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 10 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 founding the company with Stephen Reilly, in 2001 Emily has grown the program to 11 cities globally, and expanding the global team to over 40. 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 6,000 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.

Stephen M. Reilly
Co-founder and President

Stephen was one of the two founders of Global Experiences and lead its development for over 10 years as CEO. In 2012 Steve was recruited to take over as the Executive Director of the Fulbright Association, the US- based alumni association for the US Department of State’s flagship exchange program and the largest Fulbright Alumni association in the world. Prior to starting Global Experiences in 2001, Steve traveled extensively throughout the world and lived on 4 continents and visited over 50 countries.

Jessica Burns
Vice President Global Programs

Jessica Burns is our VP of Global Programs responsible for overseeing all programs, global partnerships, and program management. After graduating from the University of Maryland at College Park, Jessica spent time living in Barcelona, Spain where she studied Spanish and became an avid soccer fan. While living in Spain, Jessica developed life-long friendships and traveled to many European cities. Originally from Maryland, Jessica enjoys spending time with her family and . She currently lives in Annapolis, Maryland, USA.

Carri Orrison
Director of Institutional Partnerships

Carri Orrison is our Director for Institutional Partnerships 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.

Claire Betts
London Program Director

Claire is our London Program Director based out of our UK office in the heart of London. She oversees our London program with responsibility for Placements, Programming and Student Welfare. Claire's major focus is working with companies and organizations all over the London to ensure excellent partnerships offering the best placements for every London program participant. From a small village farm, Claire decided to leave and travel after college to gain some life experiences. She worked in many parts of Europe including two ski seasons in Austria, as well as traveling parts of South East Asia and living in Australia for over 3 years. Since joining Global Experiences, she has been over to the USA to visit Head Office twice and enjoyed every minute of the amazing places visited so far.

Claire's background is in Talent Acquisition Recruitment and Education Management. Before Global Experiences, she worked for a Sydney based college assisting international students with their future careers. She absolutely loves the industry and wants to help more and more students in their exciting career path. Other passions of Claire's include cooking, group fitness training, athlete level fitness competitions and mobility yoga.

Melissa Vivian
Director of Academic Internships

Melissa Vivian is the Director of Academic Internships for Global Experiences. Prior to her current role, Melissa was the European Placement Director based in London. Melissa Vivian 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.

Peter Ballagh
Dublin Program 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.

Kelly M. Holland
Institutional Relations Manager

Kelly Holland is the Institutional Relations Manager 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.

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.

Sam Needleman
University Enrollment Coordinator

Sam works as our University Enrollment Coordinator at Global Experiences. He developed his love of all things international after his family sponsored a Liberian refugee in the 1990's. He first traveled internationally to the United Kingdom with his high school rugby team and was hooked! Sam has since lived on four continents and traveled to 27 different countries! He studied abroad on the Gold Coast of Australia during college. After graduation he moved to South Korea and taught English there for three years. From Korea he went on a six month thirteen country trip across Europe and Asia; living in the South of France and working at a French summer camp for the last month of his trip. Sam's experience traveling abroad serve as motivation to get other young people out there! As a Global Experiences employee he hopes to be a catalyst for other people's life-changing experiences.

Chrissie Friedrichsen
Programs Manager

Chrissie Friedrichsen is a Program Manager at Global Experiences and responsible for helping interns prepare for their internship program. Before moving into this role, she also worked as an Internship Consultant for two and a half years. While earning a B.S. in Marketing and Logistics at the University of Maryland, College Park, Chrissie studied abroad in Rome, Italy. She fell in love with Europe and traveling in general, and is always looking for the next adventure abroad.

After university, Chrissie lived in Mexico working as a location coordinator for a travel company. She continued to gain valuable work experience as an event planner in Breckenridge, Colorado before returning to Annapolis, Maryland to settle down and be closer to her family. She enjoys seeing young people travel the world while exploring their career options

Brian Brinkman
Programs Manager

Brian is a Program Manager at Global Experiences who discovered his passion for international travel during his time at The University of Montana while studying European & Islamic History. He first traveled overseas with The School for International Training. From there he spent two years teaching English in South Korea, book-ended by a year apprenticing as a cook at a nose-to-tail restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Following his most recent year in the Seoul exurb of Osan, Brian and his wife embarked on a trip of a lifetime: a four-month backpacking trip through Southeast Asia & India. His experiences traveling, teaching, and living abroad have had a profound impact on his life. Its his hope that he can help to inspire our interns to embrace the vast opportunities for travel and engage with the world with a more global perspective.

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.

Jen Mackin
Program Advisor

Jen Mackin is an Program Advisor for Global Experiences. She graduated with a B.A. in history from Ursinus College and was previously a teacher. She has traveled throughout Europe, her favorite destination being London. Jen went on a trip to Spain in high school with her Spanish teachers and caught the travel bug and has never looked back! She participated in GE's London program in 2013 and had the experience of a lifetime. She is excited to help future interns to have the the same amazing opportunity that she had!

Augusta Viccellio
admissions Manager

Augusta is Admissions Counselor who has unique experiences volunteering in Tanzania and living in Paris. She brings her passion for travel and works to help others have similar experiences. Born in Olympia WA, Augusta moved to Annapolis at the age of 2 and considers Maryland home. She realized her dream of visiting Africa during college, when she spent three months interning in an orphanage and primary school in Tanzania. After graduating with a degree in Sociology and History from Indiana University in Bloomington, Augusta spent a year as an au pair in Paris.

Hooked on travel and experiencing new cultures, Augusta worked a variety of jobs to fund travel to London (to watch her cousin run in the Olympics), Madrid, and Dubai. As an employee of Global Experiences Augusta looks forward to helping others have their own unique life-changing experiences.

Carlie Kidd
Admissions Counselor

Carlie is a Senior Admissions Counselor for Global Experiences, Carlie has a passion for traveling, exploring new places, and meeting new people. She graduated with a B.A. in American Studies from University of Maryland. Having traveled to Europe, Carlie was inspired to pursue a travel abroad program in Sydney, Australia. During her time in Sydney she traveled down the east coast, which included a scuba diving excursion on the Great Barrier Reef, skydiving over the Coral Sea, and sailing in the Whitsunday Islands. After her semester at the University of Sydney, Carlie took a cultural excursion into Thailand and Indonesia and traveled to different cities such as Ubud, and to remote islands like Phi Phi Island. One of the reasons Carlie enjoys working with the GE team is that she is able to encourage others to participate in what she has found to be an immensely rewarding experience. During her spare time, Carlie enjoys performing in musical theater productions around Annapolis.

Lauren Plug
Admissions Counselor

Lauren Plug is an Admissions Counselor who has experience living, working, and studying abroad. She had her first sample of international travel after taking a spring course in Greece during University. On a whim, she decided to study abroad on the Gold Coast her senior year of undergrad which proved to be the a-ha moment to continue traveling. After graduating from the University of Indianapolis with a degree in Entrepreneurship, she took off to pursue an internship in Madrid, Spain making stops in London and Paris along the way.

After pursuing her Spanish internship, Lauren knew she needed to be in International Education and continue traveling herself. She's now working to help students have an amazing internship abroad just as she did!

Kristi Philius
Admissions Counselor

Kristi is an Admissions Counselor 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.

Lydia Theologus
Student Experience & Marketing Coordinator

Lydia is part of the team at GE as the Student Experience & 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!

Qinqin Gan
Shanghai Onsite Coordinator

Qinqin Gan is Shanghai Onsite 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.

Kiri Murphy
Sydney Location Coordinator

Kiri Murphy is the Sydney Location Coordinator for Global Experiences. Kiri works to ensure that the Sydney interns have a successful, fulfilling, and eye-opening program. She holds a B.A. in International Relations from Franklin University Switzerland and is currently completing an M.A. in International Relations at the University of Sydney.

Though she originally hails from Long Island, Kiri is an avid traveler and has been to 55 countries. A trained English Language Teacher, she has spent time teaching in the Galapagos and Cambodia. When she is not traveling, Kiri loves hosting dinner parties or heading to one of Sydney's beautiful beaches.

Sarah Maddah
London Location Coordinator

Sarah Maddah is the London Location Coordinator for Global Experiences. In her role she works closely with the students on the ground and ensures a successful experience for both intern and office. A Belgian native, Sarah first left Belgium at age 20 to spent a semester in London as a Business Intern at the Global Experiences office. After her internship, she decided to stay on the team.

Sarah holds a BA in Office Management - International Business from Artesis Plantijn University College in Antwerp, Belgium. Sarah was previously a Marketing Intern for WPG Publishers in Belgium. Her travels cross more than 10 countries including favorites like Morocco, Spain and the Netherlands. If she doesn't have her nose in a book, Sarah can be found working out in the gym.

Amy Wilson
Placement Coordinator

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.

Jaci Corvino
Account Manager

Jaci Corvino is our Human Resources and Accounts Administrator. Jaci is on target to graduate with a BS in Business Administration from the University of Maryland University College. Originally from the Midwest, this is Jaci’s second time living in the Northeast. Prior to arriving in Maryland, she lived in Southeast Kansas, Kentucky & Maine.

Jaci’s passionate exploration of new experiences has granted her the opportunity to witness sunrises on Mt. Desert Island Maine, camping in the Blue Hills of Kentucky, and deep red sunsets on her family’s 400 acre farm in Kansas. Jaci has never met a stranger and loves the challenge of meeting new people in each of her life experiences.

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.

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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