Meet the Director

Shoshana Altrichter

Director of Travel

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Shoshana has been with the travel department at the World Affairs Council for over thirteen years. Prior to joining the Council, she worked for other non-profits in Philadelphia. During her career in travel, Shoshana has traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East and has led many tours for the organization. Shoshana earned a B.A. from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Meet the Associate Director

Paul Vartan Sookiasian

Associate Director of Travel

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Before joining the World Affairs Council, Paul gained experience in public affairs through internships in the U.S. Senate with Senator Arlen Specter and on congressional campaigns. He has traveled extensively and spent two years working in Armenia in communications and tourism promotion. Paul earned a B.A. in History from Villanova University.

Sicily by Sail October 10-18, 2018 led by:

Mimi Gregory

Mimi Gregory has been actively involved in international affairs for the better part of 35 years. Her affiliation with the World Affairs Councils began in Boston where she served as an active member of the Program Committee and served as its Vice-President. Since living in Naples she has been involved with the Naples Council on World Affairs, served as President for three years and continues as Program Chairman, a committee she has chaired for the past twelve years. She was appointed and remains Vice-President since April, 2013. Mimi was also appointed to the National Board of the World Affairs Councils of America, and was elected to serve on the Executive Committee. Having lived in France for several years, she maintains a strong tie with the French Community in the United States which has included leading Alliance Française chapters in Minneapolis, Boston, and Bonita Springs as their President. She has been twice decorated by the French Government, most recently as “Commander of the National Order of Merit” in 2012, by decree of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Mimi has traveled extensively in Europe, has participated in Council Leadership Missions to Germany, Lebanon, Kuwait, Israel, Egypt, Taiwan and Iraq. She has also traveled to Afghanistan and Iran. Mimi has led two Council trips to France, three to the Danube and a trip to Iran.

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Jewels of the Indian Ocean by Private Jet, April 23 - May 16, 2019 led by:

Vicki Huddleston

Ambassador Vicki Huddleston was a senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense and led American diplomatic missions in Mali, Madagascar, Cuba, and Ethiopia. She was head of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba during the custody battle over little Elián Gonzalez in the spring of 2002. She is the only woman to have led our diplomatic mission in Cuba; she was also the lead foreign policy expert on Cuba in the early nineties at the State Department. As a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution she lead a bipartisan Cuba project that resulted in “Learning to Sala: New Steps in U.S. – Cuba Policy,” a blueprint that was largely followed by President Barack Obama when he engineered the opening to Cuba. She was a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and as a Congressional Fellow worked on the staff of former Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).

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Costa Rica, December 7 - 15, 2019 led by:

Ambassador G. Philip Hughes

G. Philip Hughes, currently a Senior Director of the White House Writers Group, has served in many senior foreign policy posts in the White House and Departments of State, Commerce and Defense and served as a former President of the World Affairs Councils of American. In addition to serving as Assistant Director for Intelligence Policy In the Office of the Secretary of Defense; Deputy National Security Affairs Advisor to Vice President George Bush; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs; and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement, Ambassador Hughes served as Director for Latin American Affairs on the National Security Council staff for President Ronald Reagan. He later served as Executive Secretary of the National Security Council in the White House of President George H.W. Bush, helping plan and execute President Bush's Summit meeting in Cartagena, Colombia with the Presidents of Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru that led to stepped-up commitments for anti-narcotics cooperation and the enactment of the Andean Trade Preference Act. He was subsequently appointed Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, where he served from 1990-93.

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Egypt & the Nile, February 25 - March 11, 2019 led by:

Ambassador Mark Johnson

Ambassador Mark Johnson (ret.) completed 30 years as a career foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department serving as Ambassador to Senegal, Deputy Inspector General of the State Department, Deputy Chief of Mission in Kuwait, and as Deputy Chief of Mission in Cairo, Egypt. He was the first American diplomat to return to the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City after it was liberated during the Desert Storm military campaign. He also was involved with the Middle East peace process in Cairo and helped negotiate the release of the American diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis from 1979-81. He has led several World Affairs Council trips.

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Journey through Britain, September 5 - 18, 2019 led by:

Dr. Jerry Leach

Dr. Leach earned a PhD and an MA from Cambridge University as well as an MA from Berkeley on Turkish affairs. His fascination with Turkey began as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving with his wife Marianne there, in the 1960s. They both have been back to Turkey many times since then and he has led several tour groups there. In recent years, he served as a professor at the American University in Cairo 2006-2011 and as the National President of the World Affairs Councils of America 1996-2006. Within the US Government, he was Peace Corps Regional Director for Eastern Europe, Soviet Republics, Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific; NSC Director of International Economic Affairs; Deputy Director of State's Strategic Technology Affairs Office; and a consular officer at the US Embassy in London. In addition to AUC in Egypt, Dr. Leach has taught at Cambridge University, the University of Papua New Guinea, and Gazi University in Ankara. He speaks frequently within the world affairs council system and at universities. Jerry lectured on a cruise to Turkey, an Egypt tour, and a tour to Morocco.

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Danube River, October 12 – 24, 2019 led by:

Jacqueline Miller

Jacqueline Miller has led the World Affairs Council of Seattle since 2014. She also serves on the Mayor’s International Affairs Advisory Board; is a board member and chair of the membership committee of Global Ties U.S.; is a member of the Civic Council for UW’s Master of Arts in Applied International Studies (MAAIS) program; and serves on the Washington State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Prior to joining the World Affairs Council, Jacqueline served as Director of External Relations at Independent Diplomat in New York, working with marginalized democratic political actors to help them navigate the United Nations, the EU, and other international diplomatic fora. She has been a commentator for various news sources including the New York Times, the BBC, CBC, and Voice of America.

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Trade Routes of Coastal Iberia, October 13 - 21, 2019 led by:

Derrick Olsen

Derrick Olsen is President of WorldOregon, and a former Foreign Service Officer. Derrick was the Vice President of Regional Strategy at the regional economic development nonprofit Greater Portland Inc (GPI) where he led the implementation of Greater Portland Global, the region’s Global Trade and Investment Plan developed as part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint program of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. Previously, Derrick managed international trade and investment issues for over four years with Business Oregon (the Oregon Business Development Department). In 2013, Derrick participated in the U.S.-Spain Council Young Leaders Program. Derrick also has over 13 years of experience managing political and economic issues as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State in Latin America, Asia, and Washington, DC, with four overseas tours including as Chief of the U.S. Embassy’s Political Section in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Fluent in Spanish, he has a Bachelor of Arts in Government and History from Dartmouth College and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.

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Israel, March 16 - 25, 2019 led by:

Norm Olsen

Norm Olsen is a former Senior United States Foreign Service Officer. He served for 26 years. His professional skills and experience include negotiations, contact work, team-building and management, economic development, USAID project monitoring, peacekeeping, and award-winning political, economic and security analysis, in both benign and hostile environments. He has served in Europe, Jamaica, the Marshall Islands, and the Middle East, where he served for nine years in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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Arctic Expedition, June 21 - July 1, 2019 led by:

Dr. Carla Thorson

Dr. Carla Thorson, Senior Vice President, Programs at World Affairs in Northern California, leads program design and management, including over 100 global policy forums each year, the global philanthropy forum and an education program for high school and college students. Prior to joining World Affairs, Dr. Thorson taught political science at UCLA and worked for the UCLA International Institute's Center for European and Eurasian Studies. As a consultant at the RAND Corporation and analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Inc. she focused on democratization processes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics, and while working at IREX, she helped establish one of the first US nonprofit offices in Moscow in 1989-90. Thorson got her PhD in political science at UCLA, an MLitt at the University of Oxford and a BA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a world traveler, Dr. Thorson enjoys sharing her experiences with World Affairs members and has led several Council tours, including Cuba, Russia and Central Asia. She has also lectured on cruises to the Baltics, Antarctica and Iceland, and most recently on our 2018 trip to South Africa.

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