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 queries

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.
chris lawlor

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

Michelle staff photo

Michelle Yalch Kasmauskis

MA

Internships and Semester Abroad Manager

Contact Michelle for all advising queries related to internships, work experience and semester programmes.
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.

Anna Zlotorzynska staff photo

Anna Zlotorzynska

Senior Accounts and Human resource 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.

Heather for website

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….

Jessica Perez

Jessica Perez

BSc

Business Development Coordinator

Originally from California, Jessica moved to Northern Ireland at the age of nine and received her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from the University of Ulster.  Jessica has been working in the field of international higher education and has worked with US universities for more than four years.

Living in Ireland she gained extensive travel experience throughout Europe, and after graduation embarked on an around-the-world trip spending six months in Asia and seven months in South America. She also lived in Australia for two years and Mexico for two years working on conservation programmes.

Now based in San Diego, California, Jessica still loves travel and adventure including hiking, freediving and scuba diving.

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. 

learn international logo, 2019 edition. navy background with international colored in pink

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.

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Sarah Crawford

BSc, BA

Graduate Intern

Sarah recently graduated from Syracuse University in May of 2020, where she earned two Bachelor’s degrees in Public Relations and Writing & Rhetoric Studies. During her time in college, Sarah’s passion for travel was explored through multiple study abroad programmes and a senior thesis project which focused on her time spent in Scotland. In the summer of 2019, she interned for a public affairs agency in Brussels, where she covered the 2019 European Union elections and became the favourite customer of the Belgian fry shop down the street from her office. She’s excited to be a part of the Learn International team and for the new adventures that await!
Photo of Matteo Talotta

Matteo Talotta

BA, MA

Graduate Intern

An Italian-Canadian, Matteo grew up just north of Toronto and from a young age had an interest in different cultures, countries and people. He received a BA in Political Science and Italian Studies from the University of Toronto in 2017. He studied abroad in Florence, Italy in the fall of 2015, an experience that changed the course of his academic career and post-academic career aspirations. Throughout his undergraduate studies, Matteo worked for various cultural and language-related organisations, honing his intercultural competencies and client service skills. He moved to the United States immediately after to pursue an MA in Italian Language and Literature at the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in 2019. 

While pursuing his MA, Matteo taught Italian language courses at the university and also worked in Rome, Italy during the summer of 2018 as an assistant program coordinator for the “Pitt in Rome” study abroad programme. This experience enhanced his desire to work in the international education field and give back to students seeking to broaden their horizons. In addition to his professional pursuits, Matteo enjoys playing sports, specifically football, learning new languages (currently at four) and writing.