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Our Team

Co-Founders

Q

Bev MacWilliams

I have spent 22 years in education. I was a teacher in both elementary and high schools, after which I became a Principal of Schools. Later, I held various positions at the school board level where I was Principal of Curriculum and Special Education, and Principal of Information Technology. In addition, I was a member of the senior administration team at the Muskoka Board of Education and Trillium Lakelands District School Board. In 1995, Mike Ruby and I founded MLI.

My role at MLI has been to work with my business partners and staff to build and manage the company’s operations. In addition, I am also very involved in sales, marketing and product development.

Bev MacWilliams

Co-Founder

Q

Michael Ruby

I love my family, skiing, golf, running, volunteering and building businesses.

I have owned and operated a number of businesses and held senior positions in the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, and worked with a four season resort business in British Columbia. As a volunteer, I have played a leadership role sitting on a number of national, international and regional tourism marketing boards. I am currently a chair of the Canadian Tourism Commission Emerging Markets Committee. 

Michael Ruby

Co-Founder

Executive Team

Q

Cheryl Lee

I have a degree in Economics with a specialty in Urban Studies from UBC. I have worked in the tourism industry since 1985 and have lived and worked in both B.C. and Ontario. I had the pleasure of being part of Expo 86 and the building of the event in the year leading up to it. Since then I have continued to work in tourism in all facets of the industry including operations, sales, marketing, and consulting work. I lived in Toronto for 10 years and worked with the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, where I first began to work with Mike Ruby. I then moved back to B.C. and worked as a consultant for a regional tourism association, Thompson River University, as well as consulting work for small tourism businesses in B.C. I joined MLI in 1997 and have never looked back!
I speak French and English.

Cheryl Lee

Chief Operating Officer

Q

Andrew Lind

My role at MLI is to lead our dynamic team, provide strategic, operational direction and work to continually improve our company, while providing excellent education experiences in Canada. Prior to MLI I have spent 17 years in the travel business, and my family has been in the travel industry since 1986. Most of my business career in travel was spent at Jonview Canada. At Jonview I held a variety of positions at various levels, starting in sales from 1998 to 2004 in the US, then Australia, Asia Pacific and Europe. From 2004 to 2008 I ran the Contracting and Product departments which annually purchased and built all the products Jonview sold.  Jonview has two offices and I ran the Montreal office for about 18 months, from 2008 to 2010 while living in Toronto, a true professional challenge. I was appointed the Vice President and General Manager in August 2010, which was an exciting, challenging and very rewarding position, leading a team of 120 professionals that worked together and achieved some incredible goals and milestones. 

Andrew Lind

President & CEO

Q

Adrienne Burtnick

Adrienne Burtnick

Chief Sales Marketing Officer

Sales Team

Q

Jun Saito

I worked for the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo for over 25 years. My work there included establishing the student market program in 1993. With my 25 years of Canadian Tourism marketing experience, I was one of the leaders of the Canada–Japan tourism business. I have extensive knowledge of Canada’s various regional tourism products and business practice and, as a result, I am one of the key specialists in the Canadian student market.

In October 2003, I joined MLI to promote MLI’s customized Study Tour programs and High School programs across Canada.

Jun Saito

MLI Japan

Q

Daisuke Takeda

My name is Daisuke Takeda.

I’ve spent over 10years graduated from high school in Toronto and have a bachelor degree from the University of Western Ontario.

I have been working in the student service field in the educational institution since graduated from university and am very excited to assist Japanese market with sending more students to Canada!bI am more than happy to share my own experience in Canada which may resent more with what your students/children would experience once they study abroad in Canada.

Daisuke Takeda

MLI Japan

Q

Kaora Umemoto

My name is Kaori. I worked in the education sector for as the Commercial Education Officer for the Alberta Education Department from 2014 to 2020. During this time, I built a network with Canadian school boards, Japanese high schools and universities by planning and conducting study abroad seminars and FAM tours for students, their parents, and teachers, proposing new programs to meet their objectives. This network and understanding of the education landscape will be valuable for MLI.

My personal motto is: Nasake-wa, Hito-no tame narazu, which translates into “Compassion is not only for other people. It will return to yourself and warm your heart!” I enjoy seeking new adventures with my extended family, whether in Japan or abroad. 

Kaori Umemoto

MLI Japan

Q

Shigekazu Nishimura

After graduation from the university, I joined one of the major travel companies. I have been working there for over 41 years.

I started working at the Kyoto sales office in 1981 April as a sales clerk. I was transferred to the Hawaii branch as a trainee in 1987. After that I mainly worked at Overseas Field. I also worked at the Saipan branch, Guam branch and again Hawaii branch as administrative positions. 

I say I really like Canada. I visited Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies with my wife. And I am interested in the job which can bring many Japanese youths to foreign countries to train them that they can play important roles in international society. I strongly believe that it is my life-work mission. 

Having such a background, I am excited working at MLI. If you will find me at any occasion, don’t hesitate to say hello to me.  

Shigekazu Nishimura

MLI Japan

Registration Team

Q

Ai Kobayashi

I’m from Tokyo, Japan. After high school, I came to Toronto as an ESL student on my own. At that time, I literary had no English skills so I had to study from the very beginning including basic things like grammar taught in middle school. It was also my first time living away from home. However, during my stay here, I fell in love with this Canada, and decided to stay longer; thus, I enrolled at Seneca College where I majored in Hospitality Management. I have worked in the hospitality industry and the media industry before joining MLI, and it made me a knowledgeable person. If you want to ask me questions about foods, travels, events and fun things to do in Canada, I’ll probably have a good suggestion for you!

Ai Kobayashi

Registration

Q

Fathima Mubeen

I moved to Canada in the year 2008 from the Middle East after working as an International School Administrator for over a decade. I am originally from the Indian state of Kerala, which is famous for its golden sandy beaches and beautiful backwaters.  My mother tongue is Malayalam and I do speak Tamil as well. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and a post-graduate diploma in Business Management. For the past eight years, I worked as an Administrator and as a Testing center Supervisor in a Private Career College in Ontario. This extensive role of School Administrator has given me valuable experience in the areas of registration, financial aid and record management. Throughout my career, I have spent time helping students from different walks of life to achieve their goals.

Fathima Mubeen

Registration

Groups

Q

Ai Yu

I love nail design and home decorating.

I am a busy mom and have worked in the tourism industry for many years. I was once upon a time an exchange student when I was in Grade 11 for a year! I have over ten years of experience with MLI and have worked in almost all areas of the business. I specialize in pricing quotations and on-the-ground client support, troubleshooting, and problem-solving.
I speak English and Japanese.

What I love about MLI: Connecting with the agents and schools, seeing the smile on students from Canada and overseas, and helping to gain the interest and understanding of different cultures

Ai Yu

Manager, Inside Sales

Q

Sae Yokoi

I was born and raised in Japan. Moving to Canada was very exciting but at the same time, it was the biggest challenge in my life. I have struggled to adapt to the cultural differences, weather and food here. Through the challenges that I have experienced since I moved to Canada, I have grown up and learned to accept differences. Now I can enjoy the great diversity of cultures in Canada!

I am excited to support every single student who is willing to take a shot and come to Canada. I am very happy that I can coordinate programs that introduce this beautiful country.

You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.  – Wayne Gretzky”

What I love about MLI: We love Canada and each team works hard together to make students’ staying in Canada special and safe.

Sae Yokoi

Group Programme

AYP Team

Q

Analia Diaz

I immigrated to Canada from Argentina when I was 7 years old so I am fluent in Spanish and English. I have a BA of Commerce in Information Technology Management with a minor in Systems Analysis and eBusiness. My previous experience was in the customer service industry as a regional manager for a large chain of sportswear stores.

At MLI I began as a supervisor in the Homestay department and then transferred to the High School Programs department. Now I am the manager of the entire amazing High School Programs team. My role is to support the team of coordinators who take care of all the high school students from around the world.

I love reading, baking, cooking, traveling, watching soccer and hockey, musicals and going to live concerts.

Analia Diaz

Manager, High School Programmes

Q

Katsumi Watanabe

I was born and raised in Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Japan where it is known as “Gyoza Town”.  This is a story over thirty years ago, but the high school I attended was strongly involved with the exchange programs. Every year the school hosted a student from overseas for the whole school year and as a return, a few students were sent to the USA to attend high schools at different locations. From the intercultural experience I had with the exchange students, I had interest in the world outside of Japan and was determined to go overseas. I was fortunate enough to travel to different countries and areas as a professional tour guide. After I got married and came to Canada, I’ve taught Japanese to Canadian students, and to Japanese-Canadian Second Generation children. My son who is about to start university was born and raised in Canada but because he has studied Japanese since he was a small child, the language we use together is always Japanese.

Katsumi Watanabe

Coordinator, High School Programme

Q

Mayu Kida

I was born and raised in Osaka and Kobe, and it was when I was 15 that I first experienced a two-month stay in Oxford, UK to study English. Everything looked different and I really enjoyed the life there so much, and gradually felt like studying at a university overseas. My old-fashioned father didn’t want me living abroad full time, however, I was lucky that he sent me to London for two months each for eight years in summer instead. After graduating from university in Japan, I had a job supporting very talented interns from foreign universities mainly from the US who wanted to be architects, and I felt so fortunate that I could communicate and support them, and also learn from them in English.

Later I’ve got married and have two kids now and in my life journey, I moved to Canada. We were lucky enough to get to know so many generous Canadian who helped us a lot and later became our friends. We have been here for nine years and we love living in Vancouver and love Canada. My children are now grown up. The older one is going to college to study Computer Science and the younger one will be in Gr.11 this year. I assume you’re around the same age.

Mayu Kida

Coordinator, High  School Programmes

Q

Nissa Francisco

I was born and raised in Japan, and I have been overseas for more than 25 years in various countries. I started my journey when I was 18 as an exchange student in the US for 10 months. After I graduated from university and worked for a few years in Japan, I moved to Hong Kong to work for a Japanese company for nearly 4 years. After marrying my Canadian husband, we moved between the US, Canada, and Japan raising our 2 children and now I am back in Canada. My children spent most of their lives in the US and now my son is a graduate student, and my daughter is an undergraduate student both living in Toronto, Ontario. My home is located on the east side of Lake Huron which spans from Detroit Michigan all the way to Ontario. The town is very quiet from October to April but as soon as the spring flower starts to bloom, the town becomes busy with many tourists until the Labour Day Weekend. 

I like to read books and watch movies about the Edo period. In my time living in Japan recently, I was an English tour guide in Tokyo catered to foreigners. This introduced me to the incredible history of Tokyo and the Edo period. I also like scrapbooking. I have created many scrapbooks of my family and I love seeing my family enjoying them page by page. 

My experience in the US became the core of my later life. I not only became able to communicate in English, but I was also able to develop a very different mindset that I may have not, had I stayed in Japan. I learned that each individual was respected as themselves, the differences and similarities in thinking, and I was able to examine my own country, Japan, and appreciate it from afar. Being away from Japan helped me realize how wonderful and unique the Japanese culture and history are.

Noriko Webb

Coordinator, High School Programmes

Q

Reina Taniguchi

I am originally from Saitama, Japan.  I was a high school student who came to Canada at the age of 17 on a school trip organized by MLI. That trip to Muskoka helped me decide what I would like to do with my life. Upon returning to Japan, I focused heavily on English language schools and after graduating from high school, I moved to Canada and joined St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario. There I attained a diploma in Child and Youth Care and had firsthand experience working with children aged 6 – 16 with learning disabilities, anxiety, as well as emotional and behavioural challenges.  My experience living abroad and education in childcare provided me with a strong base to both understand and support the needs of the students.

Reina Taniguchi

Coordinator, High School Programmes

Q

Rina Kawasumi

I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. My father used to work in Indonesia. Having been exposed to that environment, drove me to learn English. When I was in grade 9, I joined a three-week homestay program in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. After coming back to Japan, I returned for one year to Boise, Idaho as an exchange student. After graduating high school, I came to study in a Canadian university in Nova Scotia. My university was in a small city with a population of 4000 which helped me learn Canadian culture. I went to study in Freiburg, Germany as an exchange student for one year when I was in a 4th year. Since university, I have enjoyed teaching ESL at a language school in Toronto.
I enjoy studying languages, traveling and cultural exchange. I have studied in three different countries; however, I believe that my first study abroad experiences had a huge impact on my life.

Rina Kawasumi

Coordinator, High School Programme

Q

Yuki Inoue

I am originally from Tokyo, Japan, but I have lived in Boston and Halifax. I graduated from Showa Women University in Tokyo and also Humber College in Toronto. My major was English Communication and Global Business Management. After my graduation, I worked as a Sales Representative, and a School Manager of an English conversational school and Japanese teacher.

During my time in Halifax, NS, I had the chance to experience homestay life, when I came to Canada to study English. Back then, my English skills were low, and I was too shy to communicate with my Host Family. However, the host family kept asking me questions everyday and tried to talk to me and made me feel like a real family member. Thanks to them, gradually I became open with them and now even after 7 years we still contact each other like they are my real family.

Yuki Inoue

Coordinator, High  School Programmes

Student Care Team

Q

Ayla Tafreshi

I have studied Literature and Law. I live in Vancouver with my family since 2016. Before coming to Vancouver, I worked in China and Iran. I love cross-cultural environments and that’s why I enjoy joining MLI-CISS. As a lifetime learner, I am so excited that we could provide an unforgettable experience for international students.

Currently, I am studying online Psychology at Athabasca University. I enjoy spending time with my teenage daughter and get involved with my family activities. I am a cinephile who once used to be a bookworm. I love swimming and cooking as well.

Ayla Tafreshi

National Senior Manager, Student Care

Q

Mary Voulgaris

Born and raised in Toronto, I graduated from Ryerson University’s school of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Throughout the years, I enjoyed working at some of the city’s most vibrant places: CN Tower, Maple Leaf Gardens, Skydome Hotel and the Toronto International Airport in food and customer service. My travelling bug led me to a role as sales ambassador for the island of Puerto Rico in the Canadian tourist office upon graduation. From there, I ventured to Greece co-operating a small family hotel on the island of Kos. When I settled back home in Toronto, my husband and I proudly launched a fine food retail outlet in the city which is still going strong!
I joined the CISS MLI family in 2001 and have held various positions in Sales, Contracting and Product Development within the Summer Camps division. I am thrilled to now be joining the Homestay team.
My daughters are my greatest joy and I love hosting gatherings with family and friends. Volunteering as a Kid Coach for a number of years has also been very rewarding.

Mary Voulgaris

Manager, Student Care East

Q

Susan Lee

We moved to Toronto as a family of 4 in 2015 from a state belovedly called ‘God’s own country’ Kerala in India. I am a Punjabi by birth and a Keralite by marriage. I have a background in Finance and Business. After moving to Canada, I went to University of Toronto to pursue a second Masters in Adult Education and Community Development, specialising in Workplace Learning and Social Change. I have worked with major financial institutions as an administrator, HR personnel and trainer for about 2 decades.
I am mother to a teenage son and a queenage (9-year-old) daughter. As a family we like staying fit and we enjoy running and working out. I have run a full marathon and a few half marathons. Quiet contradictory, but I am also a big foodie. I love all kinds of foods and do not hesitate in trying anything and everything.
Music is my soul and I cannot imagine my life without it. I am always humming something and listening to music. I am also a motorcycle rider and enjoy solo rides whenever I get a chance to slip away from the city traffic. I speak English, Hindi, Punjabi and Malayalam.

Aashima Pillai

Student Care Supervisor

Q

Carol D'Souza

I was born in Kuwait City and completed my secondary schooling there. I completed my graduate studies in India graduating with a degree in Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery and diplomas in Naturopathic Medicine and in Psychological Counselling. I continued in Homeopathic Medical Practice at my clinic in Mumbai till the birth of my second child in 1995. I handed over my practice to my colleague and became a full-time home maker.  We moved to Canada in 2003. I was actively involved in volunteering at the Catholic School our children attended and on the Board of a not-for-profit water polo high performance club. My sons remain actively involved in water polo in different capacities (Coach, Referee and Athlete). My youngest son captained the Canadian Junior Water Polo team and currently represents the Canadian Senior Mens’ team.

My husband and I love to travel. We have covered most of Europe, Asia, and New Zealand. I have a passion for cooking and baking. I love reading cookbook memoirs and enjoy cooking a nice meal for family and friends. I also enjoy long walks with my family and our dog Bailey. 

Carol D’Souza

Student Care Supervisor

Q

Chris Shumaker

I was born in Toronto but raised in Muskoka.  After graduating from Gravenhurst High School, I went to Laurentian University in Ontario.  After that I attended Teacher’s College in Sydney, Australia.

 

After returning to Canada, I decided to travel to Japan to teach for one year… and ended up staying for FIFTEEN years!  I have traveled to many countries in Asia and Europe.

 

I returned to Canada this spring to help my family move to a new house.  I now live in Bracebridge, Muskoka and joined MLI in October.  I’m very excited to start my journey with MLI and look forward to a great future together!

Chris Shumaker

Student Care Supervisor

Q

Curtis Nash

I was born and raised in Montreal. I attended Vanier College and graduated with a diploma in Communication. I completed my Bachelor of Arts focused in Psychology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. I also played varsity football ball there and was drafted to the CFL.

I bring to MLI over 20 years of experience, skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Social Services, Settlement Issues, Event Planning, Crisis Intervention, Program Evaluation, and Youth Services. I am currently taking project management courses. My passion for the last 10 years has been assisting immigrants who migrate to Canada and navigating them into in school system, employment and communities.

Curtis Nash

Student Care Supervisor

Q

Jane Stvan

Since my youth, I knew my career path was in education.  Born in Montreal and raised in Windsor, I obtained both a BA in French and History, followed by a Bachelor of Education from the University of Windsor.  Feeling the need to travel before settling into a full time career, I spent almost two years teaching English in Prague, Czech Republic while also reconnecting with my Eastern European family roots. Living in Europe for a time also allowed me to fulfill my passions for history and culture by exploring many other countries.

Upon returning to Canada I moved to Toronto and continued to teach ESL before joining the CISS MLI family.  I am now over 20 years with this amazing company, having been an integral part of both the High School team and Summer Programs.  I have worked in various roles within operations, product development, marketing, and sales.  I am now very happy to bring my experience and knowledge to my new role with the Student Care Supervisory team, helping students to achieve their educational dreams.

Jane Stvan

Student Care Administrator

Q

Jessica Ouilhet

My name is Jessica Ouilhet. I am the Student Care Supervisor for Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Abbotsford, and Langley. 

I grew up in Mexico, and coming to Canada has allowed me to discover myself and appreciate the beauty in people and my environment. 

I feel blessed and thankful for calling Canada my home. I love to care for the environment and animals, hike, travel, and spend time with my family. 

I have a background in Education and Hospitality Management. I had the honor to work with children with diverse abilities and the opportunity to manage a hotel boutique in Mexico. I am also very proud to be a strong advocate for Diversity and Inclusion. 

I am happy to be a part of the MLI Homestay team and help students navigate their experiences in a foreign country. 

Jessica Ouilhet

Student Care Supervisor

Q

Laura Tieken

I was born and raised in the Netherlands and emigrated to Canada when I was eight years old, so I understand the challenges students face coming to another country to learn another language. Learning English was scary for me but my family and I had so much support from our new school and Canadian friends – Canada is a wonderful place to live! I love traveling, world music, yoga, playing piano and exploring new places with my daughters.

I have a diploma in Tourism Management and have enjoyed working with international students and tourists from all over the world!

Laura Tieken

Student Care Supervisor

Q

Neil Reid

My family and I moved to Gibsons, B.C., in the summer of 2021 after living 17 years on the subtropical island of Okinawa, Japan. Many people ask why we decided to move from the beautiful turquoise blue oceans of Okinawa. From my experience, the Coast is equally as beautiful! From the lush green natural beauty of the trees and rolling mountains to the driftwood and soft sands that line beaches nestled along the rocky pebbled coastal shores – the Sunshine Coast has so much to offer. To top it off, the people are down-to-earth and hospitable. It also helps that the Sunshine Coast is my old stomping ground – I grew up in Roberts Creek and Langdale and graduated from Elphinstone Secondary school in Gibsons. My parents and siblings live here, and my wife and kids are now adapting well to the culture and community. For me, I would love to share the nature, culture, and people of the Sunshine Coast with homestay students of MLI. 

Neil Reid

Student Care Supervisor

Q

Nissa Francisco

My name is Nissa Francisco, and I was born and raised in Canada. I currently reside in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and am the mother of a life loving 8-year-old who keeps me very busy.

I graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Art’s in Gender Studies and Political Science and went on to complete my Master’s ‘degree at York University in Public Policy Administration and Law. I have spent several years working in the non-profit sector, providing various services to diverse communities across the GTA.

Nissa Francisco

Student Care Supervisor

Q

Anqi Zhang

I was born in a historic city Xian in China. I studied abroad since high school in Boston, USA. And I got my bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University (Go green!) Upon graduation, I have taken concrete steps to enhance my abilities by taking a student-facing role in the education industry for two years. I have always been passionate about working in the education industry by providing service and support to all types of students. I have much experience as an international student and would like to leverage them to help international students resolve problems and achieve their specific goals. I came to the University of Toronto to pursue my master’s degree with a major in educational leadership and policy. Now I am proud to join MLI Homestay as a student care administrator to gain more experience within the education industry. 

I like volunteering to help more students and people during my spare time. Besides that, cooking is the most relaxing thing for me during the weekend; I enjoy cooking different countries’ dishes and tasting food worldwide.

Anqi Zhang

Student Care Administrator

Q

Michelle Karnine

My name is Michelle Karnine.  I am married and have 2 beautiful adult daughters. My husband and I grew up in Penticton, a small town in the South Okanagan.  Over the last 30 years, we have had the pleasure of living in multiple provinces and abroad in Europe.  We love travelling, meeting new people and experiencing their cultures and food.   

I appreciate and value all the hard work, on every level, that goes into supporting students as they embark on a new adventure far from home.  While living in Belgium, my oldest daughter completed her Grade 12 in Switzerland, living with a host family that she has since gone back to visit.  Now that our daughters are grown, we have settled in the beautiful city of Victoria, on Vancouver Island. I have worked in a variety of Administrative roles, most recently with the Ottawa Catholic School Board.  I look forward to now supporting this MLI-CISS team.

Michelle Karnine

Student Care Administrator

Q

Jodi Andersen

When my husband and I first moved into our current home, we had an extra bedroom and decided to host an international student for a year, which turned into two. It was a really great experience learning about another culture and sharing ours with her. That experience has been an advantage for me to understand the perspective of host families for MLI Homestay.

I have worked in the media world for all of my adult career, originally in publishing and moving into the digital world a few years ago.  I’m excited for this opportunity to work with MLI Homestay and help build the community engagement even greater.

Outside of work I am glued to my family and having fun together. I’m a brownie leader for our local brownie group, enjoy cooking, knitting and reading, and spending time at our summer cottage on Georgian Bay.

Jodi Andersen

Social Media and Community Engagement

MLI Homestay

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MLI Homestay works in over 100 communities across Canada and we continue to grow and expand our reach each year.