Elizabeth Azeizat, Regional Program Manager, American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS)

Elizabeth AzeizatElizabeth began her ascent into international exchange when she studied in Barcelona, Spain for a little over six months. This led her to later work in international exchange at AIFS in the non-profit high school exchange division – Academic Year in America (AYA) for three years, first as a regional director and then as student support administrator. As a regional director, she placed international high school exchange students with volunteer host families and high schools in United States. She later transitioned into student support administrator at AYA. Most recently,Elizabeth was the support and supervision director at another high school exchange organization, managing all critical supervision and disciplinary cases for private paying student as well as Department of State – Sponsored FLEX and YES students. Currently, she is a program manager at Au Pair in America.

“I found the experience of engaging in a small-group discussions with peers as well as DC area professionals to discuss how politics and policy affect the field of international education absolutely incredible. It was humbling to be in the same room with so many experienced professionals who have dedicated their careers and time towards securing and expanding the place of international exchange in this country, and throughout the globe. It was refreshing to see organizations, many of whom are competitors, working together to ensure that the bigger picture is not lost in the day to day business practices. Being able to speak openly and passionately among likeminded individuals reenergized me and reminded me why I continue to promote and work in an industry that impacts the lives of those that open their arms to embrace it.”

Alison Gold, Director of International Business Development, Spirit Cultural Exchange

Alison GoldAlison Gold graduated from University of Denver with a Master’s degree focused in International Economics and received her Bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a minor in Spanish from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. During her university career, she studied in Granada, Spain and Shanghai, China. Later, she served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala in Central America working with small business owners before returning home and joining Spirit in 2004. She has been thrilled to work in the international student exchange industry since. Her family moved to San Francisco in 2009, where she now works remotely from the West Coast. In her free time, Ms. Gold spends time with her daughter, attempts to be a yogi, and explores Northern California farmer’s markets and local wineries.

“I left the meeting feeling (re)inspired about our field –that our collective efforts are an important part of U.S. diplomacy, and our work leads towards a more peaceful world.”

Megan Lysaght, Program Manager, American Councils for International Education

Megan LysaghtBased in Washington, DC, Megan is the Program Manager for the American Councils for International Education’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program. In this capacity, she works closely with State Department colleagues and over 16 YES recruiting and placement organizations to support YES students throughout the program year and as alumni. In 2014, Megan worked as the Critical Language Scholarship Resident Director in Ankara, Turkey. From 2011-2013, she worked on the Civic Education Workshops for YES, FLEX, and CBYX. Before entering the field of international education, Megan served as a Community Economic Development volunteer in the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan where she worked on capacity building projects with a USAID-funded women’s health clinic and regional micro-finance banks.

“Attending the conference was eye opening to the issues and problems we face in the international education field. I was compelled by the best practice sharing and the general comradery amongst those who are often viewed as ‘competitors.’ I feel the professional development gained in attending the various sessions is especially worthwhile as a junior manager who is eager to grow and learn alongside my peers and colleagues in the field.”