President and Chief Executive Officer

As the landscape of international education continues to expand, the need for an organization that can serve and facilitate discussions and best practices has never been so essential. As students increasingly see the importance of international programs to their overall education, the field of education abroad needs an exceptional advocate. This position profile introduces the opportunity to serve as The Forum on Education Abroad’s next President and Chief Executive Officer. Guidance on sharing an expression of interest or nomination is provided at the end of the profile.

About The Forum on Education Abroad

The mission of The Forum on Education Abroad is to serve as the collective voice of the U.S. education abroad community. To benefit students, The Forum develops and disseminates comprehensive standards of good practice, resources and training, advocates for education abroad and its value, and engages the field in critical dialogue. The Forum envisions a future in which education abroad is integral to the mission of higher education, meets Standards of Good Practice, and is accessible to all students.

The Forum’s foundational principles declare that:

  • Through education abroad, students of every background benefit from their experiences with other peoples, cultures, and countries in ways not available on their home campus. Together these experiences advance students’ personal, academic and professional growth. In return, host communities and home institutions benefit from students participating in education abroad.
  • Widely-accepted standards, sustained by best practices and implemented by well-informed professionals, are critical to education abroad as a field of professional practice. The Forum’s Standards must remain adaptable to the unique mission and operational model of each institution or organization engaged in education abroad.
  • The Forum, as a leading source of intellectual inquiry and innovative research in education abroad, depends on the knowledge, experience, and voices of all education abroad stakeholders and in collaboration with professions outside the field.

The Forum on Education Abroad is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as the Standards Development Organization for education abroad.


The Forum was conceived in 2000 by a group of education abroad professionals who felt the need for a stand-alone organization focused on engendering dialogue and learning in the education abroad community. In early 2001 The Forum’s organizational statement and goals were defined and a mission statement with five goal areas was developed. The organization filed for incorporation in July 2001 and held its first annual meeting in May 2002. The Forum’s first office opened at Smith College before moving to Dickinson College four years later. In 2004, the first edition of the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad was developed and the first annual conference was held.

The Forum received recognition from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to serve as the Standards Development Organization (SDO) for the field of education abroad in 2005. Through SDOs, the U.S. government encourages self-regulation and compliance with standards in a wide variety of fields. This important status grants The Forum legal protection in undertaking standards development work and obligates the organization to exhibit openness, balance, transparency, consensus, and due process in developing and disseminating standards.

In 2007, the Quality Improvement Program (QUIP) was launched as a voluntary process for Forum member institutions and organizations to be recognized for how well their programs meet the Standards of Good Practice. The following year The Forum issued the first edition of the Code of Ethics for Education Abroad.

By 2010, The Forum membership had grown to include more than 450 member institutions and over 90% of the U.S. students who study abroad. An example of The Forum’s consistent effort to broaden support for its members can be seen in 2010 as well, as The Forum launched the Critical Incident Database (CID), a tool for use by Forum member institutions and organizations in tracking critical incidents that occur while students are abroad. In addition, the CID serves as a method for tracking required information on incidents that should be reported in a member’s Annual Security Report as required by the Clery Act.

In 2012, The Forum hosted the first European Conference. Held in Dublin, Ireland, the conference drew 410 attendees from 23 countries and included a welcome address by the President of Ireland. The Forum’s Professional Certification in Education Abroad Program was introduced in 2014. The Forum is now in its fifth edition of the Standards of Good Practice and second edition of the Code of Ethics for Education Abroad.


Today, The Forum boasts a membership of over 800 members from U.S. colleges and universities, overseas institutions, consortia, agencies, provider organizations, and foundations. The Forum serves its membership through developing and implementing standards of good practice, encouraging and supporting research initiatives, and offering educational programs and resources to its members. As the membership has grown, a wider range of institutions and organizations benefit from its network of dedicated professionals. While non-U.S. institutions, community colleges, and minority-serving institutions are underrepresented in the membership, The Forum recognizes this imbalance and strives to welcome and support members from these communities through outreach, resources, and programming. The Forum’s renewal rate is 94%.

Standards of Good Practice

As previously stated, The Forum is recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as the Standards Development Organization (SDO) for the field of education abroad. The Forum’s commitment to developing and promoting standards of good practice for the field of education abroad lies at the core of The Forum’s mission. The ultimate goal of the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad is to improve practices in education abroad so that students’ international educational experiences are as rich and meaningful as possible.

Annual Conference

More than 1,400 participants from 30 different countries attended the 14th Annual Conference held in Boston, MA in March 2018. Each Annual Conference invites attendees to revisit the foundations of good practice, while elevating the discussion to address current realities of international education. Attendees engage in substantive dialogue and return to their offices with concrete takeaways that support quality education abroad programs.

Each year, the education abroad community strives to adapt to shifting student populations, developments in higher education in the U.S. and internationally, and an evolving global landscape. In this dynamic environment, widely accepted standards provide a solid foundation and the necessary tools to face new challenges.

As a community of practice, The Forum’s membership has come to expect that they will gather, discuss, and cultivate best practices. Through critical dialogue, they reflect, rethink, and reevaluate what they do to improve education abroad for students and all stakeholders in education abroad.

The Forum’s 15th Annual Conference will take place March 27-29, 2019, in Denver, CO. The theme will be Broadening the Circle of Education Abroad, which recognizes that significant geopolitical, economic. and demographic shifts swirl in opposition to the values and learning that stem from education abroad. Participants’ shared dialogue will explore these issues in the field and the broader milieu in which education abroad exists.

European Conference

The Forum also facilitates a bi-annual European Conference. Over 350 people from 19 countries attended the 3rd European Conference (Living Change: Education Abroad in 21st Century Europe) held in Athens, Greece in October 2016. The Forum’s 4th European Conference, hosted by NYU Prague and occurring October 17-19, 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic, will examine how education abroad professionals work with their students in Europe to build a sense of community at the local, national, and global levels. Participants will consider how to encourage students to embrace the blending of these distinct identities in ways that celebrate diversity as well as the commonalities of the human experience.

Standards of Good Practice Institute

Standards of Good Practice Institutes are small-scale, one-day conferences on a particular Forum Standard. The primary purpose of Standards Institutes is to offer participants the opportunity to broaden and deepen their knowledge and understanding of the field’s Standards of Good Practice and hone their skills in implementing them. The Forum’s 9th Standards of Good Practice Institute: Beyond the Basics of Health, Safety, Security and Risk Management occurred on June 20, 2018 at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA.

Professional Certification in Education Abroad

The Professional Certification in Education Abroad program is intended for any and all colleagues in the field who want to certify their knowledge and expertise in the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad.

Participants complete six modules based on the nine Standards of Good Practice and a culminating project. Modules can be accessed online or by attending Forum workshops located in the U.S. and abroad. Assignments are designed to be challenging and have practical application in participants’ current and future positions. Highly qualified, trained Forum Certification Assessors with expertise in each of the Standards review and provide valuable feedback. The program is individualizable, self-paced and flexible. Completion of the program is a distinction recognized across the field of education abroad.

Quality Improvement Program

The Forum’s Quality Improvement Program (QUIP) is the only objective, independent review system in education abroad based on the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad developed by the field. A QUIP Review provides institutions and organizations that offer education abroad programs recognition of how the institution or organization’s education abroad programs stand in relation to the Standards of Good Practice, and if the institution or organization shows a commitment to continuous quality improvement. QUIP Consultancies complement QUIP Reviews and provide practical recommendations and strategic-level advice for an institution or organization on specific topics of their choosing.

Strategic Plan 2017-2021

The Forum’s recently completed Strategic Plan for 2017-2021 outlines both new and ongoing initiatives and activities. The plan seeks to expand and improve many signature activities, resources, events and programs to meet the needs of a growing and diversifying membership. At the same time, new initiatives will keep The Forum on the cutting edge of the education abroad field to help its members meet the challenges ahead. The plan’s cornerstone priorities are consistent with the enduring mission of The Forum. They are: Critical Dialogue; Education, Training, Outreach and Professional Development; Membership; and, Collective Voice. The initiatives and activities outlined in the strategic plan will be shaped by the next President’s vision and strategies for building on The Forum’s relatively brief but strong record of impact.

Role of the President and Chief Executive Officer

The President will report to the Board of Directors and oversee a budget of nearly $2 million. The Forum’s next President will lead a staff that comprises the following roles:

  • Vice President for Member Services and Training
  • Director for Programs and Resources
  • Associate Director for Programs and Resources
  • Director of Finance
  • Director for Membership & Communications
  • Associate Director for Member Services and Training
  • Associate Director of Conferences and Events
  • Administrative Assistant

The new President will be pleased to learn that the staff strive for collegial and collaborative relationships with one another, the membership, and partner organizations. The Forum seeks a President who will foster a positive and inclusive culture, in which all members of the community are mutually supported to perform at their best in the service of The Forum, the profession, and the sector as a whole. Notable among the strategic paths to consider, the President will have responsibility for assessing the existing relationship with Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA that expires in 2021 and preparing for The Forum’s future—whether that be a new contract with Dickinson College or arrangements for The Forum’s headquarters elsewhere.

The Next President and Chief Executive Officer

Building upon The Forum’s reputation, the President will be well positioned to continue The Forum’s work in the field of education abroad, capitalizing on and executing responses to the following opportunities and challenges:

Providing vision for the future and evolving and implementing the strategic plan: The new President will work closely with the Board of Directors to coordinate and imagine how best to bring to life the overarching priorities of the strategic plan. An important and evolving activity will entail tethering initiatives to current and future resources. The President also will explore new organizational alignments to support the strategic directions of The Forum. Consistent across all of these endeavors, the President will articulate and advocate for the value of education abroad.

Developing strategic partnerships: The President will build strategic and sustainable relationships with the international higher education and education abroad communities, including organizations that compete with, as well as complement, The Forum’s initiatives. Partnerships could include, but are not limited to, organizational and institutional affiliations, professional development programming, conferences and events, commissions, and advocacy coalitions.

Engaging the current membership while growing and diversifying The Forum’s membership: In support of The Forum’s long-term aspirations, the President will actively dialogue with the membership and represent the organizational priorities with a multitude of constituencies, including existing and prospective members, current and prospective partners, and related entities with shared interests. Particular attention and effort will be made to develop compelling offerings for current and prospective members at non-U.S. institutions, community colleges, minority-serving institutions, and institutions serving under-resourced populations. In all of these interactions, the President must be an articulate, persuasive and engaging presence, able to lead The Forum to a more inclusive and equitable future.

Evaluating and potentially adjusting The Forum’s portfolio: The Forum has experienced consistent organic membership and Annual Conference growth. These areas represent the majority of The Forum’s revenue and expenses. The next President will be charged with carefully considering The Forum’s current activities, their attendant revenues and costs, and the wide range of new initiatives, or enhancements to current offerings, The Forum could introduce for missional or strategic reasons. As an example, fundraising can take many forms that, collectively, would represent a new line of activity.

Organizing and leading the staff: As The Forum evolves, the staff will engage in new and different activities in support of The Forum’s mission. The President will ensure the appropriate talents and organizational structures are in place and support the staff’s development to meet the changing needs of the membership. The President will model creative and inclusive leadership and develop processes that promote transparency, collaboration and high-quality service to the membership.

Qualifications and Personal Characteristics

As a leader who engages with individuals and groups across the membership, the next President must possess an unwavering commitment to education abroad in a domestically diverse and global context, a thorough understanding of the evolving landscape of international higher education, an appreciation for the differentiated missions among the member institutions and organizations, and a keen awareness in regard to the current and potential challenges for members. The next President will build upon the momentum of ongoing initiatives and help to generate new, innovative ideas as well as secure the necessary resources to ensure success. The ideal candidate will bring a distinguished leadership record that commands the respect of the membership and possess many of the following qualities and experiences:

  • Vision to manage a young but established organization;
  • Inclination toward a collaborative and collegial leadership style and an ability to work across constituencies;
  • A strong entrepreneurial spirit, interest in taking advantage of opportunities to advance The Forum as they emerge;
  • A desire to listen to and learn about the membership—especially their points of pride, ambitions and the issues that challenge them—with an awareness that common ground may, at first, look and sound different at each institution and organization;
  • An ability to find direction and build consensus when next steps are opaque;
  • Emotional intelligence, superb intellect, flexibility, high energy and self-confidence to enable successful navigation of a complex environment;
  • Familiarity with the significance and impact of education abroad;
  • A personal commitment to maintaining an environment that welcomes and supports all forms of diversity and inclusivity;
  • Outstanding diplomatic and negotiation skills and the ability to articulate complex and nuanced topics accurately in multiple contexts;
  • Experience in mentoring and supporting the development of staff;
  • A commitment to programmatic excellence;
  • Understanding and ability to develop positive, memorable conference experiences that invite robust conversation around the pressing topics in education abroad;
  • Financial savvy and budget management expertise;
  • Outstanding interpersonal and oral communication skills;
  • Experience working productively with a volunteer board and related volunteer groups of influence;
  • The capability to lead in a naturally collaborative and effective manner with humility, integrity, optimism, energy, and genuine warmth;
  • A willingness to travel to members and conferences frequently and international locations multiple times annually; and,
  • Demonstrated commitment to transparency.

For best consideration, please send all nominations and expressions of interest electronically and in confidence to:

Jim Sirianni, Partner
Mark Halligan, Associate

The Forum on Education Abroad is an equal opportunity employer. The Forum on Education Abroad welcomes all qualified applicants regardless of gender, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, or any other protected class.