maryland but went to college in Virginia. Upon graduating I worked in a museum there for a few years. In 2017 I moved to Dublin to get my postgraduate in public history and cultural heritage. I've enjoyed living and getting to know Dublin and love helping others find there place here! I like to cook although I'm more enthusiastic than good, hikes, and 3 o'clock tea with snacks.

Anna Pascarella
Florence Location Coordinator

Anna is the Florence Location Coordinator for Global Experiences. She is Venezuelan, but she moved to Italy already 4 years ago. Coming from an Italian family she have been in touch with both cultures and languages since her earlier years and that gave her the opportunity to understand how sharing and being in touch with different people and different experiences is. She is passionate about traveling and knowing new places as well as living new experiences to talk about. She believe that meeting people is the most important source of knowledge. She has a degree on Mass Communication with an specialization on Audiovisual Arts and her working experiences goes from the luxury travel planning business to fashion, food and wine and art. A different quantity of experiences which lead her to love being around people and to spread positivity to all those who have lost a bit of it walking the path of life!

Victoria Bishop
Washington D.C. Location Coordinator

Victoria is the Washington, D.C. Location Coordinator for GE. She is a GE alumna and interned in D.C. in 2014. Her mission is to ensure interns have a fantastic cultural and learning experience!

Victoria holds a B.S. in Sociology and Applied Statistics from the University of South Alabama, and she is currently an MPA candidate at American University. She was adopted from China and grew up in Sweet Home Alabama. Her favorite places she has traveled have been Rwanda, Alaska, and Ireland.

Amy Skoba
Milan Location Coordinator

Amy Skoba is the Milan Location Coordinator for Global Experiences. In her role she works closely with students on the ground to provide support and ensure a smooth and rewarding experience for all involved. She holds a B.S. in Marketing, and minor in International Business from the University of Dayton.

Amy has enjoyed exploring many countries, including the US where she is from, and more than 15 others. During college, she studied abroad in Augsburg, Germany; and following graduation, she ventured to Milan as an au pair before deciding to make it her home. Amy loves working for Global Experiences because it offers students the trifecta of professional development, experiential learning, and international adventure.

Qinqin Gan
Shanghai Location Coordinator

Qinqin Gan is Shanghai Location Coordinator. In her role she works closely with students and host companies to ensure a successful experience for both interns and host companies. Originally from Hubei province, Qinqin has moved to Shanghai since 2006 and worked as a Chinese-English interpreter and English-speaking tour guide as part time job.

Graduated with English education major, and have worked in an international company as an export sales, Qinqin has a deep understanding about international business, culture and customs. She has travelled to USA and majorities countries in Asia, she is always looking forwards to traveling to the next destination.

Leigh Fitzjames
Stockholm Location Coordinator

Leigh is the Location Coordinator for Global Experiences's program in Stockholm, Sweden. She got her first taste of international travel at age 21 and has lived and worked in five countries since. Upon graduating from the University of Auckland, she pursued her lifelong passion in entertainment and moved to New York City. There, she spent five years working with the best of the best in film, television and music and has since relocated to Sweden after taking on a few stints in India, Thailand and the UK.

Charlotte Neveu
Paris Location Coordinator

Charlotte is the Paris Location Coordinator for Global Experiences. She has her roots in France but it’s in Australia where she really blossomed. Quite adventurous and in the pursuit of self discovery, Charlotte moved on her own to Australia to study, then work and ended up living there for five years. Charlotte previously studied Media and Communication before earning a master’s degree in Management and Organisation. She worked for various arts organisations and the media industry in Sydney before returning to Paris, her hometown. With her own experience living and working overseas, Charlotte understands the transformative journey the future interns are about to embark on on and her desire is to support them along the way. With her French/Aussie double culture, Charlotte is able to understand sensitively any cultural challenges that English-speaking interns may face while working in a French environment. While she is not helping interns thriving in their workplace, Charlotte teaches various yoga classes around Paris.

Mariel Pinel
San José Location Coordinator

Mariel is the San Jose Location Coordinator for Global Experiences. She has degrees in international cooperation for development from Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica and the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain. She has been working for more than a decade for NGOs, international mobility programs and development projects. Mariel is passionate about global citizenship and impacting young people through international experiences. She loves the beach, animals, dancing, reading and spending time with family and friends. She has lived abroad twice (France and Spain) and traveled to over 25 countries in all continents, except for Oceania. She is looking forward to supporting the career development of interns in Costa Rica and to helping them discover her "pura vida" country.

Join The Global Experiences Team

For candidates with the right skills, values, and enthusiasm to enhance our team, we welcome your applications.

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