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 over 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

Anna Berry

Anna Berry has served as Executive Director of the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire since 2010. She is an accomplished nonprofit leader and an award-winning journalist who covered Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run for President.  Previously, she directed the communications for a nationally-recognized, environmental non-profit in Massachusetts and served as a communications consultant to the Pew Environment Group. Her passion for travel, culture, language has also taken her to China, India, and many countries in Europe, including France. She was one of six delegates chosen to represent the World Affairs Councils of America on a 2013 Leadership Mission to Taiwan and will join a New England delegation to Turkey in August 2014. Her summer travel plans also include Iceland, Israel and Jordan.  She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and has written for publications including U.S. News & World Report, the Pennsylvania Gazette, the Keene Sentinel and the Cape Cod Times.  She will lead our cruise to Burgundy and Provence in May 2015.

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 Council tours to Tunisia, Morocco and a cruise from Venice to Cannes.  


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 Iran tour in 2015.


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 October 2015.

Dr. Jerry Leach

Dr. Jerry Leach

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 will lecture on a cruise to Turkey in October 2015.


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 to Myanmar in February 2014 and will lead our Viet Nam tour this fall.



Dr. Gail Stevenson

Dr. Gail Stevenson has worked in international higher education for more than 30 years.  She has a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in Vermont, a master’s from the University of Oslo (Norway) and a Ph.D.  in economics from American University in Washington, D.C.  She has been the Executive Director of the Vermont Council on World Affairs since 2009 and was previously a board member. She was an AFS exchange student in high school near Oslo and has spent almost 10 years living and working in Norway.  She has traveled extensively around Norway and much of Scandinavia and keeps up with Scandinavian affairs through her consulting work on climate change in the Arctic. She speaks fluent Norwegian and will lead our 2015 tour to Scandinavia.

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.  She will lead our South Africa tour and Cuba December tour.

Maria Wulff

Maria Wulff

Maria Wulff is President of the World Affairs Council of Oregon. Prior to joining the World Affairs Council, Maria worked for over 20 years in international business as Managing Director of an import company based in the Philippines which produced goods in four Asian countries for worldwide distribution; international trade consultant; Director of Business Assistance at the International Trade Institute; and founder of an import company specializing in Central Asian artifacts. She has lived in Morocco, the former Yugoslavia, and England and has traveled extensively in over 60 other countries. Maria serves on a number of civic boards, including the national board of the World Affairs Councils of America, and was founder and president of the East West Business Association. She holds a BA and an MS in History and Social Science/International Relations from Portland State University, a Certificate in Central European Studies from the University of Zagreb in Croatia, as well as a graduate degree in Business from Harvard University. Maria will lead our Adriatic Cruise in 2015.

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. Previously, she worked for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Maria has recently been named a Virginia State Advisory Committee member of the US Global Leadership Coalition, based in DC. 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 last traveled to Tehran in October 1974. She has led international tours and Leadership Missions, including to Baghdad, Kabul, Singapore, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan. Maria has led Council trips to Malta and Sicily; Morocco; Vietnam; a cruise from Malta to Rome and a tour to India.  Maria will lead our 2015 tour to Sri Lanka.


Dr. Pamela Zeiser

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 will lead our 2015 cruise along the Elbe River.




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