Our Leadership

Acutely focused on the needs of young learners, the Esol Education leadership team comprises experienced educators who place students at the heart of every decision, shaping educational policies and practices by prioritizing the best interests of their students, leading each institution to become a center of excellence in its own right.

The leadership team oversees and guides the Esol schools as they pursue the highest standards of education, aiming to make a positive impact on the lives of people and communities, now and in the future.

Walid Abushakra


  • Established and/or operated over 15 international schools over the course of the past four decades 
  • Internationally recognized and awarded education leader

Gunther Brandt

Education Consultant

  • Head of school at leading international schools in the Washington DC, Sao Paolo, Frankfurt, and Dubai
  • Director of the Washington International School

Wahib Girgis

Asst. Superintendent

  • Established and/or operated several international schools over the past 40 years
  • Honorary doctorate degree in Education from University of Wisconsin

Misha Simmonds

Director, American International School in Cyprus

  • Over 20 years of experience in education, including as a teacher, venture philanthropist, and school leader
  • Led school to win the 2010 EPIC Silver-Gain Award for breakthrough student achievement gains
  • MBA, Harvard Business School; MS in Educational Leadership, Baruch College (CUNY); BA in History, Princeton University

Ray Taylor

Education Consultant

  • Over eight years with Esol Education
  • High School Principal of the United Nations International School, NY
  • Eight years as Director of the Munich International School

John Jalsevac

Director, American School Hong Kong

  • Over 30 years of leadership experience in education including: Principal and Superintendent of Education at schools in Canada; former Head of School at Mission Hills International School in China; Principal at Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS)
  • Chair of the South East Asia Schools Activity Conference (SEASAC)
  • Founder of the International Schools Sports Federation of Hong Kong (ISSFHK)
  • Holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from York University, Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto, and a Masters of Science in Educational Leadership and Administration from Niagara University in New York

Daryle Russell

Member of Board of Trustees

  • Extensive experience with international accreditation
  • 11-year term as Superintendent of the Saudi Arabia International School in Riyadh
  • Previously President of Association for the Advancement of International Education  (AAIE) and Near East/South Asia Council of Overseas Schools NESA)

Walther Hetzer

Esol Senior Associate

  • Former Director at the American International School in Egypt - West Campus, American International School of Abu Dhabi, St. Gilgen International School, Austria, UN-affiliated Vienna International School, and the International School of Brussels
  • Served as Accreditation Advisor and Officer for the Council of International Schools (CIS)  
  • Board Member of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) and of the Alliance for International Education

Peter Daly

Chief Education Consultant

  • Founding Principal of North London Collegiate School (NLCS) Jeju, Korea
  • Head of Dubai English Speaking College, St Christopher's School Bahrain, and Sacred Heart High School London

Beth Meldrum

Headmaster, Cairo English School

  • Former Executive Headteacher of the Chrysalis Multi Academy Trust in London, UK
  • Over 25 years of experience in education including as a teacher, head of English and 
  • Completed an NPQH and Chartered London teacher award 
  • Qualified Challenge Partner Reviewer

Bill Delbrugge

Director, Dunecrest American School

  • M.S. Education Leadership, Trevecca University
  • Principal and Superintendent of the Flagler County Schools-Florida
  • Director at the Georgia Department of Education

Bassam Abushakra

Regional Director

  • MBA University of Chicago
  • Lead establishment of Esol Education schools in Dubai and oversees Esol’s UAE schools

Tammam Abushakra

Advisor to the Chairman

  • JD University of Michigan
  • Established and/or operated several Esol Education schools over the past 15 years
  • Commissioner, School-Wide Accreditation, Middle States Association (MSA)

Patrick Rich

Director, American International School in Abu Dhabi

  • M.S. Education Leadership, National University
  • Almost 25 years of education experience including: School administrator and teacher in California public schools, International school administrator at Mont'Kiara International School in Malaysia and most recently at Korea International School where he was the Assistant School Director
  • Serves as a Chair and Visiting Committee member for accreditation visits around the world for Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Hazem Girgis

Asst. Chief Operating Officer

  • BSBA University of Richmond
  • Assisted in establishing and/or operating Esol Education schools in Egypt over the past 9 years
  • Established Educational Services Worldwide which offers a range of services to international schools

Ahmed Mitwalli

Chief Strategy Officer

  • PhD, MIT Engineering & CS
  • Leads strategy, planning and business development activities
  • Former partner with McKinsey & Company, with several clients in education

Khalid Malaysheh

Chief Financial Officer

  • MBA, The University of Manchester
  • CPA, American Institute of Certified Public Accounts (AICPA), State of New Hampshire Board of Accountancy
  • Over 20 years of extensive experience in all aspects of accounting and financial management

Jaya Java

Communications Manager

  • 12 years of hands on experience in marketing communication, brand management, public relations management, advertising and event management
  • Broad experience in multiple fields ranging from education and healthcare to oil & gas, telecommunications and finance
  • BA in Mathematics with a minor in Business Administration from Rutgers University

Randy Refsland

Director, American International School in Egypt - West Campus

  • Over 39 years as an educator in the United States and abroad.  18 years as a high school teacher and coach in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and 9 years as a high school principal in Wisconsin.  Served as the Superintendent of Schools in Waupun, Clinton, and Bowler, Wisconsin, the Chief Academic Officer for the Ameson Educational Foundation in China, and as Director General of the Bahrain Bayan School
  • Former adjunct instructor in Psychology for Madison Area Technical College and adjunct faculty for St. Mary’s College of Winona and EducateWI in their graduate program for prospective administrators
  • Ed.D. from Edgewood College in Educational Leadership
  • M.S.E. from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in Secondary Education
  • B.S. from Bemidji State University in Broadfield Social Studies and History

Joseph Nettikaden

Chief Information Officer

  • Extensive experience building shared technology services for multi-geography service industry companies
  • Leading Esol Education schools’ IT operations since 2008
  • Doctorate of Education (Ed.D) (University of Southern California), MBA (Northern Illinois University) and MS Information Technology (Northwestern University

Gerald Redd

Director, Universal College - Aley

  • 20 years of experience encompassing school leadership, administration and curriculum design with a special interest in music, media studies and music technology 
  • Extensive experience with a diverse and multicultural student population 
  • M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Texas at Arlington

Kapono Ciotti

Director, American International School in Egypt - Main Campus

  • Over 20 years in education and education change leadership
  • Nationally and internationally recognized professional development facilitator in curriculum and effective teaching strategies
  • PhD in International Education

Graeme Scott

Director, Fairgreen International School

  • Over 30 years education experience with 17 years in leadership positions 
  • On the Advisory Board of Sea Change Mentoring, a US-based organization that focuses on wellbeing, advice and mentoring for international high school students
  • Senior associate for EDUCAA (Australia) Education 
  • Consultant for Fieldwork Education (UK) 
  • Advanced Diploma of Educational Management, Leicester University 
  • Masters in Applied Educational Leadership, University College London (2020)

Dave McMaster

Director, American School of Bahrain

  • Over 30 years of educational experience including: Teacher, Vice Principal, Principal, and Head of School at various public and private schools in Canada and Hong Kong. 
  • Served as a Governor and Treasurer of the Association of China and Mongolia International Schools (ACAMIS)
  • Served as a Governor of the Hong Kong Canadian Chamber of Commerce
  • Holds a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education, Bachelor of Arts in Geography, and Bachelor of Education at Queens University in Kingston Ontario
  • M. A. Education Leadership, San Diego State University

Dr. Norman R. Smith

Education Consultant

  • Past President,  The Richmond American Int'l University in London
  • President Emeritus, Wagner College (NY) & Elmira College (NY)
  • Past President, Suffolk University Boston
  • Former Asst. Dean, Harvard University Graduate School of Education
  • Former Asst. Dean, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government
  • 2018 American Association of University Administrators Annual Leadership in Higher Education Award Honoree

Esol Education FZ LLC

P.O. Box 500720, Block 2A

First Floor, Suite 45

Dubai Knowledge Park, UAE

+971 4 364 4802

+971 4 367 8424


Each of the Esol Education schools is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and/or the Middle States Association (MSA) and offers one or more International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.

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