Our Staff & Board

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Jena Melançon

Founder & Executive Director

Jena Melançon received her Master of International Economics & Management from Universita Luigi Bocconi SDA (Milano) and her bachelor’s degree with a certificate in Asian Studies from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Following her undergrad years, she lived abroad for seven, during which time she opened a store recognized in the 1996 Russian-language edition of Cosmopolitan as “the” place to shop for children in Moscow. She has spent extensive time in Croatia and Japan; and her topic report, Italian Countertrade with Eastern Europe, was published by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1992. She sits on the City of Pensacola International Relations Advisory Committee, is a former member of the North Hill Preservation Association Board, previously served on the University of West Florida’s International Affairs Committee, and worked for the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council for five years before founding the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council and serving as its executive director. She served as the co-chair of the Global Ties 2015 national meeting celebrating citizen diplomacy and the 75th anniversary of the IVLP.
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Matthew Rizzo

Program Coordinator

Matthew Rizzo received his Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Marketing and Spanish with a Certificate in Multinational Business from Florida State University.  He previously worked as an intern at the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council for three consecutive summers before accepting the position of Program Coordinator in July of 2013.  In addition, Matt has worked in the Florida State University Office of Admissions, as well as the Florida State University Center for Global Engagement.  Matt is bilingual in English and Spanish and enjoys traveling. He studied abroad in Spain for a semester and has visited the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK.  Matthew and his family travel frequently to Spain, his mother’s native country.

Our Board

Chairman: Karen Jurkowich
Treasurer: Ric Nickelsen
Secretary: Tara Baker Jones

John Adams
Randle Carpenter
Maria Alonso Chavez

Rebecca Ferguson
Rachel Hendrix
Kasey Jones

Cookie Kichler
Julie Tippins Parker
Linda Wade