Meet the Staff
John J. Crist has been involved with international youth exchange since 1980. He was first associated with EF Foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut as a recruiter and later in Santa Barbara as National Program Administrator. Beginning in 1987, John helped develop the Aspect Foundation as the Executive Vice President in San Francisco. In 1991, John founded International Cultural Exchange Services (ICES) in Atlanta, Georgia. ICES will celebrate its' 30th Anniversary in the spring of 2021. John is very proud that five of the original ICES employees from 1991 are still with the organization. ICES works with about 70 Sending Organizations and places1400 high school exchange students annually from more than 50 countries. John is committed to operating a quality high school academic exchange program so that each student has a safe and positive life-changing experience as they learn about the United States and the world. ICES conducts J-1 and F-1 inbound and outbound high school cultural programs. John has served four terms on the Board of Directors of CSIET (Council on Standards for International Educational Travel). ICES is also been a member of the Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange since 1997. John also served on the Board of IEA in the late 1980s.
Lisa joined ICES in 1992 and has served in several positions during her almost 30 year tenure, including admissions, student placements, student orientations, international contract negotiations and establishing best practices for screening host families and volunteers. Currently, she oversees general office operations specifically in the areas of Department of State compliance issues and reporting, the issue of visa eligibility forms to students, communications with US embassies and consulates and approval out of country student travel. Lisa holds a B.S. degree in Public Service with an emphasis in sociology, an internship in counseling and minors in business and political science from West Virginia University - Institute of Technology. Prior to joining ICES, Lisa worked in the private college sector as a career counselor and also served in positions in state and local government. Lisa works from the ICES National Office in West Virginia.
I have had the wonderful opportunity of working with ICES since 1991 and seeing how youth exchange positively impacts the lives of the students, host families, schools, and communities by promoting cultural awareness and understanding. I have served as a Local Coordinator, a Regional Director, and my current position is the National Director of Student Services. ICES Student Services consists of 5 counselors and 2 supervision coordinators. My undergraduate degree was in Education at Virginia Tech and I earned a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision and certification in K-12 Guidance and Counseling. I retired as a high school guidance counselor in 2005 after 30 years in Education. My husband, Charlie, and I live in Concord, Virginia and spend winters in Cape Coral, Florida. Our daughter Jennifer, her husband, John, and our 9 year old granddaughter, Grace, live in Charlottesville, VA and our son, Chad, his wife, Jeni, and our 6 year old grandson, Barrett, also live in Concord.
I’ve lived in Las Vegas for 21 years. I’ve been with ICES for 8 years as the Compliance Director. The hubby and I are empty nesters. We love to travel!
Simon is Director of Business Development at ICES. Originally from Germany, he first joined ICES as an exchange student for the 2004-2005 School Year in Hurricane, WV. Getting his undergraduate degree in Germany and Brazil, Simon returned to the US and graduated with a Master of International Business from the University of South Carolina in 2012. Simon joined ICES in a full time role in 2013 and lives with his beautiful family in Henderson, NV. Besides his passion for youth exchange, Simon enjoys playing on the ICES soccer team, mountain biking, hiking, and the occasional German beverage.
Born and raised in Spain, I was also an exchange student back in 1992 where I went to Ireland for 3 months.
In 2006 I started working as a stage actor in Spain. In the summer of 2007 I came to Las Vegas, NV for the first time.
From 2008 to 2012, I lived between Spain and Las Vegas and finally in 2013, I decided to move to Las Vegas.
I have been working with ICES since 2013 and I am happy because this allows me to continue working from time to time as a stage actor.
I was born in California and I have lived in Nevada since 2002. I’ve also lived in my parents’ home county Nicaragua for 6 years. I’m fluent in Spanish. I have 7 siblings and I am the oldest. I enjoy going to the lake and hiking with my family.
Rich is Director of Communications and Government Affairs. He joined ICES full-time in 2013. Rich graduated with a degree in political science from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas and earned his law degree from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining ICES, Rich worked for the U.S. House of Representatives, Farmland Industries, the Kansas Corporation Commission, and Sprint (now part of T-Mobile). Rich also served as a member of the City Council of Lenexa, Kansas and was appointed to a four-year term on the Kansas Corporation Commission by Kansas Gov. Mike Hayden. Rich is delighted to be living in Kansas again near his two daughters, three granddaughters, sisters and dozens of cousins.
Duda Da Silva
Duda is Director of Admissions. He joined ICES in 2008. Duda graduated with a degree in Public Communications (Advertising/Marketing Specialization) from the University Armando Alvares Penteado in São Paulo, Brazil. He also attended Panamericana College of Art in São Paulo, Austin Community College, and City College of San Francisco. Prior to coming to the U.S., Duda was Manager of Communications at APS Urgent, a provider of emergency medical services in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Since moving to the U.S., Duda has lived in San Francisco, Austin, Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale and the Kansas City área
Hello! I’m Paulo Yoshida, after graduating from college I went to London for my exchange experience and I can tell it was one of the best time of my life. I’ve been working with ICES for almost 4 years now.
I live with my husband of 54 years of the banks of beautiful Lake Chicot in the Southeastern Corner of Arkansas. When I am not working, I spend my time either cooking for my family or gardening. I am very proud of my Master Gardener achievement. I began my career as a teacher. I hold a Masters Degree in Education. I taught for several years before becoming involved in Youth Exchange. I have been in this industry for 40+ years, seven of those with ICES. This has been a wonderful career choice for me. Being able to work from home has been great; not only for own children but for my 3 grandchildren, as well. They are grown now with lives and careers of their own, but we all have special memories from all the students who have been through our home and they have gotten to know. We now have International grandchildren who come to visit. Life has come full circle for all of us. I would not trade the joys and success I have seen in this career for anything.
Jennifer Jennings has worked as an ICES Placement Administrator since 2017. Prior to that she took several years off to raise her daughter, Grace, now 9 years old, after serving as East Coast Placement Director from 2010-2012. She has also worked as a commercial real estate attorney in Washington, DC and in non-profit fundraising. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband, John; daughter, Grace; and Mabel, the senior rescue beagle.
Rose McDonough, from Charleston, WV, is a placement administrator on the national placement Team. 8 ½ years ago, Rose joined ICES as the East Coast Placement Director. Rose came to ICES with a background in grants and arts management, accessibility and leadership. She is also the owner and director of RM Productions Dance Studio established in 1999. Rose holds a BS and a MA in Organizational Leadership from Wheeling Jesuit University.
Hi Everyone! My husband and I live in Hurricane, WV with our 2 year old son. We love camping, music, reading, and anything that takes us outdoors. I have been working with ICES for about a year and a half as the Criminal Background Check Coordinator, this time around. I was previously with ICES for a couple of years working in various positions in the WV office until I returned to school for my graduate studies. I have a Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies and Mandarin Chinese and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Development. My studies probably seem a little random, but they encompass my passions: culture, travel, and helping children grow and meet their potential. I love working with ICES to provide students from around the world with opportunities to grow and learn about themselves and the world in a safe and exciting environment. I look forward to getting to know everyone this week!
My name is Mark Arreola. I have been with ICES for 5 years as the Compliance Administrator. I have lived in Las Vegas for over 20 years and enjoy hiking, travelling, good food and making memories with family, friends, and my dogs.
With a background on Linguistics. I have been with ICES since my move to Las Vegas from California. I enjoy watching anything but horror and eating everything but fish soup. I hope to see more of the world in the following years.
My name is Elin (pronounced EE-Lynn) and I have been a compliance coordinator for ICES since early 2019. I am half Swedish, but I was born and raised in the Bay Area, California. I graduated University at UC Santa Cruz where I also studied abroad for one semester in Lund, Sweden in 2010. I enjoy snowboarding, cooking healthy food, watching movies, and traveling (more so before COVID, of course) in my spare time
I grew up in Santa Cruz, CA, and was a high school exchange student to Chile before going to UC Santa Barbara and receiving a BA in Political Science. I worked for a couple of years as a teacher in Vietnam, getting an opportunity to travel all around Asia before moving back to the states. At ICES, I've worked in counseling and compliance before taking on my current role in the Outbound department, which I love, because getting to help these amazing young people have such a wonderful experience is very rewarding. In my free time I enjoy traveling, snowboarding, surfing, and reading.
Joan is a mother of 3, children, grandmother to 6, and international mother and grandmother to countless children around the world. Joan enjoys travel, music, and skiing. Joan became involved in student exchange as a host mother in 1981 and began her career working in the international student exchange industry in 1991. Joan joined the ICES team in 2020 and brings with her a strong sense of devotion to providing high quality educational and cultural experiences to all participants. She has a passion for bringing people of different countries and cultures together to learn about each other and create life-long friendships. Joan’s background in international education, sales and business server her well in her role as the Director of the F1 program.
I primarily work with F-1 student admissions and general F-1 operations. My experience with youth exchange began when I started with ICES in 2016, and it has been great to hear about so many wonderful experiences, for both students and host families, and I have been able to see the value in cultural exchange.
As a Director of Sales for Asia and South America, I work to provide support to our international partners. I have primarily worked with students that are joining the ICES F1 program and will expand my roll to support students and partner agents that join the ICES Virtual High School Program as well as our Ireland Program. I have been with ICES for approximately 4 years and look forward to many more.
Caroline, a native Swede was an exchange student in Minnesota and then after studies in France and Law studies at Stockholm University she started working for an agency in Sweden, sending students abroad. Caroline later moved to Boston, MA to work for an F1 organization before joining ICES in 2019. When she’s not working, she tries to spend most of her time outdoors, either hiking, biking, skiing or on the water.
Cheryl Crowther has been with ICES for ten years. She has been the host mom to 7 amazing students and a local coordinator and field manager to over 100 more. She is currently the Senior Director of Student Services, using her experience to help others have extraordinary exchange programs. Cheryl has an Associate’s Degree in Psychology from Ricks College and Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from UNLV. She and her husband Troy are parents of 4 children and grandparents of 9. She loves traveling, interior design and spending time catching up with all her former students.
Michelle Beck has worked as a Regional Director of Student Service Counselor with ICES for four and a half years. She has many years of experience with the Clark County School district, and volunteer positions with the youth in the community. Michelle and Gary have been married for 31 years. They have three daughters and seven grandchildren. Michelle enjoys spending time with family and friends. She also enjoys traveling, fitness and going to the movies.
ICES East Coast Supervision coordinator I have worked for ICES for 19 years and still continue to enjoy my job and the world of youth exchange. Born in upstate New York, moved to Virginia in 1997. I have 2 grown children (Daughter & Son) and a grandson Landon Thomas Love the outdoors ,decorating, camping and spending time with family.
I live in Concord, VA with my husband, Chad, and our 6 year old son, Barrett. We have two English Bulldogs (Boss and Browning) and some goats. We name all of our goats after country music singers. In college, I earned a B.S. in Chemistry and played rugby. I have had the pleasure of working at ICES since 2013. I love spending time with family, being outdoors, and traveling. I also love to watch movies. A couple of my favorites are The Shawshank Redemption and The Goonies.
Hello! Originally from Salt Lake City Utah, I have been with ICES for five and a half years working with some of the greatest people I’ve ever known. Many years ago I had an exchange student stay my family when I was in high school, and to this day I still keep in touch with my ‘brother’ from Sweden. Because of my experience I understand the importance what ICES does by bringing people together, and I am proud to be a part of an organization that has a goal to make this world a better place for all people.
Hello, I’m Kelly and I have been a part of the ICES family for 12 years. I began my journey by being a host mom. Later I became a Local Coordinator & Regional Director in the Las Vegas region. 5 years ago, I moved across the country to North Carolina to be close to my aging parents & family. At that time, I began working with various regions across the country to strengthen and build their regions by opening up new areas, providing motivation and support to new hires and specialized development for returning field staff. 3 years ago, I became the National Director of Field Staff Development and provide live development calls with learning & brainstorming opportunities. Additionally, I offer support to the Field Staff with the creation of modified 3 page profiles and Canvas to be used by the field in their networking efforts. I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with each of you! I enjoy life with my husband, our 6 adult children and 10 awesome grandchildren who make our world go around.
Kari is passionate about youth exchange and has experienced it from every angle. In high school, she was an exchange student to Chile, she’s been a host mom to 15 exchange students, and two of her three kids studied abroad. Now as empty-nesters, she and her husband, Brad, enjoy hiking, playing board games, and spending time with friends and working with exchange students. Kari lives on the Oregon coast and serves as the National Training Director for ICES.
I started out my business career in the direct sales business of selling life insurance and securities as an Agent. In three years, I had been promoted to Regional Vice President and was running 3 Agencies. After a few more years of running the Agencies, I was challenged to explore the corporate world of sales in Healthcare. With over 20+ years’ experience in the Health Information Technology Industry in the United States in the area of integrated software systems for healthcare organizations. I’ve held various positions, including Sales Representative, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, and President. After that I spent 15 years as an International Business Consultant / Business Executive Coach in the fields of Healthcare, Green Technology, and IT/CRM Implementations with the emphasis on Business Development, Strategic Digital Marketing, Funding, and Acquisitions. I was introduced to ICES at the time of the last ICES Conference in February 2019 to observe the organization. After conference the decision was made to come on board to oversee the project of implementing HubSpot’s Marketing Pro/ CRM system. In January 2020 was asked to come on board as Marketing Director. Every adventure in life brings great rewards through sacrifices and commitment. ICES is the most passionate organization I have ever had the pleasure to be associated with. Thank you!
My husband, Jose’, and I have been married for 40 years. We have 3 grown sons and 6 grandchildren. I love being a mom and nana, which may be one of the reasons I was drawn to working in student exchange. It was another opportunity to help young people. I have lived overseas and am married to someone from a different cultural background. I love learning about cultures and believe it is so important that we increase our cultural knowledge. That knowledge can help us better understand people from other cultures and interact and communicate more positively. I have done many things in international exchange including being a host parent, a local coordinator, development director, manager, and placement director. I’m looking forward to being involved with new programs that will allow us to see young people progress from high school and into adult life.
Heidi Miller is the Director of School Outreach and Development on the F1 Program. She has been in the industry since 2014 and previously held positions on the J1 and F1 Programs as Local Coordinator, Regional Director, and host family. Her previous career in Business and Contract Negotiations has proven to be an asset in her current role initiating high school partnerships for the F1 program at ICES. Heidi is passionate about the responsibility to bring the student, host families and schools together in a collaborative unit.
Brenda Padilla Ericksen
Brenda Padilla Ericksen has prepared over 1,500 students in Spain for their exchange in the USA. She has created a pre-departure training program for Spanish exchange students – and their parents. Brenda has a Spanish Degree from Western Washington University. She is from Seattle and has lived in Spain for over 25 years. She is a former exchange student (Spain & Norway), host mother (Thailand, France, Austria & USA), and the “NM” for her daughters’ exchanges in France, Canada, Nepal and South Korea.
Dale lives to organize. An 8-year army veteran, Dale has found a way to bring his military skills to the corporate world. His knowledge in time management and efficiency has helped individuals and small businesses become more successful and efficient by breaking down the process.