About FIUTS and the SUSI instructors


About the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS)

FIUTS is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) located on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Washington. FIUTS’s mission is to connect students with local and global communities through programs that build international awareness, cross-cultural communication and informed leadership. FIUTS is a place to meet people, share experiences, and make friends from around the world. We work with thousands of students each year, and are excited to welcome you to our community.

Be sure to explore our website to learn about the programs that we produce and read the FIUTS blog before you arrive to get a sense of who we are and what we do.


The FIUTS SUSI Staff Includes:


Era Schrepfer, Executive Director

Era joined FIUTS in 2006, and brings many years of nonprofit and international experience to her role. Era has traveled extensively in Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean and served with the US Peace Corps as a Community Agriculture Volunteer in the Dominican Republic. In addition to her role at FIUTS, she is a volunteer for Joyas Mestizas, Seattle Works, and Girl Scouts. Her interests include cross-cultural leadership development, team building, nonprofit strategy and planning, and the use of social media for social change.

Era is a Minnesota native who was raised in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington. Era lives with her husband, daughter, and son in South Seattle and loves Latin music, new recipes, dark chocolate, and fiction from around the world.

Other Languages Spoken: Spanish
Favorite Place on Earth: Palenque, Mexico
Next Place I’d Like To Go: India
Favorite International Dish: Asopao de Pollo con Guandules

Contact Era at era@fiuts.org




Ellen Frierson, Manager of Education Programs


Ellen grew up in New York, Germany, and Virginia. She joined FIUTS in 2012 as Manager of Community Programs and became Manager of Education Programs in 2015. Previously, she taught English in Germany, Ecuador, and Thailand, and coordinated a human rights education program with journalists in Cameroon. She also spent ten summers teaching German at Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota, and has worked for nonprofits in Washington DC and New York City.

Ellen received a BA in English from Franklin & Marshall College and an MA in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is passionate about promoting social justice and global citizenship through cross-cultural exchange and collaboration. Outside work, Ellen can usually be found reading, taking pictures, planning future adventures, and hanging out with her husband and daughter.

Other Languages Spoken: German and Spanish
Favorite Place on Earth: The Andes mountains
Next Place I’d Like To Go: Turkey, Hungary, Namibia, Nepal, Morocco, Bangladesh, Japan, and everywhere else…
Favorite International Dish: Sushi, sushi, and sushi.

Contact Ellen at ellen@fiuts.org


Samantha Novak, Manager of Community Programs


Samantha grew up in the great state of Alaska, which translated to countless mosquito bites, being a real snob about salmon quality, and a high level of comfort with planes of all sizes. She joined FIUTS in April of 2017 as Manager of Community Programs, which involves communicating with the wonderful host community, juggling giant spreadsheets, wrestling with Salesforce, and fostering great donors. Outside of work, she loves reading, sailing, trying great cocktails, and especially cooking. She loves good food and should probably be kept away from produce stands for the health and safety of her credit card.

Samantha earned a BA in Global Studies from ASU, where she studied or interned abroad in China, Argentina, and the Czech Republic. She thinks peas are the most satisfying thing to eat with chopsticks. After an Americorps term of service in Seattle and a 4,000 mile roadtrip throughout many Western states, she came back to Seattle to earn her MPA at the Evans School of the University of Washington. She believes that everyone has a story, and that empowering a diverse community to express themselves works us towards a more empathetic world. She is passionate about creating strong vibrant communities, and enabling nonprofits to work to their fullest potential through good governance and strong systems.


Other Languages Spoken: Spanish and a teensy tiny bit of Czech
Favorite Place on Earth: Halibut Cove or Shrode Lake in Alaska, and Prague
Next Place I’d Like to Go: Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, and Fiji
Favorite International Dish: Tacos al Pastor, Palmiers, Njera, and curries of nearly any nationality and type.

Contact Samantha at samantha@fiuts.org


Kailyn Swarthout, Education Programs Coordinator


Kailyn grew up in Olympia, WA and completed both her BA in International Studies and M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Washington. She also completed a certificate in Education for Environment and Community at IslandWood on Bainbridge Island, WA. In addition to her deep love of the Pacific Northwest, Kailyn is passionate about building a global community through meaningful personal connections. She has studied in Prague, worked as an English teacher in Marseille, France, led high school service-learning programs in Northern Thailand, and has had the pleasure of visiting friends across Europe, South and Southeast Asia.

After several years of volunteer involvement with FIUTS, Kailyn joined the team as Education Programs Coordinator in September 2017 to help connect UW international students and local K-12 students with opportunities to share their cultures and experiences with each other. Kailyn believes in the power of meaningful cultural exchange to bring about greater social and environmental justice. In her free time, you will probably find Kailyn in the outdoors (hiking, camping, climbing, kayaking etc.), trying to learn how to fiddle, or cooking with her lovely roommates.

Other Languages Spoken: French
Favorite Place(s) on Earth: San Juan Islands, WA and Mae Sariang, Thailand
Next Place I’d Like to Go: Anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere. Open to suggestions!
Favorite International Dish: Tea leaf salad from Myanmar

Contact Kailyn at kailyn@fiuts.org



Lilly Ferraz, Program Assistant

Hometown: Tacoma, WA, USA

Graduate School: Evans School for Public Policy and Governance (MPA)

Year: Final Year

Role at FIUTS: Education Programs Assistant

I'm entering into my second and final year of my graduate program at University of Washington. I'm excited to use all my new skills at FiUTS, because international exchange is the career I'm working towards. I get to assist Ellen this summer to welcome young leaders from around the world to Seattle and make sure they get to learn, be safe, and have fun while they're here.

I am passionate about music, mandarin learning, and soccer. My favorite activities are reading (I will always have a book with me), singing karoake, playing my ukulele or going to a Reign game. I'm always ready to practice Mandarin and so feel free speak with me any time!

If you have any questions or just want to talk about fun topics like living in Taiwan, music in America, or science fiction please don't hesitate to stop by. I always love meeting new people and learning new stories.

Joe Green


Other Languages Spoken: Georgian and Khmer
Favorite Place on Earth: My favorite place on 🌏 is Luang Prabang Laos
Next Place I’d Like To Go: Medellin, Colombia
Favorite International Dish: Tobasoyay from Liberia

Contact email: greenjw1@uw.edu