CEA CAPA Leadership Directory
Matthew Gold is the CEO of CEA CAPA Education Abroad. Throughout his career, Matthew has used technology, partnerships, and innovative strategies to help companies grow. He began his career as a consultant at McKinsey & Company and has held innovation focused leadership positions at several global companies, including Google, cars.com, and RedCAT Systems. He has worked internationally, primarily in the UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
He is passionate about education and is excited to help CEA CAPA to continue to positively impact the lives of thousands of students each year. Matthew has experience as a professor at the Hult International Business School’s San Francisco campus, where he designed and taught business analytics courses to a primarily international student body.
Matthew holds a B.A. from Princeton University and MBA and Doctor of Law (JD) degrees from Northwestern University. He has held several board positions and is the former Treasurer and current Member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton ReachOut, a nonprofit that helps Princeton students and alumni make a difference in the world around them. In addition to spending time with his family, Matthew enjoys cooking, reading, and photography.
Martha Johnson, PhD
Martha Johnson, PhD, has worked in education abroad since 1991, including onsite at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and as the Study Abroad Coordinator at Leeds Metropolitan University in Leeds, England. She managed institutional relations for several U.S.-based educational organizations and consortia including Regentâ€™s College in London and AustraLearn previous to going to the University of Minnesota in 2001.
From 2009-2022, Martha served the Assistant Dean for Learning Abroad at the University of Minnesota and oversaw one of the largest education abroad offices in the U.S., sending over 4000 students abroad annually. She played a key leadership role in the highly successful and internationally recognized Curriculum Integration initiative, as well as developing the Career Integration project and subsequent conferences.
Martha holds a PhD in American Studies with an emphasis in drama and the performance of gender, race, and cultural identity from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Martha has presented and chaired numerous sessions and workshops at national and international conferences, served on a variety of education abroad program boards, and authored articles and chapters for publications including Frontiers and NAFSA guides and resources. She previously served in leadership roles and chaired multiple committees in NAFSA, the Forum on Education Abroad, Diversity Abroad, the Global Leadership League, and the Fund for Education Abroad. She is currently serving a term as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the Forum.
Andrea Knappich is a senior finance executive with 25+ years of experience in high-growth organizations, including private equity held, public, and private companies. She has a demonstrated record of driving business transformation, growth, and operational performance, and enjoys collaborating across all areas of an organization. She has served as a key strategic finance partner to senior business and operational leaders across various business units and functional areas (technology, strategy, product development, marketing, client revenue, and human resources), and has significant experience leading due diligence and integration activities, as well as with mergers and acquisitions.
She has experience working in the US, Canada, and France, as well as extensive experience leading virtual, global finance teams. Her past roles include 20 years with Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a global leader specialized in business travel, and most recently as CFO for Celerity Consulting Group, a provider of information management and litigation support solutions. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Commerce degree from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada and also studied at a Consortium of International Business Schools (University of St. Gallen, Cranfield University, Esade, Bocconi, EM Lyon).
Ricardo Lopez Valencia has honed his corporate and executive acumen over twenty-five years and knows that exemplary executive teams are robust, effective social systems. He is known for developing a virtuous cycle of respect, trust, and candor to create well-functioning, successful teams who have chemistry that cannot be quantified; where one superior quality builds on another.
Ricardo is an experienced executive with a strong entrepreneurial spirit whose professional success has been achieved through a commitment to people, equitable access, social betterment, and bottom-line results. He blends inspiration in teams with strategic skills rooted in the following disciplines: collaborative leadership, multiple team coordination, market insight and research, disciplined communication and public relations, cultural literacy, development of comprehensive distribution platforms, and brand development resulting in successful and executable business strategies. Following his principles, he has done well for himself and his family. As a leader, Ricardo continues to achieve for his family, the company he works for, and for those he cares about.
Shawn Coover is the Executive Vice President of Human Resources. In this role, he oversees the development and implementations of policies, processes, and best practices to ensure CEA CAPA continues to be a great place to work. This includes consultation on strategic business initiatives, employee relations, staffing plans and recruitment, compensation and benefits, communications, training and development, and legal compliance. Most importantly, Shawn and his team work diligently to make sure that everything we do is true to the organization’s Core Values, Mission, and Vision.
Shawn earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics and MBA from Northern Arizona University. He joined CEA CAPA in 2018 and brought with him 19 years of international leadership experience, including eight years in Human Resources. His professional background also includes leadership experience in operations, project management, development, customer service, and purchasing with Honeywell, AT&T, and Belden Wire and Cable.
An avid traveler, Shawn has traveled to over 30 countries.
Simon Finch overseas Global Operations across CEA CAPA’s 23 locations in 12 countries. Simon leads the skilled and dedicated team that delivers our programs and ensures the health and safety of our participants. Prior to joining CEA CAPA in 2022, Simon served as Managing Director for UK Schools at Compass Group, a food, hospitality, and support services company that serves the education sector in the UK and Ireland. Previously, Simon was the CEO for Office Depot Canada, and has held several CFO and other financial leadership positions for multinational companies and financial institutions.
Ben Werth brings over a decade of experience leading strategic and operational transformation for growth and spent the past six years within the private equity ecosystem. He joins CEA CAPA from LogicMonitor, where he served as Vice President of GTM Operations and Growth Strategy and was a member of the Senior Leadership Team. Throughout his tenure, Ben held several senior leadership positions at LogicMonitor, across pre- and post-sales, helping scale global operations from 250 employees to 1,100-plus. Prior to LogicMonitor, Ben delivered consulting and strategy services with Vista Equity Partners in VCG, and at Deloitte Consulting.
Ben graduated from the University of Washington and earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance. Instrumental as a founding team member of a Bellevue Washington area non-profit, Rainier Athletes, Ben focused on creating equitable opportunities through mentorship for youth, in and out of the classroom. For over eight years, Ben worked to grow the organization to now serve 100-plus students annually, across 12 schools, supported by a team of 70 mentors.
As a business leader and community member, Ben is passionate about personal development, and creating equitable opportunities for those around him to reach their full potential.
Prior to joining CEA CAPA, Craig managed educational facilities around the London area, worked for the UK government, and spent 10 years working and studying in the U.S. He holds a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Education from Walsh University. Craig is originally from Gibraltar, raised in England, and is a former professional football (soccer) player.
Caroline Walsh is responsible for the alignment and growth of CEA CAPA’s current product portfolio and expansion into new markets. She works closely with leadership within University Relations to identify university needs and trends and collaborates with Academic Affairs and CEA CAPA staff worldwide to design and deliver new programs and academic partnerships that are best suited to meet the needs of our U.S. university partners.
Prior to joining CEA CAPA, Caroline worked in the Public Information Office for the Santa Clara Water District, at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco, and at the Office of International Student Scholars at UW-Madison. She has a Master of Arts in Latin American studies from UW-Madison (Wisc.), a certificate of global leadership from the Thunderbird School of Management (Ariz.) and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Santa Clara University (Calif.).
While living for a year in Madrid, Spain, Caroline used her school breaks and weekends to travel throughout Spain and many other countries within Europe. She also lived in Bolivia and Brazil, and traveled throughout Peru, Chile, and the Amazon. Caroline thinks it's OK for students to be uncomfortable when traveling abroad: "It is in these moments we learn about ourselves and the new culture we are visiting. When you leave your comfort zone, you grow. You'll feel awkward and out of place many times, but that's OK. Don't shy away from difficult moments or stay where you are comfortable, you may be surprised at how strong you are."
- Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA)
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators
- "Planning Quality Short-Term Study Abroad Programs," Co-Presented at NAFSA: Association of International Educators Region II and III, Bi-Regional Conference 2005, Colorado Springs
- "Crisis Management in Study Abroad," Co-Presented at Arizona International Educators Conference 2002, Tucson
- Recipient of a University Fellowship as well as the Intensive Foreign Language HEA Title VI Fellowship from University of Wisconsin – Madison
- Recipient of an Intensive Foreign Language HEA Title VI Fellowship (Portuguese)
Louis Berends, PhD
Dr. Louis “Lou” Berends comes to CEA CAPA from Syracuse University where he most recently held positions as Director of Strategic and International Partnerships, and Director of Academic Programs under the Provost’s Office. Under Lou's leadership, Syracuse Abroad increased study abroad participation and is ranked highly as a national leader in study abroad. Lou has worked extensively in international education at U.S. universities and providers of global education since 2000. He holds a Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago in cultural and educational policy studies with a concentration in comparative and international education.
Additionally, Lou studied at Brunel University (Uxbridge, UK), the University of Oxford (St. Catherine's College), as well as in Rome, Italy, and has visited and conducted research in numerous countries. Lou is a first-generation college student and also comes from a low-income background and as a result is a strong advocate for increasing access to global learning for all under-represented students. Furthermore, Lou has presented many papers in various settings including Harvard's Graduate School of Education, the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), the Forum on Education Abroad, and NAFSA (among others). Lou’s most recent publication, co-edited with Dr. Kate Patch, SIO at Grinnell College, is a book on high-impact educational practices entitled, Undergraduate Research Abroad: Approaches, Models and Challenges (2020). Lou currently serves a Chair of the Forum on Education Abroad’s Research Advisory Group.
Andrea Custodi, PhD
As Dean & Vice President of Academic and Strategic Initiatives, Andrea Custodi, PhD, oversees evaluation and assessment, teaching and learning, and faculty engagement and development at CEA CAPA. She also serves as academic point on program development and direct enroll relationships with overseas institutional partners, and supports CEA CAPA's thought leadership in the field through publications, presentations, and work with our Advisory Board. Andrea comes to CEA CAPA with over 20 years of experience in senior leadership at education abroad organizations: from a small liberal arts consortium operating in South India, to Arcadia and IFSA's Alliance for Global Education, and most recently as Senior Director of Academic Affairs and Strategic Initiatives at CET Academic Programs. She also brings an extensive record of service to the field. Andrea most recently served on AIEA's Publications & Resources and Conference Committees; she has chaired The Forum on Education Abroad’s Curriculum Committee, Standards Committee, and Outcomes Assessment Committee, and served as a member of the Forum Council, the Ethics Committee, and the Trained Facilitator Corps. Andrea holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. from The George Washington University, with an academic background spanning South Asian religious studies, feminist, psychoanalytic, and critical theory, and international politics. She is fluent in French and Italian, and has lived, worked, or studied abroad in Italy, France, Switzerland, and Nepal.
Stina Dufour, Ed.D.
Tim Boubek is the Vice President, Institutional Relations - West. CEA CAPA established its Institutional Relations department to serve as a vital resource to enhance university outreach efforts throughout the U.S. Tim leads the team of CEA CAPA West Regional Directors to foster collaborative relationships with university partners, and provides U.S. institutions with a keen knowledge of CEA CAPA operations, from student recruitment, admissions, and planning through their time abroad and return to their U.S. campus.
Tim brings many years of study abroad experience to the position, having served previously in several operational capacities at CEA CAPA. A current member of NAFSA, he graduated from Western Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement - Criminal Justice and a minor in Business Administration. He earned a certificate in Human Resources Management from the University of Phoenix.
- AIEA: Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA)
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators
A native of Massachusetts, Paul is based in Austin, Texas, having joined CEA CAPA in 2018. He oversees a talented team of Regional Directors working with institutional partners in the central US. Paul has focused his career working with students and administrators in higher education. Prior to CEA CAPA, Paul served as a Bilingual Admission Counselor and Academic Advisor at St. Edward’s University, Director of Internships and Service-Learning at International Studies Abroad, and Director of Institutional Relations with EF College Study Tours. Paul also served as an AmeriCorps volunteer and has led service-learning projects to Peru. He holds a dual B.A. in Spanish and Communication from Stonehill College and earned his MA in Spanish from Texas State University. When he's not on an airplane visiting institutional partners, Paul enjoys eating brisket at barbecue spots around Texas, walking his Boxer, and rocking out at live music venues with his wife and daughter.
As Vice President, Eryn oversees and provides strategic leadership to the organization’s health, safety, security and risk management practices. Eryn works closely with CEA CAPA team members across the U.S. and internationally, as well as directly with our U.S. partner institutions, to ensure that our coordination of emergency response protocols is seamless and that our CEA CAPA staff is abreast of the most current health and safety issues in the field.
Eryn joined the CEA CAPA team in May 2021 after gaining 15 years of experience in international education at the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA), with eight years serving in a full-time health and safety role. Eryn also lived abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica, to gain hands-on experience with study abroad students in an international setting. She has also held roles in academic affairs and program advising in education abroad and has a well-rounded view of the many facets of our field.
Eryn is well connected in the field of education abroad and risk management and has collaborated on several presentations at the Forum on Education Abroad conference, holds memberships in OSAC, Pulse, and the Forum, and has co-authored several health and safety publications in the field.
If you have any questions about the development and coordination of CEA CAPA programs and services that promote student well-being, or questions about safety, security and risk management, please contact her directly: email@example.com.
Stacy McKay Benander
Based in the Naples, Florida, Stacy is a veteran of the international education field. Prior to joining CEA CAPA, she served for 15 years as the Founder and President of Athena Study Abroad. She received the Enlightened Employer Award at the Women in International Education (WIE) Awards in Berlin, Germany, has been named twice to the Forty Under 40 list for business professionals (in both Columbus, Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania), and was named the recipient of NAFSA Region VI's esteemed Leo Dowling Award of Excellence. Stacy served as a Founding Executive Team Member of the women's leadership and advocacy group the Global Leadership League, has served on NAFSA's Trainer Corps, and was a founding member of the Global Learning Collective. She has also served as the Director of the International Office at Ohio Dominican University and was an International Student and Scholar Advisor at The Ohio State University. Stacy earned her MA degree in Educational Policy and Leadership (Social and Cultural Foundations) from The Ohio State University, and her BA degree as a double-major in Spanish and Communications/Public Relations from John Carroll University.
Jodi Melichar serves as Vice President of Enrollment and Advising at CEA CAPA.
Shawna has worked in international education and related fields for more than 20 years. As the Vice President of Communications and Strategic Engagement for CEA CAPA, she oversees all aspects of CEA CAPA’s communications and partner marketing. She has previously served as the Director of Marketing for World Learning, an international education and nongovernmental institution that is the umbrella organization for the School for International Training (SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate programs), and The Experiment in International Living. She is the co-chair of the NAFSA Rainbow SIG. She holds a degree in Political Science from Smith College. In addition to her work in international education, Shawna has experience in sales and marketing consulting and as a book editor, designer, and publisher.
Based in our Phoenix office, Peyton oversees the CEA CAPA Marketing Department creating strategy behind partner and student engagement through digital and print channels. Peyton combines her passion for customer-centric marketing with her love for travel and continuing education to share compelling stories that inspire.
With 10 years of experience in the creative, digital, and sales space, Peyton specializes in digital and print strategy, campaign management, visual storytelling, and lead and revenue-generation for omnichannel marketing. Before joining CEA CAPA, Peyton led the fashion marketing team for an industry leader in the scholastic space, where she drove initiatives to elevate the student experience and grow partnerships with schools and universities around the globe.
Outside of work, Peyton enjoys filling her world map with pins, solo travel, snuggling with her maltipoo Milo, being on the water, and attempting to keep her houseplants alive.
Peyton holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she was a D1 cheerleader for four years.
Aaron joins the CEA CAPA team after spending 19 years at the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA). He served the organization through a variety of roles, most recently as the Assistant Vice President of Institutional Engagement, where he managed their nationwide recruitment team and custom program division. Prior to serving as the AVP for Institutional Engagement, Aaron served as the Field Director, Great Lakes Region and Enrollment Manager, where he was responsible for increasing program participation, growing the number of affiliated programs, as well as expanding the base of sending institutions across a 9-state region. He also served as the Senior Program Advisor for programs in the U.K. and New Zealand, where he actively engaged with students, parents, and advisors to educate them on programs that fit students’ academic needs, as well as exploring ways to remove barriers to make students’ dreams of studying abroad a reality.
Aaron is a graduate of Butler University and holds a BS degree in Finance. During his undergraduate experience, Aaron studied abroad in London, England at Birkbeck, University of London. His time abroad was so transformative for him that he wanted to devote his professional career to promoting life changing, international experiences to other students.
When Aaron is not advocating for students to learn abroad, he can be found planning his next travel adventure and spending time with his family. He is an avid hiker, skier, and golfer, and enjoys seeing live music and collecting vinyl records. Aaron is also very active in his community, engaging and volunteering with a number of organizations throughout his community, specifically with the Indiana Humane Society, Second Helpings, and Newfields.
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