About Us

Deborah Friedman Lesser

Deborah Friedman Lesser is an international educator, a certified personal and professional development coach, and an experienced global program manager. Combining her coaching skills with her knowledge and resources from working in the field of international education, Deborah designed a gap year coaching service that is customizable, enabling clients to create their own gap year experience that is aligned with their unique strengths, passions and goals.d-friedman

Deborah received her Master’s degree in International Education from the SIT Graduate Institute. Her thesis, The American Gap Year, examined the Gap Year trend from US college admissions advisors’ perspectives and she has presented her research at the Federation EIL Poland General Assembly and, as a guest lecturer, at SIT.

Currently, Deborah is consulting with Avenues: The World School to develop and implement a strategy to run safe, educational, and mission-driven global programs. She oversees curriculum-based programs for middle school and upper school students and is responsible for training program instructors. She also developed their risk management plan for health and safety, emergency response and crisis management.

Formerly, Deborah was Global Learning Across Borders’ (LAB) Director of Programs, managing all aspects of the organization’s international immersion gap year and school partnership programs. Over the past 10+ years, she has designed, developed, and led international and domestic high school and college programs in over 20 countries with various organizations such as the Experiment in International Living, Semester at Sea, The Dwight School, World Leadership School, Institute for Civic Leadership, Me to We, and CIEE.

In 2010, Deborah co-founded the International Leadership Program, a global education and leadership program for New York City public high school students, that provides a 10-month integrated curriculum of experiential education, leadership development, and service activities – in NYC and India – all designed to equip motivated youth for success in college and beyond.

Deborah’s coaching experience began when working for UNICEF’s P²D (personal x professional development) program, a non-traditional career development program for staff members and their families. She is a certified life coach, trained by The Coaches Training Institute and accredited by the International Coach Federation.

During 2004, Deborah served on World Learning’s Board of Directors and, over the years, has been instrumental in developing their New York Alumni Network.

Born and raised in New York City, Deborah attended the Horace Mann School. In her junior year, she participated in The March of the Living, an international youth program to Poland and Israel. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in Communication Arts and a minor in Business. During that time, she studied abroad through Boston University’s Study Abroad Internship Program in Sydney, Australia. Deborah has been to over 30 countries.

Claire Sellers

For the last decade, Claire has worked in international education. As a member of the pre-opening team of Avenues: The World School, Claire was charged with designing innovative educational programming rooted in the mission of helping young people become fluent in a second language, at ease beyond their borders, and true global citizens. Establishing Avenues as a leader in the field, Claire has implemented world-class programs ranging from study abroad, after school enrichment activities, summer programs, online learning and continuing education.

Claire has overseen more than 50 study abroad programs for students in grades four through 12 to Asia, South America, Africa, Europe and domestically in the United States. She has designed and led dozens of faculty trainings preparing educators in the topics of risk management, group dynamics and program design. She has shepherded 100’s of program leaders through the process of taking students on study abroad programs often serving as the main point of contact for parents.

Claire began her coaching career in the context of global education working with both teachers and students before, during and after study abroad programs. In 2016, Claire became a life and leadership coach through The Coaches Training Institute, the world’s top global leadership development program accredited by the International Coach Federation. She has since coached clients of all ages and life stages to establish and navigate careers, relationships, businesses as well as gap years. 

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Claire studied abroad in Europe throughout high school and college. She taught English, French and theatre at the American School in Switzerland to children ages 4-12.  Most recently, inspired by her work as a coach, Claire participated on her own gap year traveling to 16 countries and six continents in 12 months while working remotely.

Kempie Blythe

Kempie Blythe is an experiential educator and consultant. Bringing over a decade of experience with students, Kempie has guided, coached, and mentored young adults ranging from high school to college through diverse landscapes and transitions in life. Inspired by her own gap semester experience in Micronesia, Kempie has dedicated her career to challenging students’ conceptions of their own worldviews and capacities as well as supporting them in discovering their passions and developing the necessary skills to connect beyond borders. She has worked in India, Morocco, Jordan, Senegal, Vietnam, South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil as well as traveled extensively throughout Asia and Africa.

Kempie holds a Master’s degree in International Education and Development from Teachers College at Columbia University. During this time, she conducted original research on the role that international experiential educators play in the transformative learning process of their students. She also earned her B.A. in Comparative Religious Studies with a focus on Eastern Philosophy from Colorado College.