Christina Thomas

Divisional Vice President, Youth Exchange

Christina has been working in the field of educational management and international education for over 15 years, teaching, designing, and managing transformational and educational exchange programs for youth and adults. Christina has helped to develop, grow, and maintain the youth exchange portfolio for World Learning’s inbound and outbound youth exchange programs since 2006, managing both State Department–funded youth programs first with Serbia then later for Brazil and Iraq, on themes such as civic education, civil society, multicultural diversity, conflict resolution, and volunteerism and more recently, on private tuition based programs for The Experiment. Currently, Christina is the director of operations for The Experiment in International Living based in Washington, DC,. 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 MA in international communications from the School of International Service with an emphasis on cross-cultural communication and international education from American University in Washington, DC.

Heather Beard

Director of Admissions and Outreach, Youth Exchanges.

Heather Beard is an international education professional with 15 years of admissions and development experience in higher education and the nonprofit sector. Heather joined World Learning in 2010 as an admissions officer for the School for International Training. In 2013, Heather began her role of associate director of Admissions for The Experiment and was promoted to director of admissions in 2015. Before coming to World Learning, Heather worked in admissions for The Putney School and as membership coordinator for Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center for the Arts. She has an MFA in studio art and critical theory from the Maine College of Art, and a BA in English from Emerson College.

Kirstin French-Kray

Director of Operations and Youth Programming

Kirstin is a youth program professional who specializes in program logistics, staff training, and risk management. Kirstin has been managing international youth programs at World Learning since December 2011 and joined The Experiment in 2015. Prior to World Learning, Kirstin worked as a Program Manager for US-based youth programs focusing on service learning and social justice in the Central Appalachian Region. Kirstin earned a B.A. in Sociology and Africana Studies from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and an M.A. in Conflict Transformation & Youth Program Leadership from SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Kimberly James

Global Admissions Manager

Kimberly James comes to The Experiment in International Living with more than 10 years of admissions and youth development experience, having worked in independent schools and nonprofits. Prior to joining the Experiment staff, she was a Group Leader in 2016 and 2017 on the Germany: Contemporary Politics and the European Union, and Ireland: Irish Culture and Youth Empowerment programs. Kimberly first discovered her love for travel during a month-long exchange and homestay program to Germany while in high school. She then spent three and a half years of her undergraduate studies living abroad in Germany, England, Italy, India, Thailand, China, and Japan. Kimberly has a B.A. in Intercultural Education from Global College, Long Island University.

Kristen Dowling

Operations Manager

Kristen Dowling joined The Experiment in 2016 as the Logistics and Systems Coordinator. She has a background in non-profit communication, travel and special events. She received her BS in Mass Communication with a minor concentration in Spanish Language from Boston University in 2007. Kristen is an alum of SIT’s International Honors Program’s Cities in the 21st Century program, and spent a year of her time as an undergraduate studying abroad in Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand and Peru.

Ashley Langdon

Senior Global Admissions Counselor

Ashley Langdon joined The Experiment as an admissions officer in 2012, having previously worked for World Learning as program coordinator for Latin America with SIT Study Abroad. Raised in Northern California in a family of international teachers, Ashley spent her first two years of high school at the International School of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and sought summer abroad opportunities with Amigos de las Americas in the Dominican Republic. She received her BS in ecology, behavior, and evolution from the University of California, San Diego, choosing to spend a year and a half of college studying abroad in Costa Rica, where she was able to pursue her love for strange insects and her passion for speaking Spanish. In the past ten years, she has led international high school abroad programs for buildOn, Global Routes, Ecology Project International, and UCSD in Peru, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ghana, Mali, and Malawi.

Shady Elfaham

Global Admissions Counselor

Shady is an international education professional with a deep appreciation for educational exchange programs and extensive experience in youth intercultural learning programs. Shady’s experience as a YES alumni drives his passion and work in international education initiatives on daily basis. Prior to joining the Experiment team, Shady worked in World Learning’s Youth Team – Global Exchange Unit supporting IYLEP-Arabic program through curriculum design and delivery, pre- and post-programmatic monitoring and evaluation tools, workshop facilitation for youth and adult mentors, strategic outreach and recruitment efforts and host community partnerships. Before coming to World Learning, Shady worked for AFS-USA as the Community Outreach Specialist for the DMV Area. Shady has a degree in Political Science and Government with a concentration on Middle Eastern Studies from the University of the District of Columbia. During his free time, Shady likes to travel, play sports (soccer and cycling) and attend musical performances.

Jessika Macias

Global Programs Manager

Jess has been with The Experiment in International Living since 2013 and brings years of experience in education and youth programs to her position as program officer. Prior to joining the Experiment staff, Jess led an Experiment language and cooking program to France, an archaeological and language program to Peru, a volleyball training program to Cuba, and two outdoor adventures to Costa Rica. Over the course of six years as a social studies and special education teacher, she taught in Armenia, Colombia, and Texas. She has also worked with Outward Bound and led youth groups hiking and canoeing in Maine. Jess has a BA in psychology from Stanford and an MA in international communication from the School of International Service at American University. Jess hails from the El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juárez area on the Mexican-American border. She speaks Spanish and has been able to pursue her interest in French language by studying abroad in France on two occasions—with Stanford in Paris and with the Sciences Po School of Communications.

Larry Fenn

Global Admissions Counselor

Larry comes to The Experiment team with 10 years of admissions experience at the SCA (Student Conservation Association), where he was responsible for year-round, regional admissions and placement of youth and young adults in national conservation internships. He also has experience using social media as a recruiting tool. He lives in Alstead, New Hampshire, with his wife, 4-year-old twins, 8-year-old daughter, and their many animals.

Kirby Landers

Partnership Coordinator

Kirby has a background in education, community development and non-profit management with experience working in six countries. She previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Indonesia teaching English and facilitating trainings for fellow teachers. Prior to joining the Experiment staff, she worked as Country Leader of the Dominican Republic for Community Empowerment Solutions, hosting American university students for cultural immersion and experiential learning programs. Kirby earned a B.A. in International Affairs, focused on Latin American & Caribbean Studies, from University of Georgia and an M.A. in Sustainable Development: International Policy & Management from SIT Graduate Institute in Washington, D.C.

Melanie Brubaker

Senior Program Officer for the Experiment Leadership Institute

Melanie joined The Experiment in 2014 as program officer for the Experiment Leadership Institute. Melanie has worked with World Learning since 2007 in a variety of capacities—first, as assistant director for World Learning’s Youth Peacebuilding and Leadership Programs, then as an associate program officer for U.S. Department of State exchanges, and, most recently, as the intercultural education specialist for the International Honors Program (IHP). She has also worked for Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, DC, as a special education aide. Melanie received her MA from SIT Graduate Institute in social justice and intercultural training, training and experiential education, and her BA in sociology/philosophy from Clark University. Melanie has lived and studied around the world including in Namibia, Brazil, and Argentina.

Karen Ross

Program Officer

A past leader for The Experiment Leadership Institute’s Peace, Politics, and Human Rights Program, Karen brings years of experience in youth and civic engagement with specialization in inclusive programming, training, and project management. Karen joined The Experiment in 2015 while finishing her Master of Arts in Intercultural Service, Leadership & Management at SIT Graduate Institute. She earned her B.A. in both Sociology and International Studies from the University of Central Arkansas. Prior to The Experiment, Karen worked with World Learning’s civic engagement program, iPACE, in Myanmar. While there she concurrently designed and facilitated trainings for youth on global citizenship and awareness, leadership, development and civics at one of the largest monastic schools in the country. She’s managed youth programs in Matoso, Kenya and was a facilitator with a refugee youth organization in Cape Town, South Africa. With roots in the Philippines, Karen has also lived in Japan and both US coasts.

Deanna Looper

Systems Coordinator

Deanna Looper joined The Experiment in 2008 as admissions assistant and was promoted to systems coordinator in 2012. Deanna has a BS in geography from Southern Oregon University. Before coming to World Learning, Deanna worked as GIS editor for the Butte Falls Resource Area of the Department of the Interior United States, Bureau of Land Management.

Chelsea Johnson

Leader Hiring Coordinator

Chelsea has been involved with the Experiment team since 2017 as Admissions assistant, Programs assistant, Operations Associate, and Group Leader to Nicaragua and Cuba. She has also led several World Learning Youth Programs with students from Brazil and the Caribbean. Prior to joining the World Learning community, Chelsea spent several years living in Nicaragua and Ecuador and working with U.S. youth after completing her BA in Spanish and BS in marketing at Colorado State University, where she studied abroad in Spain and Chile. Her professional passions weave youth education with experiential learning, the Spanish language, Latin America, indigenous ways of knowing, and environmental sustainability. She is currently working toward her MA in International Education from SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont.