School Leadership


James Laney, Jr, Director

Jim joined AES in July 2017 as the school’s Director. Jim was Head of School at the International Community School of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 2010–17. Prior positions there include Middle and High School Principal (2005–08) and Deputy Director (2008–10). Jim began his career as an educator as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya followed by two years teaching math and computer science in Brooklyn, New York. His positions in international schools include the International School of Cyprus as a science and computer teacher (1989–93); Taipei American School as a teacher and Technology Director (1993–99); and the American School of Warsaw where he was Elementary Assistant Principal, Interim Finance and Facilities Director and Elementary Principal (1999–2005). Jim has a BSc in Computer Systems Engineering with an Applied Physics minor from the Oregon Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in Science Education (Physics) from Teachers College, Columbia University. He has credentials in Physical Sciences 7–12 and K–12 School Administration from New York State. Jim is also the proud father of four daughters, two of whom are on track to become international school teachers.

Johnson, Paul (1)

Paul Johnson, High School Principal / Deputy Director

Paul has 30 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in US and international schools. In addition to his role at AES, Paul served as an administrator at Saigon South International School (MS and HS Principal) and at Shanghai American School (HS Vice Principal). Prior to that he served as a math and science teacher in American Int’l School Dhaka, Rabat American School and at Albuquerque Public Schools. Paul holds a M.Ed in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University; an M.A. in Secondary Education from the University of New Mexico, and a B.S. in Earth Science & Geography from Central Michigan University.


Iftekhar Syed, High School Assistant Principal

Iftekhar has been an educator for the last sixteen years in middle and high schools in Los Angeles, California, and in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Before joining AES in July 2016, Iftekhar was the Dean of Students/Assistant Principal at the American International School Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has eight years of leadership experience at the high school level. He taught IB/AP Math, worked as a Curriculum Coordinator, and has been an IB Examiner for the IBO. Iftekhar has earned his B.Sc. in Computer Science from the California State University of Northridge. He has also earned two M.A. degrees in Educational Leadership & Policy and Secondary Mathematics Education. Iftekhar’s wife, Sadia, teaches IB Math and IB Core/TOK at AES. Their two children, Fatima and Ihsan attend AES at the elementary level.


Karen Dunmire, Middle School Principal

Karen has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, a Master’s degree in English/ESL from Michigan State University, and another Master’s degree in Education from Cleveland State University as well as training with the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has a Lifetime Principal Certification from NY state. She was the Middle School Principal at the American School of Warsaw for 10 years and the lower school director of the American School in Madrid for four years. Karen also served as an interim Middle School Principal at the American International School in Vienna (AISV).


Melissa G-3Melissa Gamette, Middle School Assistant Principal

Melissa comes to us after five years at the International School of Dusseldorf where she has served as a grade level leader, trip planner, and conference presenter at the European League of Middle Level Educators and the IBO. Overall, she has 15 years of teaching experience. Melissa has a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the California State University, Chico and a Master’s degree in International Educational Administration from Endicott College in Switzerland. Melissa has taught in five schools in California as well as two in Montana and at the Medan International School in Indonesia.

Nada Collins (1)

Dr. Nada Collins, Elementary School Principal

Nada joined the American Embassy School in 2016 after fourteen years in international education, twelve of which have been as a Principal.  Most recently the Elementary Principal at Graded-The American School in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nada has also worked at Casablanca American School, Schutz American School-Egypt, and the International School of Ouagadougou-Burkina Faso. Nada earned her BS in Psychology and Sociology from East Tennessee State University, a Masters in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Temple University. She continued her education with a Post-Master in Educational Leadership from The College of New Jersey and a Certificate in International Leadership from the Principals Training Center in London.  Nada’s husband, Michael, teaches IB Economics at AES, and they are living in India with their two boys, Malcolm and Zachariah.

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Scott White, Elementary School Assistant Principal

Scott is now in his twenty-third year as an educator. He joined the American Embassy School in 2005. While at AES, Scott has served as an elementary teacher as well as the Director of Admissions. Scott began his career as a middle school world language teacher and subsequently has taught Pre-kindergarten and grades 1, 3 and 5. Prior to joining AES, Scott taught in northern New York State, Kuwait and Paraguay. He and his wife Melissa have three daughters that attend the American Embassy School. Scott holds a BA in French and a MS in Elementary Education from the State University of New York and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University.


Shirley Droese, Director of Curriculum and Professional Learning

Shirley has been the Associate Director of Academics Affairs for the past 2 years at the Qatar Foundation, Doha. Prior to that, she was the Director of Curriculum & Instruction (IB) in Shekou International School and Deputy Head of School at Seoul Foreign School. She has been an Administrator at Yorkville Elementary School and Fort Atkinson High School. In addition she also taught overseas at ISB, Bangkok; ISOI, Islamabad, ISG, Al Khobar. Shirley earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Carthage College, Wisconsin, Master of Studies (Elem. Ed.) and PhD degrees from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

RobertElliottPassportPhoto2Bob Elliott, Director of Technology

Bob joins AES from American School of Doha where he served as the Director of Technology for the last six years. Prior to this he was at the Seoul Foreign School, Seoul. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer & Information Science from Univ. of Maryland. He is married to Tracy Willcott who will be joining our MS art team. Their daughter Amaya will be attending Grade 3. Bob is involved extra-curricular activities like Softball, Service Learning, Robotics, Television Production, and Photography.

Zigmand, Karl

Karl Zigmand, Director of Athletics and Activities

Karl has 25 years experience teaching at international schools around the world with stops in Taipei, Shanghai, Cairo, Casablanca, Santo Domingo and now New Delhi, India. Karl has also enjoyed working as an elementary school classroom teacher, ES tech integrator, MS physical education and health teacher while also coaching a variety of sports teams with his favorite being basketball.  Karl is joined by his wife Ronna at AES where she is the ES librarian. They have two children in college. Karl graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and also completed his masters at Framingham State also in MA.

Paul-Gera, Kriti headshotKriti Paul-Gera, Marketing and Communications Manager

Kriti is an AES alumnus (class of 2010) with five years of experience in marketing and communications. She previously led marketing and events at a wellness start-up in Delhi, and was also a freelance consultant in the wellness space. Prior to that, she worked at Edelman, San Francisco with top MNCs as clients including Kashi, PayPal, The North Face, Adobe, Symantec and more. She led the Speakers Team at TEDxLSE in London for two years. Kriti holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environment and Development from The London School of Economics and Political Science with First Class Honors.

nishitgandhiNishit Gandhi, Director of Business and Operations

Nishit is a Chartered Accountant and holds a Diploma in IFRS from ACCA, UK. His last assignment was with the British Council where he served as Director Financial Systems. Prior to that he served as Regional Finance Director-South Asia for 8 years and Assistant Vice President-Finance in Genpact. Nishit has worked in finance leadership roles in Asia, Europe and North America.