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Board of Directors

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Liz Bergeron


Board Member since 2018

Liz is a graduate of Carleton College (BA Philosophy) and the University of Colorado

(MA Linguistics). Although now retired, her career included a wide range of positions. She taught ESL in Slovakia, Finland, and colleges in the U.S., and managed a global network for a local translation services group. Most recently, she directed a large-scale exchange program for non-elite students to attend U.S. community colleges and assisted community colleges in building capacity for campus-wide internationalization.

Global Ties Iowa has provided Liz a wonderful opportunity to continue her passion for global engagement, share Iowa culture, and learn more about the world from our visitors.

Andrew Farley


Compliance Auditor, MidWestOne Bank

Board Member since 2020

Andrew has bounced

back-and-forth from Iowa City and Asia since graduating from the University of Iowa. Altogether, he called the mountains of southwestern China home for 9 years, where he worked for non-profits teaching English, learning Chinese and helping with community development projects. Currently, he’s back in Iowa City with his family continuing his banking career with MidWestOne Bank.


Andrew enjoys serving and helping others and was drawn to Global Ties Iowa because it focuses on connecting people from around the globe and provides them opportunities to grow professionally.

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Melissa Meisterheim

Director of ESL Programs; Associate Professor of Instruction, Department of Linguistics,

University of Iowa

Board Member since 2023

Melissa Meisterheim is the Director of ESL Programs and an Associate Professor of Instruction in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Iowa.  She has served on the board of Mid-America Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (MIDTESOL) as well as on the Sustainability Presidential Charter Committee at the University of Iowa, and she volunteers at her local library.   She values being a part of Global Ties Iowa since it provides opportunities to connect with others locally and around the world.  

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Katie Ron

Assistant Director of Communications and Relations, International Programs

University of Iowa

Board Member since 2022

Katie Ron is the Assistant Director of Communications and Relations, International Programs, at the University of Iowa (UI).  She manages the creative media team, responsible for promoting internationally oriented teaching, study, research, and community engagement, and telling the stories of UI faculty, staff, and students engaged in global pursuits.  She also served as senior advisor for international health, safety and security in the UI Study Abroad office where she developed policies and procedures and coordinated duty of care activities related to higher education international travel. 


Before joining the UI, Katie worked at the U.S. Department of State where she served in many capacities, including as a social media and communications specialist supporting U.S. embassies and consulates overseas in the field of public diplomacy.  Prior to her work in the federal government, Katie was the program manager for the Tufts University International Relations Program and a technology consultant with Citrix Systems.  She holds an M.A. from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a B.A. from the University of Miami.

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Newman Abuissa

Vice President

Resident Construction Engineer, Iowa Department of Transportation

Board Member since 2004

Newman was born in Damascus, Syria and immigrated to the United States 35 years ago. He received his BS and MS from South Dakota State University. Newman is also a board member of the UICHR and board chair for PEACE Iowa. He is one of the founders and Parish Council President at St. Raphael Orthodox Church. He is active in the Iowa Democratic Party and current chair of the International Affairs Subcommittee of the IDP Platform Committee. He was a national delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004 and a candidate for Iowa’s 2nd congressional district. Newman appears regularly via Skype on BBC Arabic radio and TV out of Cairo and London.

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John Achrazoglou

Clinical Associate Professor; Chief Technology Officer

University of Iowa

Board Member since 2020

Dr. John Achrazoglou is a Clinical Associate Professor and Chief Technology Officer at The University of Iowa College of Education. Areas of interest include online teaching and learning, assistive technologies for learners with disabilities and universal design for learning. John has been recognized for his service to diversity and volunteer work helping at-risk underrepresented and underprivileged youth. Recently John is working with teachers and students in Pakistan towards advancing disadvantaged students’ English and technology skills.

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Christopher Herring

Executive Director, Global Chamber® San Antonio

Honorary Board Member since 2022

Christopher Herring is the Executive Director for Global Chamber® San

Antonio and leads the steering group for Global Chamber Texas. He helps businesses navigate 525 metropolitan markets around the world.  


Mr. Herring is a retired decorated combat veteran of the United States Air Force serving his nation as a commissioned officer for over 20 years. He was inspired by US President Ronald Reagan, Secretary Ronald H. Brown, former US Secretary of Commerce, and General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. who he was mentored as a young officer to become a civic leader, business owner, and voice for his people. His 30+ years of work in civil rights, human rights and diversity equity and inclusion was recognized with two lifetime awards by the NAACP and the United States JAYCEES.  He is a certified diversity trainer through the Society of Human Resource Management. 


Chris has served on the Board of the San Antonio Council of International Visitors as the secretary, and honored to serve on the Board of Global Ties Iowa as an Honorary Member. He is a huge advocate of citizen-diplomacy. Chris has served his nation from the White House to the Texas State Capitol, from foreign lands to the United States, he gives his best to serve God's people. He even publishes books, and helps authors to break into their dreams with his company River Walk Publishing LLC.   

Interested in getting involved with any of Global Ties Iowa's committees? Let us know at We are hoping to expand and diversify our leadership to include new talents and insights. Committees meet once every month on Zoom.

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