Meet the Staff
CYA staff are always available to offer an outstanding level of support and encouragement to each student, from first contact to delivery of final transcripts. Counselors and advisors are on hand to both help students with problems and organize engaging extra-curricular activities. All staff have an open-door policy and take pride in living up to the Greek tradition of hospitality.
Alexis Phylactopoulos is responsible for the overall direction, operation, and development of the International Center for Hellenic and Mediterranean Studies (DIKEMES) and College Year in Athens. Mr. Phylactopoulos (Mr. Phyl) earned his first degree from the Law School of the University of Athens and his post-graduate degrees from Princeton University (The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs), and the University of Cambridge (Wolfson College). In his professional career, he first served as a diplomat for the Greek government in Washington, D.C. (1976–1981), where he directed the Greek Embassy’s Press and Information Service. He subsequently served in the same capacity in Mexico City (1981–1984). Upon returning to Athens, he served as Director of External Relations at the Federation of Greek Industries. He assumed the Directorship of College Year in Athens in 1986.
Assistant to the PresidentElina studied Mass Media and Communication at the National University of Athens and at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, where she received an M.A. in Communication.
She has worked in publications and electronic media since 1998. In her most recent job she was the Editorial Coordinator of the Greek Edition of National Geographic. Elina joined CYA in 2016.
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Theoni Scourta was born in Patras, Greece. She is an art historian with research interest in contemporary art. She received an M.A. from California State University, Los Angeles in Art History and another M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Indianapolis. She has taught for more than 25 years both in the US and in Greece. She served as advisor to the head of the Greek EPP-ED delegation to European Parliament in Brussels for 5 years, after which she returned to Athens to head the academic department of AKTO Art & Design College. She joined the CYA administration in spring 2013.
Maria Tshahas was born in Ikaria, Greece but grew up in Northwest Indiana. She received an MS Ed from Indiana University Northwest. She taught in the US before moving back to Greece in 1999 and started working at the University of Indianapolis, Athens Campus as an Admissions Officer and Registrar. She joined CYA in 2014.
Georgia Katsarou joined CYA in 2006 and is responsible for all library activities. She received her B.S. in Librarianship in 2001 from the Technological Educational Institute of Athens and her M.S. in 2005 from the University of Aberystwyth. In 2015 she was trained on Managing Archival Photographs through distance learning by the Archives Association of British Columbia.
Academic AdvisorDemetrios Kritsotakis earned his MA at the Ohio State University in the field of Classical Languages. He also holds a PhD in Roman History from the same institution. He also audited Professor Philippe Gauthier’s classes in Ancient Greek Epigraphy at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris and attended a seminar on Greek Paleography at the University of Oxford. He excavated in Crete with the Greek Archaeological Service and the University of Crete.
Vice President for Administration
Peggy Myresiotou was born in Athens. After studying business administration and travel & tourism, she worked as an accredited travel agent in New York City for 15 years. Returning to Greece in 1991, she served as Human Resources assistant for a U.S. multinational corporation and subsequently as assistant to the managing director of a Greek bank. Ms. Myresiotou joined CYA in November 2003.
Front Desk CoordinatorKristallia Sarlani studied Law at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Contrary to expectations, she chose the hospitality industry. She first worked as a food server and soon became a café manager and remained within the service industry for years. She later worked as a hotel back office and front office manager at various hotels for 5 years and comprehended the difference between service and hospitality. Kristallia joined CYA in 2020.
Staff Assistant - Safety & Security
Alexander holds a BA in Sociology from the American College of Greece (Deree) and an MA in International Human Recourses from the University of Northampton, UK. Alex has worked with CYA through the years, starting as a part-timer while he was still a student. He has worked for multinationals and at the U.S. Embassy in Athens in various clerical & administrative positions and he has volunteered at the municipality level on educational projects for K-12 students of underprivileged families.
Alex’s current duties at CYA involve emergency communications, safety and security. He is also one of the field study group leaders.
Staff Assistant - Student RecordsAnthi Papageorgiou studied Mass Media and Communication at the National University of Athens. She worked for several years in polling companies as administrative assistant and as an editor of various news websites.
Anthi joined CYA in 2013 and has worked in various positions of the organization. She is currently assisting the Registrar, and is responsible for student records. Her responsibilities include the creation and update of physical and digital academic records, and the generation of academic timetables, schedules, and reports. She also participates regularly in the field study trips as a group leader.
Staff Assistant - Library
Yiota Vouzna studied Photography and Video Arts in Athens. She enjoys a challenge, a trait evident in her print, advertising, web and publishing work which spans 21 years. She lived in London for three years where she worked for asos.com as a Catwalk Video Producer, Stills Photographer, and Image Editor. Yiota cooperates with G Design Studio, an award winning design consultancy based in Athens, specializing in commercial photography. She also has substantial experience working for Metadrasi, supervising refugee reception and accommodation in hospitals. An additional aspect of her work has to do with training hospital staff in teleconferencing. She has been a member of the Choir of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) since 2013.
Yiota joined CYA in 2010 where she works as an assistant librarian and a field study group leader.
Erica Huffman (CYA '93)
Director of Alumni Relations
Erica Huffman (CYA ’93) is a native of Portland, OR, and graduated from Whitman College in 1995 with a degree in History. She has traveled to Australia, Fiji, American Samoa, Turkey, throughout Europe and the former USSR and has lived abroad in New Zealand, Guatemala, and Athens. She joined CYA staff in Athens in 1997 and later transferred to the North American Office where she has held several positions. Currently she is Director of Alumni Relations and is responsible for the Class Agent Program, updating and tracking alumni information, the alumni newsletter THE OWL, reaching out to alumni and organizing alumni events.
Development OfficerVassilis Simopoulos was born and raised in Athens, Greece, but holds dual citizenship in Greece and the United States. He received a BA degree in Communication from the University of Southern California and a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Government from Harvard University. His professional interests focused in various service and non-profit organizations in the public as well as in the private sector when he served in the Hellenic Government first as a Special Advisor to the Secretary-General for Lifelong Learning and afterward as Head of Communications at the General Secretariat for Youth. In 2015 he returned to the private sector where he served as Project Manager for the non-profits Lascaris foundation and HOPEgenesis NPO.
Digital DesignerSpiros was born and raised in Corfu, Greece. He holds advanced degrees in Graphic Design and Illustration from Middlesex University and AKTO Art and Design College. Spiros joined CYA as an award-winning digital designer with over 20 years of experience in the field. His many skills include web design, logo creation, advertisement development, and both industrial and fashion design.
Social Media Coordinator
Sofia Stavropoulou was born in Greece and studied Painting and Printmaking in Scotland, at the Glasgow School of Art. Sofia coordinates CYA’s social media outlets. As a part of the CYA MediaLab team, she is interested in sharing all the fantastic things that happen at CYA.
Educational Travel & Short-Term Programs
Short Term Programs Manager
Vasso Matrakouka was born and raised in Athens. She studied Travel and Tourism Management in the School of Tourism in Anavyssos, Greece. She also holds a B.A. in Human Communication from the University of Indianapolis Athens Campus. After working for several years in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry in Greece and Europe, Vasso joined CYA in 2011 where she is managing the Short Term Programs Department coordinating field study, summer courses as well as faculty led programs.
Short Term Programs CoordinatorVassilis was born in New York, USA, and holds a degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management from the Technological Institute of Thessaloniki. He has experience in the travel and tourism industry working for tour operators and hotels. Before joining CYA in 2015 he worked for Delice Hotel Apartments where he held the position of reservations executive for 10 years.
Short-Term Project AdministratorEvgenia Ghizas was born in Germany and grew up in Toronto, Canada where she studied environmental geography. She worked many years in the finance area of a major Canadian bank before returning to Greece in 1991. While in Greece, she worked in finance and her last position before joining CYA in 2015 was Controller and Bursar at the Athens Campus of the University of Indianapolis.
Maria Malliou joined the DIKEMES/CYA family in 1995 as an accountant and currently deals with financial affairs. She was born in Stuttgart, Germany, where she lived before her family moved to Athens. Ms. Malliou has a B.A. in Accounting from the Pireaus Technical Institute and an MA in Banking from Hellenic Open University.
Housing / Food
Director of Housing and Catering
Popi Baloglu supervises the dining room and is responsible for the general maintenance of the CYA apartments. A Greek who was born in Istanbul, Ms. Baloglu also lived in South Africa and the United States. She studied engineering drafting and worked as a draftsman for eight years. She came to Greece and joined CYA in 1988.
Housing & Catering Assistant
Director of Strategic Planning
Popi Triantafyllidou was born in Athens. She received her B.S. in Business Administration specializing in Management and Computer Programming. She joined College Year in Athens / DIKEMES in 2011, with over 20 years of experience in multinational environments.
Executive Director of Student Affairs
Nadia Meliniotis is in charge of Student Affairs. After completing the German High School in Athens, she attended Wilkes University in Pennsylvania and earned a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations. She received her Master’s Degree at La Verne University (Athens branch) in Counseling Education/Education–Special Emphasis. Mrs. Meliniotis joined CYA in 1989 and deals with students’ welfare, concentrating on the interpersonal, social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, recreational, and health aspects.
Jennifer Holland (CYA '99)
Student Affairs Advisor
Jennifer Holland assists students at the front desk and organizes students` social activities and events. Born in New York, she is a CYA alumna. Ms. Holland joined the staff in 1999 and now lives in Athens with her daughter Anais. She is currently working on a Masters in counseling.
North American Office
Institutional Relations ManagerAlexia Lingaas is a strong advocate for international education and studying abroad. While pursuing her Bachelor’s in International Affairs at Northeastern University, Alexia had the opportunity to study abroad in Greece, Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Morocco. Following her abroad experiences, Alexia pursued her Masters in International Higher Education also at Northeastern. She joined CYA in 2016 and is responsible for CYA’s outreach efforts at US Colleges and Universities.
Rachael Bittick (CYA Fall '17)
Student AdvisorRachael Bittick joined the CYA North American team in May 2021. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, she dove head first into exploring Student Affairs within the field of Higher Education. As an enthusiastic and passionate Fall '17 alumna, she proudly represented CYA as a Campus Representative during our Fall 2019 fair season. She is thrilled to be back in the CYA family and is looking forward to working with students as they prepare to embark on their study abroad adventure!
Cheyenne Paulson (CYA Summer '15)
Student and Campus Relations Coordinator
Cheyenne Paulson is a proud CYA alumna and joined the CYA team in January 2020 after completing her Master’s degree in International Education from New York University. Within her degree, she focused on study abroad management and she is especially interested in pre-departure preparation, accessibility, and inclusivity within study abroad. She was a student at CYA during Summer 2015 while completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan where she studied Classical Archeology and Art History. Cheyenne has returned to Greece several times since studying abroad, and is excited to share her love of Greece and its culture with future CYA students!