Meet the Travel Department
Shoshana has been with the travel department at the World Affairs Council for over twelve years. Prior to joining the Council, she worked for other non-profits in Philadelphia. During her career in travel, Shoshana has traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East and has led many tours for the organization. Shoshana earned a B.A. from Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Hannah began her career with the World Affairs Council just over a year ago as Membership, Events and Database Assistant. Previously, Hannah interned for other non-profits in Philadelphia and New York. Hannah lived and studied in Prague, Czech Republic; where she wrote for VICE News and read as much Kafka as she could. She holds a B.F.A. from New York University.
Meet some of our Lecturers and Leaders
Joyce M. Davis is founder and President of the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg. She also is Director of Communications for the City of Harrisburg. Davis is author of many articles, broadcasts and two books. Davis is former foreign correspondent and foreign editor for National Public Radio and Knight Ridder Newspapers. She served NPR as Editor for the Middle East and Africa, as well as for Asia and Europe before she was promoted to Deputy Foreign Editor. She also served NPR as Senior Foreign Editor and Director of News Staffing before she accepted an offer from Knight Ridder Newspapers to become Deputy Foreign Editor. Ms. Davis was Associate Director of Broadcasting for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague, Czech Republic. In her senior role at the international broadcasting agency, Ms. Davis supervised radio and internet services to Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the countries of Central Asia. Davis is a member of several boards, including the World Affairs Councils of America, United Way of the Capital Region, Elizabethtown College, Penn State School of Humanities Advisory Board and State Street Academy of Music. Joyce will lead our 2018 tour Town and Country Life of Languedoc.
Jim Falk has been President and CEO of World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth since August 2001. He began his international career as director of education at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. and then was a commercial banker for First City National Bank of Houston. Following his banking career, he was regional director in Houston, TX for the Institute of International Education and later worked as vice president of development for the National Center for Policy Analysis. In April 2013, he was appointed Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of Morocco for the state of Texas. Jim and his parents lived in Tunis, Tunisia throughout Jim’s high school years where he attended a French lycée. He earned his French baccalauréate in philosophy and modern languages. He is a Washington and Lee University graduate, and received his master’s degree in international law and organization and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Virginia. Jim will lead our 2018 Rhine Cruise.
Mimi Gregory is Vice President and Program Chairman of the Naples, Florida, Council on World Affairs. Mimi has traveled extensively in Europe, has participated in Council Leadership Missions to Germany, Lebanon, Kuwait, Israel, Egypt, Taiwan and Iraq. She has also traveled to Afghanistan and Iran. She has led a Great Decisions group for sixteen years. Having 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 Françaises, and the France Florida Foundation For the Arts. She was honored by President Nicolas Sarkozy with the National Order of Merit, Rank of Commander. Mimi has led two Council trips to France, three to the Danube and a trip to Iran. She will lead our 2018 tour to Botswana.
Ambassador Vicki Huddleston was a senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense and led American diplomatic missions in Mali, Madagascar, Cuba, and Ethiopia. Her opinion pieces on Cuba, Mali, and Ethiopia have appeared in The New York Times, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post. She was head of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba during the custody battle over little Elián Gonzalez in the spring of 2002. She is the only woman to have led our diplomatic mission in Cuba; she was also the lead foreign policy expert on Cuba in the early nineties at the State Department. As a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution she lead a bipartisan Cuba project that resulted in “Learning to Sala: New Steps in U.S. – Cuba Policy,” a blueprint that was largely followed by President Barack Obama when he engineered the opening to Cuba. She was a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and as a Congressional Fellow worked on the staff of former Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Vicki will be leading our October 2017 tour to Cuba.
Ambassador Mark Johnson (ret.) completed 30 years as a career foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department serving as Ambassador to Senegal, Deputy Inspector General of the State Department, Deputy Chief of Mission in Kuwait, 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 during the Desert Storm military campaign. He also was involved with the Middle East peace process in Cairo and helped negotiate the release of the American diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis from 1979-81. He has led several World Affairs Council trips.
Dr. Leach earned a PhD and an MA from Cambridge University as well as an MA from Berkeley on Turkish affairs. His fascination with Turkey began as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving with his wife Marianne there, in the 1960s. They both have been back to Turkey many times since then and he has led several tour groups there. In recent years, he served as a professor at the American University in Cairo 2006-2011 and as the National President of the World Affairs Councils of America 1996-2006. Within the US Government, he was Peace Corps Regional Director for Eastern Europe, Soviet Republics, Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific; NSC Director of International Economic Affairs; Deputy Director of State's Strategic Technology Affairs Office; and a consular officer at the US Embassy in London. In addition to AUC in Egypt, Dr. Leach has taught at Cambridge University, the University of Papua New Guinea, and Gazi University in Ankara. He speaks frequently within the world affairs council system and at universities. Jerry lectured on a cruise to Turkey in October 2015 and an Egypt tour in 2016. He will again lecture on our 2017 tour to Morocco and Australia and New Zealand in 2018.
Ann Lesch led Council tours to Iran in 2014 and 2015, returning there many years after exploring the country as a graduate student. Ann will once again return to Iran to lead our 2018 tour. Ann served as Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences and Associate Provost for International Programs at The American University in Cairo (AUC), after teaching political science and directing the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at Villanova University. A graduate of Swarthmore College, with her PhD from Columbia University, she also worked in the Middle East for The American Friends Service Committee, The Ford Foundation, and Universities Field Staff International. Dr. Lesch served as president of the Middle East Studies Association and the Sudan Studies Association and co-founded the Palestinian American Research Center. She is the author of several books and numerous articles on Middle East politics and was tour leader/academic lecturer for three trips to the region for the National Council on US/Arab Relations.
Kay Maxwell is the Executive Director of the World Affairs Forum in Stamford, CT, and served as the 16th President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. from 2002-2006. Kay’s leadership in the League and her commitment to strengthening democracy worldwide has earned her several honors. 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, to Myanmar, and a cruise to Viet Nam and Cambodia. She will return to lead our 2017 tour along the Silk Road and China and Tibet in 2018.
Derrick Olsen is the current President of the World Affairs Council of Oregon, and a former Foreign Service Officer. Derrick was the Vice President of Regional Strategy at the regional economic development nonprofit Greater Portland Inc (GPI) where he led the implementation of Greater Portland Global, the region’s Global Trade and Investment Plan developed as part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint program of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. Previously, Derrick managed international trade and investment issues for over four years with Business Oregon (the Oregon Business Development Department). In 2013, Derrick participated in the U.S.-Spain Council Young Leaders Program. Derrick also has over 13 years of experience managing political and economic issues as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State in Latin America, Asia, and Washington, DC, with four overseas tours including as Chief of the U.S. Embassy’s Political Section in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Fluent in Spanish, he has a Bachelor of Arts in Government and History from Dartmouth College and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Derrick will lead our 2018 Ecuador tour.
Norm Olsen is a former Senior United States Foreign Service Officer. He served for 26 years. His professional skills and experience include negotiations, contact work, team-building and management, economic development, USAID project monitoring, peacekeeping, and award-winning political, economic and security analysis, in both benign and hostile environments. He has served in Europe, Jamaica, the Marshall Islands, and the Middle East, where he served for nine years in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Norm will lead our 2018 Adriatic Cruise.
Patrick Ryan is the volunteer President and founder of the Tennessee World Affairs Council. He is the President and founder of Ryan & Associates, an editorial consulting firm based in Nashville, specializing in on-line global affairs information resources, especially covering developments in the Middle East. His consulting firm, established in 1999 in Washington, DC and now based in Tennessee, brings together writers, researchers, web design and development specialists and other professionals to deliver customized editorial solutions to an international client list. At age 17 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he served a 26-year career, assigned first in the Persian Gulf in 1973 followed by assignments in the Submarine Service where he attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Mr. Ryan received a BA degree at the University of South Carolina, in 1981, majoring in International Studies followed by commissioning in the Navy as an Ensign. Mr. Ryan served aboard numerous ships, headquarters staffs and overseas assignments before retiring in 1998 as a Lieutenant Commander. Among his assignments were the Joint Staff in the Pentagon, the Center for Naval Analyses, and US Central Command headquarters. He has lived and worked in Bahrain, Italy and Japan and has traveled to about 50 countries for work and leisure. Patrick will return to Italy to lead our 2018 tour to Tuscany.
Barbara Stephenson was elected President of the American Foreign Service Association in June 2015. As Dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute, she has worked for the past two years on improving leadership and management throughout the State Department, both through training and through the Department-wide Culture of Leadership Initiative she launched and co-chaired. She served as Ambassador to Panama and as the first woman Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires at the United States Embassy in London. As Deputy Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Coordinator for Iraq (2006-2008), she won the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award. From 2001-2004, as the American Consul General in Belfast, Northern Ireland, she worked on the Northern Ireland Peace Process. From 1998-2001, she served as Consul General and Chief of Mission in Curaçao, where was responsible for the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles as well as Aruba. Earlier in her career, Ambassador Stephenson served as special assistant to Under Secretaries for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff and Tom Pickering, covering European affairs. Other assignments have included desk officer for the UK, political-military officer in South Africa, and political officer in The Hague and San Salvador. She began her career in Panama, serving first as an economic officer and then as a political officer. Ambassador Stephenson will lead our Panama cruise in February 2018.
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. She will lead our cruise to Iceland in 2017 and South Africa tour in 2018.
Megan C. Torrey is the Executive Director, World Affairs Council of Connecticut, Hartford. Megan has extensive travel experience to Europe, North Africa and as an undergraduate undertook a Semester at Sea—Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, China. She lived in Paris during Graduate School and worked at Unesco for the International Year for the Culture of Peace. She attended a Women’s Leadership Conference in Saudi Arabia. In 2015, The Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame selected her as one of ten 2015 Global Impact Honorees. The Global Impact Honor is intended to highlight the contributions and the important role Connecticut women play internationally. Megan will lead our Himalayan Kingdoms trip in 2018.
Dr. Pamela A. Zeiser is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of Nevada, Reno, and both a Masters degree in International Studies and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Zeiser teaches courses on International Relations and Europe, generally, with special interests in foreign policy and the European Union. Dr. Zeiser has lectured for previous World Affairs Council programs in Europe, including two previous programs in Germany and the Czech Republic, and has led student study abroad groups to Central Europe. She is a member of the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville, where she volunteers as liaison between the Council and the University of North Florida. She led several tours for the Council and will return for European Coastal Civilizations in 2018.
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