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Meet the Staff

Click on a staff member's name below to read their profile.

 Director and Professor

Jerry SheridanDr. Jerome (Jerry ) Sheridan is the Director of American University's Brussels Center and a Professor of International Relations at American University. Since coming to Brussels in 1991, he has developed, directed, and taught a number of specialized academic programs on the European Union and NATO for students coming from American University's main campus in Washington, DC. He serves as a Lecturer at the Netherlands Defense College, and as a frequent guest lecturer for various European and American audiences on transatlantic relations, the European Union's Common Security and Defense Policy, and NATO. He is also the Chairman of the Fulbright Commission for Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union, and NATO. Outside of academia, Dr. Sheridan is the President of the American Overseas Memorial Day Association in Belgium. He is a Past-President of Lions Club Ijsedal Tervuren, and a member of the Executive Board of the Transatlantic Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is an active participant in the Transatlantic Policy Network and the American Defense Industry Forum, and is a member of several other community service, cultural, and professional organizations. Professor Sheridan graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame and earned his Doctorate in Economics from American University. Prior to coming to Belgium, he taught at American University's London Semester Program, and on the main campus in Washington, DC. While in graduate school, he worked as a part-time Legislative Aid for a Member of the United States Congress. He has also taught at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Dr. Sheridan and his family live in Tervuren, Belgium. He is a dual national, trilingual, and an avid amateur mountaineer.

Professor

Jamie SheaJamie Shea is NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. He has been working with NATO since 1980. Positions included Director of Policy Planning in the Private Office of the Secretary General, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for External Relations, Public Diplomacy Division, Director of Information and Press, Spokesman of NATO and Deputy Director of Information and Press, Deputy Head and Senior Planning Officer at the Policy Planning and Multilateral Affairs Section of the Political Directorate as well as Assistant to the Secretary General of NATO for Special Projects. Jamie Shea is involved with several prominent academic institutions and acts amongst others as professor of the Coll&#è;ge, Bruges, Visiting Lecturer in the Practice of Diplomacy, University of Sussex, Adjunct Professor of International Relations at the American University, Washington DC. He also is a regular lecturer and conference speaker on NATO and European security affairs and on public diplomacy and political communication and lobbying. He holds a D.Phil. in Modern History from Oxford University (Lincoln College), 1981. Amongst his many associations and memberships, Jamie d'Europe is Member of the Advisory Board, Security and Shea Defence at Chatham House, Member of the Policy Council at the World Economic Forum in Geneva and Founder and Member of the Board, Security and Programmes Agenda Brussels.

Homestay Coordinator

Bénédicte DebrayBefore becoming Housing Coordinator for the AU Brussels Center in 2002, Bénédicte Debray and her family hosted AU students in their own home for over seven years. During that time, Bénédicte and her husband had three children of their own growing up in the home. To this day, Bénédicte is moved when she thinks about how much her children were influenced by the American students who stayed with them. Later, her own children stayed with American homestay families in the United States. Therefore, she knows the homestay experience from both the perspective of the family and the students. She also knows that the experience of learning about other cultures through homestays produces more open-minded adults. That's why Bénédicte approaches her position as Housing Coordinator with deep personal engagement. In her own words "I treat these students as I wanted my own children treated when they were abroad." Bénédicte knows that communication is they key for a successful homestay relationship, and that each student shapes his or her own relationship with the Belgian homestay family. Bénédicte looks forward to working to build more relationships between undergraduate students and homestay families in the coming years.

Office Manager and Program Coordinator

A picture of a woman wearing glasses and smiling at the cameraIvonne Bruyninckx is the Office Manager and Program Coordinator for AU Brussels. She studied chemistry and in the course of her career, mostly at American corporations, she moved to the area of health, safety and security, and facility management. She lives together with her husband in a small village about 20 km from Brussels. They have two daughters who both graduated from university obtaining a master in Industrial Design, a creative though scientific degree. She likes spending her holidays abroad, and her favorite destinations are Italy and United States. She likes reading and exploring her own and neighboring countries by bike. The combination of many years of work experience and being a parent helps her in supporting the program. She helps the students with administration and on a variety of practical & personal issues related to the study program in Belgium and on the multiple field trips. 

Internship Coordinator

A picture of a woman wearing a headset and smiling at the cameraFrançoise Celis is the Internship Coordinator at AU Brussels. She has worked for many years as a professional translator in Brussels and works closely with a wide range of organizations and companies in Brussels.

Assistant Director

Ethan MerrittStarting with a high-school summer exchange program in France, Ethan developed a fascination for other cultures. After studying international relations and Japanese at Bucknell University, Ethan spent an extended period of time living and teaching in Japan on the JET Program. He has also spent time abroad in such places as Australia, Thailand and the U.K., and continues to regularly return to Japan and Asia. He has worked for the Embassy of Japan and later a Japanese consulting firm. Ethan has his M.A. in International Training and Education from American University. He was thrilled to join AU Abroad in February 2004.

Ethan advises for Belgium & Kenya: Transcontinental Politics, Policy and Practice, and all programs in China, England, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

Study Abroad Advisor

Matthew StifterMathew Stifter is one of the study abroad advisors for the AU Abroad Center in Brussels, Belgium. He earned his MA in International Training and Education from American University in 2018. Matthew also attended AU’s School of International Service and graduated with his BA in International Studies. As an undergraduate student, Matthew studied abroad in Berlin, Germany. Studying abroad not only improved his German language ability, but also allowed him to achieve new insights into who he was and how he related to the world. He can be your resource for LGBTQ life in Madrid, the quirkiness of language in Brussels, or where to visit the giraffes near Nairobi!