Meet the Travel Professionals — with 35 years of experience!

Joan Russell

Joan Russell, Vice President of Travel

Joan has run the Council's travel program for twenty years and in 2010 was appointed Vice President, Travel.  Prior to joining the Council, she ran the travel program of the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco; held the position of Product Marketing Manager for the British Tourist Authority; and worked for several special interest tour operators based in England, Australia and the U.S. During her career in travel, Joan has visited every continent and led many tours around the globe.

Shoshana Altrichter

Shoshana Altrichter, Associate Director of Travel

Shoshana has been with the travel department at the World Affairs Council for over nine years.  Prior to arriving at the World Affairs Council, Shoshana earned a B.A. from Drexel University in Philadelphia.  Shoshana had led several tours for the Council including a Ukraine Dnieper River and Black Sea Cruise, a Russia River Cruise, a tour to Iran with Ambassador Mark Johnson, Israel, Cuba, and a Mekong River Cruise.

Meet some of our Lecturers and Leaders

Jim Falk

Jim Falk

Since August 2001, Jim Falk has been the president and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth and is a past board member of the World Affairs Councils of America. He formerly was at the Middle East Institute as press officer and director of education. He is an adjunct professor of international relations at the University of North Texas. Jim Falk is the moderator of the Global IQ with The Economist, the Council’s monthly webcast. He in an expert in the Maghreb region, has led two Council tours to Tunisia, and recently returned from our group tour to Morocco which he will again lead in 2014.

Mimi Gregory

Mimi Gregory

Mimi Gregory is Vice President and Program Chairman of the Naples, Florida, Council on World Affairs. Mimi has traveled extensively in Central and Eastern Europe, participated in a Council Leadership Mission to Germany, and led a Great Decisions group for eleven years. She also lived in France for several years, where she worked as an Executive Recruiter for the banking industry. Mimi maintains very strong ties with France through her association with the Alliances Francaises, as President of their Federation, and was recently honored by President Sarkozy with the National Order of Merit, Rank of Commander.  She will lead our Danube tour in 2014.

Heather Hodges

Ambassador Heather Hodges

Ambassador Heather Hodges became the President and Ambassador in Residence of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs in November 2011 after 31 years in the Foreign Service spent mostly working on issues related to Latin America. She did consular work in Venezuela and Guatemala and was deputy chief of mission in Managua, Lima, and Madrid. Her Washington assignments included the Peru desk and Deputy Coordinator for Cuban Affairs. Ms. Hodges was Ambassador to Moldova from 2003-2006 and was Ambassador to Ecuador from 2008 to 2011. She has a B.A. in Spanish from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and an M.A. from New York University.  She will lead our South America tour this year.

Ambassador Mark Johnson

Ambassador Mark Johnson

Ambassador Johnson was a career foreign service officer, serving as Ambassador to Senegal, as Deputy Inspector General of the State Department, Deputy Chief of Mission in Kuwait in 1991, and as Deputy Chief of Mission in Cairo, Egypt. He was the first American diplomat to return to the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City after it was liberated in the Desert Storm campaign. He also was involved with the Middle East peace process and the Iranian hostage crisis. Mark is the former national Vice Chair of the World Affairs Councils of America and is the Founder of the World Affairs Council of Montana. He is a Mansfield Adjunct Professor at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana. Ambassador Johnson has lectured on several tours for the Council and will lecture on a Mediterranean Cruise in 2014.

Kay Maxwell

Kay Maxwell

Kay Maxwell is the Executive Director of the World Affairs Forum in Stamford, CT, and served as President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. from 2002-2006. Internationally, she has led League-sponsored trips and conducted training of women leaders in Bosnia and Azerbaijan. Kay has also conducted workshops for women, political, NGO and business leaders in Thailand, the Philippines, Korea, Mongolia and Rwanda under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Speakers Program. She received her BA in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania. Kay led a Council tour to Cuba in March 2013 and our Myanmar tour in 2014.

Marilyn McAfee

Ambassador Marilyn McAfee

Ambassador Marilyn McAfee (Ret ) served as a career foreign service officer for 31 years receiving  the Presidential Meritorious Award, the Superior Honor Award and the Distinguished Honor Award. She was promoted to the rank of Career Minister in 1997.  Assignments included 4 1/2 years in Iran and subsequently three years in Washington on the Iran Desk during the Revolution and hostage taking. She also had responsibilities for Afghanistan and Pakistan and made multiple visits to both countries.  Ambassaor McAfee served as President of the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville for six years and curently serves as Chair of the Jacksonville Council's Advisory Board.  She has also served on the National Board of the World Affairs Councils of America.  She has led Council trips to South and Central America and will lead our October tour to Iran.

James Nathan

Dr.James Nathan

Dr. James Nathan, the Khaled bin Sultan Eminent Scholar and Professor of International Relations at Auburn University Montgomery, is a former foreign service officer, who received his master's and doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of seven books on U.S. foreign and security policy and has taught at the Army and Navy War Colleges and served as a consultant to the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense.  Dr. Nathan is the Director of the Alabama World Affairs Council and a long-time member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  His book The Cuban Missile Crisis Revisited, was cited by The Washington Post's Book World as "mandatory reading for policymakers at all levels.”  Nathan has also published articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, The Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, World Politics, The Nation and other popular and scholarly publications.  Dr. Nathan will lead our November 2014 tour to Cuba.

Steve Sokol

Dr. Steven Sokol

Dr. Steven E. Sokol, President and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, will lead our tour to Turkey. He has traveled to Turkey several times and has organized high-level policy conferences in Europe, Turkey, and the United States focused on Turkey and the future of Europe. In September 2012, Dr. Sokol participated in a fact-finding mission to Turkey to sign a sister city agreement between Pittsburgh and Gaziantep. Dr. Sokol holds a Doctorate in Law and Policy from Northeastern University, an M.A. in International Relations and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. He had a Fulbright Scholarship in Berlin in 1989 and lived in Germany from 1993 to 2002. In May 2012, he led a Council trip to Berlin, coordinating all of the substantive briefings during the week.

L.J. Stambuk

Ljubomir (L.J.) Stambuk

Ljubomir (L.J.) Stambuk joined the World Affairs Council of Charlotte as Executive Director in 2006 and is currently President and CEO. L.J. has 20 years of senior leadership and management experience in operations management, business development, marketing and human resources and strategic planning in various multinational corporations around the world. He received his undergraduate degree in International Economics and Business from the University of Belgrade. He also has a Master’s degree in Business and Organizational Development from Cornell University. L.J. was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and traveled extensively around the world throughout his childhood with his diplomat family. L.J. will lead our Croatia tour in fall 2014.

Carla Thorson

Dr. Carla Thorson

Dr. Carla Thorson, Vice President of Public Programs, World Affairs Council of Northern California, earned her MA and PhD in Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to joining the Council, she was on the faculty at UCLA and was Outreach Coordinator for the UCLA International Institute’s Center for European and Eurasian Studies.  While studying for her degrees, she also worked as a consultant at the RAND Corporation and as an analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Inc. Dr. Thorson has led several Council tours and lectured on a Baltics cruise and Antarctica cruise.

Angela Weck

Angela Weck

Angela Weck teaches courses on Russia (Imperial Russia and Russian Foreign Policy) at Bradley University’s Institute of International Studies in Peoria, IL. She is also Executive Director of the Peoria Area World Affairs Council and a member of the Board of Directors of the World Affairs Councils of America. Her research interests include Russian foreign policy and models of collaboration between academic institutions and community organizations. Professor Weck received her B.A. from Iowa State University and holds a Special Certificate from the Moscow Institute of Timber. She received her Masters degree in Russian and East European Area Studies from the University of Minnesota. Angela recently lectured on a Russia cruise for Bradley University and will return on a World Affairs Council trip to Russia in 2014.

Maria Zammit

Maria Zammit

Maria Zammit has held leadership roles with the World Affairs Council system since 1989, with Greater Hampton Roads and nationally, with World Affairs Councils of America.  She has led international tours and Leadership Missions, including to Baghdad in 2009 and Kabul in 2012.  Maria has led Council trips to Malta and Sicily; Morocco; Vietnam; India and a cruise from Malta to Rome.  Ms. Zammit is currently the President of the Economics Club of Hampton Roads and the Chair of Programs at the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads. She received her M.A. in International Relations at the Paul Nitze School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University.  Maria will co-lead our October Iran tour.





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