AWA Team

AMBER BOCANEGRA, Ed.D.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARO

Amber is the Executive Director and Primary Alternate Responsible Officer for American Work Adventures. A native of the Central Coast area, Amber has always been a seeker of adventures and knowledge. Raised by parents from Spain and Mexico, she developed an early appreciation for the arts and academics. Speaking Spanish and Catalan at home with her family, fostered her love for foreign languages and in turn, continued her interest in learning Italian, Polish, and Czech. Amber has also lived and attended universities in Poland, Spain, and Italy. Her travels include: Serbia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Portugal, France, England, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, China, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Amber holds a Bachelor’s Degree in World Languages and Cultures from California State University at Monterey Bay, a Master’s Degree in Interpretation and Translation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from San Francisco State University. Her academic background and professional experiences provide invaluable insight, program management, and team support to the American Work Adventures Team.

“The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.” -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

 

LEAH ANN WELLS

OPERATIONS SUPERVISOR

Leah is the Operations Supervisor for American Work Adventures. Born in the Philippines, Leah grew up immersed in the melting pot culture of Manila. Leah represents the program to host employers and partner agencies while ensuring that the Department of State and AWA rules and regulations are met and implemented. AWA helps her pursue her passion of learning different cultures: traveling, learning new languages, and meeting new people.

"Hospitality is not about inviting people into our perfect homes, it is all about inviting people into our imperfect hearts." -Unknown

 

SHANNON SCOTT

BUSINESS & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Shannon's role is that of Business and Community Development. With her background in hospitality and recreation management, Shannon has always enjoyed studying and celebrating diversity. Shannon assists in handling program acceptance, program compliance, and program outreach, while exercising discretion and critical thinking skills with program applicants, program information, and business operations. Shannon has always had a passion for culture; meeting new people and experiencing other cultures has always been a dream of hers and she is glad to have found a job where she can fulfill that passion while helping others to do so as well.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney

 

HANNAH PODSHADELY

PROGRAM SPECIALIST

Hannah is AWA’s newly appointed Program Specialist. Although, Hannah has recently located from Phoenix, Arizona, she was born and raised in marvelous Marin County. Hannah’s most recent position was that of Director of Youth Ministry at Peace Lutheran Church in Peoria, Arizona. At Peace Lutheran Church, Hannah provided oversight to 60 youth ranging from the 7th-12th grade. For summer 2018, Hannah simultaneously planned three important events, including a 300 student Vacation Bible School, a middle school confirmation camp trip to California, and a high school retreat to Mexico. As an advocate for youth programming, Hannah brings her experiences in program curriculum, youth travel, and youth events organization.

"The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea." -Isak Dinesen

 

ALEXIS MELVILLE

OPERATIONS COORDINATOR

Alexis is the AWA's Operations Coordinator. Alexis assists the AWA team in any and all projects and provides additional support where needed. She was born in Eureka, CA and raised in San Diego. Due to her own mixed heritage, Alexis has always had a cultural sensitivity and awareness that makes her a great asset to our team. Since joining AWA her interest in cultural exchange has only grown and we are glad to have her!

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” -Nora Roberts