I write to you today on behalf of American Councils’ Board of Trustees to share the news that after over 30 years of dedicated service, including the last four as President and CEO, Dr. David Patton has announced his decision to retire in 2023. The Board of Trustees has voiced its deep gratitude to David for his leadership of American Councils and the impact his service has had on tens of thousands of students, teachers, faculty, and professionals. David’s leadership, care for staff and participants, and vision have been instrumental to American Councils’ ability to build a resilient, agile, and dedicated organization that is prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.
David joined American Councils as a resident director in Moscow in 1986 while he was a graduate student at The Ohio State University. In the ensuing years, David led some of American Councils’ most important education and development projects and oversaw a complex constellation of programs ranging from the reform of national university admissions policies in Kyrgyzstan to guiding multiple presidential scholarship programs for host country governments. Over the years, David helped lead a transformation that saw the organization grow from a handful of offices in 1992 to one that now reaches participants in over 130 countries annually. Throughout his time at American Councils, David’s passion for international education, creativity, collaboration, and professionalism, as well as his deep regard for the importance of language and culture learning, has shone through.
David became President and CEO in 2019, shortly after successfully negotiating American Councils’ return to Uzbekistan following a 12-year hiatus. David then guided the organization through the most challenging period international education has experienced - the global COVID-19 pandemic. When Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in 2021, he oversaw the safe and successful evacuation of American Councils’ staff and their families to Albania. Finally, when the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine in 2022, David’s careful leadership supported staff as they were forced to make unimaginable choices in the face of a devastating war. From the emergency evacuation of thousands of participants back to their home countries at the beginning of the pandemic to transitioning in-person programs to virtual, David’s leadership and support for his team have been vital to the continuation and expansion of American Councils’ mission under the most difficult of circumstances.
From Bucharest to Jakarta, David has tirelessly championed American Councils in its mission to strengthen international ties and mutual understanding through excellence in academic, professional and cultural exchange, language acquisition, educational development, and research. David is fully committed to assisting with the transition and plans to stay engaged and serve in new ways.
The Board of Trustees will share additional information on the transition and search for the next President and CEO in the coming weeks. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I thank David for his contributions towards the mission that has touched so many people and institutions around the world.
Robert M. Rhea
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS