Phyllis Watt Ingersoll, a beloved trustee, alumna, and supporter of World Learning, passed away peacefully at her home in Massachusetts in April 2020. Perhaps no single human being embodied the spirit and history of World Learning better. Phyllis was the proud daughter of Donald and Leslie Watt, co-founders of The Experiment in International Living, and traveled to Mexico, France, Guatemala, Austria, Germany, and Yugoslavia with The Experiment. Three of her four children also went on to become Experimenters.
Read more about Phyllis Watt Ingersoll’s life and legacy in our 2020 Impact Report.
Rosamond Delori began her World Learning Inc. trusteeship in 2002 and served as board chair from 2011 to 2014. She also served as vice chair from 2004 to 2006 and was head of the organization’s Investment Committee from 2003 to 2011. Her ties to The Experiment in International Living go back to the 1950s, when her parents hosted two Experimenters and created a foreign film festival in Keene, New Hampshire, to benefit the program. In addition, three of Delori’s children attended SIT Study Abroad programs in the 1990s.
Delori is the retired executive director of the 1911 Office, which manages the David F. Putnam family’s financial strategy. She currently manages family investment pools and oversees the investments of the Putnam Foundation, a charitable trust created by her family in 1952 to fund historic preservation, cultural enhancement, youth programs, ecological maintenance, and education in New Hampshire, particularly the Monadnock region.
Her expert financial know-how and investment skills, her public service, and her land planning and conservation experience make her an invaluable member of the boards of World Learning Inc., the Silver Lake Land Trust, and the Investment Committee of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
Delori received a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in 1967. As a teenager, she studied abroad for a year in Chatou, France, with the International Christian Youth Exchange. Delori attended the College for Financial Planning in Denver and has been a certified financial planner licensee since 1997.
Stephen Lowey held a trusteeship with World Learning Inc. from 1986 to 2000. He was board chair from 1997 to the end of his term. In October 2000, he was named chair emeritus. Lowey was an Experimenter to France in 1952 and a group leader to France in 1957.
In 1968, Lowey co-founded the law firm now named Lowey Dannenberg Cohen & Hart, P.C. a highly regarded litigation firm, representing institutional and individual investors and consumers in actions to recover financial losses.
He attended and graduated from Woodmere Academy, Harvard College, and Columbia Law School. He served in the United States Coast Guard Reserve from 1959 to 1967 and as assistant U.S. attorney, Eastern District of New York, from 1961 to 1964.
Stephen and his wife, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), recently celebrated 50 years of marriage. They have three children and eight grandchildren.
Susan Plimpton served as a trustee of World Learning Inc. from 1998 to 2007 and as chair of the board from 2004 until the end of her term. She was named chair emerita in February 2011 and elected co-chair of the Advancement Committee in October 2012. Her affiliation with World Learning Inc. began in 1963, when she went to Sweden with The Experiment in International Living. She subsequently went to Tanzania with the School for International Training in 1967 and led an Experiment group to Italy in 1968. Both her sons have World Learning Inc. affiliations as well: one traveled to Nicaragua with SIT Study Abroad in 2001; the other was an Experimenter to Japan that same year.
Plimpton served as a marketing executive with General Mills, Pillsbury, and American Express Financial, before retiring in 2000. She currently serves on the boards of the University of Minnesota Medical Foundation, the Minnesota International Center, Freedom from Hunger, and Friends of Ngong Road.
Plimpton received a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a master’s degree in international administration from the School for International Training.
Kote Lomidze is the senior vice president for finance and chief financial officer (CFO) at World Learning, overseeing all global financial operations and activities. He originally joined World Learning in 2009 and spent three years at the organization, serving as finance director for international development and exchange programs and then deputy CFO. After spending nearly two years as CFO of Project Concern International based in San Diego, he returned to World Learning in 2014. Prior to joining World Learning, Lomidze spent 11 years working in finance at World Vision in his native Georgia, Russia, Zimbabwe, and the United States. Lomidze is a certified public accountant and holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics and a law degree from Tbilisi State University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
A New England native with a commitment to social justice issues, Lisa Rae began her legal career in Boston. While focusing primarily on corporate law, she actively pursued pro-bono assignments and nonprofit service in the Boston area, supporting “Get Out The Vote” initiatives and lobbying legislators on civil rights issues. She also played a key role as lead author on an amicus brief in the landmark case regarding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
After moving to Vermont in 2003, Rae joined a private firm, where she specialized in business law and litigation and continued her nonprofit activism and commitment to locally important social justice issues. She left private practice in 2005 to focus full time on nonprofit advocacy. She was named Director of the Medicare Advocacy Project of Vermont Legal Aid, where she fought for health coverage for elderly and disabled Vermonters. She joined the General Counsel’s office at World Learning in December of 2007 as Associate General Counsel, and in the spring of 2011 became the organization’s General Counsel.
Rae graduated cum laude from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s degree in politics. She earned her JD magna cum laude from Suffolk University Law School, winning the award for Outstanding Oral Advocate and Jurisprudence Awards for highest achievement in Constitutional Law and Corporations.
Joel Colony is World Learning’s vice president of External Engagement. Prior to joining World Learning, Colony worked for U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen in a variety of legislative roles, including as her foreign policy adviser. He completed a Fulbright Scholarship in Europe and a master’s degree in global politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Colony is also an SIT Study Abroad alumnus from the China program.
As Divisional Vice President of Professional Exchanges at World Learning, Dr. Patricia Harrison has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, intercultural programming, and adult education. She oversees nine grants and programs valued at $55M, including the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Alumni TIES, the U.S. Speaker Program, the Professional Fellows Program, and World Learning’s privately funded Professional Exchanges. Dr. Harrison came to World Learning with extensive experience collaborating with donor agencies, local and international organizations, and private-sector partners. Before moving to Washington, DC, she was the first executive director of Upstate International, a nonprofit devoted to intercultural understanding and immigrant integration in Greenville, South Carolina. In this role she worked together with multinational companies, local nonprofits, and a diverse group of community leaders to promote international and cultural diversity. With proven administrative, personnel, and project management skills, Dr. Harrison has designed effective programs grounded in experiential learning and adult learning styles, led program implementation with a focus on systems improvement, and incorporated new technologies to enhance the impact of exchange programs. Previous experience has included university-level teaching and freelance writing and academic editing. Dr. Harrison has a B.A. degree from Stanford University, M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an Executive Certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University. Dr. Harrison currently serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors of Global Ties U.S.
Christina Thomas is the Divisional Vice President for Youth Exchanges at World Learning. Christina oversees the World Learning’s multimillion-dollar U.S. and international youth exchange portfolio consisting of World Learning’s flagship program, the Experiment in International Living. The Exchange portfolio serves over 1,200 high school age U.S. and international students and adult educators and hires up to 150 program leaders annually. Programs focus on experiential learning, global issues, and youth leadership.
Christina also serves as the Board President of the Federation EIL providing member support in strategic planning, capacity building, and quality assurance. The Federation is a nonprofit association representing a global network of international educational program providers supporting 12 members around the globe who offer programs in volunteerism, group travel, language training, and study abroad.
Before joining World Learning in 2003, Christina taught English to junior and senior high school students and designed teacher training programs for Japanese English teachers on the Japan Teaching and Exchange Program (JET) for three years. Christina received her master’s degree in international communications from the School of International Service with an emphasis on international education and management from American University in Washington, DC.
Craig Geddes is the senior director of global education for World Learning. Geddes is responsible for leading the Global Education technical team of Practice Area Technical Specialists and leaders in the design and technical delivery of World Learning’s work in Basic Education, Civic Engagement, Youth Empowerment, and Workforce Development in the form of proposals, program models, tools, and strategies. Geddes also works across the organization on aligning strategy and representing World Learning in partnering, donor relations, and advocacy.
Geddes spent 16 years overseas working as chief of party, leading U.S. and UK government-funded national education, nutrition, and girls empowerment programs, and working in both stable and crisis and conflict zones, living in Zimbabwe, Angola, and Mozambique.
Geddes attended The College of William & Mary and the Spanish American Institute in Sevilla, Spain, focusing on international relations, government, and sociology. He has certifications in USAID Acquisition and Compliance, Gateway to Grants, Proposal Pro, and Situational Leadership. Additionally, Geddes is a trained Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children/Guardian Ad Litem and a Mandated Reporter.
Leah Myers Bitat is deeply committed to exploring the applications of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) across learning and working environments to reduce barriers for participants of all abilities, backgrounds and identities. A native of Alaska currently practicing in Algeria, her areas of expertise include employment and vocational programs, teacher training, inclusive education, special education, and risk prevention. Following 15 years in serving the U.S. educational system as a teacher, teacher trainer, and special education administrator, she currently serves as both the country representative for World Learning in Algeria as well as the director of pedagogy and professional development at the Aures School in Algiers. In 10 years of work in Algeria Leah has led the expansion of World Learning’s programs to nearly two-thirds of the country’s provinces. Workforce development, English language, and STEM Education programs benefit nearly 1,000 participants across Algeria each year. Leah holds a master’s of education degree in prevention science and practice from Harvard University, a master’s in educational leadership from Cumberland College, and a certificate of special education teaching and administration from Boston University.
Dr. Wafa Kotob has been working in the field of education since 1987. She started as a school teacher, then worked as a school counselor, a teacher trainer, and a researcher in the field of education. In 2007, she was granted a PhD from the University of Manchester in the UK for her research on Theories of Change and Education Reform.
In 2009, Dr. Kotob joined the field of development as the policy and planning specialist in the World Bank unit in the Ministry of Education in Lebanon, and later moved to UNICEF Lebanon as their senior education specialist. Between 2013 and 2016, Dr. Kotob was the chief of party for World Learning’s Developing Rehabilitation Assistance to Schools and Teacher Improvement program II (D-RASATI-2), which was a USAID-funded, nationally focused project with an overarching goal to support the Ministry of Education as it improved the performance of the Lebanese public school system.
Currently, Dr. Kotob is Chief of Party for the USAID funded Quality Instruction towards Access to Basic Education Improvement 2 (QITABI 2) project which is five-year program seeking to improve learning outcomes for all students in primary schools in Lebanon.
Paulette Assaf is currently the deputy chief of party of the USAID-funded Quality Instruction towards Access and Basic Education Improvement 2 (QITABI 2) project, which aims to improve learning outcomes for primary school students in Lebanon. She was the chief of party of QITABI (the prior USAID-funded education project in Lebanon) from 2014 to 2019.
Before joining QITABI, Assaf was the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) project manager at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Lebanon, in charge of a project focusing on Information Technologies and Institutional Development. From 2007 to 2010 she was a Cisco program manager for the Partnership for Lebanon, within the Educational and Networking Academies programs. Previously, she served as a senior sales and marketing executive, project leader and analyst programmer in Beirut and France.
Assaf has 30 years of expertise in ICT strategies and management of various education and public sector projects. She holds a BS in computer science and an MA in money and banking from the American University of Beirut. Assaf is a board member of Women in IT, a Lebanese NGO and one of its founders. She is a certified Project Management Professional with PMI.
Dr. Eva Kozma is the Senior Literacy Technical Director of USAID- funded Lebanon Quality Instruction Towards Access & Basic Education Improvement (QITABI2) project, implemented by World Learning with a consortium of local and international partners. Dr. Kozma is responsible for overall management, implementation, and oversight of the Grades 1- 6 literacy reading and writing programs in English, Arabic, and French languages. She also oversees the development and dissemination of literacy intervention materials, EGRA, CBA and Universal screening tools and reading benchmarks, teacher training, and coaching modules. Her experience includes leading technical dialogue on Literacy best practices and pedagogy with key stakeholders such as MEHE/ DOPS (Department of Orientation and Guidance) and Centre for Educational Research and Development (CERD), providing technical insight on national literacy policies, and implementing interventions in the primary grades classroom. Eva also has extensive expertise in developing and advising on teaching methodologies, including experience mentoring and coaching classrooms to implement successful research-based literacy initiatives. Dr. Kozma contributed and supervised authoring literacy e-content for self-paced and Teachers material with SEL integration and formative assessment to support student learning continuity during COVID 19 school disruption.
Dr. Kozma worked as a Component 1 Lead under QITABI (2015- 2019) lead by World Learning in Lebanon and contributed in designing and implementing the Early warning System (EWS) for struggling readers and also supervised all literacy material development and literacy activities implementation. She also contributed in analysing and reporting research findings and lessons learned from field studies in collaboration with M&E.
Eva is a presenter of research findings from QITABI and QITABI 2 projects from field studies in the CIES prominent yearly conferences.
Dr. Kozma earned her master’s degree from the American University of Beirut and her PhD in reading attitudes in primary grades from Saint Joseph University in Beirut. She is an award-winning children’s books author and loves to read to children and work with them in creative writing workshops.
Rola Bayram holds an MA in education with an emphasis in mathematics from the Lebanese American University. She is the math specialist under QITABI 2 for World Learning, based in Beirut. She is multilingual, with fluency in Arabic, English, and French and has worked on developing and translating math content and material in three languages for ages ranging early years to secondary level math.
Bayram has more than 30 years of experience teaching in both private and public schools, at both university and school level, intermediate all the way to secondary school. She has also held the position of coordinator for grades kindergarten–secondary school for both English and French sections. Bayram has extensive experience working on the national math curriculum as well as developing and aligning math curricula in private schools. Along with her long years of teaching experience and coordinator position, she has trained and mentored over 300 teachers and administrators, all the while working with the holistic approach to math teaching and learning. Within the holistic approach to teaching and learning of math, under QITABI 2, Bayram has more recently been working on the integration of social and emotional learning into the math curriculum, highlighting the importance of students’ social and emotional development as an integral part of learning as a whole, and learning math more specifically.
Along with her teaching, training, and mentorship work, Bayram acts as a consultant both locally and regionally with special emphasis on dyscalculia, among other topics that deal primarily with teaching strategies and intervention for students with mathematical difficulties. In her spare time, Bayram attends workshops globally to fulfill her continued passion for learning as well as transferring this passion to mentor teachers and students to learn math meaningfully and with joy.
Dr. Garene Kaloustian is the social and emotional learning (SEL) specialist for World Learning’s QITABI 2 program. Based in Beirut, she holds a PhD in child development from Purdue University. Among the various SEL activities under QITABI 2, Kaloustian is currently developing Lebanon’s national SEL framework in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education as well QITABI 2 research partner New York University Global TIES. Her work also involves integrating SEL into the literacy and numeracy curricula for grades 1-6. Kaloustian has more than 10 years of experience in SEL in early childhood education, working as a researcher and consultant in both the public and private sectors in Lebanon and the broader region.
Before joining World Learning, Kaloustian was a professor of early childhood education at Lebanese American University, where she taught both undergraduate and graduate courses for eight years; during this time, she revived the Early Childhood Education Lab School under the Department of Education with its original mission to serve as both an early childcare and research center for students, faculty, and parents. She served as director for two years, working primarily on establishing the school as an early childhood research center. Her research interests center around teacher quality of care, classroom environment, and children’s social and emotional development. Within these topics, her work also focuses on exploring the diverse, unique, and fragile conflict-laden context to better understand the cultural nuances that prevail in schools and how those impact children’s social environment and their development.
Aziza El Kolei joined World Learning in 2014 and has since held various roles before being promoted to her current position as Field Director, overseeing a portfolio of projects and designing and implementing curricula for student and teacher development. A passion for engaging youth drives her work through training, civic engagement, and workforce development. Aziza El Kolei is an accomplished TESOL professional with a passion for education. She began her TESOL career in 2011, working with teachers of all ages and levels. Her expertise in this field led her to become a licensed TESOL trainer of trainers with SIT Graduate Institute, supporting educators in Algeria and abroad.
Aziza is an entrepreneur at heart. She is the founder and Executive Director of Pathways Training Center. This state-accredited vocational training center offers personal and professional development courses, including blended TESOL courses for English language teachers across Algeria.
Wagaye Johannes is the Chief Diversity, Equity, and
Inclusion (DEI) Officer for World Learning. She is responsible for driving the
implementation of World Learning’s DEI priorities across the organization’s
operations and programs. She works to foster a more diverse, inclusive,
equitable, and accessible workplace, learning environment, and culture, in
addition to supporting the entire World Learning team’s contributions to
lasting, cultural change.
Wagaye has extensive experience at the intersection of DEI
and international education. She was the former director of operations and
organizational development at Diversity Abroad, where she led efforts to
strengthen the organizational infrastructure and visibility and led DEI
consulting projects, including an assessment of World Learning and the School
for International Training in 2020-21. Before this, she worked for the Institute
of International Education (IIE) where she launched Generation Study Abroad, a
campaign involving a network of more than 700 institutions to increase and
diversify participation in study abroad. She also led the organization’s first
diversity and inclusion task force and headed internal global communications.
She has experience designing programs with a global, inclusive lens and
facilitating DEI trainings, and brings with her a global perspective, having
worked in Japan, Germany, Hungary, and the Netherlands.
Dr. Mohamed Abdelaziz is World Learning’s STEAM Discovery Center director in Saudi Arabia. Dr. Abdelaziz brings thirteen years of experience in teaching, teacher education and international development as he currently leads World Learning Saudi Arabia’s STEAM program in Riyadh. Since joining World Learning Algeria in 2012, Dr. Abdelaziz has been developing education and development programs under multiple U.S. Department of State projects in partnership with the Algerian ministries of youth and sports, national education, and higher education and academic research, engaging at-risk youth and building the capacity of local institutions that provide English, career planning, and civic engagement programming to disadvantaged youth.
Since 2016, Dr. Abdelaziz has been more involved in innovative STEAM education and has piloted and refined a model for STEAM learning centers in Algeria and co-founded the Algiers STEAM Center, Ouargla STEAM Center, and seven STEM Corners in Algeria. Combining his science acumen with his passion for teacher education, Dr. Abdelaziz has designed and implemented face-to-face and online STEAM teacher training programs based on Universal Design for Learning as an inclusive approach to teaching all students that continue to be delivered in Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Prior to joining World Learning, Dr. Abdelaziz worked as a teacher and teacher educator with Hopeland Education Group in Algiers and led many training programs with the U.S. Embassy in Algiers and the British Council. Dr. Abdelaziz is an SIT TESOL certified trainer and PCELT licensed trainer. He holds an MD from the University of Algiers and BA in English literature from the University of Batna. Dr. Abdelaziz’s current area of research is in the field of cognitive neuroscience.
German Gomez is director of TESOL and STEAM education at World Learning. In this position, Gomez conducts outreach efforts to increase partnerships for and brand recognition of World Learning and School of International Training’s (SIT) TESOL work and he also oversees the organization’s TESOL and STEAM program portfolio around the world. Gomez brings 23 years of experience in teacher education, curriculum and assessment development, online education program implementation, and teacher training program management. Prior to joining World Learning, Gomez served as academic director for Instituto Guatemalteco Americano-IGA in Guatemala City and the Uniting Cultures and Communication Center in South Korea. Gomez has also been a presenter and guest speaker at various conferences around the world, and has consulted in TESOL and management for various organizations in Asia and Latin America. Gomez holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Tulane University in New Orleans and an executive master’s degree in project management from Formato Educativo in Spain. Gomez is also an SIT TESOL Certificate Licensed Trainer and TESOL Trainer of Trainers. He is fluent in Spanish and French.