Our Staff

Melinda Samis | Executive Director

Melinda founded International Summerstays (now ANDEO) in 1981. She has set foot on the soil of many countries, loves being able to read Mexican poets in their native language, and has opened her own home to students from South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. Traveling memory: "Being in a small village in France on September 11, 2001 and having all the neighbors stop by to extend their heartfelt wishes for my country."

Sara Bruckner | Deputy Director

Sara has hosted international students, lived with families in Mexico and Spain, served as an international camp counselor, taught English in China and creative writing and compositon at University of Oregon. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from University of Oregon and is passionate about facilitating cross-cultural communication and understanding. Favorite traveling memory: "Living with a host family in Mexico with my mother when I was nine. Laughing and blowing bubbles with my host brothers and sisters. Figuring out our own ways to communicate through play."

Kellie Irish | Short-term College Programs Manager

Kellie lived in Japan for four years, one of those with a wonderful host family. She has a B.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures with a focus on Japanese. Her love of cultures and adventure has taken her to twenty-two countries on four continents. Traveling memories: "Relaxing in a Japanese hot spring during snowfall after a long day of snowboarding; watching the sunrise in the Serengeti."

Rebecca Gundle | Teen Programs Manager

Rebecca got her first taste of international travel at the age of four when her family spent four months in Central America. Ever since then, she has been hooked! After high school, she backpacked through Europe and Southeast Asia and then studied Latin American Studies & Anthropology and Teaching. Before joining ANDEO, Rebecca taught at middle- and high schools. She speaks Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, lived with host families in Mexico and Brazil, and collected passport stamps from twenty-three countries on five continents. Memorable travel moments: “Learning to make tamales from my host mother and host sister in Oaxaca, Mexico; bicycling through the countryside in Laos.”

Hayley Hagen | Program Coordinator - Long Term College Students and Volunteer Internship Programs

Hayley discovered her passion for different cultures when she hosted a Turkish student in high school. Since then, she has been to Turkey several times to be hosted by her exchange student's family, and has traveled throughout Cyprus and Jordan. Hayley graduated from Portland State University with a BA in International Studies with a focus on the Middle East, and a minor in Turkish language. She enjoys helping students and families make lasting connections through ANDEO. Favorite travel memories: Learning how to make stuffed grape leaves from my Turkish friend’s mother, using the leaves from their grape vines. Driving along the Dead Sea during a striking sunset, on my way to explore the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.

Annie Leverich | Program Coordinator - Teen Programs

Annie loves to see smiles around the world, and is dedicated to the cause of encouraging international travel. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and French from Grinnell College, and seeks out the fascinating intersection between language and culture everywhere she goes. From southern France to metropolitan Vietnam to the mountains of Morocco, Annie has taken great pleasure in making connections that last and eating just plain old delicious food. Favorite travel memory:  Hiring a friendly and knowledgable tuk-tuk driver known as "Batman" in Battambang, Cambodia, who took us to see the bat caves at Sampeou Mountain. Every evening at dusk, thousands of bats (some locals say millions!) exit the cave in beautiful cloud-like swarms for about 40 minutes to go feed for the evening. Who knew bats could be so elegant? Thanks, Batman!

Julie Padbury | Local Area Coordinator  - Tigard/Tualatin/Sherwood areas

Julie has a BA in Liberal Arts from Portland State University. She studied French and German at Oregon State University, and is currently learning Spanish. After high school she toured as a performing artist with Holiday on Ice International in Europe, which took her to Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, England, Wales, Czechoslovakia, Spain and Italy. She has 4 children and has hosted students from France, Italy, Spain and Japan over a span of 14 years, starting when her kids were just 2, 3, 4 and 5 years old. Most memorable travel moment: "My fellow ice-skaters and I were walking the back streets of Tours in France after a long show day. We met some locals who wanted to know why we were in town. They didn’t understand “ ice-skating with Holiday on Ice” in French…but then I saw a L’Espoir newspaper on the cobblestone street that just happen to have an article about our show and full spread of pictures of us in full costume and ice-skates on the back page. It was quite the coincidence, as we didn’t even know the press had been covering our show. I still have that newspaper today!"

Kayla Frost | Programs Associate- Teen and College Programs

Kayla loves learning about different cultures and keeping in touch with friends she has made around the world. When she was 17, Kayla spent a summer staying with a host family in Finland, and has traveled extensively since then, staying with local families as much as possible. On her weekends, Kayla enjoys hiking, reading, and going on road trips around the Pacific Northwest. She has a B.A. in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Favorite travel memory: "In 2013, I volunteered as an English teacher in Cambodia. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I fell in love with the country as well as the people. On a visit back to Cambodia in 2015, I introduced a local friend to pizza for the first time. Seeing her reaction was priceless! (Of course, she loved it.) "

Irene Malarkey | Local Area Coordinator

Irene is a cultural exchange enthusiast who has hosted international students, stayed with many host families across the world, and worked for years coordinating exchange programs across Latin American. Her first exchange, at 15, was a three-week immersion trip with ANDEO in Mexico, and is in touch with her host family to this day. She has traveled extensively in Latin America, Europe, and Asia, and is passionate about immersing herself in new cultures. Irene graduated from Warren Wilson College , with a B.A. in Global Studies and Spanish.  In her free time, Irene enjoys karaoke, salsa dancing, and exploring the outdoors. Favorite travel memory: “I remember my host family bringing me to a traditional Aztec steam bath, where I crammed into a small brick ‘igloo’ with my host siblings, and chanted and sang until we were exhausted. We cooled off by swimming in a lake, and wrapped up with a traditional Mexican barbecue. We had all bonded and were laughing hysterically by the end of the day.” 

CJ Stearns | Programs Associate- Teen and College Programs

CJ first discovered her love for intercultural communication and travel in a summer study program in Nice, France. After the travelbug bit, she studied abroad and stayed in homestays in both urban and rural Senegal, and after graduating from college, she worked as an English teacher in such places as Japan, Nepal, Hong Kong and Russia. She graduated with a Master’s in Transnational Studies from University College London, and is passionate about creating lasting international bonds between people. Favorite travel memory: "My host mother in Dakar, Senegal, once walked me far into the city at dusk until we reached a wide, empty street lit by a single overhanging lamp. Slowly, a crowd of women began to gather, until we had formed a large circular crowd. She had taken me to see a traditional “exorcism” of bad spirits performed on someone by the women in the community. It was one of the strangest and most surprising things I have ever seen!"

Kaylin Preston | Programs Associate- Teen and College Programs

One of Kaylin's first and most impressionable cultural exchange experiences was when she and her family hosted a Japanese student who attended high school with her and her sister for the year. Her passion for travel, cultures, and languages only grew after this, and she continued her schooling at Lewis & Clark College. She earned a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology and spent a semester studying French and Wolof in Dakar, Senegal. After university, she spent a year living and working in New Zealand before returning to Senegal on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award. She spent one more year teaching English in the Indian Ocean on Reunion Island before coming back to her home state of Oregon. During her spare time she enjoys exploring the trails around the Pacific Northwest, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, and finding any excuse to dance. Favorite travel memory: "Spending the day with a family in a small village in Senegal. We ate the national dish for lunch, brewed all three cups of tea under the mango tree, then attended the traditional wrestling match between neighboring villages that night. Afterwards we danced at the 'dust dance' until the sun came up and we hitched a bus ride back to the nearby town."