Claudine Hakim (Chair)

Claudine Hakim is Head of Transitions, Student Support and Advancement at the International School of London (ISL) and is the leader of the award winning ISL Crossroads Transitions programme. Claudine was previously a Head Teacher at an independent Special School and another International School. Claudine holds a Masters degree from the University College of London, Institute of Education in Educational Leadership and Management and a BA in Psychology and Counselling from Richmond International University. Claudine is a citizen of the United Kingdom, is originally from the Lebanon and born and raised in Ghana. She is married and has a daughter. Having lived in three continents, Claudine is passionate about fostering well-balanced and inclusive international communities. She is a public speaker who actively promotes the importance of transitions-care and attachment security. Claudine is a member of the ECIS Admissions Special Interest Committee and is the Chair of the Governing Board of Safe Passage Across Networks (SPAN).


Ruth Van Reken (Vice-Chair)

Dr. Ruth Van Reken is a US citizen who grew up in Nigeria as a second generation Third Culture Kid (TCK) and raised her three daughters in Liberia. In 1984, Ruth began journaling while seeking to better understand both the benefits received and challenges faced from a globally mobile childhood. That journaling ultimately became her first book, now Letters Never Sent.  As others responded to her story, she realized she was not alone and for over thirty-five years, Ruth has traveled extensively speaking about issues related to global family lifestyles. Currently, she is seeking to understand how lessons learned from the traditional TCK experience can be part of a mutually beneficial conversation with others studying, working with, or living the experience of the larger cohort she calls Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs)—those raised among many cultural worlds for various reasons. Ruth is also co-author of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, 3rd edition, multiple other writings and co-founder and past chairperson of Families in Global Transition. In 2019 she received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree (Litt.D) from Wheaton College for her work in this field. Learn more at:


Michael Iannini (Treasurer)

Michael Iannini is ACAMIS's Contracted Leadership Development Facilitator and an affiliated Council of International School’s consultant with the following areas of expertise: Appraisal and professional development, Leadership training, School governance and Strategic planning. He recently published a book on how to improve Middle Leadership in schools, Hidden in Plain Sight: Realising the Full Potential of Middle Leaders. His journey in education began 20 years ago as a research assistant at Arizona State University’s Child Development Laboratory, where he honed his talent for developmental education. Since moving to China in 1999, Michael has advised the Boards and Senior Leadership of a number of Not-for-Profit Organizations, International Schools, and Chinese Bilingual schools on how to develop curriculum, train teachers, create parent engagement strategies and devise staff capacity building strategies. His exhaustive efforts have helped nurture a long and mutually beneficial relationship with ACAMIS and Search Associates network of schools in China. Michael lives in Hong Kong with his wife Barbara and their two children, Helena and Marco.


Graham Ranger (Secretary)

Dr. Graham Ranger has been Academic Director of The Aga Khan Academies since January 2017. Currently, he is (interim) Director of The Aga Khan Academies. He is an experienced leader of change and development in school systems in the public and private, not-for-profit, sectors. He was Director of School Support & Evaluation at The Council of International Schools (CIS) from 2012-2016, with global responsibility for all aspects of the quality assurance and development of international schools. Prior to this, Graham was Head (Director) of The British School, New Delhi, and Director of Education for the English Schools Foundation (ESF) in Hong Kong, a group of 20+ high-achieving schools, where he oversaw the introduction of the IB programmes and helped establish two new K-12 international schools. His doctorate, awarded by the University of Durham (England) in 2012, after fieldwork in India, focuses on the professional development needs of Heads of international schools. 



Doug Ota (Advisor to the Governing Board)

Doug Ota is a psychologist, author, coach, presenter, consultant and PhD candidate. Author of ​Safe Passage: How mobility affects people & what international schools should do about it​, Doug’s passion is to challenge the educational community to address transitions effectively. He provides training to support, refresh, equip, and connect transition-care providers around the globe who are committed to healthy student, family and staff mobility within and between schools. Doug is the founder of SPAN and currently serves as the Advisor to the Governing Board. His PhD research, The Safe Passage Attachment Study at International Schools (SPASIS), examines the relationship between turnover and attachment security. His website is ​​.



Valérie Besanceney

Chief Executive Officer

Valérie Besanceney (MEd) is originally Dutch, Swiss by nationality, and holds the numerous cultures she has lived in close to her heart. Valérie has been an international educator for the past 16 years. Founder of ​​Roots with Boots,​ ​she currently consults for families, schools, and organizations. Author of two children’s books, ​​B at Home: Emma Moves Again ​a​nd ​​My Moving Booklet​,​ she is passionate about helping children and their families thrive through their transitions. She serves as the CEO for SPAN. Together with her husband, she also runs an English After School Activities Center in the Swiss mountain village that she calls home. She is the mother of two young cross-cultural daughters.


Jane Barron

Director of Training & Consulting

Jane Barron (MEd) is an educational consultant specialising in student cross-cultural transitions. Her professional hats include educator, researcher and writer. Jane’s work is informed by a lifetime of mobility, parenting two CCKs and 29 years of teaching and consulting in both international and local schools. Committed to healthy transitions and attachment security, she has been a part of the SPAN leadership since 2016 and is currently serving as their Director of Training and Consulting. Founder of Globally Grounded, Jane consults to schools, families and students crossing cultures, developing their understanding of the impact of cross-cultural mobility, creating programs and implementing support mechanisms to enhance learning and life. She is the lead researcher of Surveying the Landscape: Common Practices, Challenges and Opportunities in International School Transitions-Care (2020). Jane’s writing has been published in numerous international education publications.


Aleka Bilan

Director of Communications

Aleka Bilan comes from a multi-generational “Third Culture Kid” (TCK) family, and has worked with international high school students for over 27 years, on four continents. For over a dozen years in Asia, she was the Head of the High School Counseling departments at two large, diverse international schools. She is now a Professional Certified Academic Life Coach based in the United States (Aleka Bilan Consulting). Aleka coaches students, their parents and their teachers to navigate transitions across cultures, particularly during the move out of secondary school. She also presents to international schools and organizations regarding pre-departure orientations and transition programming. Through all of her professional work, Aleka supports people to develop their inner strengths, successfully navigate transitions and thrive.