GROW 2015 Speakers

Cheryl Francisconi
Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for EducationUSA

Cheryl is the Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for EducationUSA, a network of higher education advising centers sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.  She is the REAC for southern Europe, covering 18 countries: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Malta.  In her capacity as REAC, she trains EducationUSA Advisers, and provides guidance on the implementation of EducationUSA programs in the region.  She also helps U.S. colleges and universities meet international students.  Prior to joining EducationUSA, Cheryl served for seven years as the Regional Director of the Institute of International Education’s office in sub-Saharan Africa based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where she developed leadership, training, and scholarship programs for the region.  She has conducted leadership programs for women and girls in Africa as well as other leadership training programs world wide.  She has an MSW and MPH from the University of California, Berkeley.  She is based in Budapest, Hungary

John D’Amicantonio
Information Resource Officer

Currently resides in Vienna where he is responsible for Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.  Prior to coming to Europe in 2013, John served in U.S. embassies in Baghdad, Abu Dhabi and Brasilia.  Before joining the State Department in 2004 John was an academic librarian at California State University, Long Beach for 16 years.  Prior to obtaining his M.S.L.S. in 1988 John was a social studies teacher in New York State.  He also holds a master’s degree in reading from the State University of New York, New Paltz.  John has written several articles on librarianship and is an invited speaker on topics related to information science and the digital divide.  

Boglárka Falussy
American Corner Veszprém

My name is Boglárka Falussy and I am the Director of the American Corner in Veszprém. I studied at the University of Pannonia, where I majored in English and Hungarian. I worked as an English teacher for three years before applying for my current position. Working in the American Corner has provided me with a lot of experience in program organizing and social network building, and allowed me to work with young people on improving their English language skills and broadening their knowledge about the USA.
In January 2015, I participated in a three-week International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in the United States, which was an excellent opportunity for developing my professional and personal skills and gaining first-hand experience about the U.S. My passions are the English language and performing arts – mainly singing and doing English language theatre. I also love traveling, playing board games and reading. What really relaxes me, though, is baking! In the GROW Camp, I will share my experiences about the IVLP project I took part in, and help you develop your communication skills in English through fun activities.

Andrea Keresztesi 
Sound-Picture Association

My name is Andrea Keresztesi and I am the leader of the Sound-Picture Association. Sound-Picture Association. As a high school student I spent one year in Milwaukee, WI, USA, now I am living in Debrecen. Besides coordinating the work of our local and international volunteers, I am also helping young people to improve their communication skills. Photography, film-making, public speech trainings and several attention-raising activities are in my focus.
During the GROW Camp I will help you to express yourselves in a better way when speaking in front of others and we will explore together how to communicate our thoughts to others more effectively. I will also help you out during the group-building activities. Fun activities and “learning by doing” will be our motto for the camp.

Kopócs Éva

Éva Kopócs is the founder and owner of Maminvent, a one-person business established in 2012.
She graduated from the University of Debrecen as a teacher of English and adult educator. After teaching five years in a secondary school she gave birth to three boys but did not stop academic work as she continued to do translations. When her youngest child was only 8 months old she made her first recycled bag which was transformed from an old pair of jeans. This was, however, not a completely new experience for her as she had always enjoyed manipulating fabrics creatively. This first bag was soon followed by other repurposed items and within weeks the name Maminvent was born.
Éva has been building her little enterprise consciously from the beginning and proceeds step by step learning new skills on the way. She has also adopted the principle of gift economy in her business and believes that an eco-conscious thinking is one of the most important things she can pass down to her children.   

Zoltan Kesz 
Free Market Foundation
Civic Platform Association

Zoltan Kesz is one of the founders of the Free Market Foundation in Hungary, and he is the president of the Civic Platform Association. Zoltan had the chance right after the changes took place in Eastern Europe in 1990 to study in America, and 10 years later to teach American History in a California high-school as a Fulbright scholar. He was the first graduate of the Atlas Leadership Academy in 2012. Still as a teacher, he has written several course-books for learners of English. He helped to set up the Eötvös József Club, which is part of the Students for Liberty network. He is a former director of the American Corner in Veszprém. Zoltan has recently been working in politics and won a by-election in Hungary.