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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 serves on the Board of Joyas Mestizas, and as a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Western Washington. 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: Vietnam
Favorite International Dish: Asopao de Pollo con Guandules and chocolate chip peanut butter cookies

Contact Era at

Ellen Frierson

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 community 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, daughter, and baby son.

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


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.

Samantha earned a BA in Global Studies from ASU, where she studied or interned abroad in China, Argentina, and the Czech Republic. 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 is passionate about creating strong vibrant communities, and enabling nonprofits to work to their fullest potential through good governance and 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: Egypt, Ecuador, France, and Fiji
Favorite International Dish: Tacos al Pastor and curries of nearly any nationality and type.

Contact Samantha at

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Annie Lewis

Operations and Communications Coordinator
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Annie received a B.A. in English and History from the University of Washington. As a student, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain, England, and Italy where she developed an interest in the field of higher education and international work. Before joining FIUTS as the Operations and Communications Coordinator in 2019, she explored educational accessibility for non-traditional students through the Bonderman Fellowship. Her travels spanned 8 months, 13 countries, and took her through Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Annie cares deeply about fostering equitable spaces that embrace diversity and promote social justice. She hopes her work at FIUTS will help students to better assess and express their perspectives, as well as become socially-conscious question-askers. In her free time, you can find Annie exploring the outdoors, learning about subaltern histories, and planning her next international adventure. She always welcomes conversation about international politics, sustainability, and travel over a good cup of coffee!

Other Languages Spoken: Spanish
Favorite Place(s) on Earth: Vietnam, Malaysia, and South Africa
Next Place I’d Like to Go: Turkey, Russia, and Georgia
Favorite International Dish: Bibimbap, dumplings, and poke

Contact Annie at

Kailyn Swarthout

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


Michelle Kim

Student Programs Coordinator
Michelle was born into two cultures and raised among many. Born in Connecticut to Korean immigrant parents, she spent her childhood moving across four countries and six states. She feels most at home in new environments and finds comfort in learning languages.

Michelle received her BA in History and Russian Studies from Middlebury College and was deeply involved with student leadership through cultural organizations, residential life, and the music scene. After college, she went on to teach English at the Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University with the Fulbright Program in Russia. She loves working in higher education because she believes curiosity and passion are the best combination to spark meaningful conversations!

Michelle joined the FIUTS team in September of 2018 as Student Programs Coordinator. She seeks to engage with students in a conscientious examination of American culture, while also pushing herself to challenge generalizations and resist stereotypes. She is very excited to be working at a nonprofit and to share her passion for international human rights and intersectional social justice.

Outside of work you can always find Michelle on the search for good food, live music, and great socks.

Other Languages Spoken: Russian, Korean & Spanish
Favorite Place on Earth: Moscow, Russia & Seoul, Korea
Next Place I’d Like to Go: Black Sea!
Favorite International Dish: Parfait’s cacao nib blackberry ripple ice cream

Contact Michelle at


Student Staff

FIUTS depends on the hard work of year-round student staff, along with quarterly interns from around the world.



I’m an undergrad student in the Information Technology & Systems program at the University of Washington Tacoma campus. My intended career path after graduation is Cyber Security and Threat Modeling. I’m originally from the Republic of Yemen, a beautiful country at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is the second-largest Arab sovereign state in the peninsula.

When I’m not working/studying I like to watch a lot of sports mainly Football AKA (Soccer) it is my favorite sport. In football, the team I like the most is Real Madrid (Spain) It is my favorite team of all time. I also enjoy looking at memes when I have free time :)

Hometown: Republic of Yemen/Tacoma, WA, USA
Graduating Year: 2020
Major: Information Technology & Systems


Kori Carter

I am excited to be employed here as an orientation assistant through out my scholastic year at the University of Washington. I assist with event planning, donation recruiting and much more.

I have a passion for residential real-estate and home decor. I hope to take some of the exciting things I am learning from my position here, as well as my studies to give me the knowledge and experience needed to excel my career in my desired field in the future!

I look forward to meeting and connecting with the people I meet on this journey here and at the UW.

Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas, USA
Graduating Year: 2020
Major: Urban Planning



Keivon is a Senior at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in Geography. Originally, he is from a small city in Ohio called Euclid with a moderate population of 48,000 people. Currently, he is working with FIUTS as an Orientation Work Study. He has previously facilitated a variety of their events. He is ready to make International Welcome Week exciting for the incoming students.

In his free time, he likes to play videos games, cook, and hiking. He has hiked a many trails and has a lot more on his list. He favorite trail is to Mason Lake in Bandera Mountain. He says the view is breathtaking. He is a big foodie and enjoys learning a new recipe. His favorite recipe to make is Pork Chow Mein.

Hometown: Euclid, Ohio, USA
Graduating Year: 2020
Major: Geography



I am sophomore student at the University of Washington studying International Studies with a Human Rights concentration. I am originally from Guinea, a small country in West Africa. After graduating I hope to go back to Sub-Saharan Africa to work with women's rights organizations. Outside of my job at FIUTS as a work-study student with Education programs, I am an Ellis Civic Fellow and Historian of the African Student Association.

My passions include social justice, human rights, and community-building work in marginalized communities. When I am not in school or working at FIUTS, you can find me listening to podcasts and watching Netflix.

Hometown: Seattle, WA, USA
Graduating Year: 2021
Major: International Studies

Board of Trustees

As a community-based non-profit located on the University of Washington campus, FIUTS depends on its Board of Trustees in representing UW and community interests and in executing its mission of promoting cultural understanding in the Puget Sound region

President: Ricardo Ibarra, Studio 5 Design
Treasurer: Rob Lang, CDK Construction
Secretary: May Lim, UW College of Engineering

Aditi Bhide, AeroTEC, Inc. 

Andrew Walbrun, Microsoft

Anumeha, Amazon

Charlotte Rasmussen

Chinara Satkeeva, Google

Elisabeth Rabusseau, Harmon Audio

Esther Lee, CPA

Garbo Chan, Protiviti Solutions

Gregory Siegler, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Jesse Swingle, Funnelback

Kelsey Grab, Northeastern University

Marcia Ciol, UW Department of Rehabilitative Medicine

Mason Wiley, University Heights Center

Nina Huang, Deloitte Digital

Richard Millies

Samantha Sundin Whyte, UW Financial Aid

Tamara Leonard, UW Jackson School


FIUTS is currently recruiting new Board of Trustee members to start their term in the fall of 2019! Each Board member is elected to a three-year term. Learn more about joining the board, or contact Executive Director Era Schrepfer at