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YFU USA President & CEO Selected for American Express - Aspen Institute Fellowship




Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) President & CEO Michael Hill has been named as one of 15 nonprofit leadership fellows by the Aspen Institute and American Express as part of its American Express Leadership Academy 2.0.

As member of the 2016 Fellowship class, Hill joins a diverse group of peers at the Aspen Institute this August in exploring the core values that animate their work, while sharing strategies to help amplify their leadership and impact. Using the time-tested Aspen Institute method of text-based dialogue, the Fellowship program aims to provide the tools and perspectives necessary for effective, enlightened leadership.

“I am honored to represent YFU as part of this year’s Leadership Academy and Fellowship program,” Hill said. “I am a passionate believer in the American Express family of leadership programs, having benefited tremendously from serving as an American Express NGen Fellow in 2012. To spend a week at the Aspen Institute further exploring ways that I might serve YFU more effectively in the coming years is a great gift and honor.”

Since his appointment as President & CEO of YFU in 2013, Hill has ushered in a new vision for YFU USA, dramatically expanding and diversifying programs, relocating the organization’s national headquarters to a new state-of-the-art complex in Washington, DC; and co-leading a historic civil rights trip to Cuba with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, at the invitation of Mariela Castro, two weeks before diplomatic relations were restored between the US and the island nation. He has provided an important advocacy voice in his role as a member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for International Exchange and has served as a panelist and speaker on issues surrounding international education and exchange.

Daryl Weinert, Chair of YFU's Board of Trustees added, “We are thrilled to see Michael and YFU be invited for this honor. Michael has proven to be an inspiring leader and advocate for YFU and intercultural understanding during his three years with the organization. We are thankful to American Express and the Aspen Institute for offering this opportunity.”

Prior to joining YFU, Hill served as Senior Vice President of External Affairs for United Cerebral Palsy. In that role, he led international public education, fundraising, communications, marketing and branding efforts for one for the world’s largest health care charities. He led national development, communications and volunteer efforts for Washington National Cathedral as Executive Director for External Relations and held a similar role at The Washington Ballet. Hill directed a $125 million effort to expand the historic Arena Stage, securing the largest single gift ever made to a theater in the United States, and served as Executive Director of St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, where he oversaw the construction of a new museum complex, the renovation of a historic theater, the addition of an artist residency center and the quadrupling of programming at the multi-venue arts complex. Starting his career as a journalist, he served as a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Fellow and as a Staff Correspondent for the Courier-Observer.

He holds a BA in journalism from St. Bonaventure and an MA in arts and cultural management from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. Hill is an international educator and founding faculty member of the Master of Arts Management program at George Mason University, where in 2011, he was named faculty member of the year. He has also given lectures on the nonprofit sector to groups from France and China in his work with GMU and as a visiting lecturer for Georgetown University. In 2012, was selected as one of 12 American Express NGen Leadership Fellows in the United States. He is a member of St. Bonaventure University’s Board of Trustees and serves on the Board of Directors of the Sitar Arts Center, which advances the critical life skills of underserved children and youth and prepares them for achievement in the 21st century through visual, performing, and digital arts education in a nurturing community.

Guest Essay from YFU USA Featured in 2016 State of Civil Society Report


Curious about YFU's history and where our mission has led us 65-years later? Check out YFU USA President & CEO Michael Hill's guest essay, "Creating a 'Standing Army' of Young People for Peace" in the 2016 State of Civil Society Report, which summarizes the key events, issues and trends affecting civil society around the world. This 5th annual report draws on contributions from more than 30 of the world's leading experts on civil society as well as investigative work from the CIVICUS staff, which was conducted in close partnership with hundreds of activists in the field.

YFU Host Parents Applaud YES Program


Did you know that each year, YFU welcomes scholarship winners from several US Government sponsored programs? Learn more about welcoming a future leader like Stefanija into your home.

"This year, my wife Jeannine and I decided to host an exchange student for the first time. Stefanija came to us from Kochani, Macedonia in August, and we could tell right away that we hit one out of the ballpark with our decision to welcome her into our family. Stefanija not only impressed us, she also impressed the Michigan House of Representatives, who recently recognized her for her outstanding service to her host community... We could not have been more proud as we watched her receive a round of applause from the State Legislature and a tribute, signed by Representative Christine Greig." Read more from YFU host parents David & Jeannine on their experience hosting Stefanija who is on program as a YES scholar. 

Why Hosting Matters


Host families are a family we build rather than a family we are born into. Celebrate your host family on International Day of Families (May 15) by sharing the message of #WhyHostingMatters to you and encouraging others to host! [Read more.]

YFU USA Exchanges Once Again Recognized for Quality and Safety


YFU USA Receives Full Listing in Three CSIET Listing Categories

Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) is pleased to announce that The Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) continues to recognize YFU for its commitment to quality and safety in their 2016-2017 Advisory List.

CSIET is a not-for-profit organization committed to quality international educational travel and exchange for youth at the high school level. Its purpose is to identify reputable international youth exchange programs; to provide leadership and support to the exchange and educational communities; to ensure youth are provided with meaningful and safe international exchange experiences; and to promote the importance and educational value of international youth exchange.

YFU USA has received Full Listing in the three CSIET program categories for which it is eligible:

  • Inbound (J-1) Long-term
  • Outbound Long-term
  • Short-term Inbound/Outbound

This achievement reflects YFU’s global commitment to quality, and consistent application of CSIET standards throughout the international YFU network.

Families around the world trust YFU because of its strong reputation for quality, high safety standards, and knowledgeable and local support network. As one of the world’s oldest and largest exchange organizations, YFU has provided study abroad opportunities to more than 70 countries for 260,000+ high school students since 1951.

Annual application for listing in the CSIET Advisory List is voluntary. Organizations and programs are accorded Full Listing in the CSIET Advisory List when they have demonstrated full compliance with all CSIET Standards.