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.

Ylva Kovacs, Director of Admissions

Ylva, a Swedish national,  has worked with The Singapore American School for over 20 years in various departments, of which the last 10 years was as their Admissions Officer. She has experience across the school in supporting families with their transitions. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education (Honors), from Wheelock College, Boston. Ylva is accompanied by her son Jonas who is currently studying at AES in Grade 12.

Iftekhar Syed, High School Principal

Iftekhar joined AES in July 2016 as the High School Assistant Principal and will be the High School Principal from July 2019. Prior to joining AES, Iftekhar served as the HS Assistant Principal at the American International School in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Iftekhar has a BS in Computer Science from California State University – Northridge, an MA in Secondary Education (Math), and an MA in Educational Leadership and Policy from California State University – Northridge. Iftekhar is accompanied by his wife, Sadia (IB Math and TOK teacher) and their two children, Fatima in 7th grade and Ihsan in 4th grade.

Derwin Kitch, High School Assistant Principal

Effective July 2019, Derwin will serve as the High School Assistant Principal Interim (Student Life). He will also be a part-time HS Technology Coordinator. Prior to joining AES in July 2017,  he was a Principal and teacher at the Dreambuilders High School in Saskatchewan, Canada for 5 years. Derwin was the Head of ICT at AIS Kingston and Overseas School of Colombo. He has also taught at St. Alphonsus Elementary School; Ecole Swan River South School, Canada; International School Nido de Aguilas, Chile; and Lahore American School, Pakistan. Derwin has Bachelor’s degrees in Education as well as Arts from Brandon University. He also has a Master’s degree in Science from Buffalo State University.

Jason Hicks, High School Assistant Principal

For the last two years, Jason has been a consultant with Pathways to Inclusive Education, supporting AES teachers and administrators as the school continues to refine programming and practice related to inclusive education. Over the last 20 years, Jason has enjoyed his time as a teacher, administrator, and instructional coach in schools both in the United States (Boulder CO), India (AS Bombay and AIS Chennai) and the United Arab Emirates (AS Dubai). He holds an MA in Educational Leadership and a Bachelor of Science in Education. Jason is joined by his wife, Kim Bane.

Anthea Clifton, Middle School Principal

Anthea comes to AES with 21 years of experience. Before moving to Delhi, she was serving as the Middle School Vice Principal at the Jakarta Intercultural School. She also taught Science/Health at JIS. Her prior overseas experience includes teaching in Sekolah Cita Buana and South Australia. Anthea has a BEd degree in Science, Social Studies and PE from the University of South Australia. She also has a Master’s of Education from the University of New England and a Master of Arts from Deakin University. Anthea is accompanied by her husband, Wayne Kelsey, who will be teaching high school social sciences.

Serena McMahon, Middle School Assistant Principal

Backed by 18 years of experience, Serena joins us from Jakarta Intercultural School where she worked as Middle School Service and Experiential Learning Coordinator. She has been a performing arts teacher and has taught in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Indonesia. She loves dance, travel, and bulldogs. Serena holds a BA and B.Ed. from the Queensland University of Technology and is currently pursuing a Masters of Educational Leadership from the College of New Jersey.


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 Ph.D. 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.

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 an MS in Elementary Education from the State University of New York and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University.

Dr. Shirley Droese, Director for Teaching and 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 Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

AESLeadershipSY1920-BethanyBethany Blevins, Director of Student Support Services

Bethany joined AES in 2017 as ES Learning Center faculty and will now be the Director of Student Support Services. Prior to joining AES, Bethany was the Elementary Chief Academic Officer at KIPP Austin Public Schools and was also the Elementary Principal of a KIPP school for 6 years from 2010. She has been an Academic Support/Special Education teacher at Shanghai American School, Brooke Charter Schools and also Teach For America. Bethany holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Women’s Studies from Mary Washington University and a Master’s degree in Education from the University of St. Thomas.

Bob Elliott, Director of Technology

Bob joins AES from the 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 in extra-curricular activities like Softball, Service Learning, Robotics, Television Production, and Photography.


Rick Nelson, Director of Athletics and Activities

Rick has more than 20 years of teaching and administrative experience. He has been the Manager of Safety at the International School Bangkok. Prior to that, Rick was the Director of Athletics and Activities at UNIS, Hanoi; American International School of Bucharest, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Waimea and American School of Warsaw. He also worked as the Youth Development Coordinator at the White Bear Lake School District, Minnesota. Rick has a BS degree from the University of Minnesota and an MA degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine’s University, St. Paul, Minnesota. He is accompanied by his wife, Carolyn, who is teaching HS Visual Arts.

Stuart HenryStuart Henry, Director of Business and Operations

joined us in February 2020, after spending the last 20 years working in London across a variety of commercial sectors.  He has led a number of Finance and Operations teams – most recently as a consultant helping the Times Higher Education organization develop their long term plans.  Prior to this he was Head of Commercial Finance at the McCann advertising group. Stuart has a BSc in Manufacturing & Management from the Manchester Metropolitan University and qualified as a Chartered Accountant over 14 years ago. He moved to India in the spring of 2019 with his wife Nicola and their son and daughter.


unnamed-1Czaee Chagla, Marketing and Communications Manager

Czaee joins us from New York, with over 17 years of experience in international marketing, communications, event management, digital and social media. In New York, she worked with companies like 495 Communications, Microsoft, Connexus,, IBM, Perot Systems, APN Software Services, and in India, with  123India.Com and The Indian Express Online Media. Czaee has been actively involved with the  American Welcome Association (AWA) and organized the popular AWA Holiday Mela, here in New Delhi. Czaee holds a Bachelor’s degree in Arts from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, Post Graduate Diploma in Advertising and Marketing from Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai and a Certificate in Film Production, Film Techniques, and Technology from New York University, NY.