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leadership

Brian J. Boubek
CEO & Chairman

Brian is an entrepreneur and leader in global education who has built his career helping today's student become globally competitive. In 1997, Brian founded CEA Study Abroad after a life-changing study abroad experience in Dijon, France. Brian felt that his time in France was so empowering and insightful that he wanted to provide the same opportunity to everyone.

"CEA's success is built on our ability to design and implement innovative, high-quality academic programs that meet the needs of today's university student. In the current higher education environment, global competency is no longer a luxury. CEA is meeting that challenge by providing the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the global economy."

Since its beginning as a study abroad provider, Brian has led CEA as the company grew to become one of the largest for-profit international education companies in the U.S with operations throughout the world and more-than 170 employees worldwide. CEA enrolls more than 4,000 U.S. university students annually in over 100 academic programs.

Brian earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Commerce (BSC) degree in both Marketing and Finance from DePaul University (Ill.). He studied French language at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France and the Alliance Française in Paris. In addition, he is also a graduate of the "Birthing of Giants" Executive Education program hosted by the MIT Enterprise Forum and Inc. Magazine.

A resident of Phoenix, Arizona, Brian is married with two children. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, worldwide travel, new business start-ups, and anything related to food and wine.

ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators
  • Forum on Education Abroad
  • American Marketing Association (AMA)
  • Young President's Organization (YPO)

HONORS/AWARDS

  • Excellence in International Business Award, Arizona District Export Council in cooperation with the Phoenix Council on Foreign Relations
  • Spirit of Enterprise Center, W.P. Carey School of Business
  • Global Impact Symposium Award Finalist, Eller College of Management
  • Two years on the Inc. 500 list as one of the nation's fastest growing private companies
  • Arizona Corporate Excellence Award as the 13th fastest growing organization in Arizona
  • BizAZ Hot Growth Award as the Top 10 fastest growing company in Arizona
  • Small Business Association Exporter of the Year
  • Featured in the Wall Street Journal, Arizona Republic, BizAZ, Phoenix Business Journal, Arizona Business Gazette, Inside Higher Ed, and the Chronicle of Higher Education
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Dr. Louis Berends
Vice President of Academic Affairs
Dr. Louis “Lou” Berends comes to CEA 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. 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).
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Caroline Walsh
Senior Vice President - Program Development

Caroline Walsh is responsible for the alignment and growth of CEA’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 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, 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."

ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA)
  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators

PRESENTATIONS/PUBLICATIONS

  • "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

HONORS/AWARDS

  • 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)
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Tim Boubek
Vice President - Strategic University Partnerships

Tim Boubek is the Vice President of Strategic University Partnerships. CEA established its University Relations department to serve as a vital resource to enhance university outreach efforts throughout the U.S. Tim leads the team of CEA Regional Consultants to foster collaborative relationships with university partners, and provides U.S. institutions with a keen knowledge of CEA 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. 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.

ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • AIEA: Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA)
  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators

EDUCATION

  • BS, Law Enforcement – Criminal Justice, Western Illinois University
  • Minor, Business Administration, Western Illinois University
  • Certificate in Human Resources Management, University of Phoenix
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Ahmad Refky
Vice President of International Operations
Ahmad is originally from Cairo, Egypt, where he lived for 22 years. His first foray into study abroad came when he lived in the U.S. as an exchange student during his senior year of high school. That experience inspired him to work in international education, where he has built his career over the past decade. After graduating with a BA in International Relations from the American University in Cairo, Ahmad immigrated to the U.S. in 2001, where he pursued his graduate studies at DePaul University and studied abroad in The Netherlands as part of the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society.

Ahmad’s first position in the study abroad field was as a Group Study Exchange Coordinator at The Rotary Foundation, where he worked on short-term exchange programs for young professionals interested in learning how their vocations are practiced internationally. Next, as a Training and Development Manager at the Center for Cultural Interchange, Ahmad trained field staff on J-1 visa regulations and worked with vendors to develop an online application and monitoring system for exchange students. He was also the Illinois Regional Director, responsible for recruiting field staff and placing students with qualified host families during their academic year in the U.S. Finally, Ahmad served as a College Relations Manager for Customized Programs at IES Abroad. During his four-year tenure, he oversaw the development of short-term, quarter, and semester-long programs for schools in 17 states, and represented the organization in regional, national, and international conferences.

An avid traveler, Ahmad has traveled to Lebanon, Indonesia, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica. He looks forward to traveling to Italy, Spain, Morocco, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, and maybe one day Antarctica.
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Colin Brennan
Vice President of Finance & Accounting
Originally from Chicago, Colin joined CEA in 2010 after studying abroad with us in San José, Costa Rica. He graduated with a B.B.A. in Finance from the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa. Studying abroad inspired him to work in international education, and Colin was brought on as an intern in the Finance & Accounting department. During his internship, he worked cross-functionally with all departments to gain a comprehensive understanding of the organization. He was promoted to Financial Analyst in 2012 and became responsible for creating an accurate budget process using the software Host Analytics. He spent two years refining what is now the foundation of CEA’s budget process. As a Financial Analyst, Colin also worked through several operational projects like mapping out and implementing the marketing lead hierarchy, creating revenue and enrollment goals across all departments, contributing to the enrollment contact strategy, and creating the sales pipeline in Salesforce. These and other achievements have helped CEA develop a standard of analytical reporting across the organization.
Colin enjoys taking trips back to Chicago to visit his niece and nephew, who are also his godchildren. He likes traveling both domestically and internationally, and has so far set foot in Spain, Costa Rica, Colombia, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom. He’s a skier who has been on the slopes of several U.S. mountains, and he also likes to golf.
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Shawn Coover
Vice President of Human Resources and Project Management

Shawn Coover is the Vice President of Human Resources and Project Management. In this role, he oversees the development and implementations of policies, processes, and best practices to ensure CEA 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 in 2018 and brought with him 19 years of international leadership experience, including 8 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.

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