Board of Directors

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Amy Alice Chastain

Board President and Interim Executive Director

Associate Professor of Instruction, Outreach Coordinator​

ESL Programs, University of Iowa

Board Member since 2017

Amy Alice Chastain’s own teaching and learning ranges from France to China to the Middle East and covers the dominant cultures and languages in each as well with varying degrees of proficiency. Now an Administrative Faculty member and Outreach Coordinator in the University of Iowa’s ESL Programs, she is proud to bring her diverse experience from her most recent six academic years abroad, home again, though Iowa is quite far from her native Georgia. Upon discovering Global Ties Iowa, Amy knew she had found her people—her community—and could continue to maintain an international connection while living and working in Iowa City. 

Liz Bergeron

Board Secretary and Membership Chair

Board Member since 2018

Liz is a graduate of Carleton College (BA Philosophy) and 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.

Newman Abuissa

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.

"If you can’t travel the world, Global Ties Iowa will bring the world to you. "

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Peter Gerlach

Vice President

Summer Institute Coordinator, International Writing Program

Adjunct Assistant Professor, International Studies Program

University of Iowa

Board Member since 2020

Dr. Peter Gerlach is Visiting Assistant Professor in the International Studies Program at the University of Iowa. He received his BA and MA degrees in English from Ripon College and the University of Northern Colorado, respectively. After serving in the US Peace Corps in Mongolia, he earned a PhD in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University where he conducted dissertation research on the lived experiences of international students at Grinnell College. His teaching areas include international studies, international education, refugee and immigrant studies, and community engaged learning. Dr. Gerlach serves on the International Studies Academic Advisory Board and the Fulbright Committee at The University of Iowa and on the Board of Directors at the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC), Global Ties Iowa, and the Refugee and Immigrant Association. 

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Andrew Farley


Private Banking Operations Specialist, 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.

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.

"Hosting Global Ties Iowa international visitors has always been a fantastic experience and I welcome the opportunity to get more involved.