Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is composed of leaders in the gap year field. The Board of Directors are responsible for the general solvency of the Gap Year Association in the furtherance of its nonprofit mission, as well as directing the overall movement for communications, development, and the Standards. The Board of Advisors have an active role in the review process of Accreditation-seeking Gap Year Programs.

The current Board includes:

O'Shea, Joseph - Board President

Dean of Undergraduate Research, Florida State University
Joe O'Shea, Florida State University

Joe O'Shea, serves as the Director of Florida State University's Center for Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement and is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Philosophy. He received a BA in philosophy and social science from Florida State University, where he served as the student body president and a university trustee. A Truman and Rhodes Scholar, he has a master’s degree in comparative social policy and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Oxford. Joe has been involved with developing education and health-care initiatives in communities in the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa. His research and publications are primarily focused on the civic and moral development of people, and his recent book, Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press. In 2013, Joe was elected to serve a three-year term as a Councilor for the Council on Undergraduate Research, the leading national organization for the promotion of undergraduate research and scholarship.

Washington, Candice - Board Secretary

National Director of Education & Experiential Learning, Hostelling International, USA
Candice Washington, Director of Education & Experiential Learning, Hostelling International, USA

Candice Washington, serves as the National Director of Education & Experiential Learning at Hostelling International, USA. Candice has two Masters Degrees in Legal and Ethical Studies from the University of Baltimore, and in her free time, she is a voice over artist, currently featured in, amongst other places, the National African American History Museum in Washington, DC. She has experience working for Middlestates Accreditation Board, and is a believer in experiential learning.

Dell, Jenna -

Associate Director, Higher Ed Partnerships Service Year, Washington, DC.
Jenna Dell, Service Year Alliance

Jenna Dell, Ed.D., joined Service Year Alliance in December 2015 to oversee higher ed partnerships. She works closely with institutions and associations to link service years to credit and increase the value-proposition for serving. Dr. Dell previously managed civic engagement initiatives and community partnerships at The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.

Dr. Dell earned her Ed.D. in Higher Ed Administration and M.S. in Higher Ed– Student Affairs from the University of Rochester. During that time she worked in the Rochester Center for Community Leadership managing civic engagement programs, including an AmeriCorps summer associate program and a VISTA program. Her dissertation research examines the impact national service has on civic engagement post-service. She has additional research interests in student learning outcomes, civil society, and community engagement. When not working or traveling she can usually be found at an indoor cycling class, practicing yoga, or coordinating service activities for Team Red, White, and Blue.

Gordon, Mitch -

CEO & Co-founder of Go Overseas and the Entrepreneur in Residence at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
Mitch Gordon, CEO of Go Overseas
Mitch Gordon is the CEO/Co-founder of Go Overseas and the Entrepreneur in Residence at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. Mitch is an entrepreneur, starting a number of companies in the field of travel & education. His current company, Go Overseas, with over 600,000 monthly visitors, has become the authority for researching international education programs around the world. Mitch is a frequent presenter in the areas of entrepreneurship, business and international education. Mitch previously lived in Taipei, Taiwan for 5 years and currently resides in San Francisco. He received his BS from Binghamton University and is completing his MBA at UC Berkeley. Mitch is also a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). When he’s not working you can find Mitch on a run, hiking, traveling or reading.

Nelson, Rae -

Author & Vice President, Haigler Enterprises
Rae Nelson, Haigler Enterprises

Rae Nelson is a gap year author, researcher, parent, and Vice President of Haigler Enterprises. She is co-author (with Karl Haigler) of The Gap-Year Advantage: Helping Your Child Benefit from Time Off Before or During College (2005) and Gap Year, American Style; Journeys toward Learning, Serving and self-Discovery (2013).

Rae has held leadership positions in education policy and practice in the public, private, and not-for profit sectors. These include serving at The White House as Associate Director for Education Policy and as Vice President/Executive Director of the Center for Workforce Preparation, a not-for-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For the last twenty years, she has consulted with companies of all sizes and educational institutions to help ensure current and future workers have the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to fulfill their potential. She has a B.A. in English from Cornell University and a M.A. in Public Policy and Communications from The American University.

Smith, Sarah -

Director of Global Gap Year Fellowship, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sarah Smith, Director of Global Gap Year Fellowship, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sarah Smith came to UNC in 2006 to study archaeology but soon realized her passion was in public service. In 2010, she earned her B.A. in anthropology with minors in social & economic justice and Asian studies before joining the staff of the Carolina Center for Public Service. As Student Services Specialist, Sarah worked directly with the Buckley Public Service Scholars program, the Service-Learning Initiative (APPLES), and the Bryan Social Innovation Fellowships.

Sarah recently completed her M. Phil. in international peace studies from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. During her two years in Dublin, she helped develop policy for Trinity around ethical development volunteering and taught a course on intercultural competencies in partnership with two NC schools.

Morse, William, PhD -

Owner, William Morse Associates, Inc
Bill Morse, PhD

William (Bill) Morse earned his Yale B.A. and Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures. After graduation from college, teaching one summer as a tennis pro in New Canaan (he was on Yale's varsity hockey and tennis teams), and one year at Deerfield Academy, he earned enough to cover living expenses for a full year in Paris. Several years later, as a graduate student, supported by a French Government Grant, various Yale scholarships, and an honorary award from the Alliance Francaise de New York, he spent a second year in Paris, pursuing his research. Before leaving Yale he was privileged to teach the first class of women undergraduates. Following four years on the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, he returned to New Haven where he became Assistant Dean of Yale Graduate School, then Assistant Director of Yale Undergraduate Admissions. For thirty-three years, he has been an educational consultant. He is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC). Over the years he has served as President of the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association, on the Board of Visitors of Elon University and the Board of Directors of IECA. Relevant to the Gap Year Association, for over ten years, he served as a trustee of Ithaka Cultural Studies. He sent about four dozen students to Greece for a gap semester or year. He is currently a trustee of Buxton School and on the Board of Directors of the Yale Alumni Fund. Also relevant to the GYA, along with his wife, Cecelia, an archaeologist, he has participated in a series of Yale Alumni Service Corps projects, teaching music and advising disadvantaged students in small towns and villages in China, India and West Virginia. Their travels include France, Greece, Italy, Spain, England and Ireland, as well as Egypt, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico and Cuba. Google William Morse,"Teaching in China", or "Why Music? Why Irish Music?" On the subject of the gap year, the admissions dean of a rival Ivy has written a seminal article, Time Out or Burn Out. Along similar lines, with a different emphasis, William fully lives and counsels a rejoinder, Time Out to Turn On. Rather than "getting students in" he sees himself as a mentor and guide, whose mission is to help students find themselves, their path and their passion.

Parrott, Luke -

Executive Director, Kivu Gap Year
Luke Parrott, Kivu Gap Year

Luke Parrott is from Cincinnati, Ohio. He completed his undergraduate studies at Miami (OH) University with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management. He completed graduate work at Eastern University with a Master of Arts in International Development in 2015. He has been working with Kivu for the past 16 years. In 2009, he co-founded the Kivu Gap Year with Andy and Jamie Jo Braner. He has been taking students around the world to be listeners and learners of other cultures since 2007. His greatest interests are in the sociology, anthropology, and psychology of global human development. He occasionally blogs about life, faith, and culture here.

** The Gap Year Association reserves a Board Position for a democratically elected representative for each of the Professional Membership Groups: Accredited Gap Year Providers, Accredited Gap Year Consultants, and Official Gap Year Colleges.

Rogers, Julia -

CEO, EnRoute Gap Year Consulting
Julia Rogers, EnRoute Gap Year Consulting

Julia Rogers founded EnRoute Consulting in 2008, inspired by the idea that more young Americans should engage in service work and travel as a way of learning about themselves and the world around them. Now, nearly a decade later, she has guided hundreds of students and their parents through the gap year planning process.

In addition to private consultations, Julia enthusiastically advocates for the popularization of the gap year through public talks, visits to high schools and networking with guidance counselors and family professionals. She serves on the Board of Advisors of the Gap Year Association, which promotes the responsible growth of the gap year option in America.

Julia is a graduate of Hamilton College in New York. In 2010, Julia and her husband embarked on a 10-month, around-the-world trip, which brought them to fifteen different countries and countless gap year program locations. In addition to traveling, she enjoys hiking, snowboarding, reading, photography and event planning. Originally from New Jersey, Julia has lived in the UK, Maine, Tennessee, Montana, Wyoming and Tanzania. She now resides in Vermont with her husband Tom, daughters Nora and Claire and Sylvester the dog.

** The Gap Year Association reserves a Board Position for a democratically elected representative for each of the Professional Membership Groups: Accredited Gap Year Consultants, Accredited Gap Year Providers, and Official Gap Year Colleges.



Board of Advisors

The Board of Advisors have a critical role with the Gap Year Association. Although primarily their role will be to continue to advocate for more gap year participation, they also have some defined roles within the Association: they play a critical role in the continued development of the Standards, the review process for Accreditation, and the oversight of Scholarships.

We are proud to have at our backs a strong cadre of individuals well known for their support of gap years and for their contributions to higher education in general:

ABARBANEL, JANICE - Author, Psychologist, Study Abroad Professional

Dr. Janice Abarbanel recently served as NYU Berlin's onsite psychologist and health educator. Her interest lies in the interface between studying abroad, the life stage of Emerging Adulthood, and emotional health -- an outcome of her work as a US Peace Corps Volunteer and in her clinical practice in Washington DC. A graduate of Harvard and trained as a clinical psychologist in New Haven and Los Angeles, she now writes and speaks about the "Emotional Passport", teaching study abroad staff, college and high school counselors, and faculty in the US and abroad about how emotional skill-building supports academic success and personal development. She writes, "The reality is that moods shift when cultures shift, and students can be prepared to notice when intense feelings arise in order to develop strategies to self-calm. This is part of leadership training or the ability to lead oneself during times of emotional challenge. In the process of being preoccupied with integrating new experiences, we are not often immediately open to processing academic demands." Janice is the author of "Moving With Emotional Resilience Between and Within Cultures," in the Intercultural Journal of Education, November, 2009.

In October 2014, Janice relocated to Boston to broaden her availability to US colleagues in international education. She is enthusiastic about supporting students, families, staff, and faculty engaged with gap year experiences.

BLUE, KRISTY - Director of Admissions - West Coast, Augustana College (IL), in San Diego, CA.

Kristy Blue has a professional background in college admissions where she has worked for over 6 years as a California-based admissions counselor for out-of-state universities. She spearheaded the development of the University of Minnesota's first regional position and is currently working as Augustana College’s (IL) first out-of-state regional admissions director.

Traveling through New Zealand with the USA rugby team after graduating from college, Kristy became hooked on the idea and merits of cross-cultural exchange. She has since taken two gap year breaks from the admissions profession, backpacking throughout Europe and South America and volunteering with self-led gap organizations WWOOF and Workaway. While volunteering in Spain in 2010, she stumbled upon the founder of the Workaway organization and has been helping connect other volunteers and hosts as a program ambassador.

Kristy knows firsthand the excitement of experiencing life in another country and the importance of cultural immersion. She finds it rewarding to work with students applying to college and guiding them during such a pivotal time in their lives. In joining the GYA advisory board, she hopes to blend her passions of higher education and travel to help provide the opportunity for people to create their own meaningful gap experiences abroad.

BULL, HOLLY - President, The Center for Interim Programs, NJ.

Holly Bull, president of the Center for Interim Programs, is one of the original Interim students. When her father, Cornelius Bull, founded Interim in 1980, it was the first Gap Year counseling organization of its kind in the US and Holly was inspired to take a Gap Year before college. She followed up on interests in marine biology and Greece and split her year into volunteering at an aquaculture research institute in Hawaii and attending an academic cultural study program in Greece. She came away with a finer appreciation for learning for its own sake without the pressure of tests and grades, and the realization that she did not want to be a marine biologist.

After two years of college, Holly took a second Gap Year to travel in India and Nepal, attend a semester program in Athens, and engage in service work in Appalachia. Following her B.A. in Anthropology at the University of Virginia, she joined her father in his work at Interim and began counseling students through their own gap-year experiences. For two years, she also directed the U.S. office for her original program in Greece.

In 1994, Holly completed her Masters in Education at Harvard's Graduate School of Education and continued her counseling work at Interim, interspersed with site visits to programs in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, Europe and Turkey. She has attended a number of 2-4 week programs: a wilderness survival skills school, a humpback whale research project, dude ranch work, and a yoga teacher training course.

To date, Holly has placed over a thousand individuals in programs in the 20+ years that she has been counseling students (and adults) through the gap-year process. She has presented at NACAC, NJACAC, TACAC, HECA, and IECA and been a keynote speaker for many of the annual Gap Year fairs taking place nationwide. She and her fellow counselors have been interviewed for over 70 Gap Year articles and more than 15 TV and radio shows, and Interim is referenced in most books on the Gap Year.

CLAGETT, BOB - Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy, Former Dean of Admissions at Middlebury, Former Senior Admissions Officer at Harvard.

Bob Clagett is the Director of College Counseling at St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin, TX. Before joining St. Stephen's he was the Dean of Admissions at Middlebury College, where he was responsible for the college's admissions policy. He served in that role for 6 years until 2011. Bob was also Senior Admissions Officer and Associate Director of Financial Aid at Harvard College for 21 years. Robert received a Bachelor's degree from Brown University in 1973 and a Master's in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1991. He taught German and history at The Governor's Academy in Byfield, MA, before joining the Harvard Admissions Office in 1984. During sabbatical years, he served as a faculty member at the International School in Hamburg, Germany, and as Director of College Counseling at the Lincoln School in San Jose, Costa Rica. In recent years, Robert has shared his experience and research on the benefits of Gap Years for undergraduate academic achievement. His work has been highlighted in various major media outlets, including the New York Times Blog articles "As Jan. 1 Application Deadline Nears, an Argument for a Yearlong Breather" and "From the Mail Bag: On Taking a Gap Year".

DE VILLAFRANCA, EDWARD "TED" - Managing Partner of Edvice Princeton, Princeton, NJ. (Former Dean of Admission and College Counseling at the Peddie School).

Ted De Villafranca has over 25 years experience in all areas of admissions work from selective college and university admissions to independent boarding school admissions, Ted has a breadth of experiences and perspectives. He worked at the Peddie School for over 17 years as Dean of Admissions and College Counseling and served on the Arts Faculty as a choral director. He was the recipient of the Finn Caspersen Award for devotion and service to the Peddie community. He also directed the college counseling programs at Virginia Episcopal School and Berkshire School where he was the Sixth Form Dean. Ted also worked in college admissions at Manhattanville College and the University of Richmond. Known within the admission and counseling community as someone who works tirelessly for his students, Ted has a broad and deep network both in the United States and Canada. Having traveled and recruited abroad, he knows school systems far and wide. A graduate of Kent School, Columbia University and Rhodes College, with post graduate work at Westminster Choir College, Ted has presented at national and regional conferences and sits on the advisory board of the Fiske Guide to Colleges and was recently recognized in Who's Who of American Educators. Often quoted in the New York Times, Ted most recently served as their on-line expert for college admissions. Based in Princeton, Ted also oversees the Edvice office in Montreal.

DONNELL, ELLIE - Gap Year Consultant, "Gap Year Design"

Ellie Donnell started Gap Year Design to help students and their families design Gap Year experiences that are meaningful, rewarding, and thoughtfully planned. By working one-on-one with students throughout North America, Gap Year Design seeks to take the anxiety and guesswork out of planning a Gap Year by providing personalized counseling and consultation services. Having taught in Switzerland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and California, Ellie has more than a decade of experience working with young people as a classroom teacher, trip leader, coach, and Gap Year counselor; she currently teaches at Marlborough School in Los Angeles and volunteers as a creative writing instructor for incarcerated youth through InsideOUT Writers. Ellie is a committed advocate of Gap Years and a strong proponent of experiential education and global education. She grew up overseas in Japan, England, and Italy and has an undergraduate degree from Williams College and a masters degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.

EULICH, MADELAINE - Summer Search, Boston, MA.

Madelaine caught the travel bug early while visiting her mother's family in France as a child. When Madelaine left the nest for college, she started to feed her travel bug independently: studying abroad in Senegal, teaching English in France, and exploring Latin America, Europe, North Africa, and the U.S. Since graduating from Northwestern University in 2008, Madelaine has committed herself to helping young people build cross-cultural understanding, self-awareness, and leadership skills in a number of educational settings. She has led a gap year program in Senegal and served as the Assistant Director of Residential Life at a small liberal arts college. She is also a certified Gestalt Coach and enjoys working one-on-one with individuals to help them achieve growth through personal challenges.

Madelaine is currently a masters student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she is learning more about the impact of experiential education on human development, the value of cross-cultural appreciation in education spaces, and the importance of making education more accessible to all. Madelaine is a firm believer in the transformative power of cross-cultural education, nature, and Daylight Savings.

FOLB, PHYLLIS - Executive Director, American Israel Gap Year Association, CEO & Founder of Find Your Right Direction, Educational Services and Events.

Under the leadership of Executive Director, Phyllis Folb, the American Israel Gap Year Association (AIGYA) produces an Israel centered gap year fair. With more than 20 years of professional experience working in the Jewish community, Folb produces the regional fair and which has enjoyed steadily increasing attendance by GapYear programs, Gap Year friendly colleges and students, parents and educators in California as well as families from Arizona, Nevada and Washington attend.

Additionally Folb, is the CEO of Find Your Right Direction Educational Services specializing in College advising & Israel gap year programs. She assists in the smooth transition from gap year to post-secondary education as a college/gap year counselor.  Her firm also creates educational events and workshops.

GARCIA, BENJAMIN - Senior Advisor, Office of Continuity Counseling.

"Benny" Garcia is a management coned officer, who has served in Santo Domingo, Guatemala City, Port au Prince, European Bureau, Lima, Brasilia, US Mission to the United Nations, Columbia University School of Public and International Affairs, Vienna, Baghdad, Brasilia (twice) and the U.S. House of Representatives.

He now serves as a Senior Advisor in the Office of Continuity Counseling within the Division of Career Development and Assignments of the Bureau of Human Resources.

Born in Slovenia. Benny hails from the New York City metropolitan area born of Cuban parents. His grandparents were from Cuba, Jamaica, Panama and the USA. He is a retired attorney and retired naval reserve officer. Benny graduated from the United States Naval Academy and Southern Methodist University School of Law.

KAHL, PAM - Communications Director, Lemelson Foundation, Portland, OR.

Pam is a consummate marketing professional. Her talents are many, her strength is the ability to find the story, find the audience, tell the story. In other words, strategic marketing and messaging expertise. Her highly accomplished career echoes with achievement at the highest levels. Pam excels at strategic messaging and brand positioning, community outreach, social media, business development, storytelling, public relations and public affairs. She has a B.A., English, from UC Berkeley, a Masters in Communications and Digital Media from the University of Washington, a Certificate from the Evans School of Public Affairs in International Development Management & Policy, and has studied at the International School of Digital Transformation, in Porto, Portugal.

LEMENAGER, STEVE - President, Edvice Princeton. Former Dean of Admission and Dean at Princeton University, Princeton NJ.

Steve LeMenager brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise at the university level and is a highly regarded leader in U.S. college and university admissions, having served for many years as the Director of Admission at Princeton University. He spent 24 years at Princeton in senior leadership roles, not only in the Office of Admission, but also in the Office of the Executive Vice President, the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, the Office of Communications and the Office of Development. Steve has presented at numerous national conferences, including the College Board, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). Prior to Princeton, Steve was a high school teacher and basketball coach in Massachusetts. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College (A.B.) and Harvard University (Ed.M.) and is an active member of his community, having served as Chair of the Board of Trustees at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, in Princeton, New Jersey.

LURIA, JOHN - Director, Princeton Bridge Year Program, Princeton, NJ.

John is the current Director of Princeton's groundbreaking Bridge Year program. Before joining Princeton, he was the director of student services at the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) Study Center in Seville, Spain. He was responsible for the development, management and assessment of non-academic support services for all CIEE study programs in Seville, including orientation and re-entry, housing, extracurricular activities, and health and safety. He also works with other administrators to develop and maintain a learning environment that promotes engagement in local society and fosters the intellectual, cultural and personal development of the center's college and pre-college program participants.

Prior to CIEE, John spent 10 years managing international student services at Georgetown University. He was international student adviser and program coordinator from 1992 to 1995 and associate director of international student services from 1995 to 2002. In the latter capacity, he developed and managed support services, including immigration services, extracurricular activities, new student orientation and advising, for some 1,400 international students at Georgetown.

John worked previously for AFS Intercultural Programs as an orientation logistics coordinator and summer program coordinator. He holds a BS from Miami University of Ohio and an MA in Latin American studies from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service.Following his high school graduation, John participated in a 12-month high-school AFS home-stay program at the Lycee Polyvalent Mixte de Lucon in France. As a graduate student, he also studied in Quito, Ecuador.

MLYN, ERIC - Executive Director, Duke Engage, Duke University, Durham, NC.

Eric Mlyn is the inaugural director of the Duke Center for Civic Engagement/DukeEngage. Prior to taking this position, he was Director of the Robertson Scholars Program, a joint merit scholarship program at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill. He is a firm believer in the transformative power of experiential education, and has been building programs in this area for over a decade. A political scientist with a BA from Tufts University and a PhD from the University of Minnesota, Eric's academic and administrative work over the last 25 years has in one way or another concerned itself with the role that society plays in fostering and strengthening democracy.

MOUSSEAU, JOHN, Business and Marketing Consultant, Red Bank, NJ.

John Mousseau is a business consultant who provides C-level management, operational and integrated marketing leadership to start-up and small companies, with a focus on adventure/educational travel, health & fitness, marketing agencies, pets and social good.

He is currently the COO of ION Marketing Group, a consumer engagement agency, recruited by the CEO to turnaround the agency after a failed acquisition. In his capacity, he oversees all operations, finance, IT and human resources and since he started on November of 2015, has improved operational efficiency by 20%, positioned the firm for growth and provided hands-on leadership to retain and hire top talent and re-engage teams. Prior to ION, he was the Marketing and Business Development consultant for Rustic Pathways, a provider of global service, education and adventure travel programs for students. He was hired by the CEO to lead FY16 marketing planning, develop a PR strategy, forge business partnerships, and assist the management team in organizational development. Other clients include Mead Group technology firm and Red Wagon Fitness.

Prior to forming his own consultancy, John was the Executive Vice President and General Manager of MKTG, Inc., a leading global marketing services agency. At MKTG, John ran the Midwest Division of the agency, overseeing the Cincinnati office and founding the Chicago office. His responsibilities included all operations, P&L, business development and client relations. Other roles at MKTG included VP of Operations and VP of Client Service.

Before joining MKTG, John launched a start-up operating two Planet Smoothie retail franchises, selling the business in 2007. He also joined the sporting goods retail start-up Fogdog Sports as the VP of Sponsorships & Promotions, providing business leadership to build the brand in preparation for the company going public. Earlier positions included marketing roles at MasterCard International and CBS Corporation. John started his career as a promotion manager at Kraft Foods after having interned at Kraft as part of his co-op MBA program.

An avid traveler (30 countries and counting), cyclist, fitness enthusiast and animal lover, John is also an aspiring author and entrepreneur, exploring angel and advisor opportunities. John’s mission is to follow his passions and use his experience, expertise and wisdom to educate entrepreneurs, small business owners and consumers to help translate their goals into reality.

John graduated from Hartwick College, where he holds a B.A. in Business Administration, and from Northeastern University, where he holds an MBA.

He lives in Red Bank, NJ and can be frequently found cycling in and around the Red Bank area or playing with his rescue dog Rhody.

PERSHA, SARAH - Family Systems Therapist, Educational Consultant

Sarah Persha, MA, is a family systems therapist and educational consultant whose career focuses on working with children, teens, young adults and their families by providing educational options and guidance through the educational years and life transitions. She assists children, teens and young adults as they explore the educational paths leading to a motivated and purposeful adulthood, and provides ongoing Parent Education for all of the stages of development, including the delays in maturity and executive functioning skills often accompanying sub-optimum young adulthood. As a young adult transition counselor, Sarah supports both young adults and their parents in successfully navigating the task of healthy independence in the launching years (high school completion, college and career development).  Sarah develops educational plans and placement options for younger children, through middle school, high school and college, as well as pre-college choices with fifth and Gap Year opportunities, internships, and study abroad.

Current/Previous Affiliations
Aspen Education Group, 1988-1999, with roles as teacher, counselor, mentor, intervention specialist, parent educator, and Director of Admission in private therapeutic schools.  Therapeutic school curriculum consultant to several national organizations, ongoing.  Associate of Dean Doering Educational Consultants, 2007-present. In private practice serving families in the northwest with main office in Bend, and associate offices in Portland, Seattle, and Boise, 2005-present.

IECA, Independent Educational Consultants Association
NATSAP, National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs
HECA, Higher Education Consultants Association

ROGERS, JULIA - President, Enroute Gap Year Consulting, Stowe, VT.

Julia Rogers won't rest until the Gap Year option is commonplace among young Americans. Determined to become a trusted resource for students and families navigating the Gap Year planning process, Rogers founded the advising firm EnRoute Consulting in 2008. Rogers works with students across the US who choose to engage in service work and travel as a way of learning about themselves and the world around them.

Born a curious soul and passionate traveler, Rogers enjoys nothing more than a good, old fashioned adventure. Her favorite destinations are Laos, Tanzania, Morocco, Nepal and New Zealand. When not planning her next trip, Rogers enjoys living in the mountains of Vermont where she likes to snowboard, mountain bike, hike and - her newest pastime - keep chickens!

To send Julia an Email click here.

SAROUHAN, JASON - Vice President, The Center for Interim Programs, Northampton, MA.

Jason Sarouhan was deeply imprinted by the diversity-focused curriculum of UC San Diego's Thurgood Marshall College and his major studies of physical anthropology and primate behavior. Exhausted by fifteen years of academic study without application, Jason took a semester off from university and spent five months participating in a conservation and wildlife field program in Tanzania as well as traveling through Uganda and Madagascar. During this gap time, a month-long independent study project with one of the last known tribes of hunter-gatherers rekindled his love of learning and he returned to college with a renewed sense of focus and academic confidence.

Later, years of guiding wilderness expeditions merged with his passion for global exploration when he began leading community service programs for teens and Gap Year students in Ghana, Thailand and Tanzania and then as the Africa & Asia program manager and (ultimately) Director of the same well respected service learning organization. He has hired, trained and supported hundreds of field staff in preparing to lead wilderness and cross-cultural immersion experiences. He now serves as a Vice President and counselor at the Center for Interim Programs, the oldest independent Gap Year counseling organization in the U.S. Jason is also a keynote speaker at Gap Year fairs nationwide.

Jason has dedicated his career to being an inspiring role model for his students and staff. He continues to explore his 'stretch zone' through ultra-marathon trail running, his yoga practice and travels to Central America, Europe and Indonesia. As a committed husband, father and educator, he is devoted to supporting individuals in clarifying their interests and taking continued steps towards self-discovery; the essence of his work as a gap-year counselor with The Center for Interim Programs.

SCHWARTZ, MARIE - CEO, Founder, TeenLife Media, Boston, MA.

Marie launched TeenLife Media in 2007 after moving to Boston with her husband and two middle school sons and discovering that there were no information resources for families with older children. She got started by selling a printed "TeenLife Guide to Summer in Boston" to parents in area schools - the first edition listed 240 local summer programs for students in grades 7-12. Today, TeenLife's award-winning website lists thousands of summer and Gap Year programs, schools, college admission resources, and volunteer opportunities for teens, nationwide. Marie has worked for McKinsey, American Express, Scudder Stevens & Clark, and Nelson Publications (a financial publisher) in marketing, business development, and "intrapreneur" roles. She graduated from the American School in Paris, holds a BSE from Princeton, and received an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

SKLAROW, MARK - CEO, Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), Fairfax, VA.

Mark Sklarow's a Philadelphian, despite living in the DC-area for over 25 years. He earned his BA and MA from Temple University in Political Marketing and Educational Administration. Mark has taught Political Science at the college level and taught Social Sciences and served as Dean of Students at an independent day school in Philadelphia. During these years he also served as Director of Student Councils for the city and directed state student leadership camps.

Mark came to DC as Program Director, and later Acting Executive Director of Presidential Classroom, a national civic education organization. He has also served as Director of Creative Response/City at Peace youth programs, an international organization promoting cultural understanding and non-violence through performing arts exchanges. He joined IECA as its first full-time executive director in 1994 and is now beginning his 20th year with the Association as Chief Executive Officer. He was a founder and remains an ex-officio member of the IECA Foundation.

Outside of work, Mark has been a Board Member and President of his synagogue. His eldest daughter, Michelle is a graduate of the University of Delaware in Visual Communications and now works as a senior event manager for Marriott Hotels. His youngest daughter, Jaimie graduated with a degree in Social Work from George Mason University and is now a case manager for ED children in the foster care system. His wife of 33 years, Mindy, is a speech pathologist in Fairfax County Schools, counting the days 'til retirement—unlike Mark who cannot imagine anything more enjoyable than the work he's doing. When not attending to any of these, Mark would just as soon be watching a good political debate, cooking, lying on a beach or attending a Washington Nationals game.

STALEY, SUSAN - Founding Director, Free to Roam Adventures, Nashville, TN.

Susan developed an incurable case of wanderlust during her gap year in Chile, and spent the next 12 years traveling - learning new languages, grasping the fluidity of culture, and reaffirming her eternal optimism in the goodness of strangers. She earned a bachelors degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish from the University of Virginia and a masters in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Susan led gap year programs in Asia and Latin America before directing Northwood University's semester in Europe program.

In 2015 Susan founded Free to Roam Adventures, an organization that bridges the gap between gap years and higher education by developing customized gap semester programs for colleges and universities. Combining her background in interdisciplinary cultural studies with her keen understanding of the intercultural development process, she integrates academic and experiential learning into gap semesters that develop students personally and intellectually. Free to Roam Adventures collaborates with institutions to develop integrative gap semesters that inspire students to approach their college experience with greater clarity and purpose, as active and engaged global citizens.

Susan hopes to make gap experiences more accessible by integrating them into the freshmen experience, thus making a gap semester eligible for financial aid and scholarships. She has worked closely with many in the gap industry and sees great value in the wide variety of experiences available to students. By joining the advisory board she hopes to add to the discussion of gap year accessibility, as well as, how we can inspire all gap year students to think critically and become active agents of change in their communities.

STORER, SANDY - Principal Consultant, A Gap Away, Sudbury, MA.

Sandy Storer is the founder of, A GAP AWAY, a gap year consulting practice based in Sudbury, MA. Sandy's consulting philosophy is the natural outcome of 30 years professional social work experience, a lifetime of adventurous travel, and an appreciation for the value of taking time for personal growth. Her work is based on the premise that time spent up front to develop a clear, personal "gap year vision" drives goals, purpose, experience, and growth in an intentional and powerful way.

Sandy graduated from Northwestern University, received her MSW from Boston University, and studied at the Family Institute of Cambridge. She has work experience as a family therapist, school social worker, transition specialist, and pre-college coach. Following completion of a LEND Fellowship (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School/Shriver Center, Sandy pioneered the Transition Services program at NESCA, a leading educational assessment practice in the Boston area.

In 2003, Sandy led her family on a gap semester in Central America. In 2013, she used a personal gap year to pursue her interest in photography, and Sandy now donates her photography services to non-profit organizations in Boston and Uganda. She understands how valuable the gap year experience can be and is passionate about helping others realize their own gap year vision.

TAYLOR, MARION - Owner & Founder of Taylor The Gap LLC, Boulder, Co.

Marion Taylor is owner and founder of Taylor The Gap LLC, a small gap year consultant business based in Colorado, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Marion’s customized service, tailoring students’ passions and interests to gap experiences that foster growth, stems from her own personal gap year opportunities as well as those of her two eldest children. Marion’s educational background includes a Masters in Social Work from University of Denver, an Associate’s Degree in Non-Profit Management from Regis University in Denver, and a Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College in Vermont. Marion is fluent in French with proficiency in German, Spanish, and Diola, a local Senegalese dialect. Professionally, Marion has worked in the area of women, children, and families for over thirty-five years as well as raising four children of her own. Just out of college, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a rural development program in Senegal, West Africa for two years and as Volunteer Leader during her final third year, followed by work as the Community Relations Coordinator at a local battered women’s shelter, as Program Officer at the Colorado Trust Foundation, as coordinator for the launch of Momentum, a store that imports women’s fair trade products from over 61 countries worldwide, followed by intense casework at There With Care, a program which helps families whose children are in medical crisis in Boulder.

TIPOGRAPH, JILL - Co-Founder of Early Stage Careers, Owner & Founder of Everything Summer & Beyond, New York, NY.

Jill Tipograph, Co-Founder, Early Stage Careers (, and Founder of Everything Summer & Beyond, LLC( is the nationally recognized youth expert and educational consultant who guides families worldwide through the summer planning, enrichment and college-to-career process (a 20 year industry veteran). Everything Summer® is a boutique independent consultancy, aligning its clients' interests and extracurricular activities to help students find their passions; designing the ‘right fit’ summer and year-round experiences, uncovering programs that will make a difference for each student. Early Stage Careers provides tailored career coaching to students and recent college graduates to successfully transition them into their career; it bridges the gap between college and career. Jill is based in New York City and her firms service clients nationally and around the world.

Jill is considered the 'go to' media resource for summer and youth, having been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, Business Week, Inc., Bloomberg, NBC's Today Show, ABC and NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC, U.S. News & World Report and more. She speaks regularly on youth, teen, career and parenting topics at educational institutions, organizations, and corporations; including the American Camp Association, the Independent Educational Consultants Association (of which she is a member), and the National Association of Independent Schools. Jill is the author of Your Everything Summer® Guide & Planner, and co-author of the 2014 National Pre-College Summer Survey.

Prior to summer and enrichment advising, Jill spent many years as a corporate executive, honing her skills in client service, research, analysis, marketing and planning. Jill is the parent of two happy and independent young adults who have been campers and camp counselors; participated in a variety of pre-college summer programs; and completed multiple college internships. One of Jill’s children created her own 100 day global gap experience between career changes.

VO, KIEU L. - Executive Director, International College of Holistic Studies. School Director, Q International School. Executive Chair for the Citizen San Diego Diplomacy Council, San Diego, CA.

Ms. Kieu L. Vo has been in the field of education for over two decades in various sectors: higher education, vocational, avocational, non-profit, for-profit, international, secondary, English as a Second Language (ESL), and massage/holistic health. Her passion and dedication for quality education stems from her desire to help all students reach their fullest potential. With an educational background in economics from the University of Washington and a Master's degree in International Relations, Ms. Vo has held an array of positions from Executive Director, Director of Admissions and Enrollment, Director of ESL schools to Managing Director and Vice-President of International Programs.

Currently, Ms. Vo is the Executive Director of International College of Holistic Studies, School Director of Q International School, Board Member and Executive Chair for the Citizen San Diego Diplomacy Council. Over the years she has volunteered her time with the Young Scholars Program and NAACP Elementary School Reading Program.

Ultimately, Ms. Vo mission is to further enhance the direction of education, as it resonates with her own personal motto of "students come first." In an effort to establish stronger ties between education standards and maintaining students' best interest, Ms. Vo hopes to strengthen the education sector by improving upon fair, ethical, standards, policies and evaluations.

WOLPER, EMILY - President, E. Wolper, Inc. Admissions Consulting & PPW Admissions Consulting, New York, NY.

Emily Wolper is a college admissions consultant who runs both a private practice and the college admissions coaching capability of premier tutoring company, Private Prep. She is a former Columbia University admissions officer who read thousands of applications and served on numerous selection committees. Upon leaving Columbia in 1999, Emily, who holds a BA in Religion from Vassar College and an MA in Educational Theatre from New York University, began consulting to applicants privately, sharing knowledge that she gained during her years on the admissions side. She is a frequent lecturer, panelist and workshop leader and is a proud member of the leading professional associations NACAC, IECA and AIGAC.

Emily is deeply committed to helping students discover and express their academic and extracurricular passions. This particular interest arises from her own love of singing, yoga, travel and community service, all of which enrich her life. She sings with The Harmonium Choral Society, where she performs in both formal and “outreach” concerts. She is also an active alumna of Vassar College, having served as the President of the Vassar Club of New York from 2004-2008. Emily is honored to be involved with GYA and believes that a gap year would be ideal for most of us! Email Emily at:

Support Us