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Board of Directors

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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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.

Daniel Brown


Board Member since 2023

​Daniel Brown, a CPA with degrees from the University of Iowa, is the VP Finance/Controller at

Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL). He brings a passion for international business and multicultural understanding, demonstrated through his global travels and collaboration on multinational teams. Beyond work, he's devoted to his growing family, community volunteering, and endurance sports. Daniel is also an enthusiast of fermentation, including homebrewing ales and lagers and perfecting sourdough bread.​

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Newman Abuissa

Board Member since 2004

Newman Abuissa is the Resident Construction Engineer at the Iowa Department of Transportation. He 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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Katie Ron

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.

Evans Ochola​

Board Member since 2023

​Evans Ochola is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Iowa's

College of Education. He is dedicated to teaching, research, and student success in the field of emerging technology in higher education. Evans has received the "Audrey Qualls Commitment to Diversity Award". He actively participates in committees, advocating for equity and equality. He considers Iowa City his village, nurturing professional and personal growth through meaningful connections with the community, and he hopes his work has a lasting impact.​

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Christopher Herring

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. 


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.   

Bala Subramaniam​

Vice President


Board Member since 2023

Bala is a seasoned financial services risk professional with extensive experience in

senior executive roles, specializing in audit and risk management. He excels in developing risk-based audit and governance functions, leveraging data analytics for control enhancement. His career has spanned renowned financial institutions in the US, UK, and India. Bala actively engages with board-level committees, collaborates with banking regulators, and advocates for Diversity and Inclusion programs. He holds an MBA and a Masters in Finance from the University of Iowa.​

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Melissa Meisterheim


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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John Achrazoglou

Board Member since 2020

Dr. John Achrazoglou is a Clinical Associate Professor and Chief Technology Officer at The University of Iowa College of Education. His 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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Eddy Djagou

Board Member since 2023

Eddy Djagou is the owner, CEO, and founding board member of DJAAGOU-A Export LLC in Muscatine, Iowa, specializing in the retail, trade, and

wholesale of food and beverage commodities in the U.S. and internationally. With a marketing management degree from the Université de Lomé in Togo, West Africa, Mr. Djagou has also completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, holds certifications in project management and international trade, and is a licensed tax preparer with the Internal Revenue Service. ​

Kirsten Hermstad​

Board Member since 2023

Kirsten is thrilled to be joining the Board of Directors with Global Ties Iowa. In addition to her dedication and passion for international travel,

she is an experienced "global citizen"with her history of residing in Bangladesh (6 months), South Korea (2 years)  and Germany (6 years). Kirsten has worked in healthcare and government positions, and is currently pursuing her Iowa Teaching Certificate to teach Biology. She loves being a mom to her two sons, ages 18 and 9, and together with her fiancé, Tim, they enjoy anything outdoors and... traveling! In her down time, she enjoys hosting meals for friends, planning the next trip, reading, hiking and a nice hot sauna after a cold dip in the winter. ​

Horacio Borgen​

Board Member since 2023

Horacio Borgen Alfaro, a Nicaraguan political exile, relocated to Iowa City in December 2021, initially visiting in 2018 as part of an IVLP delegation.

He volunteers for the Center for Worker Justice and the Catholic Worker House, and recently joined the board of the Immigrant Welcome Network. Horacio works at the University of Iowa and is committed to community service in support of the Latino community. His academic background includes degrees in business administration, Public Relations, and Corporate Social Responsibility with a focus on Human Rights.​

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