Meet the team

Leave the world a better place than how you found it

Christian Alyea

Owner, Cofounder, & Business Developer

Christian is a lover of the world and passionate about sharing cultures as much as possible. He has spent the majority of his life studying abroad, traveling the globe and leading study abroad groups. Christian has worked with over 200 institutions since SAA’s inception to support and launch academically rigorous and culturally engaging faculty-led programs. His mission is to make study abroad more accessible and to share the same experiences with as many as possible.

+1 972 464 9609

Leonardo Gubinelli

Owner, Cofounder, & Business Developer

Leonardo is a passionate education abroad advocate, starting his career in travel more than a decade ago when he began working for Expedia after graduating from London Metropolitan University with a degree in International Business. Italian born but world citizen at heart, he co-founded SAA with the mission to show students how traveling and studying abroad can change their lives, just as it changed his.

+1 202 910 6318

Alessio Mazzolini

Chief Operating Officer

Alessio is an enthusiastic person that loves to travel and discover new frontiers.  His passion for travel started at a young age, where he had the chance to discover new places, cultures, and meet incredible people that changed his life. Now, his mission is to share his international knowledge by providing the best possible experiences to young travelers, hoping that he can enrich lives through travel. He is highly experienced in program logistics and works to ensure institutional partners’ needs are met to give students the most unforgettable experience abroad while helping faculty achieve their ideal academic program.

+34 664 85 06 25

PJ Shoulders

Director of Institutional Partnerships and Marketing

Studying abroad for a year in Germany during high school changed PJ’s life. She went on to complete an internship with a Fortune 500 company in Germany and earn her degree in International Studies. Since then, she has held positions at both study abroad providers and U.S. universities. A 1st gen college student, she wants to help all students have access to similar opportunities. She especially enjoys helping faculty develop their own study abroad programs since these create more access for more students. At SAA, PJ works closely with institutions to achieve academic and internationalization goals. She also presents at international education conferences, such as Forum and CCID, on critical topics in international education.




La Russa

Program Development Manager

Passionate about traveling and speaking multiple languages, Ambra simply loves to be able to blend into different cultures. Strongly believing that travels profoundly enrich our lives in such a major and unique way, she set on the road in her early 20s and never stopped wandering since. To date, she has been to over 45 countries all over the world, and spent significant time in the UK, France, Spain, Brazil, China, USA, The Netherlands, Indonesia and the Czech Republic. At SAA, Ambra creates each unique program itinerary and supports faculty through reliable communication on the ground and online.

+420 7 37 059 230

Federico Orpello

On-Ground Operations Manager

Federico has a passionate and optimistic outlook on life and a curiosity to explore the world. He continually strives to expand his knowledge and understanding of different environments and cultures. He enjoys being challenged by new opportunities and continually strives for excellence in all endeavors. At SAA, Federico works closely with US institutions as well as with on-ground teams to ensure the delivery of successful faculty-led programs. Traveling has changed his perspective on life and he wants to share the same passion with as many students as possible.

Tamara Animobono

Head of Partnerships

Tamara is a passionate and enthusiastic girl who firmly believes in traveling for personal growth. Born in Italy, she chose solo travel and soon understood the saying: “the only limit in life is your own mind”. Throughout these years and experiences, she also began to see how much beauty surrounds us and how important it is to respect and protect our planet in every way possible. At SAA, Tamara works with new and existing international faculty, business leaders, and cultural guides to create immersive virtual program modules that bring global experiences directly to partners.

Francesco Restuccia

Italy and France Country Manager

Francesco has a PhD in Art Philosophy and is a professional Tour Leader. He grew up in Rome and Milan, but during his studies he lived in Paris, Berlin, and São Paulo. Since 2014, Francesco has been leading SAA programs to Italy with Christian. Traveling and studying are his passions and he thinks learning is not possible without exploring. He is currently a teacher assistant at the University of Rome La Sapienza and he is using his knowledge in history and art to develop educational tours for Study Abroad Association.

Philip Gouliaris

Program Coordinator

Philip comes from Greece, did his degree abroad and was fascinated by different people and cultures. Focused his studies in understanding and working with cultural differences with a Master’s in International Management. He is a very passionate team member who loves travelling and exploring new places. He believes that travelling is the best way to expand yourself and create a better understanding about the world around us.

Alessandra Bernacchia

Graphic Designer

Alessandra is a graphic designer and a passionate traveler. She is always looking for inspiration, landscapes to admire and cultures to discover. She travels whenever she has the chance because she believes that the world is too big for one life and we shouldn’t miss any opportunity to see another hidden corner of it.

Antonio Cacciapuoti

Program Coordinator

Antonio’s life changed after a journey of six months without a break in Southeast Asia and his travel experience grows considerably. He has a passion to travel the world and he wants to encourage people to immerse themselves in new cultures and adventures, show how travel has the ability to teach people to mature their personality and give them a broader view of the planet, thus learning to respect ourselves, others and our nature.

Jstyn Strain

Editor & Videographer

Jstyn was born and raised in the Sacramento California area and traveled much of the U.S. growing up. Jstyn traveled to London with the Study Abroad Association and fell in love with traveling abroad, then began working with them in 2015.
His goals are to help create a more globally connected and understanding world through videography and photography and show off the beauty of land and cultures.

Board of advisors

Tanith Fowler

Currently working as Assistant Director at the Graduate School at Hood College, Tanith brings over 20 years of work experience in the field of international higher education in the Washington, DC area at various universities, non-profit organizations, and international education companies. Tanith oversaw study abroad and global education at George Mason University and the Catholic University of America. She then worked at NAFSA: Association of International Educators in support of study abroad and diversity-leadership initiatives. Most recently, Tanith worked as Director of Membership & Outreach at the College Consortium of International Studies (CCIS).

Paul Paparella

Paul Paparella is an experienced higher-ed professional with a passion for helping university students and adult learners become more open-minded, civically engaged, and workforce ready. His professional background spans international education, experiential learning, intercultural competency, faculty training, study abroad program development, risk management, internship programs, student engagement, and advising. His professional associations include NAFSA, Forum, UPCEA, and the Association for Corporate Growth. He maintains a strong interest in virtual applications to study away, and in exploring ways to open access to under-represented students for a global experience. For more information, visit his Linkedin profile and his recent article written in collaboration with Soraya Campbell and Blasé Scarnati Jr.