Meet the Team

The Learn International family shares a little about themselves and they would love to hear from you.

Founders

Learn director cara simon poses for a professional headshot wearing a brown jacket.

Cara Simon

MA, MSW

Co-Founder and COO

Contact Cara for all Student Services, Student Health & Safety, Marketing and Employment

Email: [email protected]

She adores the field of IE and the impact it has on student growth, success and development. Cara is originally from upstate New York, where there are lots of trees and no sky-scrapers. She earned a BA from SUNY Geneseo and then pursued her MSW from Stony Brook University, followed by a stint in the South Pacific. After working as a Wilderness Therapist and Clinical Social Worker, she decided to switch careers into International Education and received her MA in Higher Education from the University of Arizona.

She is currently working on her Professional Certification in International Education from Forum on Education Abroad; an enriching experience, despite training herself to do “homework” again!

Cara lives for travel and exploring new places, cultures, people, which has guided her to live and work in Australia, Honduras and Costa Rica prior to the Republic of Ireland. She loves anything outdoors, a good book, and that she can access Netflix from almost anywhere in the world.
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Chris Lawlor

MSc, MsC

Co-Founder and CEO

Contact Chris for all New Partnerships and Programme Development and future customised programmes

Email: [email protected]

Chris embraces education in all its forms. He is either building international education programmes for Learn International’s partners or enrolling in post grad programmes to ‘keep the brain healthy and alive!’. After completing his undergrad with a double major in Archaeology and Geography, he completed a M.Sc. in Sustainable Development which included a multi-country European study abroad trip. 

From that point on, the wanderlust was instilled in Chris and he went on to live and work in international education in New Zealand, Australia, France, and USA before returning to Ireland to work with Dublin City University. He undertook a second M.Sc. in Business & Entrepreneurship before starting Learn International in 2013.

Despite the considerable amount of work travel that he does, Chris remains an avid adventurer and jumps at any chance to visit and explore new countries and destinations. He is currently working towards his third marathon and failing miserably at mastering kite-boarding.

Key People

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Aideen Calnan

MSc

Executive Assistant

Contact Aideen for general queries
Email: [email protected]

Aideen is originally from Dublin and joined the Learn International team in November 2018 as an executive assistant.  She graduated from Trinity College Dublin in the 90’s and went on to do a Master’s degree at Queens University Belfast. Having worked in Ohio, Northern Ireland and Dublin, she took a few years off to travel and raise 2 beautiful daughters. Aideen moved to The Cayman Islands in 2014, for the sun, then to Austria in 2017, for the mountains and returned to Ireland in the Summer of 2018, for the good Irish weather!!

Aideen loves meeting and getting to know people from different backgrounds and cultures.  She is also an avid gardener and enjoys hiking in the nearby Wicklow mountains.

Giada Lagana

Giada Lagana

PhD

Customised - Faculty-led Programmes Coordinator

Contact Giada for customised faculty-led programmes in Italy

Email: [email protected]

Originally from Italy, Giada fell in love with Ireland and with Northern Irish history when she was seventeen. She was finally able to move to Galway five years ago and she was awarded her PhD in Political Science in January 2018. Her thesis is entitled ‘The genesis of the Europeanisation of the Northern Ireland peace process’. She started out as an historian, completing her undergraduate studies in modern and contemporary history at the University of Pavia (Italy). She then obtained an MA in International Relations and History at the University of La Rochelle (France).

Giada has always loved learning and teaching people about new cultures and observing cultural awareness grow throughout different experiences. She invested great time and energy in introducing Northern Irish history in Italy and France and she organized a number of public event and conferences throughout Europe. During her four years in France, she also worked as a tourist guide, translator and groups coordinator in the Basque Country and in the region of Bordeaux. In her free time, she loves swimming and … crocheting! She knits and crochet most of her own clothes.

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Eva Wittenberg

MA

Study Abroad Coordinator

Contact Eva for semester programmes and customised programmes in Germany

Email: [email protected]

Eva is originally from Düsseldorf, an art & culture metropolis and fashion city in West Germany. She always enjoyed travelling and got on the airplane to OZ in her early twenties.  After one year of Australian sun she moved to Scotland. She worked as a language assistant and mentor for foreign students and completed her undergraduate studies in Edinburgh Napier University with BA (hons) in Languages and Cultural Studies which included an Erasmus exchange to La Rochelle, West France.

Love brought her back to France and after almost a decade of enjoying la belle vie en France she completed a Masters degree in Training and Educational Programme Management for Ecological Transition and Sustainable Development. Having enjoyed life abroad, she and her husband decided to raise their three kids multilingual in Ireland.

 
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Michelle Kasmauskis

MA

Internship Abroad Coordinator

Contact Michelle for all advising queries related to internships.
Email: [email protected]

Michelle joined the team in April 2019.  Originally from Pennsylvania, she began her international career on a student exchange to Northern Ireland when she was 16 and hasn’t stopped travelling since.  She earned both her BA and MA from University College, Cork in Ireland, spending one year studying at the Università degli Studi di Bologna in Italy during her BA programme.

She’s been working in the field since 2009, working on Study and Volunteer abroad programmes at EIL Ireland in Cork, before working at The College of Global Studies at Arcadia University just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.  During her time at Arcadia, she organised Study Abroad programmes, focusing on internships in Ireland, the UK and Australia, as well as freshman programmes to London and Scotland.

In her free time, when travel isn’t an option she enjoys baking, reading, hiking, crocheting and spending time with her pets, not necessarily in that order.  When baking for a major event, it’s essential to practice, so trial runs tend to be shared with colleagues. This generally doesn’t lead to complaints.

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Kristian Chervenock

PhD

Relationships Coordinator

Contact Kristian for Outreach in the USA and Existing Partnership queries
Email: [email protected]

Kristian is originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, however he has spent most of his life living and working in the US. He completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in International Relations and a post graduate and Master’s degree from Western Washington University (TESOL/TEFL Certification and an M.Ed in Education Administration).

Like so many others in the field of international education, Kristian’s pathway was born organically; spawned from his love for international travel and adventure. He was fortunate to be introduced to travel at a very young age, primarily thanks to his Danish mother who would routinely take Kristian to Denmark for holiday visits with his Viking relatives. His first solo-trip was spent backpacking around Europe immediately after graduation, and shortly after, a year-long visit to Australia where he tried his best to become a real surfer (that never really materialized however). After Australia, Kristian headed off to Japan to teach English—a career and a country that he enjoyed immensely.

After nearly twenty years spent in the dreary Northwest, Kristian (and most members of his immediate family) headed South (to New Mexico) in search of sunnier and warmer climates. It’s safe to say that the Land of Enchantment (New Mexico’s motto) is really more like the Land of Entrapment, because it would take a small army to haul Kristian out of his desert bliss. Where else in the world can you hike, camp, bicycle, swim, and sit around a campfire with a guitar and some good friends ALL YEAR ROUND?

Kristian realized that he needed to find a job to support his hobbies, so he fell back on what he was most passionate about (globetrotting). He wandered into the study abroad office at New Mexico University and ended up spending the next 13 years of his life managing a portfolio of international initiatives at NMSU from study abroad and international student and scholar services to the intensive English programme and overseas partnership and business development.  He managed to squeeze another degree too; this time a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction with a dissertation focused on best practices in international student recruitment, enrollment management and retention.

You’ll never know where you’ll end up in life, so don’t pass up the opportunity to throw on that backpack, board that bus or plane, and GET OUT THERE!

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Jessica Byrne

BA

Programme Development Coordinator

Contact Jessica for programme development queries and customised programmes in Iceland, Ireland, United Kingdom and France
Email: [email protected]

Jessica’s introduction to International Education came when she started working as an international student mentor in 2010 while studying for her BA in Music & History. She loved the experience and knew that she wanted to make a career in International Education after she graduated. Since then she has worked in both Irish and US universities, study abroad providers, and with international students from across the world.

Having missed out on the chance to study abroad during her degree, Jessica moved to Berlin after graduating where she worked for 18 months, exploring the country on weekends and learning the language. Earlier this year she moved to Reykjavik, Iceland in search of another adventure and colder climate!

Jessica loves to travel and is grateful to have a career which has allowed her to visit countless countries over the years and meet many new people. She is glad she has been able to take her career with her across countries and hopes to welcome many students to Iceland in future!

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Anna Zlotorzynska

Accounts Coordinator

Contact Anna for all accounts, payments and invoicing queries
Email: [email protected]

Anna is originally from Suwalki – most beautiful town in north-east Poland. Some call it Poland’s cold pole, others even say that you may encounter polar bear there.

She earned Certificate of Higher Education in Logistic in Enterprise in her home town and then decided to come to Ireland for one year only to learn the English language and gain some experience working internationally.

Anna loved the Irish people and also, the weather so she is still here after 12 years.

She holds a Diploma in Business and Accounting approved by ACCA and is IPASS Certified Payroll Specialist, she is a lifelong learner and will continue studying to gain more qualifications. Not only numbers were always Anna’s biggest passion, but the people behind them. She became a member of the Learn team in March 2019, where she is delighted to have an opportunity to bring these two things together.

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Heather Darker

Homestay and accommodation Coordinator

Contact Heather for all homestay and accommodation queries
Email: [email protected]

Heather is our homestay and accommodation coordinator. She loves to travel and meet people from all over the World. She has run her own airbnb for 3 years, has a degree in European Studies and a post grad in Cultural Event Management. She is now mother of two Irish students both studying in Dublin. 

Heather believes that travel and education combined prepares people to be active global citizens and the open road is always calling….

Joe Videan

Joe Videan

Msc

UK Programmes Manager

Contact Joe for United Kingdom customised programmes queries
Email: [email protected]

Joe received his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University where he is also an Honorary Professor of Advertising and Promotions.  He is currently completing his master’s in marketing communications at Birkbeck College, University of London.  Joe began working with international students in 2001, first as a guest lecturer for the same course he took in 1982 in London.  He began teaching in earnest at Syracuse University’s London international programme 2008 and migrated to education full time in 2014.  He has taught for Michigan State University, University of New Haven and French University INSEEC.

In addition, Joe began directing and creating short term and semester international study programmes for Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA) and Educational Programmes Abroad (EPA), both in academics and internships in 2016.

Prior to education, Joe enjoyed a successful career as a regional and global creative director, which eventually took him United Kingdom.  During his 30 years, he received over 25 national and international creative awards on work produced for a virtual A to Z of British and Multinational companies.

Although a US Citizen, Joe will tell you that he has lived under the Queen’s Rule for 34 years; first in Hong Kong when it was still a Colony and then in England, where he resides with his wife and two daughters in the village of Ashtead, Surrey, just south of London.  During his time in Britain, amongst his many other skills, Joe has learned to make a mighty fine cup of tea thanks to his personal research and the strict tutorage of his English Rose wife. 

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Bernadette Silva

BA

Marketing Coordinator

Bernadette assists with graphics and visual communication materials for Learn International. She is the marketing guru. She has a Bachelor of Individualized Studies with specializations in English, History, Digital Filmmaking and Animation/Visual Effects from New Mexico State University.

She has also studied at Maynooth University in Ireland and the University of Kent in England and served as a Congressional Page at the U.S. House of Representatives with the 111th Congress. Bernadette also works with Lipstick Angels, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing comfort and dignity to hospital patients.