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OVER 100 YEARS OF COMBINED EXPERIENCE
working directly with thousands of international students

Based in Nashville, TN, Global Educational Concepts, Inc. (GEC) proudly sponsors the High School in the USA program as part of the U.S. Department of State’s cultural exchange initiatives. At GEC, we are deeply committed to the principles of public diplomacy and recognize the invaluable opportunities these exchanges offer to participants, host families, and local coordinators alike.
 

Our mission is to deliver exceptional service and support to the young people who join our programs, ensuring they have enriching and successful experiences while strictly adhering to all regulatory requirements. Through our efforts, we help foster global connections and cultural understanding, with our program participants thriving in communities across the United States.

We INVEST in building people.

We INSPIRE people to achieve their goals in life.

We positively IMPACT the world.

As a proud member of the Southwestern Family of Companies, established in 1855, our mission is to empower purpose-driven individuals to create principle-guided businesses that make a global impact.

We invest in people who are motivated to build their skills and character, supporting them in reaching their life goals. Our ultimate aim is to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals and communities we serve around the world.

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ELLEN HOGGARD

President

Ellen Hoggard has over 35 years of expertise in international educational exchange. Her journey began with transformative high school exchange programs in England at 14 and Romania at 16, which inspired her to major in International Relations at Duke University. Ellen's dedication to fostering global connections, particularly at the high school level, earned her the Award for Distinguished Service from Sister Cities International and the Exemplary Leadership Award...

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Ellen Hoggard has over 35 years of expertise in international educational exchange. Her journey began with transformative high school exchange programs in England at 14 and Romania at 16, which inspired her to major in International Relations at Duke University. Ellen's dedication to fostering global connections, particularly at the high school level, earned her the Award for Distinguished Service from Sister Cities International and the Exemplary Leadership Award from the Alliance for International Exchange, where she served as Treasurer and held four consecutive board positions.

In the 1990s, Ellen pioneered long-term high school exchanges between the USA and the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. She represented the U.S. youth exchange field at the 1996 EU-USA Summit sponsored by the Department of State. Ellen has held leadership roles with AFS, Amideast, Sister Cities International, OPEN DOOR Student Exchange, AYUSA, and more, serving as President or Managing Director in her most recent roles.

T HE

MEET

TEAM

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HEATHER WELLS

Southern Regional Manager

Heather has over 14 years of experience in student exchange, working with Ayusa and the STS Foundation. She started as a Cluster Leader for 12 years and then became a Regional Manager. Her work in student exchange has enriched her life, even allowing her to homeschool her daughter with the influence of diverse cultures.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, Heather thrives on lifelong learning.

Heather has over 14 years of experience in student exchange, working with Ayusa and the STS Foundation. She started as a Cluster Leader for 12 years and then became a Regional Manager. Her work in student exchange has enriched her life, even allowing her to homeschool her daughter with the influence of diverse cultures.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, Heather thrives on lifelong learning. She finds great joy in connecting with people globally and watching their growth during their exchange experiences. Beyond her roles, Heather manages the CRM system and aids in developing training for local coordinators. She also engages with the YES and FLEX Grant programs.

Looking forward, Heather is eager to support the Southern Region's growth by building strong relationships between coordinators, host families, and exchange students.

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SHALA BUCKNER

Northern Regional Manager

Shala brings over a decade of experience to the Cultural Exchange industry. Throughout this time, she has hosted 11 au pairs from diverse backgrounds and has worked extensively in both J-1 High School Exchange and Au Pair Exchange Programs.                                                                                   

With a master’s degree in social work, Shala excels at building compassionate and empathetic teams.

 

Shala brings over a decade of experience to the Cultural Exchange industry. Throughout this time, she has hosted 11 au pairs from diverse backgrounds and has worked extensively in both J-1 High School Exchange and Au Pair Exchange Programs.

With a master’s degree in social work, Shala excels at building compassionate and empathetic teams. Her commitment to cultural exchange has enriched her understanding of the global community, broadening her perspective.

In her role, Shala manages exchange logistics, leads training initiatives, and fosters cross-cultural dialogue. Her efforts are pivotal in advancing global understanding and cultural awareness across U.S. communities.

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CATHY GALLI-VANEVELD

Program Support Manager

Cathy has dedicated over 14 years to fostering student exchange programs. She spent more than a decade with AYUSA as the Regional Manager for the West and Northwest regions and later served as the Regional Director for the Pan Atlantic Foundation for a year and a half. Throughout her career, Cathy has positively impacted thousands of students and families, facilitating transformative international exchange experiences.

Cathy has dedicated over 14 years to fostering student exchange programs. She spent more than a decade with AYUSA as the Regional Manager for the West and Northwest regions and later served as the Regional Director for the Pan Atlantic Foundation for a year and a half. Throughout her career, Cathy has positively impacted thousands of students and families, facilitating transformative international exchange experiences.

Her passion lies in ensuring life-changing experiences for both students and host families. In 2022, Cathy became the Program Support Manager for High School in the USA, where she significantly enhances the exchange process by guiding participants through challenges to successful outcomes. Cathy also plays a crucial role in strengthening ties with Overseas Partners and supporting students’ natural parents.

Beyond her professional duties, Cathy has personally hosted six academic students and welcomed over ten others for shorter stays, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to student exchange.

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STEPHANIE BATES

Exchange Visitor Program Support Coordinator

Stephanie Bates serves as the Exchange Visitor Program Support Coordinator with approximately six years of experience in student exchange. Beginning her career as a Local Coordinator, she has successfully placed over 100 students in host families.

With a master’s degree in education, Stephanie excels in her multifaceted role.

Cathy has dedicated over 14 years to fostering student exchange programs. She spent more than a decade with AYUSA as the Regional Manager for the West and Northwest regions and later served as the Regional Director for the Pan Atlantic Foundation for a year and a half. Throughout her career, Cathy has positively impacted thousands of students and families, facilitating transformative international exchange experiences.

Her passion lies in ensuring life-changing experiences for both students and host families. In 2022, Cathy became the Program Support Manager for High School in the USA, where she significantly enhances the exchange process by guiding participants through challenges to successful outcomes. Cathy also plays a crucial role in strengthening ties with Overseas Partners and supporting students’ natural parents.

Beyond her professional duties, Cathy has personally hosted six academic students and welcomed over ten others for shorter stays, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to student exchange.

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