Senior Staff Bios
Hans Giesecke, Executive Director
Hans Giesecke began his service as Executive Director/CEO of International House at UC-Berkeley in July 2012. His driving focus has been on making I-House students' residential experience a top highlight of their enrollment experience at Berkeley. Prior to his arrival at Cal, Hans served as President of Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, Greece where he led an "American-style" international campus with more than 2,300 pupils and students from Kindergarten through MBA.
Before serving in Greece, he was President/CEO of the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. in Indianapolis, the President's Advisor for Student Affairs at International University Bremen in Germany (now Jacobs University), President of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) in Nashville, TN, and Director of Marketing and Research with the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) in Sacramento. He earned his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Education and Human Development. His M.A. was received from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his B.A. from Williams College.
Hans enjoys many opportunities to interact with current I-House residents and the thousands of Cal alumni around the world who recall their I-House residency as one of their fondest, university-related personal memories.
Bonnie Johnston, Assistant to the Executive Director
Bonnie Johnston has worked in a variety of administrative capacities in the non-profit sector for over 25 years. She joined International House in July 2013, having previously worked at several nearby institutions. Bonnie and her family have resided in Berkeley since 1991. She most recently was Executive Administrator to the Office of the President at San Francisco Theological Seminary in Marin County for nearly four years, managing the office, supporting the president, planning events, staffing two Board committees and serving as the primary liaison to the 36-member Board of Trustees.
Previously, Bonnie worked as assistant to the president, development associate, designer and volunteer coordinator at New College for Advanced Christian Studies in Berkeley. After the institution changed direction and reduced in size, she worked for 16 years at one of the Affiliate Centers of the Graduate Theological Union, the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) in progressively responsible roles. As Administrative and Communications Director at CTNS, she oversaw development, membership, finances and corporate work of the center, enlarged and expanded the communications and public relations work and supported the Board of Directors. She refers to herself as a "Jane of all trades."
Bonnie is pleased to be working at International House to help advance its mission of peace, harmony, tolerance, and mutual respect. She looks forward to engaging with the Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and residents, and partnering with various university departments on the Gateway Fellowship Program and other initiatives managed by the Executive Office.
Administrative Services and Human Resources
Deborah Preston, Director of Administrative Services
Deborah joined I-House in March 2014 as the Human Resources/ Labor and Employee Relations Manager. Deborah has a wide-ranging background in the human resources field, having worked in several related capacities over the last 25 years. She is primarily responsible for overall management and guidance of I-House human resource functions, including the recruitment and hiring process for all positions within I-House, resolving complex staff relations matters, evaluating and administering the various policies and procedures, labor relations, payroll, benefits, training and development, as well as formulating strategies and initiatives to enhance the overall I-House experience for our residents and other guests.
Deborah received her B.S. degree in Business Management from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. Her previous professional experience include working as the Assistant Director of Human Resources for Contra Costa County, with an employee population of approximately 9,000 staff members, and a 21-year career at the Port of Oakland where she served as the Human Resources Manager and Labor Relations Supervisor.
Admissions and Resident Support Services (RSS)
Roxanne Pifer, Director of Admissions and Housing Operations
Roxanne Pifer joined the International House team in 2017 and served in both Admissions and Resident Support Services roles prior to taking her role as the Director of Admissions and Housing Operations. As I-House's Director of Admissions, Roxanne has management oversight of Admissions, Resident Support Services and Financial Aid.
Roxanne has over 10 years of experience in student affairs and has a passion for working with residents in such a rich diverse setting. Her previous professional experience includes working as the Resident Support Services Manager and Assistant Director of Admissions at International House and previously serving as the Graduate Student Affairs Officer in the College of Natural Resources here at the Cal campus. Roxanne is thrilled help to International House advance its mission of peace, harmony, tolerance, and mutual respect.
Alumni Relations, Communications, and Philanthropy
Bill Howley, Director of Philanthropy
Bill Howley joined I-House in January 2019 as Director of Philanthropy, leading a professional team responsible for Development, Communications, and Alumni Relations. I-House relies on philanthropic support from Alumni, Foundations, Corporate Sponsors and Friends to provide room and board scholarships for students with financial need, to preserve our historic home, to expand and strengthen program offerings, and to position for the future.
Bill’s career experiences have been closely aligned with International House’s mission to foster intercultural respect, understanding, lifelong friendships, and leadership skills to promote a more tolerant and peaceful world. He has over thirty years of experience working to improve livelihoods, restore natural resources, and promote social equity.
Bill led the creation of the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Scholars Program, and served as a senior team member of Winrock International. There, he was responsible for the mentorship and leadership of a 300+ person global team applying sound science, philanthropic values, and market principles to society’s most pressing issues. Bill was Chief Development Officer for the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, and other previous positions include international leadership for Siemens Solar, ARCO Solar, and technical advisory services for World Bank and International Finance Corporation among others.
Bill received his undergraduate degree in Human Biology with Honors from Stanford University and his MBA from the University of California at Los Angeles. Bill participates in and supports creative pursuits in art, music, literature, and drama, and is especially fond of the lively dining, artistic, and cultural life of I-House.
Business and Finance
Bill Gong, Director of Business and Finance
Bill joined I-House in September 2017 as Director of Finance and Business. Bill has over 30 years of not-for-profit financial management experience. He has worked for a variety of not-for-profit organizations, from small to large, from social services to educational and technology-focused organizations.
His responsibilities at I-House is primarily to ensure the financial health of I-House. He oversees the accounting, financial management, and IT functions and services at I-House.
Cedric Martin, Director of Hospitality Services
Cedric brings over 16 years of experience in leadership roles within complex operations, supervising diverse teams and managing challenging programs and assignments. In the last nine years, he has been leading large teams within the UC Riverside Dining Department. He is most passionate about building strong relationships with his team members, partner departments and constituent organizations. He is focused on getting results and brings a positive attitude with him to work every day.
Mark Cassettari, Director of Physical Operations
Mark Cassettari started his career at International House in November 1990 as part of the International House Maintenance staff. He is a second-generation Cal Berkeley staff member. Mark was promoted to Assistant Director of Facilities in 2012, and is currently the Director of Physical Operations. Mark enjoys playing the ukulele and riding his motorcycle.
Valerie Ong, Resident Engagement Manager
Having been an international student from Malaysia to the United States, Valerie is so excited to be working with the I-House community, which she just joined in April 2019. She brings eight years of experience in student affairs, specifically creating and running innovative programs at Stanford University and the University of San Francisco. Valerie also has international work experience with the Institute of Shipboard Education and Stanford undergraduate admissions. She has an M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Robertson Center for Intercultural Leadership
Jason Patent, Director of the Robertson Center for Intercultural Leadership (CIL)
Jason Patent, Ph.D., Director of the Robertson Center for Intercultural Leadership (CIL), is responsible for building International House’s existing training programs and expanding them to meet the needs of increasing numbers of International House residents, UC Berkeley campus units, higher education institutions, corporations, and non-profit organizations. With decades of experience in training and facilitation, Jason delivers high-quality intercultural consulting and training to individuals and teams across a variety of sectors.
Jason has served as American co-director of the Hopkins–Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China; inaugural director of the Stanford Program in Beijing; training consultant at Gap International, Cartus, ITAP International, IOR Associates, Dean Foster Associates; and vice president, communications & marketing at Orchestrall, Inc. Fluent in Mandarin, Jason has a B.A. in East Asian studies from Harvard, an M.A. in the same field from Stanford, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in linguistics from UC Berkeley.Contact Jason: