Leadership Team

Leadership Team

UWC-USA’s president, Dr. Victoria Mora, directs the leadership team to manage the operation of the school. Along with Dr. Mora, the leadership team’s primary focus is the UWC mission and the success, health, and well-being of the students.

With distinguished backgrounds and broad experience in schools, these administrators build relationships with students, National Committees, parents, partners, alumni, other UWC schools, and donors to advance the UWC mission at UWC-USA.

“By embracing our mission to make education a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future our students commit to a set of values that guide their actions and interactions. On campus and beyond. They do so in partnership with a staff who serve as models and mentors and who are dedicated to the same ideals.”

— UWC-USA President Victoria J. Mora

Victoria Mora

President, BA (University of New Mexico), PhD, (Yale University)
If you had to choose one value or element of the UWC mission that you think is most important, which would it be?

I believe that the great work of the UWC movement is building positive relationships between people who might otherwise be at odds with each other for historical, cultural, or socio-economic reasons. Friendship is natural to young people. They don’t yet have prejudices that are set in stone. With the kinds of opportunities provided at UWC-USA, they find joy across differences, working, living, and playing together.

Which tradition or annual event at UWC-USA holds particular meaning for you?

That’s a tough call. The Welcome Ceremony is wonderful. The students wave their flags proudly and cheer one another on. The Matriculation Ceremony is a little different. The students sign the matriculation book to formally become part of the school and the UWC movement. Each student is called into community by the previous student signing the book. There is something deeply moving about each student respectfully pronouncing a new name, a new country. It’s what the school is really about.  respectfully. when students sign the matriculation book and formally become part of the school and the UWC movement. For many it’s the first time they realize the breadth and depth of the UWC organization. It’s both moving and joyous.

 

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What quality do our students consistently display that you admire most?

The quality I most love about our students is their openness to try to understand the other. They challenge their own views and opinions as much as they challenge the views and opinions of others. They don’t let themselves settle for “I.” They get the “We” and its vital importance for the future.

What do you do routinely in your work to enhance or improve the educational experience of our students?

What a pleasure it is to meet with people who already know UWC-USA and to introduce it to others for the first time!

Alexis Mamaux

Dean of Academics, BA (Pennsylvania State University), MPIA (University of Pittsburgh)
If you had to choose one value or element of the UWC mission that you think is most important, which would it be?

The core UWC values seem to emanate from the power of idealism–and that’s what I find most compelling about the UWC mission. It is that idealism that brought these students so far from their homes, and it is an optimism and voracious desire to learn so that they can make significant change that truly sets us apart as a movement and has kept me at UWC-USA for so long.

Which tradition or annual event at UWC-USA holds particular meaning for you?

The Welcome Dinner is the one time in the two years where the school community gathers to celebrate both the community which we have all voluntarily joined and the cultural differences that are embodied by the national costumes. From the opening parade to the musical selections and food, there is this blend of all things UWC.

 

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What quality do our students consistently display that you admire most?

In a climate where people have become more insular, our students represent the polar opposite of that. They are accepting of others, and embrace difference–seeking understanding while maintaining their own individualism.

What do you do routinely in your work to enhance or improve the educational experience of our students?

I love walking the classroom hallways. Rather than hurrying from one place to another, I find it incredibly instructive to pause and view our students engaged in learning. This gives me a snapshot of how individual students are doing. I also enjoy standing out in front of the Old Stone Hotel, watching as the students go from one class to the next; there is so much that I can see from their gait, posture, and facial expressions.

 

Cesar Cervantes

Dean of Experiential Education & Residential Life, BA (St. Mary's University), MA (Southern Methodist University)
If you had to choose one value or element of the UWC mission that you think is most important, which would it be?

It’s so difficult to choose just one, but if I must, I choose Personal Responsibility and Integrity. The reason is that I believe all greatness originates with the transformation of oneself. And this is what we have the most control over, the most access to at all times. All great leaders, all great change makers, are not simply born that way, they develop themselves intentionally. They know themselves and what they stand for so deeply because of the work they’ve done from within.

Which tradition or annual event at UWC-USA holds particular meaning for you?

This is difficult to answer because I have not yet experienced my first full year! Though, from what I have experienced, our CEC retreat is incredibly powerful. To see students and facilitators doing the work to dig deeper, build relationships and strengthen our community is awesome and inspiring.

 

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What quality do our students consistently display that you admire most?

I admire our students’ energy the most. They are never short on energy for the things they care about. I learn from this energy and it keeps me on my toes–always preparing for what they have in store.

Please describe a couple of things you do routinely in your work to enhance or improve the educational experience of our students.

I’m always seeking to build strong mentoring relationships with our students. Having meals with students or a friendly game of tennis are a couple of my favorites.

 

Jonathan Ehrlich

Vice President of Finance & Operations, BA (Middlebury College) MA (University of Vermont), MBA (Rollins College), ABD (Arizona State University)
If you had to choose one value or element of the UWC mission that you think is most important, which would it be?

I would choose mutual responsibility and respect as the most important. We have students from all over the world, from various political systems, and with different cultural values, and by listening to each other and truly honoring each others’ differences these students can grow into understanding and tolerant adults.

Which tradition or annual event at UWC-USA holds particular meaning for you?

To me the Matriculation Ceremony at the start of each year, where students sign their names into the matriculation book and formally become part of the UWC community is the most powerful tradition we have. This tradition welcomes students into a movement and community much greater than themselves, and gives them a family at a time when they are far from home.

 

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What quality do our students consistently display that you admire most?

I see our students being accepting of others as something which occurs daily, and I admire it. We frequently have students over for dinner, and even with students from diverse backgrounds I have only witnessed interest in the differences, and more often, a seeking out of similarities in families and traditions.

 

Melanie Brennand

Dean of Admissions & College Counseling, BA (Harvard College), MA (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
If you had to choose one value or element of the UWC mission that you think is most important, which would it be?

For me, it really is about the diversity and the idealism. The fact that young people with such vastly different experiences and backgrounds can come together and really engage with some difficult conversations and complex issues in such a short period of time is astounding.

Which tradition or annual event at UWC-USA holds particular meaning for you?

I love the Welcome Ceremony. Perhaps because this particular event coincided with my first day of work when I began here at UWC-USA. To end my first day with such a beautiful celebration of national dress, colorful flags, youthful energy, and pride was a powerful experience.

 

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What quality do our students consistently display that you admire most?

A genuine sense of wonder and willingness to engage with the world. They don’t shy away from hard problems. Forum (a student-led assembly that tackles challenging issues) is a great example of this. We had an interesting Forum structure for a while, but the students took it upon themselves to redesign it in order to engage the community more. This is testament to their dedication of making things better.

Describe a couple of things you do routinely in your work to enhance or improve the educational experience of our students.

I have a unique perspective on the “arc” of our students’ experiences here, which I’m grateful for–getting to “know” them through the nomination process, visa, and arrival to campus and then helping them determine their next steps beyond UWC-USA is incredibly rewarding.