Board of Trustees

The American College of Sofia (ACS) is operated and funded by Sofia American Schools, Inc. (SAS), a non-profit, educational corporation chartered in 1926 in the United States by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As such, SAS is exempt from income taxes in the United States and contributions to it are tax deductible in the United States.

SAS was created for the sole purpose of providing education for Bulgarian youth. When it became impossible in the late 1940s for an American institution to function in Bulgaria, SAS obtained permission from the courts to spend the income from its endowment on education in non-Communist countries near Bulgaria, primarily Greece and Turkey. It returned to Bulgaria when conditions permitted and its sole function now is operating the American College of Sofia.

SAS is composed of members and trustees (who are also members). Members meet annually to hear reports and to elect members to three-year terms and trustees to one-year terms. Under its bylaws, all operating powers rest with the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees holds two regular meetings each year, one in the United States and one in Sofia, along with whatever special meetings are necessary. Its Executive Committee is empowered to act for the corporation between Board meetings.

Since the reopening of the College in 1992, the Board of Trustees has been chaired by Robert C. Hubbard, James E. Clayton, William J. Williams, Jr., and, currently, Roger Whitaker. Neither members of the corporation nor trustees receive any compensation for their services nor are they reimbursed for the costs of attending corporation or Board meetings. 

SAS has no office or employees in the United States. Its administrative work is contracted out to Educational Group Services, Inc., of Princeton, N. J., which does similar work for other American schools including Robert College and the American University in Beirut.

Meet the Trustees

Roger Whitaker

Trustee since 1990
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Boston University

  • University Professor, The George Washington University

Dr. Whitaker was the founding President of the College when it reopened in 1992 and has served as Trustee since 1990. Currently he is Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Jonathan B. Clayton

Trustee since 2008
  • Juris Doctor, University of Virginia

  • Master of Business Administration, University of Texas

  • Practice Manager, McKinsey & Company

Mr. Clayton has a long-term connection to the school and brings a valuable practical problem-solving perspective to the Board.

Christina K. Black

Тrustee since 2011
  • Master of Business Administration, New York University

  • Budget Director in the Office of Management and Budget at Columbia University, New York City

Ms. Black’s grandfather, Floyd Black, was President of ACS (1926-1942). Her father and mother both served on the ACS Board of Trustees. She joined the Board in 2011.

Avis T. Bohlen

Trustee since 2002
  • Bachelor of Arts, Radcliffe, Harvard (1961)

  • Master of Arts, Columbia University (1964)

  • Retired, former US diplomat

As a US Ambassador to Bulgaria (1996-1999), Ms. Bohlen was able to resolve some major issues with the Bulgarian government. After Ms. Bohlen retired, she was asked to join the ACS Board.

KAREN COLLIAS

Trustee since 2018
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Columbia University, in Comparative Politics and Education

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Minnesota, History

  • Independent Consultant and Founder, Knowledge Without Borders Fund for educational philanthropy

Karen has a background in comparative politics with a focus on Eastern Europe and Russia. She is dedicated to improving socio-economic diversity in education through community engagement and philanthropy, and hopes to make a contribution to the exciting future of the American College of Sofia as a center of learning and leadership among young Bulgarians.

Ann Ferren

Trustee since 2010
  • Bachelor of Arts, Radcliffe College

  • Master of Arts in Teaching, Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • Doctor of Education, Boston University, School of Education

  • 30 years as higher education administrator at American University, Washington, D.C.; Radford University in Virginia; recently retired from the American University in Bulgaria

Ms. Ferren is committed to quality education and spent five years in Bulgaria during which AUBG admitted many students from ACS.

Nellie Gencheva-Gipson

Trustee since 2004
  • Master of Arts, New York University

  • Volunteer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Ms. Gipson joined the staff of the College for the second year of operation in 1993. She has a strong belief in education and its major effect on building a civil and democratic society.

Valentin Georgiev

Trustee since 2011
  • Master of Laws, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski

  • Pew Economic Freedom Fellow Program, Georgetown University

  • Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria; over 15 years of experience in the private sector as attorney at law and in the civil service as general secretary of the Bulgarian Parliament (1997-2001) and general secretary of the Central Election Committee, Bulgaria

Mr. Georgiev is committed to high quality education as he sees it as the basis for social prosperity, economic growth, creativity, innovation, and business competitiveness. His daughter graduated from the College in 2011.

Theodora Konetsovska

Trustee since 2012
  • Bachelor of Arts, Political Science & Economics, Williams College

  • Budget Director, Harvard University

Theodora is an alumna of the Class of 1997, the first graduating class after ACS’ reopening.

Nedko Kyuchukov

Trustee since 2013
  • Master of Business Administration (Baker Scholar - High Disctinction), Harvard Business School

  • Bachelor of Arts (Economics, Government), Dartmouth College

  • Partner, Westray Capital (hedge fund), London, UK

Alumnus of the ACS Class of 2003, Nedko helped establish the ACS Alumni Fund in 2011, and has served as the Chairman of the Alumni Fund Advisory Committee.

Donald B. Murphy

Trustee since 1975
  • Bachelor of Arts, Yale University

  • Master of Business Administration, Columbia University

  • Banker, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., New York City

Mr. Murphy has served on the Board since before the College was reopened. He maintains an interest in seeing the College succeed.

Ivo Panteleev

Trustee since 2005
  • University for Civil Engineering and Architecture, Sofia

  • Founding Partner, Architectural Design Agency Ltd. Sofia; Vice President of the Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria, and Chair of Foundation Friends Together, Sofia

Various contacts with the American College of Sofia since its reopening in 1992 have led to a deepening connection to the college and to my commitment and support of ACS in any possible fashion. Being the local architect of the new American Embassy in Sofia, I was recommended to join the Board of Trustees by US Ambassador to Bulgaria James Pardew in 2005. I also have a son and a daughter that graduated from ACS in 2004.

Evgenia Peeva

Trustee since 2011
  • Bachelor of Arts, Social Studies, Citation in Spanish, Harvard College

  • CEO at Teach For Bulgaria, a partner in the Teach For All network

Evgenia is an alumna of the ACS Class of 2004.

George Prohasky

Trustee since 2010
  • Doctor of Philosophy, International Economics, Academy of Sciences, Moscow

  • Chairman, Center for Economics Development; General Manager, Agromachina Ltd.

As a former Director of Open Society Foundation in Sofia, he was involved in the reopening of ACS after 1990. His elder son Mario is an ACS alumnus from the Class of 2001 and his other son, Slav, graduated from the College in 2014.

Marcie Ries

Trustee since 2016
  • Bachelor of Arts, Oberlin College

  • Master of International Affairs, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

  • Retired U.S. diplomat with thirty-seven years of service. International consultant specializing in Europe and leadership studies

Ms. Ries was U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria from 2012-2015. During her tenure, the U.S. and Bulgaria concluded a strategic partnership agreement incorporating cooperation in many areas. Ms. Ries is committed to continuing to deepen the bilateral relationship and to supporting quality education for Bulgarian students via service on the Board.

Sam Seymour

Trustee since 2018
  • Bachelor of Arts, History, Dartmouth College

  • Juris Doctor, Columbia Law School

  • Lawyer, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Sam has a longstanding interest in independent secondary education and has served on the boards of several educational institutions. Past partners of Sullivan & Cromwell have served on the ACS board, and this connection brought Sam to Sofia and to ACS in 2018.

Joel F. Studebaker

Trustee since 1980
  • Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, Stanford

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Chemical Physics, Harvard

  • Clinical data analyst at Janssen Pharmaceuticals/Johnson & Johnson

Mr. Studebaker’s principal interests in ACS are the science curriculum, facilities for computing, and laboratories. His original connections to the school came through Dr. Floyd H. Black, whom he met in graduate school and through his father-in-law, who taught English at ACS from 1938 to 1942.

Trayan Trayanov

Trustee since 2017
  • MPhil in Sociology, University of Cambridge

  • AB in Social Studies, Harvard College

  • Program Director, Teach For Bulgaria

Trayan graduated from the American College of Sofia in 2001. Since 2014, he has been helping organize the Student Activities Fund at ACS, which supports extracurricular student projects and initiatives with small grants and mentoring. He previously served on the Alumni Fund Advisory Committee and has been a member of the Planning & Accreditation Committee at ACS.

William J. Williams, Jr.

Trustee since 1990
  • BA, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA

  • LLB (Bachelor of Laws), New York University, School of Law

  • Lawyer, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

The relationship between partners of Sullivan & Cromwell and ACS dates back over 75 years. Mr. Williams is a former Chair of the Board. 

David Bliss Wilson

Trustee since 2014
  • Northeastern University School of Law, J.D. (1986)

  • Amherst College, B.A. (1982)

  • Partner specializing in management side employment law and litigation, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP, Boston, MA, USA

Mr. Wilson’s grandfather Howard H. Bliss taught English at ACS in the period 1938-42 and his mother attended ACS in first grade. His uncle Joel Studebaker serves on the ACS Board of Trustees.