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 Seattle Works, The Beacon Hill International School PTA, 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. 


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. Her international experience includes teaching English in Germany, Ecuador, and Thailand, and coordinating a human rights education program with journalists in Cameroon. In the US, she spent ten summers teaching German at Concordia Language Village in Minnesota, and has worked for nonprofits in Washington DC and New York City. She holds an MA in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University. Ellen is passionate about promoting social justice and global citizenship through cross-cultural exchange and collaboration.


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.


Samantha Novak, Manager of Community Programs

 Samantha grew up in the great state of Alaska. She 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 and joined the FIUTS staff in April 2017. Samantha is passionate about creating strong vibrant communities, and enabling nonprofits to work to their fullest potential through good governance and strong systems.


Lilly Ferraz, EDUCATION ProgramS Assistant

Lilly is entering into her second and final year of of her graduate program at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs. She assists Ellen and Kailyn with administrative and program delivery elements of FIUTS Education Programs. Lilly is passionate about music, learning Mandarin, and soccer. Her favorite activities are reading, singing karoake, playing her ukulele or going to a Reign game.


Joe Green, SUSI Program Assistant

Joe is a graduate student in Public Affairs at the University of Washington’s Evans School. He has lived in Seattle for many years, and has also served three times in the U.S. Peace Corps, in Georgia, Liberia, and Cambodia, where he gained extensive experience assessing, designing, and implementing community development projects and education programming. Joe worked with FIUTS in July and August 2018 as a Program Assistant for our three summer youth programs, and is looking forward to being a part of the SUSI team.

Learn more about the full FIUTS staff team here.

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Academic Instructor: Ryan Burt

Ryan received his PhD in English with an emphasis in American Studies from the University of Washington. His research has been published in The American Quarterly, The Arizona Quarterly, and Multi-Ethnic Literature in the United States (MELUS). He has taught in the English Department and Comparative History of Ideas program at the University of Washington, in the English Department at Seattle University, and in the English Department at Ibn Zohr University in Agadir, Morocco. In Morocco, Ryan received a State Department grant from the Regional Language Officer to help develop curriculum and support for both undergraduate and graduate students at Ibn Zohr. Ryan currently teaches classes and works in international programming in UW Academic Support Programs.