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News - Youth For Understanding USA

Latest news about Youth for Understanding USA student exchange programs worldwide – Events – Partnerships.

Longtime Exchange Industry Expert & Host Mom Promoted to Chief Compliance Officer at YFU USA



Veteran employee Amy Ballard elevated as part of leadership realignment to prepare the organization for future growth

Washington, DC (April 7, 2015)  Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) is pleased to announce the promotion of Amy Ballard to the position of Senior Director of Quality Assurance and Chief Compliance Officer. An expert in the international education industry, Ballard has served YFU in progressively responsible capacities to develop programs, secure grants, and maintain the highest standards of safety and compliance. Ballard is unwavering in her commitment to maintaining YFU’s standing as a leading international exchange organization and will be tasked with creating a proactive government relations approach for YFU.

Devoted to intercultural understanding, mutual respect and social responsibility through youth exchange, Ballard, originally a YFU volunteer, has advanced throughout her nine-year tenure, rising from her first responsibility as Program Coordinator through roles to her most-recent position as the Director of Quality Assurance. She has played an essential role in the procurement and retention of mission-critical CYBX, FLEX, and YES grants and has functioned as the organizational liaison between grant students, political entities, embassies, industry colleagues, oversight agencies and the Department of State.

Ballard holds a Bachelor's of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a Master's of International Administration from the School for International Training. A passionate advocate for youth exchange, Ballard attributes her interest in cross-cultural understanding to her family. She grew up with exchange students in the home, and pursued her own transformative journey as an exchange student to Denmark in high school and as a university study abroad student to France.  Ballard has also experienced what it has been to be a parent on both sides of the equation, having hosted 8 students from 7 countries, and having sent her three children on gap year and university study abroad programs.  

“Each of my exchange experiences have brought significant connections. Helping to provide young adults and their host families such opportunities for intercultural experiences is an amazing and important responsibility for each of us at YFU,” said Ballard.

Ballard’s promotion to Senior Director of Quality Assurance and Chief Compliance Officer is part of a restructuring that enables the organization to address priorities and stabilize YFU for future growth. With this move, YFU will adjust the title of experienced strategic executive Scott Messing to Vice President of Administration and the Exchange Experience. Over the course of the last year, Messing has provided valuable direction to Support Services serving families and students, Education and Training, Quality Assurance, and Volunteer Programs and shaped a talented team of professionals to solidify the Exchange Experience Center of Excellence. YFU will now leverage his background in administration and operations, further charging Messing to lead the human resources; information technology; and facilities and administration functions at YFU, in addition to his existing Exchange Experience portfolio. 

To enhance program quality and the overall exchange profile, YFU has also recently welcomed Suzanne Jayaraman as the Senior Director of Higher Education, reporting to the Vice President of Programs.  For more than 20 years, YFU has offered an auxiliary opportunity for select students from upwards of 35 countries to attend community college in the US.  Tasked with developing innovative programming concepts, Jayaraman will draw from her experiences at Kaplan International and Georgetown University’s Center for Intercultural Education and Development to expand YFU’s higher education programs and grow university relationships to provide more avenues for young adults to engage in safe, family-oriented study abroad experiences.

“I am incredibly grateful to Amy, Scott and Suzanne for providing their leadership to YFU during an important time in our history,” said Michael E. Hill, President & CEO of YFU. “They are the right people at the right time to round out our leadership team, and I look forward to the many talents they will bring to our mission of serving those who want to make the world a better place.”