Our People

Every member of our team has studied, traveled, volunteered, interned, and/or taught abroad, and we understand how life-changing an experiential program can be. We’re here to advise you, work with you throughout the application process, prepare you before your program begins and support you while you’re abroad.

Finding the right host organization in another country can be challenging, but our experienced team of on-site staff is devoted to matching you with a host organization that best fits your unique skill set, academic goals, and areas of interest. Our on-site staff provides support from the moment you arrive, helps orient you to your new country and host organization, and ensures that you are successful throughout your time abroad.

U.S.-Based Team


Xena Pulliam

Director


Hailing from Knox, NY, Xena earned her BA in media and society from Hobart & William Smith Colleges where she also completed programs in English, aesthetics, environmental studies and leadership. During her junior year, she studied abroad in London and fell in love with the history, culture and countries she explored throughout Europe. She vowed to never stop traveling the world and has since lived on three different continents. Now based in Melbourne, Australia, Xena loves helping students discover the magic that she feels when exploring a new country. She also enjoys reading a good book on the beach, dabbling in creative writing, and eating copious amounts of the delicious food that her chef partner makes.

Xena Pulliam
Director

Taylor Green

Program Manager, England, Ireland, Spain, Chile, & Global Remote Internships


Taylor grew up in a small Pennsylvania town (think: no highway nearby) in an area known as the PA Wilds. Travel has always been an important part of her life, starting when she was younger when she would take family vacations to places including Wyoming, Florida and the Bahamas. She graduated from Edinboro University in 2016 with a B.A. in Communication Studies and an M.A. in Communication Studies in 2019, effectively making her a master of communication. Wanting to travel more, during her graduate school career, Taylor expanded her travel experience with an internship in Dublin, Ireland and has since traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland and Salvador, Brazil. She has a passion and love for travel and vows to help others feel the same joy and excitement of exploring a new place. Taylor also loves coffee shops, photography, and Penn State Football.

Taylor Green
Program Manager,
Ireland, Spain, & Chile

Veronika Pesina

Program Manager, Australia, New Zealand, England, & Global Remote Internships


Veronika is originally from the north of the Czech Republic. As a European located in the heart of Europe, she always had easy access to international travel and has visited most of Europe. Last year she graduated from The University in Sunderland in the UK with a degree in Business and Human Resource Management. Thanks to studying abroad, she undertook a year-long Business and Hospitality Internship in Austin, TX. It was a life-changing milestone that completely influenced her life direction and helped her to permanently relocate across the world to Austin, TX. Outside of Europe, she has traveled to Egypt, the Asian side of Turkey, the USA, and Mexico and would love to explore more places in the United States and nearby countries. Veronika joined WorldStrides in April 2022 as an Executive Administrative Assistant and worked her way up to her current role of Program Manager for International Internships.

Veronika Pesina
Program Manager,
Australia, New Zealand, England, & Global Remote Internships

Stuart Shreve

Program Manager, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, China, & Vietnam


Hi! My name is Stuart but feel free to call me "Stu", it's been my nickname ever since I was a kid. I was born in North Miami beach, but I was raised in the city of Pembroke Pines, Florida. When I was a kid, my parents would always take me on trips to Disney World, which first sparked a small flame for hospitality, hotels, and travel of course. Over time, we slowly started to travel to other states, to experience some of our Nation's beautiful history, people, and landscapes. I have seen the White House and visited Times square. I will always remember attending Derek Jeter's last game at Fenway Park in Boston, but most of all taking in the view of Grand Canyon was unlike anything I'd seen before. Even so, something was missing. I recently graduated from Florida International University in December '21 with my bachelor's in hospitality management and a focus on travel and tourism. In my time at FIU, I wanted to learn about international cultures and people so that I could continue learning about myself as an individual. I achieved this goal when I studied abroad remotely as an intern in Vietnam, and it was the best decision I ever made. It will be my pleasure to assist you along your journey in making this dream a reality.

Stuart Shreve
Program Manager,
 South Korea, Japan, China, & Vietnam

Academic Team


Elizabeth Erbeznik, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Curriculum & Academic Programs


Hailing from Northern California, Elizabeth graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with a BA in English and French and then received her MA and PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. Elizabeth first traveled to Switzerland as a high school exchange student, then studied abroad for a year in Lyon, France, where she enrolled in literature courses with local students and traveled throughout most of Western Europe during long vacations. After graduating from UCLA, she joined the Peace Corps and taught English in Madagascar. Before joining ISA, she taught French language and literature courses at Northern Illinois University and UT-Austin. She loves reading books in their original language (or translations), traveling, camping and going on adventures with her husband and daughter.

Elizabeth Erbeznik, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President,
Curriculum & Academics

Michelle Dippold

Assistant Director, Curriculum and Academics


Born and raised in Central Ohio, Michelle received an Individualized B.A. in Environmental Sociology from Otterbein University and an M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina. Despite being an avid solo traveler, she didn't collect most of her passport stamps until her late 20s. Now a self-proclaimed expert in optimizing 48-72 hours at a destination, she is always planning the next adventure. As an international educator who ""tripped and fell"" into the field, she is passionate about designing experiences that align with students' long-term personal and professional goals. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time outdoors (in moderation), supporting local businesses, and conspiring to take over the world with her cat.

Michelle Dippold
Assistant Director,
Curriculum & Academics

Andrés Suárez

Support Specialist


Hi! My name is Andrés, and I was born and raised in Merida, a small city in southeast Mexico, filled with places to see, people to meet, beautiful traditions and amazing history. I recently graduated from Law School here in Mexico, and one of my professional goals is being able to combine my legal background and my passion for travel. I’m also a big soccer fan and a history buff, which is one of the reasons I enjoy traveling and learning through traveling. Being born in Mexico, one of Latin America’s top destinations for tourism, I feel really lucky to have so many different places to see so close to me, and I’ve made it a personal challenge to see all of our 32 states before my 32’s. As for my international bucket list, my top destinations would be Norway, Scotland, Austria and Portugal, and I hope to be able to cross out those countries soon. I’m sure this experience abroad will be a lifechanging experience for you and I’m really excited to assist you through the awesome journey you’re about to start!

Andrés Suárez
Support Specialist

Resident Staff


Dharma Bendersky

Director of Operations, Australia


Born in Sydney, Dharma studied Environmental Sciences at the University of Wollongong where he lived with many study abroad students and formed life-long friendships. This led to a career in international education and travel, where he has worked for over 20 years at Australian universities, study abroad companies, and leading educational tours around Australia and Asia Pacific. A dual Australian/American citizen, he has lived in and traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, and is a keen surf and landscape photographer. Dharma has a passion for adventure and new experiences, and enjoys working for TEAN to help others have life-changing intercultural experiences that encourage personal and professional growth.

Dharma Bendersky
Director of Operations,
Australia

Joanna Diradji

Internships Program Manager, Australia


Originally from Walla Walla, Washington, Joanna began traveling as soon as she graduated high school – working abroad in Italy, Egypt, and South Korea, and studying abroad in Scotland. She then spent over a decade in New York City working within cultural exchange, international education, and global mobility; followed by a career as an immigration attorney. Having now settled in Melbourne, Australia, Joanna believes life is an adventure – and we should treat it like one. She thoroughly enjoys being able to help students do just that everyday.

Joanna Diradji
Internships Program Manager,
Australia

Mar Owens

Resident Director and Internships Program Manager, Brisbane, Australia


Originally from Rockville, MD, Mark studied Non-Profits Arts Management at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. After 8 years working in music agencies and venues across the continental US, he got bit by the travel bug and ventured to China to work in education. While in China, Mark taught courses in World Cultures and Contemporary Global Issues, sharing his passion for modern anthropology and the movement of culture throughout the globe with his students. In Shanghai, he would start his own teacher placement agency, helping new teachers find work placements and get settled in an exciting, yet very different, culture. Towards the beginning of the Covid-19, Mark found himself stuck in Australia after a motorcycle trip through the Philippines and Indonesia. During the height of the pandemic, he taught International Business English remotely to graduate students at the Shanghai University of Business and Economics. This afforded him the ability to travel up and down the Queensland coast and islands, eventually calling Brisbane home. Mark believes that the education one gets from traveling is like none other. He looks forward to helping students enjoy everything Brisbane and Australia have to offer.

Mark Owens
Resident Director & Internships Program Manager,
Brisbane, Australia

Ange Hart

Resident Director, Melbourne, Australia


Ange’s love of people and traveling has taken her to parts of Southeast Asia, North, Central and South America, the U.K., Europe, some South Pacific islands, and around much of the huge, gorgeous continent of Australia. A native Melbournian, she feels lucky to call this vibrant, eclectic city her home and get to show her off to her study abroad friends. When she’s not showing people around Melbourne, she is busy dancing, hosting events, being silly on stage or taking adults through deep, emotional processes to re-find their power. She believes that life is full of magic if we just breathe it in, and she chooses to do just that.

Ange Hart
Resident Director,
Melbourne, Australia

Melissa Greenberg

Resident Director, Perth, Australia


Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Melissa now calls Perth home after studying abroad at Curtin University and falling in love with Australia in 2015. Melissa graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana with degrees in sociology and musical cultures of the Gulf South but has found her passion in working with international students and helping make their experience abroad memorable and worthwhile. Mel’s love for adventure has taken her all around the world but most recently she has been spending her travels scuba diving and eating across southeast Asia… two of her favorite activities! Mel is always excited to share her love for Perth and show off the beautiful west coast (best coast!) to the students she works with.

Melissa Greenberg
Resident Director,
Perth, Australia

Laura Carroll

Resident Director, Sydney, Australia


Born and raised in Southern California, Laura went to California State University Long Beach where she studied nutrition and public health. Before beginning a career in international education, Laura worked in hospitality and volunteered in health care clinics. She has always enjoyed working with people from all different backgrounds, which is why she loves now working with international students while based in Sydney! A travel lover, she finds experiencing other cultures a great privilege and appreciates seeing the beautiful differences of each place she visits. You can also find her regularly reading a good book, cooking, hiking, swimming and doing yoga. Moving to Sydney has been a wonderful learning experience for Laura, a fact that helps her further connect to students as she’s able to relate with all the highs, lows and countless discoveries that come with living and studying abroad.

Laura Carroll
Resident Director,
Sydney, Australia

Manuel Uri Martin

Resident Director, Barcelona, Spain


Born and raised in Madrid, Manuel Urí Martín studied at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, where he received his doctorate in Spanish Philology. He has taught as a professor at the Université Stendhal in Grenoble, France; at Carleton University in Canada and also at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo in Santander, the Canary Islands and Seville. Manuel started working at ISA in 2008 and has been the ISA Resident Director in both Madrid and Barcelona during this time. His extensive work experience, passionate personality and sincere desire that each one of his students enjoy studying abroad, undoubtedly make him a great member of the ISA team. Manuel and the rest of the ISA Barcelona staff are dedicated to making your experience in Spain an excellent one.

Manuel Uri Martin
Resident Director,
Barcelona, Spain

Neftali Gonzalez

Resident Director, Madrid, Spain


Although originally from Burgos, in Northern Spain, Neftalí has spent most of his life living around Spain and South America. He studied Social Education and Hispanic Studies at the University of Granada, after which he completed a master's degree in Cultural Management and Latin American Studies. He also worked as an educator addressing the needs of disadvantaged adolescents. Neftalí enjoyed his experience in the Andes, working for five years as a literature professor and Academic Coordinator of ISA in Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu, and traveling throughout Latin America. After that, he returned to Spain to take over the position of ISA Barcelona Senior Academic Coordinator. In this role, he had the opportunity to interact with students and provide his support across a wide range of issues. Nef is a literature and photography enthusiast who enjoys exploring the wonders of nature and riding his motorcycle across the country.

Neftali Gonzalez
Resident Director,
Madrid, Spain

Manuel Gutierrez

Resident Director, Valencia, Spain


Manuel "Manu" Gutiérrez Olavarría began working with ISA in 2001 as a Resident Director in several ISA sites: Sevilla, Santander, Barcelona, and is now in Valencia. Manu enjoys being surrounded by different cultures and believes this aspect of the job is the most rewarding.

Manuel Gutierrez
Resident Director,
Valencia, Spain

Antonio Santana

Resident Director, London, England


Born and raised in Malaga, Spain, Antonio attended the University of Malaga, where he obtained his degrees in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Passionate about cinema, photography and arts in general, he also taught himself graphic & web design. His curiosity and enthusiasm for other cultures led him to explore, and after living and working for a while in different places in Europe, he landed in Barcelona and immediately fell in love with the Catalan Capital and all it had to offer. In 2008 Antonio started to work with ISA, first in Barcelona for 8 years, then in Florence for a year and a half, and since 2017 he has been the Dublin Office's Resident Director. Antonio finds study abroad to be one of the best ways to “open minds” and is always happy to share tips about the places he has visited.

Antonio Santana
Resident Director,
London, England

Eloise Casey

Internships Program Coordinator, London, England


Eloise studied American History at the University of East Anglia which included a year abroad at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Ever since engaging in her own personal abroad adventures, Eloise has been passionate about getting others involved in pursuing their own study abroad opportunities. Eloise actively tries to visit as many European cities as possible and therefore is a great resource for students as she has lots of travel recommendations. She enjoys making and drinking coffee, as well as watching films and TV. Her favorite places within London are Shoreditch and the Wimbledon Tennis Club, and she has a great list for fun day trips outside the Capital as well.

Eloise Casey
Internships Program Coordinator,
London, England

Niamh Hayes

Internships Program Coordinator & Resident Director, Dublin, Ireland


Niamh is a graduate from a Masters of Sociology (Applied Social Research) and previous to that a graduate of a BA in History, Politics, Sociology and Social Studies from the University of Limerick, Niamh's hometown. Dublin is now Niamh's second home and she is excited to welcome all students to Ireland's capital city. A keen traveler, Niamh caught the travel bug from when she studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. From there, she explored and fell in love with all that Europe has to offer. She was fortunate to explore both western and eastern Europe and enjoyed exploring many unique and amazing cities. Niamh, along side the Irish team, look forward to supporting students as they seek out international experiences of their own.

Niamh Hayes
Internships Program Coordinator & Resident Director,
Dublin, Ireland

Kelly Pihema-Berridge

Director of Operations, New Zealand


Kelly Pihema Berridge was born and raised in Auckland and is of Maori and European descent. Kelly has a passion for international education and foreign languages which was sparked by her experience living overseas as an exchange student in Brazil, Chile and Italy. Kelly has enjoyed working for ISA Auckland since 2015 as the Resident Director and loves meeting new students and sharing her Maori and kiwi culture with them. Kelly has travelled throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Pacific region and Australia. She has also explored the North and South Islands of New Zealand and looks forward to being a part of providing an exciting and culturally enriching experience for ISA students in Auckland.

Kelly Pihema-Berridge
Director of Operations,
New Zealand

Cynthia Jung

Internships Program Coordinator & Resident Director, Auckland, New Zealand


With a tertiary background in business, accounting and commercial law, I have been working in the successful delivery of global internship programs for the last five years - managing study abroad, internship and e-service learning portfolios in the Pacific, Asia and North America. At WorldStrides my greatest contribution was leading the Pacific team to establish a loud and powerful market presence in the education sector. This was achieved through proactively identifying and fostering a vast network of meaningful partnerships with local authorities and institutions, community champions, startup communities and non-profit organizations. All things related to bringing about a unique and memorable internship experience is our mission here at WorldStrides.

Cynthia Jung
Internships Program Coordinator & Resident Director,
Auckland, New Zealand

Fred LeBlanc

Resident Director, Wellington, New Zealand


Originally from the US, Fred worked for Rutgers College Office of Student Support as both a Resident Advisor and a Hall Advisor after finishing his BSc in Primatology and Hungarian. He currently looks after study abroad students and the coordination of ISA’s service-learning in New Zealand. Since moving to New Zealand, Fred has worked at Massey University, Victoria University in Wellington, and the University of Otago in various roles and enjoys working with students, especially those that have also chosen New Zealand as their new, though short term, home.

Fred LeBlanc
Resident Director,
Wellington, New Zealand

Medusa Fang

Resident Director, Shanghai, China


Medusa is a native of Shanghai with over 13 years of experience in international education. Having obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English Language from Fudan University and a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Hong Kong, her academic background in international cultural exchange has provided a foundation for a career spent working with top-level universities and organizations from around the world. Prior to joining ISA, Medusa complimented her work with international students by teaching university coursework in English and Chinese Culture and Folklore.

Medusa Fang
Resident Director,
Shanghai, China

Niaya Harper Igarashi

Resident Director, Tokyo, Japan


Originally from the United States, but has resided in Japan since 2009, Niaya joined ISA in 2014 as Resident Director of the Tokyo office. She graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana with a BA in History and Spanish, and after a semester abroad in London went on to complete an MA in International Business at Webster University's London campus. During that time her passion for travel and cultural discovery flourished. Prior to ISA she worked in international business development and marketing in London, Houston and New York before settling in Tokyo. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering both locally and abroad, and considers herself a lifelong learner. Niaya is devoted to sharing her love of Japan with the students and helping them realize the many opportunities post studying abroad.

Niaya Harper Igarashi
Resident Director,
Tokyo, Japan

Euisoo Chang

Internships Program Coordinator & Resident Director, Seoul, South Korea


I was born and raised up in Seoul, South Korea. After traveling to Europe during high school, I decided to study abroad for university. I am a graduate SUNY Plattsburgh, majored in Hospitality Management and also participated in National Student Exchange program in Hilo, Hawaii. Following graduation, I went to Tokyo, Japan on a Working holiday to explore different Asian cultures and fell in love with Japan. After my visit in Japan, studying Japanese, watching Japanese drama became of my favorite hobbies and I love to travel hidden part of Japan. I also have traveled to more than 30 countries and am still wanting to see more beauty of the world. Before joining ISA Seoul, I worked in the hotel business in South Korea and Canada for 5 years and it improved my quality of service skills.

Euisoo Chang
Internships Program Coordinator & Resident Director,
Seoul, South Korea