Board Members & Support
Courtney joined the board in 2022. She works as an English language lecturer, an international teacher trainer and she also serves as an English Language Specialist with the U.S. Department of State. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education with concentration in English language learning. She currently serves as the Spanish leader with the Columbia World Affairs Council, a partnering organization of CCFI.
For over 10 years, Zina has been witnessing firsthand the value of linking cultures. Through her own non-profit organization she has been connecting students in Uganda with sponsors in the United States providing children with opportunities for education and medical care. She has a passion for exploring the world, engaging with people from diverse backgrounds, and believes in the power of forming authentic relationships. Zina has lived and worked in both Japan and Africa, has traveled to over 25 countries, and has an extensive background in volunteer work both in the US and abroad.
Past President, Treasurer
Pat has been a long-standing member of CCFI and is currently serving as the President of the Board of Directors. She enjoys meeting international students and has given her time to pick up arriving students at the airport, understanding the importance of a warm welcome.
Carol’s love for international travel began in 1962 as an exchange student in Germany. She has served 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil, and 4 years as an educator in Japan. Today, when she’s not spending time with her family, she serves as the CCFI Recording Secretary.
Peggy joined the board in 2017 and personally knows what is like to come to the US as an international, as she is originally from Cuba. Peggy is an avid traveler and has a great love for the world. She believes we can make our world a better place for future generations.
Jim has been involved with CCFI since the 1980s and has served several terms as Board President. He is a former Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Chile and has been instrumental in the development of the Council for International Visitors (CIV) program.
Marion’s life has been dedicated to international exchange – from hosting international students in her home to later becoming the Director for Ayusa Global Youth Exchange. Now retired, she splits her time between the Friday International Lunch Hour and the Arrival Assistance Program.
Originally from PA, Janelle lives in Orangeburg. Much of her love of travel as an adult came from family travel. She finds great enjoyment meeting new people and exploring differences in culture and hopes to one day live in another country. Janelle is involved with CWAC and CCFI Arrivals. She enjoys volunteering in Orangeburg, Columbia & Charleston.
Jim’s international experience includes work with the US Peace Corps in Botswana, service on the board of the South Carolina Chapter of Partners of the Americas (linked with two chapters in Colombia SA), membership in the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of SC and work with refugees through Lutheran Services Carolinas.
Jim is married to Debbie and is the father of two, and grandfather of two. He is retired after working in the forest products, consumer electronics and health insurance industries. He and his family moved to Columbia from Virginia 28 years ago.
Dickson is the Executive Director of the Columbia World Affairs Council, a partner organization of CCFI. He is a native of Columbia and has had the pleasure of interacting with international visitors from an early age. Dickson joined the CCFI board in 2017 and is passionate about cultivating a supportive and connected global community.
Mauricio Orozco joined the Board in 2022. He currently serves as the IT Director, Data Privacy Liaison, and Information Security Liaison for the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs. He is also an Administrator of the Alianza Latina of the Midlands Facebook page and works closely with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division to disseminate public safety information during emergencies.
Chris is the Assistant Director of the office of International Student & Scholar Support at the University of South Carolina. He works with CCFI to develop programs to integrate international students into the local Columbia community.
Julia has been involved with CCFI for 29 years. She currently works at the University of South Carolina, where she assists students and their families with off campus needs, including housing, educational, cultural, and other personal areas of support.
Ashlan is the Internationalization Manager in the office of International Student & Scholar Support at the University of South Carolina. Ashlan works with CCFI to coordinate events between USC and CCFI in order to best support the international student population at
Melissia Brannen, EdD
Columbia College Liaison
Melissia “Dr. Mel” Brannen is the Diversity Officer for Columbia College, serving as an advocate for inclusive practices while promoting a welcoming campus climate. As Diversity Officer and the College’s Principal Designated School Official, she enjoys getting to know students from the various countries represented on campus through International Student Support Services and Study Away Programs. Dr. Mel is a disabled, first generation college student with two children and a spouse, a varied collection of yarn, three happy cats, three degrees, a lifelong love of learning, and 20+ years of experience working with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in Higher Education. In 2022, she earned an Ed.D. in Professional Leadership with a research focus on high impact DEI practices. from Converse University.
Benedict College Liaison
Dr. Monica Wade, DSO
Midlands Technical College Liaison
Dr. Wade is the International Student Services Manager at Midlands Technical College. Dr. Wade works with CCFI to develop programs that help international and noncitizen students integrate into South Carolina by exploring the city of Columbia.
International Student Liaison
Gaurav brings the international student voice to CCFI. Originally from Mumbai (India), he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at USC with a focus on the internationalization of higher education in the U.S. For his outstanding contributions to international education, NAFSA Region VII awarded him with the 2022 New Professional Award.
International Visitor Program Director
Sewell is the CCFI Program Director for International visitor programs. He moved to Columbia in 2000 from Chicago, where he lived most of his life. A VietNam vet who has had a varied career in Social Work and business. He loves his work at CCFI organizing programs and meeting international visitors.
Teri Tolbert Byrdic