Our Advisory Board

Introducing the GLA Advisory Board

The Global Leadership Adventures Advisory Board is comprised of experts and distinguished professionals from a variety of fields including experiential education, service-learning travel, and international program development.

Members are invited to serve as representatives of the GLA community to aid in achieving the vision and overall mission of GLA to inspire the next generation to realize their potential to transform the world and their role in it. Members also include alumni students who can provide valuable insight and recommendations based on their first-hand knowledge and experience with GLA.

The role of the Advisory Board is to provide our organization with pertinent advice and experienced input in the following areas:

  • Program development
  • Ethics and best practices of service learning and volunteer work abroad
  • Strategic planning
  • Leadership & thematic curriculum integration
  • Risk management & safety policies and procedures
  • Company policy
  • Hiring, Training, Managing Field Staff
  • And More!
Allynn Lodge, GLA Advisory Board

Allynn Lodge

Allynn Lodge is a foreign language teacher, diversity coordinator, and a program director for International Trips at Thayer Academy, an independent, co-educational day school located south of Boston, Massachusetts. Allynn has taught at Thayer Academy for over a decade and has led students on trips throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Allynn has traveled extensively and has lived abroad. In 2004, she received a Fulbright fellowship to Madrid, Spain. In 2014, she was selected by the National Association of Independent Schools as a Teacher of the Future for her innovation and creativity in the classroom. Allynn holds an M. Ed in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BA in Spanish and Portuguese from Princeton University.


Angela Allen, GLA Advisory Board

Angela Allen

Angela F. Allen is the Head of School/CEO at Prospect Hill Academy Charter School (PHA) in Cambridge, MA which serves nearly 1200 uniquely diverse and mostly underserved students from more than 30 different MA communities in four buildings, three campuses and two cities. At PHA, she leads the vision; oversees the strategic plan; supervises/evaluates K-12 school leaders; partners with Board of Trustees and other constituents; inspires students, faculty and staff, families to strive for excellence and expect greatness. Her career in education spans 25 years with experience ranging from kindergarten through college. She started her career as a Middle School Mathematics teacher in Atlanta Public Schools and has since served in the capacity of Educational Leadership at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA, Boston Public Schools (MA) and the Public Schools of Brookline (MA). Angela holds B.B.A. in Management Information Systems from the University of Georgia, M.Ed. in Middle School Education from Emory University and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Curriculum and Instruction (Mathematics) from Indiana University. Her dissertation is entitled, “Integrating Themes of Social Justice and Equity into a Middle School Mathematics Classroom.”

Angela remains deeply committed to access and equity in education by dismantling the school to prison pipeline, eliminating structural and systematic barriers as well as expanding learning opportunities in the areas of leadership and empowerment; adventure, exploration and service learning; and STEAM – this is attributed to a 95% college matriculation rate at PHA.


Chris Cheney, GLA Advisory Board

Chris Bradford

Chris Bradford is the Founder and CEO of African Leadership Academy, an institution that seeks to transform Africa by identifying, developing, and connecting future generations of leaders from across the continent. Chris brings a hybrid background in business and education to his work designing and building educational institutions of excellence. He previously worked with the Procter and Gamble Company, the Boston Consulting Group, The Broad Foundation, and at Oundle School.

As a graduate student at Stanford University, Chris and colleague Fred Swaniker began to build African Leadership Academy. Chris led the design of African Leadership Academy’s innovative curriculum, which merges rigorous academics with powerful courses in Entrepreneurial Leadership and African Studies. He also shaped the Academy’s admissions process, which has selected outstanding young leaders from numerous applicants in countries across Africa since 2008. With its unique focus and pan-African reach, the Academy is unlike any other school in the world.


Chris Cheney, GLA Advisory Board

Chris Cheney

With 25 years of experience in education, Chris has spent his entire professional life preparing young leaders for maximum impact in their careers and communities. Chris is the Head of School at Kents Hill School, a small boarding school in Maine. Prior to joining Kents Hill, Chris served as the Head of School at LEAF Academy in Bratislava, Slovakia; Assistant Dean for Admissions and University Guidance at African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa; and Chair of the Environmental Science Department and Director of College Advising at Kimball Union Academy. He has also held teaching positions at Colorado Academy, Northfield Mount Hermon School, Williston Northampton School, Milton Academy, and Hanover High School. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College where he earned a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies, and Harvard University where he received a M.Ed. with a concentration in administration, planning, and social policy.


Anne-Claire Benoit, GLA Advisory Board

Anne-Claire Benoit

Anne-Claire Benoit is an Program Manager for an international humanitarian relief organization, Catholic Relief Services. Anne-Claire has worked in emergency contexts such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic to provide basic goods and services to populations displaced by conflict. She is currently working in the Gaza Strip managing shelter and psychosocial support programs aimed at helping the population recover from years of conflict. Her passion for international relief work began when she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 2003 to 2006 in Niger, West Africa. Anne-Claire has traveled to over 50 countries. In 2013, she worked for GLA as a Program Director in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Anne-Claire has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.


JT Su, GLA Advisory Board


JT Su was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where he grew up in a small Asian-American community. Growing up in a small community, where almost everyone came from similar backgrounds and where life was linear and structured, he wanted to break free from the bubble through creating experiences that did not exist before. His experiences with Global Leadership Adventures as a high school student gave him the opportunity to learn about social issues related to education in developing countries. JT holds a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from NYU, and is currently a teacher on O’ahu, Hawai’i. He spent a year studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during college, and another year abroad in Ecuador through a fellowship with Global Citizen Year.


Kate Koons, GLA Advisory Board

Kate Koons

Over the last 25 years, Kate has been working in the outdoor education field. At the age of 19, she took a 90-day Outward Bound, which sparked an excitement and passion for combining the natural world and education. After years of working with a few small outdoor education and wilderness companies, she started her work at NOLS, where she still leads expeditions on occasion. Kate continues to work for NOLS teaching Risk Management trainings and training instructors. In between field contracts and through the years, Kate worked in Antarctica managing risk at small camps and accompanying scientists on expeditions for six seasons, as well as guiding throughout the Himalayas. For seven years, Kate managed the winter program for NOLS, training instructors and creating curriculum for both avalanche and backcountry touring. Today, Kate still manages to work many different jobs.

She is the Pro Training Manager for the American Avalanche Association, managing a team of educators while overseeing professional avalanche education in the US. When not thinking about snow, Kate works with organizations to help them identify better risk management strategies and training techniques. Kate can be found in Victor, ID with her husband and 2 dogs wandering in the mountains, cooking food, and dreaming up the next adventure.

Kira Espiritu, GLA Advisory Board

Kira Espiritu

Dr. Kira Espiritu is the director of the Office of International Studies Abroad at the University of San Diego and has nearly 20 years experience in international education. Kira oversees the development of all undergraduate study abroad programs at the University of San Diego, collaborates to assist with graduate level international programming across campus, serves as the primary on-call contact for all international health and safety issues and trains faculty and staff on university protocol and processes. In addition, Kira serves on a variety of campus committees and is an adjust professor in the School of Business as well as the School of Leadership and Education Sciences where she teaches courses on Higher Education Policy and Higher Education Administration.

Kira has a BA in Psychology from Creighton University, which is where her study abroad adventure began, an MA in Counseling with an emphasis in College Student Services and she has a PhD in Leadership Studies with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration from the University of San Diego.


Sharon Yacoubian, GLA Advisory Board

Sharon Yacoubian

Sharon Yacoubian has been a teacher of children, teenagers and adults for more than thirty years. She has jumped at the opportunity to teach a wide variety of courses, from her full time career as an educator (currently teaching middle school mathematics), to elective courses on college and career exploration. It was a single course, coupled with her experience working with students that brought her to the realization that she is passionate about assisting families and students with navigation of the college admissions process. There has been no greater thrill than to see students who have flourished as a result of time invested in finding the best college fit and achieving long term academic and career goals. Sharon immediately dove in to the sea of higher education by completing her College Counseling Certificate from UCLA in 2015. She has had the honor of serving many of her former students as they have embarked on the journey to higher education. She has also successfully counseled all of her four children into different colleges. Her children have done everything from go through the transfer process, to studying abroad. She has a student athlete and an academic scholarship recipient.

Sharon is an active member of the UCLA Alumni Association, and travels to various college fairs as a volunteer recruiter. She also reads applications and interviews students for UCLA alumni scholarships. A UCLA Bruin for life, Sharon graduated from UCLA with a BS in Biology; later earning her Lifetime teaching credential. College Counseling is the natural next step for this skilled educator. Sharon lives in South Orange County with her husband of 29 years, and enjoys training for triathlon. She is a member of NACAC and WACAC.


Shelby Schulman, GLA Advisory Board

Shelby Schulman

Shelby is currently serving as an Agricultural Extension Agent with Peace Corps in Guinea, West Africa. During her junior year of high school, she traveled with GLA to Peru where she worked on rural community development projects. She graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016 with a degree in Environmental Science and Medical Anthropology. She has held various internships at organizations including Pfizer, Inc. and WE ACT for Environmental Justice, both in New York City.

During her undergraduate years, Shelby travelled to St. John’s Island in The Caribbean to study coral reefs. She also completed a semester abroad in The Galápagos Islands where she later assisted in a research project to analyze water quality. In her free time, you can find her hiking the nearest mountain or petting her dog.


Tauheedah Baker, GLA Advisory Board

Tauheedah Baker

Tauheedah Baker is a wife and mother of 3, who has built a career in education serving our nation’s most underserved student populations. She began her career in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and has worked as an educator and administrator in both Newark, NJ & New York City, NY. Tauheedah is recognized as a distinguished pedagogue and her work has been featured in the Star Ledger, New York Times, and on the CBS Early Show. Tauheedah has also received numerous awards and recognitions, including being recognized in 2011, by President Barack Obama, as a White House Community Leader in Education, receiving the 2014 New Jersey Charter School Administrator of the Year Award, and being honored as the 2017 New Jersey Department of Education’s Exemplary Secondary Educator.

Tauheedah is committed to social justice, arts-education, and service learning, and was the co-founder of a social justice and service-learning charter high school in Newark, NJ. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Near Eastern Language & Culture from UCLA, holds a Masters Degree in Education from UCLA, as well as a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University. Tauheedah will be pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from Harvard University in the Fall of 2018.


Allie Olvera, GLA Advisory Board

Allie Olvera

Allie Olvera is an education abroad and service learning consultant who has run over 40 immersive programs across 5 continents. Her work is grounded in decolonizing narratives of the Global South, critical study of global inequality, and using travel as a tool for social change. She first began working with Global Leadership Adventures in 2012 and has mentored GLA participants in Peru, Tanzania, Thailand, and Guatemala. Allie holds an MA in International Education Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Biama Charles

Hailing from Queens, New York, Biama Charles is the Director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at a private liberal arts college in Otsego County, NY. For more than a decade, she has worked as a Higher Education Administrator at colleges and universities in North Carolina and New York. She was recently acknowledged for her years of service in her field as a recipient of the “Stellar 50” Award for impacting the professional and philanthropy endeavors of higher education. Biama’s key areas of expertise are college housing management, talent recruiting & onboarding, DEI event planning, and conflict management. As a Caribbean American woman, Biama leverages her love of celebrating diversity in all its forms with her passion for relationship building and advocacy to intentionally improve the lives of those who have been historically marginalized and underrepresented.

Biama earned a Master’s in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University, a Hospitality and Tourism Management certification from Florida Atlantic University, and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace certificate from the University of South Florida. She is also certified as a New York State Rape Crisis Counselor. When Biama is not working, volunteering, or operating in DEI advisory capacity, she enjoys spending quality time with loved ones, listening to music, practicing self-care and traveling.