Our BOARD OF DIRECTORS is dedicated, dynamic, and devoted to intercultural engagement:

Angelo Pitillo, President

Angelo Pitillo has thirty years’ experience teaching and administering programs in English as a second language in the U.S., Japan, and the Middle East. He currently serves as the Director of the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute (ELI), the oldest university-based English language research and teaching center in the U.S. In this role, he oversees programs providing language and academic instruction to international graduate students and preparing undergraduates to teach ESL in local communities and abroad. He also serves on the University’s Council on Global Engagement, Inclusive Campus Collaborative, and Islamophobia Working Group. Before coming to Ann Arbor, Angelo worked for more than twenty years as a teacher and administrator in English language programs in the US, Japan, and the Middle East. His professional life is informed by his own experience as an international graduate student in Germany, as a professor of English in Japan, and as a freelance journalist writing about arts and popular culture for publications in the US, Ireland, China, and Japan. In his free time, Angelo is a beginner pianist and avid hiker and cyclist. He travels frequently to explore new cultures and maintain connections to friends around the world.

Linda Kentes, Vice President

Linda Kentes has a Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language and a twenty-two year background in International Education. She taught English as a Foreign Language (in Germany) and English as a Second Language (in Ann Arbor). After spending a number of years teaching academic preparation ESL, she launched, owned, and operated a successful language school which focused on English for business purposes. At the University of Michigan, Linda was the Assistant Director of the International Center for about a dozen years, supervising the office of International Student and Scholar Services. During that time, she sat on the ECIR Board of Directors for a couple of years. Currently, Linda is serving as the Academic Chief of Staff in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, where she partners with the LSA Dean to fulfill the college’s mission and vision. Her passion is to engage in public diplomacy by supporting the dreams and education of international students.

Jim Schaafsma, Treasurer

Jim serves as the housing attorney for the Michigan Poverty Law Program (MPLP), works with the Resident Issues Advisory Committee of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, and the Michigan Court Forms Committee and its Civil Infractions, Other Civil, and Summary Proceedings Work Group.

Del Blain, Secretary

Del is the former Dean of Learning Resources at Washtenaw Community College where she managed the college library, media services for faculty, computer labs and the first official website for the college. At WCC, Del enjoyed frequent contact with students of diverse ages and cultures, including students from around the globe. On retirement, Del volunteered at ECIR (now IHAA) assisting staff with the Global Friendship Program. As a Board member, Del appreciates the opportunity to provide service and stewardship to IHAA’s living learning community.

Brian Derickson

Brian develops Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) solutions for courts, municipalities, and independent agencies with a mission to provide communities with more accessibility to justice. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, Brian took an interest in companies dedicated to innovation and disruption. After graduating from U of M with a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies, Brian worked with a local startup to improve safety and survival skills. Now Brian is fully devoted to removing the barriers that prevent people from resolving their legal matters. After attending public events at IHAA, Brian became an active participant in helping IHAA grow and expand so that more people can experience the amazing benefits that come from being a part of an international community.

Ashish Sarkar

Ashish Sarkar is a retired energy industry executive with decades of senior and executive management experience. He worked in over twenty countries within the energy and infrastructure industries, and retired as executive vice president for global business development with the company, Globeleq. Prior to that, he was Chief Executive Officer of Covanta Power International and a Senior Vice President at CMS Generation Corporation. He is active on various boards of nonprofit organizations.

Daniel Rubenstein

Daniel is the Assistant Director of the Beijing Institute of Collaborative Innovation at the University of Michigan, and Principal of China Intelligence, a consulting firm specializing in U.S.-China partnerships. Holding a PhD in Chinese politics and an MBA from the Ross School of Business, Daniel has taught political science at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, founded and led Ford Motor Company’s China sourcing operations, consulted in China for PwC and Deloitte, managed an economic development program at the University of Michigan, and led strategy and fundraising for a Washtenaw County educational nonprofit.

Rob Dobrusin

Rabbi Robert Dobrusin is Rabbi Emeritus of Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor. He served as rabbi of Beth Israel from 1988 to 2018. Rabbi Dobrusin received his B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University and an M.A. and Rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. In 2010, he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from JTS .and served as rabbi at Beth Israel from 1988-until his retirement this past June. His essays and sermons have appeared in several anthologies and journals. He also writes a blog on his website at robdobrusin.com and recently published a book entitled The Long Way Around: Stories and Sermons from a Life’s Journey

Rabbi Dobrusin is an active supporter of many different Jewish organizations and is a former national co-chair for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call For Human Rights. He is a founding member of the Interfaith Round Table of Washtenaw County and has served on the board of directors of the Round Table and of several other community agencies. In 2015, Rabbi Dobrusin was honored as one of the 33 most inspiring rabbis in America by The Forward.

Elena Godin

Elena Godin originally came to the United States from Ukraine. She is a skilled webmaster and designer. She currently teaches at the U-M School of Information, where she leads courses on Graphic and Interaction Design for audiences that include graduate and undergraduate, graduate, youth, adult, local and international students.

Bobbi Heilveil

A longtime resident of Ann Arbor, Bobbi Heilveil retired after many years of working as a House Director in one of the sororities located near the University of Michigan’s main campus. She began her journey with International students when her youngsters were teenagers by participating in an exchange program sponsored by Youth For Understanding. She and her husband, David, hosted 10 teens from Europe and South America over a ten year period. Her youngest son, Jeff, also spent 6 months in Australia in that program.

Meredith Kahn

Meredith Kahn is the Librarian for Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include new developments in scholarly communication, and comparative analysis of open access publishing in an international context. She is also a co-founder of Ann Arbor Seed Company, which brings sustainable agricultural principles to the business of saving and selling local seeds. Outside of work she enjoys travel, biking, reading, and live-tweeting Ann Arbor City Council meetings.

Asinda Sirignano

As a Project Manager within the Provost’s Office, Asinda provides campus-wide health, safety, and intercultural learning support to all University of Michigan units. In collaboration with various entities, Asinda develops and maintains shared travel resources and coordinates campus-wide networks and working groups related to international education. She also delivers on-demand pre-departure workshops on topics such as health and safety, cultural adjustment and humility, and travel preparation logistics. Asinda is originally from Jos, Nigeria where she attended a diverse, international K- 2 school. This along with her curious nature sparked her love of all things travel and diversity and she relishes in change of environment. She is a huge foodie who is willing to try [almost] anything once!

Benjamin Peters

Benjamin Peters is the Director of the Global Scholars Program at the University of Michigan and a social justice educator whose scholarship centers on peace and human rights. Peters holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University. Peters lived and worked in Japan for fourteen years, and before coming to U-M, he was a Professor, Dean, and Vice President of a college in Japan. He is a member of the Political Science Research Committee of the Center for Global Nonkilling, a member-group of the World Health Organization Violence Prevention Alliance and a reviewer for The Economics of Peace and Security Journal. With Peter Verbeek, he is co-editor of Peace Ethology: Behavioral Processes and Systems of Peace.