Meaningful Academics

Verto Education’s Mission:

We help students discover themselves and the world around them by making education abroad a foundational and accessible part of a four-year college education. We believe that through these transformative experiences, students become impactful leaders and global citizens.

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Verto Education’s Values:

Verto Education was founded to make travel the path of least resistance to a college education (and degree). We believe in inclusion, transparency, access, equity and, above all, the power of travel to foster empathy and kindness across cultures.

How it works

What Verto Education Offers:

  • An Affordable, accredited, global academic semester or year

    Verto is designed to give students the opportunity to explore new environments while graduating in four years affordably. Each semester’s programming is intentionally focused on global citizenship and personal development to help students build valuable college and life skills.

  • Guaranteed admission to a top Verto partner college

    When students are accepted to Verto, they’re automatically accepted to at least one of Verto’s partner colleges. Upon application to Verto, students can simultaneously request their application also be sent to our partner colleges and universities. When accepted by the school of choice, students have reserved enrollment for the semester or year after Verto, depending on whether students participate in one semester or a full year.

  • A well-rounded cross-cultural experience focused on personal growth

    Semesters foster self-discovery through journaling, mindfulness training, mentorship, service learning programs, and – for some semesters – a homestay experience. Weekly structured reflection gives students a sense of who they are and want they want from their university career.

Right for you?Frequently Asked Questions
Our ProgramsVerto Semesters Abroad
Before You ApplyAdmissions & Enrollment Info

Verto was founded by a team of passionate travelers and educators

Our team’s goal is to revolutionize higher education and make international experiences a core part of the college experience. With a collective 50+ years in international education, we understand how important and impactful traveling is to learning more about yourself and the world around you.

Executives & Leaders

Mitch Gordon

President & Co-Founder

Mitch Gordon is the former Entrepreneur in Residence at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. Mitch is an entrepreneur, starting a number of companies in the fields of travel and education.

He believes passionately in Verto’s mission: To change the world of higher education and put students first. His previous company, Go Overseas, with 1 million+ monthly visitors, is the most trusted resource for researching international education programs around the world.

Mitch is a frequent presenter in the areas of entrepreneurship, travel and international education. Mitch previously lived in Taipei, Taiwan for 5 years and currently resides in San Francisco. He completed his BS at Binghamton University and his MBA at UC Berkeley. When he’s not working you can find Mitch on a run, hiking, traveling or reading.

Ben Welbourn

Vice President of Enrollment & Co-Founder

Ben is an alum of a self-designed gap year, during which he hiked the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia, worked in a variety of industries, taught English in rural Peru, and led outdoor education programs in New Hampshire and Maine.

Ben went on to earn his degree in international relations from the College of Wooster in Ohio. Before joining the field of experiential education, he taught at a primarily Dominican-American school outside of Boston. Ben has since overseen international program development, student outreach and recruitment, and business development for a number of student travel organizations including Rustic Pathways and Winterline Global Education.

Ben spends equal parts of his free time exploring New York City, and escaping to the woods with his wife and dog.

Dave Dennis

Vice President of Health and Safety

Dave Dennis is the Vice President of Health and Safety at Verto Education and founder of a consulting firm supporting tour operators and experiential education providers worldwide. He has a Master’s degree in Business Continuity from Norwich University, 25 years of experience in adventure and experiential education, and is the Co-Chair of the Standards and Accreditation Committee with the Gap Year Association.

As an actively engaged leader in the travel industry, Dave presents at conferences, hosts online webinars, coordinates networking groups, and participates in panelist discussions. He remains passionate about human safety while understanding the importance of preserving life-changing experiences through travel.

Based in Colorado, Dave is a devoted husband and father spending as much time as possible outdoors.

Ahmad Refky

Vice President of Operations

Ahmad Refky is the Vice President of Operations at Verto Education. He has been active in the International Education field for 15 years. He has extensive experience in program design, operations, risk management, and student health & safety. Prior to joining Verto Education, Ahmad oversaw international operations at a large study abroad organization, and provided leadership to a globally dispersed team, spearheading the implementation of study abroad programs, risk management, and student health & safety.

Originally from Egypt, Ahmad’s first foray into study abroad was as a high school exchange student to the United States, which sparked his love for international education. Ahmad earned his B.A. in Political Science from the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and has done his graduate studies at DePaul University. He is a zealous advocate for access, inclusion, diversity and equity, and recognizes that the field has a lot of work to do to make study abroad inclusive to all participants.

After many Chicago winters, Ahmad now calls Phoenix, Arizona home. When not traveling, Ahmad and his husband enjoy spending their time spoiling their growing menagerie of dogs–currently four and counting!

Michael Kabbaz

Senior Vice President of Strategy & Chief of Staff

Michael Kabbaz is the Vice President for Institutional Partnerships at Verto Education. Prior to Verto, Michael has served in a number of senior higher education roles at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and the University of Richmond. He has also worked for the College Board overseeing higher education services for the Midwest office in Chicago and was responsible for creating the higher education office within the Advanced Placement Program. In addition to consulting with dozens of institutions, Michael has also served in various admission roles at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Prior to his career in higher education, he served as a staff auditor at the accounting firm KPMG.

Michael believes passionately in Verto’s mission to provide transformational and life-changing experiences abroad to students regardless of their socioeconomic background before they enroll at a great partner institution.

When he’s not wearing his fashionable bow ties for work, you can find Michael riding his Harley, traveling to new places, and reading for his doctoral classes.

Oronde Baylor

Director of Admissions

Erin Murphy

Director of Student Experience

Aline Parnagian

Director of Revenue Operations

Steve Jones

Director of Marketing

Mary Otto

Director of Student Financial Services

Sara Troy

Director of Program Development

Liz Kather

Director of Student Affairs

Jake Weissbourd

Director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives

Kaycie Lawson, Ph.D.

Director of Academics

Higher Education & Student Success

Michaela McGee

Senior Associate Director for Student Success Services

Madeline Willett

Associate Director of Division Operations & Student Experience

Stephanie Collens

Associate Director for Student Financial Services

Olivia Rockwood

Assistant Director for Student Success

Patrick Northover

Assistant Director for Student Academic Success

Rebecca Liebeskind

Academic Success Coordinator and Course Director, Special Topics

Leslie Matheu

Academic Success Coordinator

Stephanie McCreary

Academic Success Coordinator

Chris Morales

Academic Success Coordinator

Maggie Musty

Academic Success Coordinator

Shelby Silva

Student Success Coordinator

Michaela Yisrael

Student Success Coordinator

Parrish Preston

Student Communication Coordinator

Sarah Evancho

Billing & Scholarship Coordinator


Kelley Reardon

Academic Operations Coordinator

Cam Silver, Ph.D.

Course Director, International Development

Robin Garcia, Ph.D.

Course Director, Latin American History

Erin Johnston, Ph.D.

Course Director, Sociology

Shastri Akella, Ph.D.

Course Director, Rhetoric & Composition

Ali Swank

Coordinator, Rhetoric & Composition and World Literature

Hashi Jayasinghe, Ph.D.

Course Director, World Literature

Ashley LaBoda, Ph.D.

Course Director, Spanish Language

Jay Fancher, Ph.D.

Course Director, Cultural Anthropology

Tess Bird

Field Instructor, Cultural Anthropology

Lauri Travis, Ph.D.

Field Instructor, Cultural Anthropology

Courtney Pickett

Coordinator, Environmental Science

Edgardo Arevalo

Field Instructor, Environmental Science

Honor Stoner

Field Instructor, Environmental Science

Alejandra Salas

Field Instructor, Spanish

Matthew Paffhouse

Field Instructor, International Development

Austin Wheeler

Field Instructor, Latin American History

Leslie Jernegan

Field Instructor, Rhetoric & Composition and World Literature

Courtney Carlson

Field Instructor, Rhetoric & Composition and World Literature

Jacqueline Leshan

Field Instructor, Sociology

Christian González Jaworski

Field Instructor, Sociology


Gary Robinson

Mental Health Consultant

Jackie Broussard

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant

Andrés “Fofo” Zúñiga

Regional Manager, Costa Rica

Aimee Gunn

Regional Manager, Hawaii

Ben Wright

Regional Manager, Fiji

Galen Merigliano

Program Leader & Operations Associate

Shannon Horgan

Program Leader

Nancy Trujillo

Program Leader

Fabricio Argueda

Program Leader

JaKyah Beatty

Program Leader

Madison Prior

Program Leader

Malia Wakinekona

Program Leader

College Counseling & Partner Relations

Liz Le

Senior Associate Director of College Counseling and Partner Relations

Erika Cacsire-Strauss

Associate Director for College Counseling

Krista Goebel

College Counselor

Lakota Bowen

Partner Relations Coordinator


Daniel Marion

Assistant Director of Admissions

Josh Sadagursky

Senior Associate Director of Admissions

Layni Pistone

Senior Associate Director of Admissions

Shaunene Edwards

Senior Admissions Counselor and Training Director

Gabriela Granote

Senior Admissions Counselor

Catherine Malcolm

Senior Admissions Counselor

Brandon Vernon

Senior Admissions Counselor

George Goldman

Senior Admissions Counselor

Michelle Korczynski

Senior Admissions Counselor

Dan McSweeney

Senior Admissions Counselor

Dan Quick

Senior Admissions Counselor

Hillevi Johnson

Admissions Counselor Team Lead

Mary Atyemizian

Admissions Counselor

Annie Dawson

Admissions Counselor

Bart Weidman

Admissions Counselor

Torrin Rosegold

Admissions Counselor

Sarah Horton

Admissions Counselor

Marla McLeod

Admissions Counselor

Hailey Darrow

Admissions Counselor

Allie Chatas

Admissions Counselor

Analee Henley

Admissions Counselor

Emma Herrick

Admissions Counselor

Gracie Adsit

Admissions Counselor Intern

Emily Rosenberger

Admissions Counselor Intern

Caroline Dowers

Admissions Counselor Intern

Revenue Systems & Operations

Akilah Arthur

Sr. Systems and Revenue Operations Lead

Joe Cardin

Salesforce Administrator

Marketing & Administration

Jodi Marcus

Marketing Manager

Raymon David

Marketing Operations Manager

Emily Sauey

People Generalist

Aaron Montoya

Web Developer

Nicole Simonds

Sr. Talent Acquisition and Onboarding Coordinator

Audrey Warters

Content Marketing Manager

Advisory Board

The Advisory Board guides Verto on its initiatives for student services, equity, inclusion, and access, curriculum, partnerships, and student recruitment.

Verto’s Advisory Board members were each selected for their demonstrated commitment to college access, their leadership in the field, and their expertise in educational advising.

Lucas Frankel

Shady Side Academy

Jeff McAdam

Director of College & Academic Advising, Saint Dominic Academy

Danielle Jakob

Associate Director of College Counseling, United Nations International School

Blair Parker

Upper School Dean & College Counselor, Riverdale Country School

Tara Miller, M.Ed.

Lead College Counselor, Stephen F. Austin High School

Suzanne Crossman

Director of Transition and Guidance, Landmark School

Beverly Low

Director of Guidance & College Counseling, Manchester Essex Regional School District

Sophia Bazile

Founder, F.L.Y.P Coaching and Consulting

Melissa Nipper

Director of College Counseling, Andrews Osborne Academy

Dean A. Jacoby

Director of College Guidance, Albuquerque Academy

Jason Vallozzi

Founder, Campus to Career Crossroads

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