2016 Alumni Advisory Board
Richard Bobo is a public diplomacy professional passionate about promoting global understanding and meaningful collaborations through international exchange. Since 2011, Richard has worked on the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) where he arranged visits for hundreds of international visitors invited by U.S. embassies around the world.
Building on this experience, he is now working to launch an alumni relations program that aims to cultivate lifelong relationships with and between alumni of various international exchange programs. Richard is a StartingBloc Social Innovation Fellow, a Mosaic Taiwan Fellow, and a graduate of the University of California, at Davis.
Richard began his involvement with US-Brazil Connect in 2013 as a Global Leaders Fellow in Macapa, Brazil and later returned as a Team Coordinator in Natal and Goiania.
Leslie Chen Koff
Leslie joined the US-Brazil Connect community in 2013 when she participated in the pilot program for the Global Leaders Fellowship. She continues to serve as an active leader within US-Brazil Connect in order to promote access to education and cultural exchange opportunities. She is passionate about helping organizations leverage technology to help individuals collaborate and exchange ideas, simplify complexity and maximize effectiveness. Leslie has more than five years of experience advising and executing strategic technology projects at Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations.
Leslie has a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Columbia Business School. She loves exploring culture through food, whether on the road or in her kitchen. She makes a mean feijoada, but is still searching for the best pão de queijo.
Leslie Chen Koff
Amie currently lives in Denver, Colorado where she works as an immigration paralegal at Elkind Alterman and Harston. In addition to her position at EAH Immigration, Amie is a regular volunteer at Towards Justice, a Denver-based community organization that represents victims of wage theft.
Before moving to Denver, Amie graduated from the University of Wyoming with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Spanish and International Studies, and later pursued graduate coursework at the University of New Mexico. Currently, she is finalizing her thesis on second language acquisition theory for the Master of Arts program in Latin American Studies. In 2015, Amie first became involved with US-Brazil Connect as a Team Coordinator. In this position, she led a team of community college students from Northwestern Michigan College to Petrolina, Brazil.
Diana Choi is an alumnua of the US-Brazil Connect Global Leaders Fellowship. Upon graduating from Wesleyan University, where she majored in Latin American Studies, and Spanish, Diana spent six months in Brazil working with English language programs through US-Brazil Connect and Princeton.
As a speaker of English, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese, she is a firm believer that language and good food are the finest vehicles of positive cultural exchange. She is an Operations Associate at Peach and Lily in New York City and resides in Brooklyn. She is eager to return to Latin America at the earliest opportunity.
Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Emily graduated in May 2015 from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a BS in Business and a BA in Spanish and International Studies. In the summer of 2015, she was a Global Leader Fellow in Maceio, Alagoas. She lives in Omaha with her husband Scott and retired racing greyhound Rhodey, who was an inspiration for her students, Team Greyhounds.
She loves to watch Game of Thrones, walk her dog, and complete jigsaw puzzles. She currently works as a Realtor and a part-time administrative assistant at a non-profit which does immigration law. Although US-Brazil Connect is on Emily’s schedule for 2016, she hopes to be a fellow in 2017 and perhaps beyond; Emily and Scott hope to move to the Denver area in a few years.
A recent graduate of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI, David is an aspiring diplomat committed to public diplomacy, international education, cultural exchange, and the arts. He believes that forging relationships through rapport and bridging cultural gaps between the US and fellow countries is a challenging, interesting, and ultimately rewarding pursuit. After his first fellowship in Brazil he realized his purpose as one of service. He has since embarked on a journey of educational, personal, and professional development with the intent to improve his ability to connect, communicate, and serve.
As a Puerto Rican youth, the duality of his heritage has rooted in him a firm awareness of the importance of intercultural cooperation, and the possibilities therein. This has become tangible in his efforts in Latin Student Union as Treasurer and President, the International Center of GVSU as a Peer Advisor, and in his recent acceptance of a Fulbright Fellowship for the 2017 Academic Year in Brazil.
Michael Guzman, Senior Fellow, Team Coordinator and Alumnus of US-Brazil Connect, has travelled to Macapa, AP; Cacoal and Porto Velho, RO as a coach with both the Conexão Mundo and OutSpoken Programs. Michael is a graduate of St. John's University - Collegeville, MN, having earned his BA in Spanish Language Studies. "I love everything about Brazil. The language, food, sports, politics and most importantly the people."
Participating with US-Brazil Connect has been a true blessing and Michael wants to encourage and help sustain both the programs offered by US-Brazil Connect and the Alumni members of this amazing community, of which he is lucky to be a member. If you ever go to a US-Brazil Connect event in Denver, you'll find him on the dance floor!
Brianna Whitaker, Colorado native and first generation graduate of Colorado State University, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is passionate about education and challenges herself to understand the world from a global lens. While at CSU she traveled to Kenya for a service-learning trip where she supported education projects in two womens' villages. The trip inspired her to lead a career as a social entrepreneur focusing on education and global awareness for young people.
Brianna continues to lead a life of serving others; she committed to one year of service with City Year Orlando, an AmeriCorps program. During this time, she was a tutor and mentor to students at a high need middle school. Brianna is an idealist and believes that self love is the catalyst for fostering social change and will stop at nothing to ensure that she lives a meaningful life. Brianna is a lover of family and traveling!
Chiara is a 2011 Daniels Fund Scholar Alumna and after four years of attending the University of Northern Colorado, graduated in 2015 with a teaching degree in Special Education. She has a passion for exploring new cultures and volunteering. So far, she has contributed over 4,500 volunteer hours at the Marian House Soup Kitchen in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 2015, she went to Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil with the US-Brazil Connect Conexão Mundo program.
After the completion of the 2015 Conexão Mundo program, she accepted an offer to be a founding member of the US-Brazil Connect Alumni Board. In 2016, she will travel to Pôrto Velho, Rondônia, Brazil with the Conexão Mundo program. She currently lives in Colorado Springs, where she works at Possibilities, a day program for adults with special needs, ages 18-80. Her next goal is to move abroad and teach special education or English.
Mr. Cox earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio State University, his MS in Systems Engineering from Wright State University, and his MBA from the University of Michigan. He then held various engineering and business positions in the aerospace and automotive industries. He has traveled extensively internationally for business and pleasure and has worked and lived in Japan.
He has begun a second career as a mathematics instructor at Jackson College in Michigan. This is his fourth year in partnership with US-Brazil Connect. He has been a Team Coordinator for teams in Macae, Rio de Janeiro; Brasilia, Federal District; Salvador, Bahia and Cacoal, Rondônia. Exposing community college students to a new and different culture and developing friendships with Brazilians has led to his continued participation in the program.
Kerri-Ann began working with US-Brazil Connect in 2013 as a Team Coordinator in Joinville, Santa Catarina, and later that year co-lead another team to Macapá, Amapá. Her love for Brazil and the organization grew from there and she has continued to play an active role in co-creating the organization with a wonderful team of people.
Through her journey with the organization she has been able to amplify her skills as a conscious leader, enhance her Portuguese, and grow more in love with Brazil. Kerri-Ann is currently living in Rio de Janeiro and working with the organization’s Brazilian partners on creating a successful program. When she’s not working, she is running, practicing yoga, writing or connecting with people.