Board Members

Dr. Gayle Avant is a retired professor of Baylor University, where he served from 1971 to 2001, and where he also served as Director of Public Programs and Director of the Baylor in Washington Program. Dr. Dr. Avant has vast international experience, including serving in the United States Agency for International Development from 1965 to 1968. He has taught in the Philippines, Austria, Norway, and Thailand. Dr. Avant has taught and visited Yonok University and Yonok Foundation on many occasions. He is marred to professor Kay Avant who is an adjunct professor of the Nursing College of Chiang Mai University. 

Dr. John R. Eriksson is President of Global Peace Services USA since its founding in 1997 as a non-profit organization devoted to the peaceful resolution of violent conflict.  He previously spent 25 years with the U.S. Agency for International Development  (USAID) –- positions included: Deputy Director of the USAID Program in Sri Lanka; Director of the USAID Program in Thailand, 1986-1990; and Director of the Center for Development Information and Evaluation in Washington, 1990-1995.  Dr. Eriksson has been consulting for the last 18 years, in the field of development evaluation, mainly for the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank; Danida, the Danish Aid Agency; the Department of International Development (DFID – the British aid agency); and the African Development Bank.  Dr. Eriksson holds a PhD in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley; and BA and MA in Economics from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Dr. Stephen Gardner is the Herman Brown Professor of Economics and Director of the McBride Center for International Business at Baylor University. Dr. Gardner holds a B.A. in economics and Russian Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of three books, the editor of one conference volume, and has published numerous articles in academic and professional publications.  A member of the Baylor faculty since 1978, he was a recipient of the university's "Outstanding Tenured Professor" award in 1994 and its “Outstanding Professor for University Service” award in 2005. Under his leadership, Baylor has developed relationships with universities and research institutes throughout the world, and has offered business education programs in Russia and China. He is chairman of the business school curriculum committee and a member of the university faculty senate and the library dean’s advisory board.  Dr. Gardner is a member of the American Economic Association, the Association for Comparative Economic Studies, the Academy of International Business, and the American Association for Advancement of Slavic Studies, and is a Fellow of the Salzburg Seminar and Senior Research Fellow of the IC2 Institute.

Nick Jivasantikarn is a co-founder of Emerging Infrastructure Partners, an advisory firm that focuses on emerging markets.  Previously, he was at the World Bank, where he led strategic programs to provide capital to and develop capacity of governments to boost private investment in infrastructure development.  Prior to the World Bank, Mr. Jivasantikarn was a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, where he advised executives at Fortune 500 corporations as well as international public-sector organizations on strategic and operational matters.  Mr. Jivasantikarn studied at Stanford University, the Wharton School, and Johns Hopkins. 

Dr. Nirund Jivasantikarn is a leading Thai social entrepreneur and philanthropist who has dedicated his career to improving the lives of his fellow Thais through numerous pioneering initiatives in education, drawing upon his extensive network in the United States. Dr. Nirund founded the American-Thai Foundation in 1982, and later returned home to establish a sister organization, Yonok Foundation, in Thailand. The two foundations would over the decades collaborate on many educational and social-impact initiatives and programs in Thailand, including the establish of Yonok University in Lampang, where Dr. Nirund served as president from 1988 to 2006.  In his most recent undertaking, Dr. Nirund is founder and president of Teach Thailand Corps, which recruits graduates of American colleges and universities to teach in underserved schools in Thailand.  Dr. Nirund earned a diploma from the National Defense College of Thailand in 1996; a certificate in higher education from Harvard University in 2000; and a certificate in entrepreneurship education from Babson College in 2001. In 2011, Dr. Nirund was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University.  Dr. Nirund has served as Honorary Consul of Belgium from 2000 until 2015.

Gary Mazik has been a long-time supporter of American-Thai Foundation.  He served in the US Air Force from 1969 to 1973, then served for seven years at Bunge Corporation before he joined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Mr. Mazik later joined the Gallup Organization, followed by the Internal Revenue Service, where he retired in 2010.  He holds a BBA in marketing from Pace University in New York.

Paul J. McKenney of Vienna, Virginia served as Yonok University’s Director of International Affairs from 1994 to 1997.  In this capacity he helped foster and develop key international relationships including those with Okinawa International University, Babson College, and Baylor University. Additionally, he was responsible for the recruitment and staffing of the university’s English Department and served as an Assistant to the President.  He currently works as a Director in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) Market Regulation Department.  In this capacity, among other duties, he represents FINRA on a national industry-wide initiative- the Consolidated Audit Trail.   Mr. McKenney holds a B.A. in English from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland and an M.B.A. from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.   

Kirk R. Person, Ph.D. (University of Texas, Arlington) came to Thailand in 1988 as a volunteer English teacher at Yonok College—and stayed!  He currently works with SIL International, an international development organization focused on minority language issues.  He has conducted linguistic fieldwork in Thailand, Myanmar, and China (PRC), taught graduate linguistics courses at several Thai universities, represented SIL International to the Asia-Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group and the Working Group on Education 2030 (both hosted by UNESCO-Bangkok), and served on the Royal Institute of Thailand’s National Language Policy Drafting Committee.  He is an advisor to the Patani Malay-Thai Multilingual Education Programme, which received the 2016 UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize.  Recent projects include collaboration with Save the Children on a Thai-as-a-Second-Language curriculum for migrant children from neighboring countries and a book on multilingual education in Thailand’s Deep South published by UNICEF.

Dhiravud (Joe) Pumhirun, P.E., has more than 40 years of professional civil engineering and consulting experience in extensive practical engineering, construction supervision, and managerial and coordination experience in the development of mega-infrastructure projects and transportation facilities, as well as residential and commercial complexes.  In addition to design tasks, Khun Dhiravud's responsibilities have domestically and internationally included project management, marketing, strategic planning and teaming, contract administration/coordination, construction management, and overseas local office establishment for the American engineering consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) in Bangkok in 1992.  Khun Dhiravud was president of PB Asia Limited, Bangkok, Thailand, from 1992 to 1999.  He retired from the PB Office in Sacramento, CA, in 2011, as Deputy Regional Manager, CA HSR Project -- Fresno to Palmdale.  Khun Dhiravud received a BS in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University, and a MS in Urban Environmental Engineering from George Washington University.

Mary St. George has been a long-time friend of Thailand, including serving as Director of the Thai SUPPORT Foundation, under patronage of HM Queen Sirikit.  She has been active in international relations, serving has Director of UNICEF Children of the World Coin Collection; Director of UN Decade for Women Coin Programme; Deputy Director of UNICEF International Year of the Child Coin Programme; and Project Originator and Director of IUCN/World Wildlife Fund Conservation Coin Collection.  Ms. St. George holds a BA in Art History from Smith College, with a minor in Italian.

Wayne Seewald has over 30 years of senior management and leadership experience in the international petroleum industry focused on business development, mergers & acquisitions, and asset divestitures, retiring from Anadarko Petroleum in 2016 as a Senior Advisor in the Corporate Development group.  Wayne has worked in more than 40 countries across Africa, Europe, South America and Asia negotiating multiple billion-dollar transactions and agreements with host governments, national oil companies and industry partners.  In 2017, the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators presented him with the Distinguished Negotiator award.  Wayne continues to work as an independent consultant in Houston.  He was among the earliest participants of American university graduates to teach in Lampang, Thailand through Dr. Jivasantikarn in what has become the Teach Thailand Corps.  He holds a BA in English from Baylor University and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of International Management.