Meet the Au Pair International Family!
Our staff is dedicated to the needs of all participants in the au pair program, from the application process through the end of the term. We offer close, personal support to ensure that everyone involved has a rewarding and educational experience with Au Pair International. Our staff is family-orientated and we are focused on maintaining a comfortable and engaging environment for both au pairs and host families. Our staff is equipped to answer any questions you may have on the program, as many of them have either hosted an exchange participant, or been an exchange participant themselves. Below you have a chance to learn more about our team, and all the ways we can help you find the right fit for you or your family!
As placement coordinators, we assist host families in matching with an au pair! We can assist in answering any questions you may have regarding the au pair program, or help with the application process. We will work with you every step of the way until you match with the right au pair for your family!
Abbe Marin - Placement Coordinator
Working at Au Pair International has been such a great experience for me. As an Area Director in my local community and also a Placement Coordinator, it is so gratifying to work for a company that genuinely cares for each and every program participant. I love the au pair program because it provides the security of childcare in your own home with the experience of getting to know other cultures. We are opening another avenue for parents to get the help they need, while providing au pairs with the opportunity to travel without the large cost!
I believe it is incredibly important to help those in need whether it be through monetary donations, or simply giving of my time. I have spent much of my time volunteering for several organizations including the MS Foundation, Red Cross, and many domestic violence shelters.
When out of the office, my family and I love to support local and national musical talent. We attend as many concerts throughout the year as time allows and incorporate our children into daily dance parties at home. In addition, we spend all our Sundays from August through February watching football games on TV and attending games in person. I also enjoy softball and spend as much time as I can with my husband and our two children. I love to travel, and hope to someday visit Jamaica, Australia, and several countries in Asia.
Dawn Esselstrom - Placement Coordinator
Working at Au Pair International has been one of the most rewarding jobs in my career. As a Placement Coordinator, I assist families from the point of inquiry, through the application and interview process, and until a match is reached. I love working with each individual family to find the best au pair match for their unique situation. I find it so fulfilling to hear stories from families about how much their au pair contributes to their home - by introducing new cultural traditions, adding language skills, and being a friend for life. I have a passion for helping others and enjoy working with both host families and au pairs to develop a fulfilling partnership.
Prior to Au Pair International, I worked in education for 12 years running student education programs at the university and elementary school levels. My personal education includes a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Public Administration.
I have a passion for learning about other cultures and have been fortunate enough to travel to 23 countries and have lived abroad twice. At home, I love spending my free time outdoors with family and friends. You’ll frequently find me hiking on a trail, camping with my family, gardening in my yard, or taking pictures of a gorgeous landscape.
Pam Vale Branch - Placement Coordinator
As part of the Placement Coordinator team, my goal is to help host families and au pairs have an amazing program experience. I am extremely passionate about cultural exchange and love the idea of helping families find someone special to welcome into their home and care for their children.
I have been married for 21 years and have 3 beautiful children of my own, with our youngest a freshman at ASU. Traveling as a family and learning about other cultures has always been a passion and priority for us and we love to explore and find unusual or historical places to visit.
In addition to traveling with my family, I also enjoy doing an array of creative projects to include sewing, making costumes, cosplay, knitting, and home decor projects. I am also dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle and love to experiment with new plant-based, vegetarian and vegan recipes.
Prior to becoming a Placement Coordinator, I received a degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, California. I have over 30 years’ experience as a decorative artist and creative instructor and love to express my creativity with surface design, art licensing and illustration. I also use my art to “give back” on a regular basis by donating artwork, creating special projects and volunteering my time to a wide variety of organizations.
If you have any questions about becoming a host family, or our application process, I would be happy to help!
Stephanie Gallegos - Placement and Support Coordinator
I am the Placement and Support Coordinator for Au Pair International and adore my role! Not only do I help ensure great matches are made between host family and au pair, but I also support au pairs after arrival to the United States. I thoroughly enjoy introducing participants to the API culture through the fabulous destination trips we offer and also assist au pairs during important program decisions. If you are an au pair who enjoyed your initial year in the program, I would love to give you guidance on extending your stay for an additional 6, 9 or 12 months!
Cultural exchange is special to me because my family has hosted several exchange participants over the years, opening our hearts and home to young people from around the world. It has helped open our minds to other cultures and introduced my young daughter to beautiful new languages, foods and traditions.
Personally, I enjoy spending quality time with my family, traveling, hiking, swimming and reading. While some of my favorite places to visit in the United States include Sedona, Washington DC, and Catalina Island, I look forward to discovering international travel favorites in the near future!
Family is extremely important to me, and that's why I'm so passionate about the au pair program. Au Pair International is where I belong!
As your Regional Director, I oversee my region by hiring/training Area Directors, as well as working with Host Families and Au Pairs as they are matched throughout the area. I handle some regulatory requirements and am the best point of contact for Area Directors, host families, and au pairs. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have!
Kristin Lublinsky - Eastern Regional Director
|DC||Maryland||New Jersey||Rhode Island||Virginia|
I love working for Au Pair International because I love to meet girls from all different cultures and backgrounds. It is so awesome to be a part of their experience in this program! I find great joy in knowing that I have made a difference in someone else’s life, whether it’s great or small! I have hosted 2 Au pairs who we still keep in touch with. We loved each very different culture and what it bought into our lives and the lives of our children.
I truly enjoy working with our awesome team at Au Pair International! We care for each other which in turn helps us to support each and every family and au pair that we form a relationship with. I strive to provide the best customer service to our clients. It is a very unique experience to welcome a stranger into your home and have them integrate into a member of the family. It is gratifying to see the relationship that develops between a host family and their au pair.
In my personal time, I love keeping busy with my husband of 10 years, our 3 children, and 2 puppies. My children are very involved in sports and Boy Scouts. I enjoy giving back to my community through volunteer work especially with the PTA, Boy Scouts, and previously Girl Scouts. I love being outdoors-hiking, biking, and running. I also love to travel and do so any opportunity that I have.
Ilka Gunderson - Central Regional Director
I am the Central Regional Director for Au Pair International and responsible for families and au pairs as soon as the matching process has been completed. I make sure you are in good hands with your area director and all your questions are being answered.
I have been working as a Regional Director for Au Pair International since June 2015, after having been an Area Director for 2.5 years. I love being part of this great company with its dedicated, competent staff. We are very family oriented which helps me juggle my family life next to my job. Having been an au pair myself, having hosted several au pairs, and having been an Area Director helps me tremendously to relate to some of the problems that can come up during a match. My previous experience gives me first- hand experience that I can use to help you and relate to some of the challenges that can come up during the program.
I was born and raised in Germany where I obtained a law degree which took me to a job in India working for the Indo German Chamber of Commerce. There I met my husband of 10 years who is an American citizen. Since then we spent some time living in the Middle East, before moving back to the United States in 2012. I have two beautiful children, my daughter who is 9 was diagnosed with autism at 2.5 years old and is basically non-verbal. This helps me particularly appreciate the patience and dedication of the au pairs we have had with our family. They have all been awesome with my daughter and my now 7-year-old son who grows up bilingual. I can say for certain that there is never a dull day in our life’s and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Natasha Seth - Western Regional Director
I love the au pair program because it helps au pairs experience a different country and culture, while also becoming an integral part of their host family's life. Not only do au pairs make a lifetime of memories, but host families and their children form an unwavering bond with them! Working with Au Pair International is such a rewarding experience! We have a wonderful team and we all really love what we do. Every day is a chance to make this program a great experience for all our host families and au pairs. I have had the privilege and pleasure of being a confidant and support to my host families, au pairs and area directors.
When I was 24, I got married to the love of my life and moved to the U.S. from India. Moving to a different country was a life-changing experience and it fueled my passion for traveling and experiencing different cultures and traditions from all over the world. Since then I have visited 35 out of the 50 states in the U.S., and my family and I take International trips every year. We have been lucky to visit and experience some of the most beautiful places in the world like Bali, Argentina, Costa Rica, Mauritius and many more. When I’m not working I love to read (a lot), dance, and spend time with my wonderful husband of 12 years, and our two beautiful children. We also have an amazing dog that keeps us on our toes!
I have a dual MBA in Human Resources and Marketing, and am incredibly passionate about education and volunteering. My husband and I share a desire for helping as many people as we can. For the past 11 years, we have volunteered for a program called Minds Matter, which helps high-achieving, low-income kids get into college.
Kate Jelen - Mountain Regional Director
|Colorado||Montana||New Mexico||South Dakota||Wyoming|
I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of the API team as Mountain Regional Director! I love having the opportunity to help host families and au pairs engage in this truly life-changing experience. My goal is to facilitate cultural exchange and ensure our program participants have a wonderful, enriching experience. It is so rewarding to work with such a caring, knowledgeable team and support our fantastic families and au pairs!
I have been married for 10 years to my college sweetheart and have 3 amazing children. Family time is very important to me and we like to participate in sports and school activities, play games, swim and visit relatives. We love our dog and our small flock of backyard chickens! I love reading, baking, singing, and traveling when I get the opportunity. I also enjoy grabbing the occasional dinner and drinks with friends. I am blessed to have spent a summer in college studying abroad in Paris and toured Europe twice with my church chorale singing in many of its stunning cathedrals.
Prior to becoming a Regional Director at API, I received dual degrees in Psychology and Sociology from Barrett, The Honors College at ASU, then earned a Juris Doctorate from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. I spent some time as In-House Counsel and HR Manager at a small technology company before taking several years off to stay at home with my children.
Jelena Estrada - Au Pair Coordinator for U.S. Candidates
My adventure with Au Pair International began as an au pair participant in 2015 where I spent two beautiful years with the most wonderful host family. Being an au pair absolutely changed my life and helped me fall in love with this amazing cultural exchange program. In 2017 I accepted the position of Denver Area Director which has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am now blessed to help prepare candidates from the U.S. and Canada to begin their own au pair experiences around the world. I love this program because it allows children to have exposure to another language and culture. It also gives the au pair the opportunity to grow as a person all while experiencing another country. Every day I am grateful to be a part of an amazing agency that changes lives by bringing together people from different parts of the world to become family. Behind Au Pair International is an amazing team of wonder-women that make everything happen. Everyone here truly loves what they do and it is amazing to work in such a positive environment.
I am originally from Serbia and I married my soul mate two years ago. Together, we started an eco-friendly business and are supporting organizations that help refugees around the world. We’ve traveled the Balkans, as well as most of the United States, and are planning to see as much of the world as we can. In my free time I love to read, dance, hike, do yoga and exercise. I also enjoy being around positive people and those that I love.
Before working for API I studied early childhood education in Serbia, and worked as a preschool teacher.
Michelle Jones - Director of Compliance
As the Director of Compliance, I am lucky enough to work with our partners, host families and au pairs to ensure that all participant data and documentation is complete and meets U.S. Department of State regulations. I also issue visa paperwork and process program extensions for those au pairs wishing to stay in the U.S. longer than one year. I have been a member of the Au Pair International team since March of 2013. It has been exciting to see this unique program grow with the teamwork of truly dedicated employees. Each match between a family and an au pair becomes its own story and invaluable cross-cultural experience for all involved.
Before working with API, my background included working in childcare enrichment programs, administrative assistance and data managment. I studied Secondary Education, English Literature and Religion in Denver, Colorado.
I am fortunate to have a family with my husband of over 20 years. We have two amazing children that keep us very busy. We enjoy watching our daughter compete in soccer, softball and basketball, and watching our son play basketball and excel in martial arts. I have been a parent volunteer at my kids' school and have been managing my daughter's soccer team for several years. When I'm not working or watching my children play sports, I enjoy watching movies or professional sports, reading, taking walks, cooking and being outdoors. Besides visiting many of the 50 United States, I have traveled to Germany, Canada and Mexico. I hope to visit as many states and countries as time allows.
Joey Phelps - Operations Coordinator
As the Operations Coordinator for Au Pair International, I enter new au pair candidates into our database so that they can start the process of being matched with one of our host families. I also process completed forms for both au pairs and host families, as well as other data entry.
Before working with the amazing team at Au Pair International, I spent years in advertising, a short time working for a friend running the front office at her dental practice, and then a lucky stay at home mom. Now that my children are all in school I am so happy to now work for Au Pair International. I truly feel lucky to become a member of this work family. The team of employees is amazing. Everyone cares for each other and the success of this program. On a daily basis, I am impressed as to what this program brings to so many young adult lives; as well as, families! The cultural experience is one I wish everyone could experience.
When I’m not working I am very busy with my family. I have been happily married for 20 years to my wonderful husband and we have three amazing kids; two daughters and a son. I enjoy anything related to the ocean, movies, visiting with friends and family, and celebrating the holidays. Between school, softball, golf, family, friends, and day-to-day operations, the Phelps love our relaxing family movie nights!
Paula Adams - Director of Marketing and Records/Data Protection Officer
I have been blessed to work at Au Pair International since 2008, holding numerous positions within the company to include Area Director, Regional Director and now Marketing Manager and DPO. As the go-to technology person here at API, I handle everything related to our database, website and marketing efforts. Working with our team of developers I am also continuously brainstorming new ways to improve and streamline the application process for all participants. Well-versed in the au pair program in all aspects, I take great pleasure in ensuring our au pairs and host families have a great experience from start to finish!
When not tackling the latest marketing campaign or website development, I love to experience the great outdoors and enjoy hiking, horseback riding, camping and fishing. My husband of 17 years has been my biggest cheerleader since we met during undergrad. Together, we now have three beautiful girls who never cease to astound us with their altruistic spirits and unique personalities. They are truly our greatest accomplishments!
I hold degrees in Marketing and Information Systems and push myself to learn new skills on a daily basis. The Au Pair Program has been my passion for the past 11 years and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. My hope is to help as many people as possible discover this amazing cultural exchange opportunity!
Joanna Gorry - Engagement and Logistics Manager
As Engagement and Logistics Manager, my goal is to help host families and au pairs have a fulfilling term and to constantly work toward improving the program experience for all participants. As a 20-year-old, I spent three months as an au pair in Spain. While I didn't have the most wonderful program experience, I made the decision to pursue more cultural exchange opportunities and became an au pair in America. I was lucky enough to spend two awesome years with my host family in Florida and relish the opportunity to help other young people have the same wonderful experience.
My wonderful husband and I have been married since 2011, and now have 3 beautiful children. A five-year-old daughter and baby twins! When they grow up I hope they will seize the opportunity to travel the world, immerse themselves in every culture they come across or even become an au pair. My children are learning from a young age that the world is a big place waiting for them to explore when they get old enough, but they can only do that if they help to take care of it now. In my spare time, I pursue my passion for holistic living by making homemade personal and household products. I value the importance of natural living, clean eating, and adore essential oils!
Before taking on the role of Engagement and Logistics Manager for API, I was also a Placement Coordinator and former Area Director. I have enjoyed being able to experience the program from lots of different perspectives. I have an Associate’s Degree in Salon Management and lots of experience working directly with host families and au pairs.
Katrina Vanderhulst - Executive Vice President
I started with Au Pair International in 2010 as an Area Director for the San Francisco area. From there, I moved to the position of International Coordinator, working with our overseas offices that recruit and screen our candidates for the au pair program. My responsibilities increased over the years to include travel scheduling, overseeing billing, managing our outbound program and so many more tasks! In 2016, I was promoted to Executive Vice President. As the VP, I have the fantastic opportunity to meet with our overseas’ offices, meet with American au pairs abroad, interact with both au pairs and host families before and after the program, and plan exciting state-side trips for all the visiting au pairs.
My interest in cultural exchange programs began when I was in high school. Back then, my family hosted and befriended several exchange students and it had a lasting impression on my life, becoming great friends to this day. Since I started with API, my family has hosted 4 au pairs (both successfully and unsuccessfully). Each experience has been a learning process and I love having the opportunity to expose my children to other cultures.
I’m married with 2 wonderful children, both with varying abilities who keep me busy and fulfilled. Any free time I have after managing kids, work and travel is spent watching my favorite teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors. My favorite part of my position with API is being able to pursue my love of travel. I have been fortunate enough to travel to 5 continents and look forward to visiting my 6th very soon!
For me, the best part about working for API is having the opportunity to meet and engage with our participants, which allows me to improve our program in order provide excellent service API provides to our au pairs and host families.