Meet our Staff

George de Lama

George de Lama is president of the Eisenhower Fellowships. A nationally prominent journalist, former international development official and entrepreneur, de Lama became EF's 10th president in August, 2014.

In a distinguished career at the Chicago Tribune, he rose through the newsroom ranks from summer reporting intern to metropolitan reporter, national and foreign correspondent, chief of correspondents, associate managing editor, deputy managing editor and ultimately, managing editor for news.

At the Tribune, de Lama worked as a correspondent in nearly 60 countries and covered the White House and American diplomacy in Washington. As an editor he helped oversee foreign and national reporting that won journalism’s top honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes. A three-time winner of the Tribune’s Edward Scott Beck Award for foreign and national reporting, he received the National Education Writers Award for crisis coverage of the Chicago public schools.

De Lama played a leading role in discussions that led to the Tribune Company opening a news bureau in Havana in 2001, the first American newspaper office in Cuba in 35 years. He served as a two-time Pulitzer Prize juror, including chair of the International Reporting Jury in 2008, and was the first Latino to appear on the masthead of the Chicago Tribune.

After leaving the Tribune, de Lama headed the Office of External Relations at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, leading the multilateral organization’s strategic communications in support of development operations and strategic initiatives across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Later he became president of Global Development for Answers Media LLC in Chicago and launched a startup firm, Answers Learning LLC, to produce education solutions for parents, students, educators and public and private organizations.

De Lama is a member of the Advisory Board of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and was twice elected to the Board of Governors of the Overseas Press Club of America.

The son of Cuban immigrants, de Lama was born in Chicago. He and his wife Carrie, an accomplished independent film maker, live in Philadelphia.

GEORGE DE LAMA

President

Erin Hillman

A long-time resident of the Philadelphia area, Erin Hillman came to Eisenhower Fellowships in 2000 after living for two years in Sichuan, China. The first foreigners to represent the U.S. Peace Corps in this remote rural area, Hillman and her husband piloted a college teacher-training program. Prior to living in China, she wrote and conducted research for an educational research center in Philadelphia, earned a Master's degree in education at Temple University and taught for several years at the secondary high-school level. She worked her way up the ranks at Eisenhower Fellowships over the last two decades, serving as a Program Officer for International Programs, Director of the EF USA Program and then Senior Director of Fellowship Programs, where she oversaw the recruitment and selection of Fellows, shaped fellowship seminars across the United States and led the programmatic development of approximately 70 Eisenhower Fellowships annually. Named EF Vice President in 2015, Hillman oversees all programs and operations for the organization. Under her tenure, EF has hosted a number of special fellowship programs and record annual numbers of Eisenhower Fellows in 2018 and again in 2019. She played an instrumental role in the planning of EF’s global conference on the Future of Work in Malaga, Spain in September 2017, the organization’s first worldwide congress in more than an nine years, and in the Future of Education global conference in Cartagena, Colombia in February 2020. During her four years overseeing EF programs and operations, the organization has earned Charity Navigator’s highest four-star rating each year for meeting or exceeding the highest transparency and accounting standards for nonprofits while delivering exceptional quality programs.

ERIN HILLMAN

Vice-President, Programs & Operations

Esther Appiah

Esther’s interest in international relations stems from her Ghanaian background. She graduated from Trinity College with a bachelor’s degree in international studies with a concentration in African studies and a minor in religion. A native Twi speaker and proficient in French, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Côte d’Ivoire, where she hosted a radio program, America is Here. Her passion for education has led her to visit Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Morocco. She is a board member for Framework International, an education non-profit, where she helps raise funds to build schools in impoverished communities.

ESTHER APPIAH

Programs and Operations Assistant

Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson joined Eisenhower Fellowships in 2004 as a senior gift officer and is currently the Head of Global Network Outreach, after many years as the Senior Director of Development. He has a bachelor's degree in American literature and history from Penn State and a bachelor's degree in architectural studies from the University of the Arts. Prior to Eisenhower Fellowships, he worked at Haverford College as a campaign manager and director of publications.

TOM FERGUSON

Global Network Programs Officer, Engagement

Patrick Fischer

Patrick Fischer leads outreach and engagement with Fellows to advance EF's mission of creating a world more peaceful, prosperous and just. Prior to EF, Fischer was a career foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State where he focused on economic and commercial diplomacy. His diplomatic assignments included postings at the U.S. Embassies in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Chile and Peru. He also worked as a teacher and coach at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago. A Philadelphia native, Fischer has a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and an MBA from Temple University. He speaks Spanish and Turkish and has studied Arabic and French.

PATRICK FISCHER

Director of Global Network Programs

Sam Green

Sam Green joined Eisenhower Fellowships in 2019 as Senior Development Officer. Prior to joining EF, she spent two years working on the Development team at Schultz & Williams, a consulting firm headquartered in Philadelphia. Her project work at Schultz & Williams included campaign feasibility studies, campaign implementation, development assessments and strategic planning for nonprofit organizations. She has experience working with nonprofits in various sectors including social services, public health, arts and culture, animal welfare and education. Green received her undergraduate degree from Boston College and studied abroad in Barcelona. She also holds a master’s of science in social work degree from Columbia University with a concentration in social enterprise administration and a certificate in human services management.

SAM GREEN

Senior Development Officer

Stephanie Gropp

Stephanie Gropp comes from a background in both the public and private sectors. She holds a BS in Accounting and an MPA from the University of Delaware. Previously she worked for the Delaware State Budget Office, Andersen Consulting, KPMG Peat Marwick and Deloitte Consulting. Her desire to return to an organization where she felt she could make a greater impact was her reason for joining Eisenhower.

STEPHANIE GROPP

Senior Director, Finance & Operations

Katherine Leventhal

Katherine Leventhal joined Eisenhower Fellowships in 2018 after a 10-year stint at a private equity firm in Manhattan. Working closely with the investment development team, she tracked deal flow and relationship management in Salesforce. Her background is largely creative, including positions at Comedy Central and the Food Network and performances in the New York International Fringe Festival, the Moth and stand-up comedy festivals around the United States. Originally from Virginia, Leventhal holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Theatre from James Madison University, where she studied abroad in England and Ireland.

KATHERINE LEVENTHAL

Program Officer

Nicolas Mendoza

Nicolas Mendoza comes to Eisenhower Fellowships from New York City, where he worked for the European Union Delegation to the United Nations as a Sustainable Development Trainee. In this role he developed strategy and prepared organizational materials to support negotiations for four high-level UN resolutions that led to their adoption in the UN General Assembly. Previously he worked as a data analyst at the Smith Center for Infectious Disease in East Orange, N.J. and as an Undergraduate Research Fellow at Green Building Worldwide, where he analyzed greenhouse gas data and energy efficiency in New York City buildings. Before that he served as EcoReps Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability at New York University, where he helped train students on sustainable leadership and managed the implementation of energy and waste reduction programs disseminated to 11,000 residential students.

NICOLAS MENDOZA

Program Officer

Kaylen Mohnacs

Before joining Eisenhower Fellowships, Kaylen Mohnacs worked in youth nonprofit management at the Girl Scouts of Greater New York and Big Brothers Big Sisters, Philadelphia. Kaylen has a Master’s degree in Public Health Education from The University of West Florida and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from The College of New Jersey. During her summers in college, she traveled to Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti to assist in medical screenings, teach English as a second language and provide health education, including contraception use and prenatal care. Kaylen also studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain.

KAYLEN MOHNACS

Progam Associate

Chika Mora

Chika Mora is an experienced education specialist with extensive experience supporting Philadelphia-area education nonprofits in developing their brand strategies and event planning. Previously she was based in Beijing, China as a Princeton in Asia Fellow working at China Foreign Affairs University as a lecturer for more than 120 students. She also worked as an elementary educator supporting K-5 international schools with designing and implementing cross-cultural curriculum in China. In the four years she spent abroad, she founded a visual production and events startup firm where she advised clients on best practices in event planning and created online visual content. Prior to her work overseas, Chika spent several years teaching in Washington D.C. public schools.

CHIKA MORA

Program Officer

Vicki O'Rourke

Before joining Eisenhower Fellowships in 2017, Vicki O’Rourke worked in a number of professional and educational settings in Philadelphia and Virginia. She worked as a career advisor at a culinary university, managed a professional staffing agency and was chief financial officer for her own telecom firm.

VICKI O’ROURKE

Program Associate

Alessandra Restifo

Alessandra Restifo joins Eisenhower Fellowships from Freedom House in New York City, where in her role as a Junior Fellow in the Freedom in the World program she led the analyst recruitment process and managed a portfolio of more than 30 analysts and advisers. Previously she was an intern on the Global Development Policy and Learning team at InterAction in Washington D.C. and worked as a Global Smarts Mentor and Intern at the Philadelphia World Affairs Council. At InterAction and the World Affairs Council she assisted in virtual and in-person event management and supported digital content creation.

ALESSANDRA RESTIFO

Program Officer

Carla Ricci

Carla Ricci has spent 20 years helping nonprofit organizations develop comprehensive fundraising programs. Ricci designed the leadership giving program at the Museum of the American Revolution, working in partnership with the Board and donor committee where she exceeded the leadership giving goal by 200% in one year. She led the individual giving program at Sundance Institute in Los Angeles and the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Ricci also spent time with the Royal Academy of Arts in London, England, and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has worked for The Philadelphia Education Fund, the Penn Museum and the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Ricci has worked as a campaign and development consultant for the Museum of the American Revolution, the Health Spark Foundation, Peter’s Place, A.J. Drexel Autism Institute and the Center for Autism. In addition to her work at EF, Ricci serves as a Board Member of the Chester Charter Scholars Academy Foundation, an Advisory Board Member of the Philadelphia Film Society and as a fundraising advisor to A Step Up Academy. Ricci is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and holds a Master of Liberal Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

CARLA RICCI

Head of Institutional Advancement

Colette Seidel

Colette Seidel joined Eisenhower Fellowships in 2015, keeping Fellows connected and engaged, and managing the Youth Leader Network. Prior to this she was director of student services for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), where she was committed to youth mentoring and leadership training among students, staff and faculty. During her seven years at PAFA, she spearheaded updates in career services and counseling and facilitated unprecedented growth in student engagement and retention. A native of Cambridge in the U.K., Seidel spent several years in Eastern Europe teaching English as a second language, before relocating to the U.S. where she spent almost a decade in New York City teaching and working in international school administration. She holds a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Sheffield Hallam University along with E.S.L teaching certification from the University of Cambridge.

COLETTE SEIDEL

Global Network Program Officer, Projects

Facia Sirleaf

Facia Nyego Sirleaf is a Program Offcier at Eisenhower Fellowships, where she provides crucial administrative and logistical support to the international fellowships programs team. Before joining EF, Sirleaf worked as a grant associate with the National Philanthropic Trust. She holds a master of arts degree in international peace and conflict resolution from Arcadia University, with a focus on sub-Saharan migration to Northern Africa. Sirleaf earned a bachelor’s degree from Bloomsburg University with a double major in anthropology and communication studies. A native of Liberia, Sirleaf hopes to one day provide a meaningful contribution to her country’s development as it works to rebuild from the devastation of two civil wars.

FACIA SIRLEAF

Program Officer

Nicole Strunk

Prior to joining Eisenhower Fellowships, Nicole Strunk worked at the Science History Institute, where she led research and oral history interviews on a variety of topics. Nicole has also worked on oral history projects with the Hagley Museum and Library, the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Nunn Center for Oral History. A graduate of West Chester University with a major in History and minors in Spanish, Digital Humanities and New Media and Latin American Studies, she currently is pursuing a master’s degree in Library and Information Science at Rutgers University.

NICOLE STRUNK

Network Associate

Lee West

Lee West brings to Eisenhower Fellowships her varied background in marketing, promotion and project management. Before joining EF in 2020, she was an assistant development officer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. There, among other duties, she analyzed data on annual and long-term giving. Earlier, as an administrative assistant to the university’s senior philanthropic advisor, she coordinated gift agreements for top donors in Penn’s elite Giving Club. She graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in art history and has volunteered at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

LEE WEST

Interim Director of Fellowship Programs

Mary Young

Mary Young enjoys working at a nonprofit organization after many years of working in the corporate sector. She has a B.S in Accounting and Finance from Desales University in Center Valley, PA, and is a Certified Payroll Professional and a Notary Public. Young has been running for over 20 years and has 15 marathons and numerous half marathons to her credit.

MARY YOUNG

Accounting Associate

Kari Ytterhus

Kari Ytterhus joined Eisenhower Fellowships after working as a grants manager with the University of Pennsylvania's Institute on Aging and at Womens Way, a regional coalition of women's organizations. Now a long-time resident of Philadelphia, Ytterhus has extensive experience in the non-profit sector both in direct service and as a program manager, and is a leader on several organizational boards of directors as well as an active community volunteer.

KARI YTTERHUS

Senior Program Officer

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