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Meet The Team!
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Dex Mandela Burns

President & CEO

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Dex is an avid world traveler and has been to over 15 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 international travel. He lives in Washington, D.C. and has managed internship programs within international organizations in both the federal and nonprofit sectors. Dex holds both a BA degree in Global Studies and a MA degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Illinois. He is currently a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Education & Human Development at the George Washington University. Dex Burns is a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs


Peggy Lewis

Board Chairperson

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Peggy is a real estate business woman and former English/Theater teacher. A true and loyal northern Illinosian, she has lived, worked, and raised her family in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Peggy is an ardent supporter of higher education, especially in underserved communities and created the Sheldon Lewis Memorial Scholarship in honor of her late husband, Mr. Sheldon Lewis. Many Chicago youth have received this award to attend college. Dex Burns was a recipient of this award in 2010 upon entering his first year of college. Peggy is a life-long traveler, and believes every student should be afforded the opportunity to study abroad and see the world. Peggy Lewis is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Board of Directors & Advisors

Dex Burns (President, Chief Executive Officer)

Peggy Lewis (Board Chairperson)

Edgar Vizcaíno (Vice President, Treasurer)

Ashundria Oliver (Director Emeritus)

Kristian Gore (Director, Secretary)

Jessica Sarles-Dinsick (Director)

Kenya Michelé Maize (Director)

Symphoni Henry, M.Ed.*

Michael Rovner*

*Strategic Advisor

Additionally, First Trip works with dozens of global professionals throughout the Washington D.C. and Chicagoland areas who volunteer their expertise as mentors and passport workshop facilitators. Are you interested in volunteering with First Trip? Send us an email at!

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