Our Story,
Our Mission,
& Our Team.

Get to Know Verto Education

Verto Education offers the onlyglobal, academic travel experiencethat partners with colleges—travel, earn college credit, and graduate in four years.

Our 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.

Our 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.

What Verto Education Offers

Photo: Two students talking, smiling and laughing in class

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.

Photo: Students sitting walking through plaza

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.

Photo: Verto Education students surveying meals served in tropical jungle leaves and grass roof hut

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.

Is Verto Right For You?Frequently Asked Questions
Our ProgramsVerto Semesters Abroad
Before You ApplyAdmissions & Enrollment Info

Meet Our Team

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.

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

Aline Parnagian

Director of Revenue Operations

Steve Jones

Director of Marketing

Mary Otto

Director of Student Financial Services

Sara Troy

Director of Program Development

Jake Weissbourd

Director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives

Liz Kather

Director of Student Affairs

Kaycie Lawson, Ph.D.

Director of Academics

Higher Education & Student Success

Michaela McGee

Senior Associate Director of Student Success Services

Madeline Willett

Associate Director of Division Operations & Student Experience

Stephanie Collens

Associate Director of Student Financial Services

Patrick Northover

Assistant Director of Student Academic Success

Olivia Rockwood

Assistant Director of Student Success

Layni Pistone

Assistant Director of Student Success

Stuart Butcher

Assistant Director of Student Success

Shelby Silva

Student Success Coordinator

Katlyn Maloney

Student Success Coordinator

Michaela Yisrael

Student Success Coordinator

Parrish Preston

Student Communication Coordinator

Sarah Evancho

Billing & Scholarship Coordinator

Matthew Travers

Community Manager