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  • Writer's pictureFirst Trip

Meet our Board of Directors!

First Trip’s Board of Directors bring a wide range of experience, skills and backgrounds which propel our mission to increase diversity in study abroad and international affairs. All

Board Directors are deeply committed to developing and measuring the organization’s impact and long-term strategy.

Each member has strong leadership experience within international affairs, business, and education and their biographies illustrate the contribution each Director makes to the Board by way of their own individual talents, skills, and experiences.

Additionally, First Trip works with dozens of global professionals throughout the Washington D.C. and Chicagoland areas who volunteer their expertise to the organization as Strategic Advisors, First Trip program managers, and GCM mentors.

Peggy Lewis

Board Chairperson

Peggy Lewis is a real estate businesswoman and former English/Theater teacher. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has lived and raised her family in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Peggy is an ardent supporter of higher education, has over 20 years of grant management and allocation experience, and created the Sheldon Lewis Memorial Scholarship in honor of her late husband, Mr. Sheldon Lewis to provide college funding for ambitious students in underserved communities. Many Chicago youth have received this competitive award. First Trip President and CEO, Dex Burns was also a scholarship recipient upon entering his first year of college in 2010.

Dex Mandela Burns

Board President and Chief Executive Officer

Dex Mandela Burns is an avid world traveler and has been to over seventeen countries and counting. He credits his passion for global citizenship to his initial study abroad experience in Cuzco, Perú in 2012. He is a staunch advocate of study abroad and in 2017, became the youngest alumnus to establish a named scholarship at the University of Illinois at Springfield for disadvantaged students to study abroad. He lives in Washington, D.C. and has managed foreign affairs internship programs in both the federal and nonprofit sectors. He is currently a Doctoral Fellow at the George Washington University, a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and lectures at the Elliott School of International Affairs.

Edgar Vizcaíno

Board Vice President and Treasurer

Edgar Vizcaíno was born and raised in Colima City, Mexico. He attended La Universidad de Colima where he earned his BS in Computer Software Engineering. He traveled abroad for the first time as an undergraduate student to the University of Illinois. After an impactful and eye-opening experience, he decided to return to Illinois to pursue a Master of Science degree. He now lives and works in Houston, Texas with his wife Katie, and newborn son. Vizcaino loves traveling and considers it essential for all students of all nations and backgrounds. The Vizcaínos were early supporters of First Trip and have sponsored numerous scholarships and specialized awards.

Kristian Gore

Board Secretary

Kristian Gore is a passionate advocate of diversity and inclusion in study abroad and international affairs. As a Michigan State undergraduate, she worked in the study abroad office where she first observed the need for minority representation in international programs. Upon obtaining her MA degree in Global Governance, Politics, and Security from American University, Gore served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Vanuatu, one of the most remote places in the world. She has since lived in eight countries and was a Rosenthal Fellow at the Office of the Under-Secretary of Defense Policy where she focused on transnational security issues, Leahy Law, Atrocity Prevention, Civilian Casualties, and Women, Peace, and Security. Kristian currently works at Booz Allen Hamilton.

Jessica Sarles-Dinsick

Board Director

Jessica Sarles-Dinsick has long advocated for the representation of diverse backgrounds, lived experiences, and perspectives in the international education space. She is an experienced international educator and currently serves as the Associate Dean for International Programs and Special Projects at Columbia University in New York. She is charged with maintaining strategic partnerships with her university’s international partner universities, Sciences Po (France), City University of Hong Kong, Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) and Tel Aviv University (Israel). Jessica also aids in the development of new international programs and strategies. Ms. Sarles-Dinsick is a graduate of Purchase College and Columbia University. 

Kenya Michelé Maize

Board Director

Kenya Michelé Maize is a is a real estate businesswoman, consultant, and proud native of Chicago’s west side. She has dedicated her life to utilizing her corporate and creative leadership skills to enrich the lives of young people, especially those who are considered at risk. She is a serial entrepreneur and has owned and operated a number of successful businesses throughout Chicagoland. She regularly leads financial wellness seminars for entrepreneurial/global-minded individuals around the world. Ms. Maize is a graduate of Columbia College in Chicago and the Joseph Business School of Entrepreneurship in Forest Park, Illinois.

Daniel F. Runde

Board Director

Daniel F. Runde is a strong advocate of diversity in foreign policy and has supported efforts to increase minority representation in global think-tanks. Mr. Runde is a scholar and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of the book "The American Imperative: Reclaiming Global Leadership through Soft Power" and has held leadership positions at the World Bank, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. He is currently Senior Vice President at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, D.C. and leads the Project on Prosperity and Development program. Daniel Runde is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard University.

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