Senior Administrative Staff

John Lucas

John Lucas, PhD
Senior Vice President for Academic Programs
Chief Academic Officer
John Lucas brings nearly two decades of international education experience to his position as senior vice president for academic programs at World Learning. An alumnus of SIT Graduate Institute, Lucas serves as the chief academic officer for World Learning's graduate programs, SIT Study Abroad, and The Experiment in International Living, overseeing programs in more than 50 countries.

Prior to joining World Learning, Lucas served as deputy director and associate vice president of academic programs for IES Abroad, where he developed new international study programs utilizing academic models that made field work a fundamental part of the curriculum. These included programs on environmental and social change in Costa Rica and metropolitan studies, which integrates field work in Berlin, Paris, and St. Petersburg. He also created an educational technology department, which implemented an online learning platform in 35 centers across 18 countries. Lucas served as the primary author of the IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication, which harmonizes standards for language teaching and intercultural communication across the 10 languages the organization teaches throughout the world. Lucas also spent 12 years working abroad, directing international programs in Spain for IES, CIEE, and the Institute for Social and International Studies at Portland State University. During his time there he also taught Spanish, Catalan, Spanish translation, and linguistics.

Lucas is an active member of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, Association of American University Programs in Spain, Association for International Education, North American Catalan Society, and The Forum on Education Abroad. He continues to publish and lecture on his academic fields of specialization, which include second language acquisition, cross-cultural counseling, and intercultural communication.

Lucas holds a master's and doctorate degrees in Spanish linguistics from Penn State University and a master's degree in international and intercultural management from SIT Graduate Institute.


Laurie Black

Laurie Black
Dean for External Relations and Strategic Enrollment Management
Laurie Black received an MA from the School for International Training and a BA in sociology and rhetoric and communication studies from the University of Virginia. After an initial career in social services and research, Ms. Black entered the field of international education as a study abroad advisor at the University of Vermont. Ms. Black has worked with SIT Study Abroad since 1993, where she began as an admissions counselor and went on to become director of admissions and later assistant dean for external relations.

Ms. Black is a member of NAFSA, served as the Vermont state representative, and has been a presenter on numerous panels and workshops at regional and national conferences. She is also a member of the Forum on Education Abroad, AIEA, and the advisory board for Abroad View magazine.

Read Ms. Black's op-ed in the Boston Globe.

Ellen Holmes

Ellen Holmes
Dean of Academic Administration and Assessment
Ellen Holmes has been SIT’s dean of academic administration and assessment since late 2010. Until recently, Ellen directed World Learning’s strategic planning initiatives. She held the position of associate dean for programs at SIT Study Abroad from 2007–2009 and served as World Learning’s vice president for development and alumni affairs from 2002–2006; in the latter role, Ellen led the institution’s fundraising, alumni, and marketing departments as well as alumni affairs. Ellen is currently managing SIT’s 10-year re-accreditation effort in addition to her other duties.

Prior to World Learning, Ellen pursued a multifaceted publishing career in New York and Los Angeles holding senior level positions at International Data Group (IDG) and at Capital Cities/ABC (now Disney). She developed and launched numerous trade and consumer magazines in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Miami.

Ellen’s interests include: new business development, strategic planning, predictive modeling, emergent behavior, transnational citizens' movements, global philanthropy, and social cause advocacy as well as issues around identity and cultural narrative. Her areas of expertise include: international NGO management, strategic planning, financial analysis and planning, new business development, fundraising, board development, and organizational capacity development.

Dean of Students
Michael Smallis
Michael Smallis holds a BA in journalism and a MS in education from Duquesne University.

Mr. Smallis has over twenty years of experience in higher education with private colleges and universities. He began his student affairs career at Fairleigh Dickinson as the director of student activities and operations and held various roles in residence life and judicial affairs until accepting the position of associate dean of students in 1994. During his tenure, Mr. Smallis was responsible for responding to student issues and crises for the study abroad program in Europe, as well as supervising the summer program overseas. Most recently he served as the deputy to the vice president for student affairs at the City College of New York.