Meet Our Team

AFDC Staff


    Executive Director - Sarah DILIGENTI

    Sarah comes from a multicultural and multilingual family. She spent her childhood in the West Indies and arrived in Toulouse, France at age 6. She was educated in France and obtained an LLM in International Law in 1986 and a Master of Philosophy in Political Science at the University of Toulouse. Her thesis in 1988 covered History, War, and Cinema. She also passed two National Certifications to Teach French (1992) and English (1993) at the High School and University levels.

    Sarah moved to the US in 1995. She joined the Alliance in 2004 as a teacher, then in 2005 as Academic and Deputy Director, and finally in 2013 as Executive Director.

    Sarah is a 1984 Young Poet Laureate of the Académie des Jeux Floraux. She has published poems in anthologies in France and in the US and was invited to submit a text for a book written by 100 authors, published in October 2017 in Beirut, Lebanon. She is currently preparing to publish her first poetry chapbook for Fall 2018 and is writing a series of short stories as well as her first novel.

    She was a Founding Director of Word Fest, the Annual DC International Poetry Festival and sat on its Board from 2001 to 2006. Sarah was invited on the Diane Rehm Show in 2009 to speak about The Elegance of the Hedgehog, a literary phenomenon in France.

    She was president of Washington Accueil Association, -an association dedicated to helping French and francophone expatriates coming to live in the Greater Washington area- from 1998 to 2000 and founded a book club in 1997, “Avid Readers in DC” to introduce American Literature to French expatriates, which she managed until 2014.

    In January 2017, Sarah was made a Knight in the Order of the Academic Palms, the oldest non-military distinction of the French Republic. Presented by the French Ministry of Education, it recognizes those who have rendered eminent service to French education and have contributed actively to the prestige of French culture. Sarah was recognized specifically for her continuous efforts in the promotion of the French language and to her commitment to grow the Alliance Française D.C. as the premier French Cultural and Language Center in the Nation’s Capital.

  • Ameneh MADJLESSI

    Deputy and Academic Director - Ameneh MADJLESSI

    Originally from Iran, Ameneh learned the French language at the age of 3 in Belgium where her father was a diplomat. After doing a BA in French/Persian Translation and interpretation in Tehran, she obtained a Master 2 FLE (French as a Foreign Language) from the Université Stendhal in Grenoble, France. She moved back to Iran after her Master’s. She founded her own private language school and linguistic lab in Tehran and taught French at all levels. She also worked as a French Instructor and Administrator at the Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle (Cultural Services) of the French Embassy in Tehran. In 2004, she moved to DC and started work as a teacher at Alliance Francaise of Washington in September 2005 until November 2013. She also taught French at the World Bank from 2006 to 2016; she was an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University from 2010 to 2016 and has been adjunct Lecturer at Georgetown University since September 2015. She came back to AFDC in October 2016 as Deputy and Academic Director. 

  • Kelsey HAMMER

    Librarian - Kelsey HAMMER

    Originally hailing from Colorado, Kelsey has been in the AFDC Library for the past five years. A lifelong lover of books and libraries, Kelsey worked in the University of Denver’s library all throughout undergrad before joining the AF Library in DC. With degrees in French, Criminology, and a minor in International Studies, being a part of the AFDC has been a great compliment to her studies. Recent favorite reads include Soleil by David Bouchet. When not reading, you can find Kelsey exploring any number of used book stores and trying to befriend as many dogs and cats as possible.

  • Natasha ZAVADSKAIA

    Cultural Programs & Social Media Manager - Natasha ZAVADSKAIA

    Originally from Russia, Natasha studied and worked in Paris for three years before moving to the United States in the summer of 2017. She received a Master’s degree in International Relations and Interpreting in Russia, as well a Master’s in International Affairs and Intercultural Communication at the Université Paris Nanterre. Natasha has been teaching and tutoring Russian, English and French for many years, and traveled a lot among Russia, Finland and France before settling down in Washington. She is very grateful for the opportunity to maintain her ties with French culture and language. When not at work, Natasha is fond of chatting over a cup of tea (and a couple of croissants), going off to discover a new place or visit old friends, skiing, or trying out a new recipe.

  • Jessy VERGER

    Certifications Coordinator - Jessy VERGER

    Jessy Verger has an extensive experience in teaching French and Francophone culture to foreigners.

    Jessy was born and raised in Normandy, France. After obtaining a B.A. in French Modern Literature, she received her B.A. in FLE (French as a Foreign Language) and later her Master 2 in FLE from the university of Rouen.

    Jessy had her first experience teaching French as a foreign language to her foreign classmates to help them navigate the campus and later volunteered to the International Relations Office of her university.

    While completing her Master, she taught French at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.  She continued teaching French language while exploring  new places as she taught at Leeds University, United Kingdom.

    She taught adults and diplomats from embassies and government agencies at the Alliance Française of Ottawa, Canada. She arrived in the United States in 2011 and worked both with children and adults at the Alliance Française of Washington DC. She also taught for 5 years at the Washington International School and for 2 years at the Yokosuka Middle School, Japan. She came back to the Alliance Francaise of Washington DC in October 2019 as a teacher and a Certifications Officer.

  • Julie JOHNSON

    Instructional Coordinator, Kids & Teens - Julie JOHNSON

    Born and bred in Clermont-Ferrand in France, Julie’s ancestry is Chinese, but she considers herself culturally very French! Her early career was in management and retail but after ten years working for one of the main French fashion brands, Julie wanted some adventure! At age 30, she flew to Australia to learn English. There she enjoyed many different positions, including that of a full-time nanny, which gave her the ambition to later work with children. Australia was not only a professional success, indeed, Julie met her American husband while she was living in Sydney! Four years ago, they moved together to Washington DC, where Julie worked for the French Embassy and then went back into management. Still, her wish to teach children was still within her and she was given the opportunity to join the AFDC as Children’s Classes' French teacher at the beginning of 2019. She was subsequently promoted to the position of Instructional Coordinator Kids and Teens.

  • Liz NUTI

    Controller - Liz NUTI

  • Fanny Conte

    Administrative assistant - Fanny CONTE

    Fanny started at AFDC after Labor Day 2021 as Administrative Assistant. She brings also additional Library experience to the team, at a time when we have been reorganizing the library all summer (and ongoing). Fanny worked in the public libraries in Paris for fifteen years. She participated in the creation of three new libraries, working on subjects as varied as comic books, 3D printers, French sign language and Scandinavian literature. An avid reader, she is driven by a certain taste for the transmission of knowledge and interculturality. Fanny is originally from Toulouse in the South-West of France.

  • Wissam El Bouzdaini

    Youth Programs Coordinator - Wissam EL BOUZDAINI

    Born and raised in Morocco, Wissam is originally a journalist and has been a proud member of the Alliance Française’s team since May 2018 first as faculty and now as Part-Time Senior Coordinator for the Youth Programs.

    Even though Moroccan Arabic is his native language, at heart he is a Francophone and a Francophile and elected to study and work in French. He holds a first master’s degree in Corporate Communications Management and a second master’s degree in Media Economics & Management.

AFDC Instructors



Kids & Teens, Adults
Ghislaine AKHAVI
Adults (Beginner Specialist)
Achille ANGO
Do Ré Mi (Musical Storytime)
Adults, Kids & Teens
Laure-Anne BADEY (DELF)
Kids & Teens, Private
Neena BANSAL Adults, Private
Olga BAUER Adults, Private
Flora BERREFAS Adults, Kids & Teens, Private
Michèle BLANCHI Littérature, Actualités, Adult
Valerie DAUBRESSE Adults, Private
Jocelyne DO SACRAMENTO Adults, Private
Isabelle DUPEUX-EUNSON Adults
Wissam EL BOUAZDAINI (DELF/DALF) Senior Coordinator Kids & Teens, Adults
Bassima EL MASRI (DELF/DALF) Kids & Teens, Adults
Nabiha ETTAYEBI Kids & Teens, Camps
Jennifer GORE Translation Specialist, Adults
Stéphanie GUERIN Adults
Frédéric HOCDE Judo for Kids
Julie JOHNSON Instructional Coordinator - Kids & Camps
Milad JOKAR Adults, Private
Ernest KAMBA (DELF/DALF) Kids & Teens, Adults
Anne Tulin KERIMOL MCCLAIN-CALDWELL Kids & Teens, Adults
Viviane KONAN NDA A. Kids & Teens, Adults
Zohreh MIRSHARIF Adults, Kids & Teens
Pauline MOUHANNA Adults, Private, Kids & Teens, Private
Alain NOUET Adults, Private, Corporate
Solange NZENDE Kids & Teens, Private, Camps
Claudine PARLOFF Adults, Kids & Teens (FLAM)
Vianney PAUL Ceramics, Adults, Kids
Calie RERODO Adults, Private
Sidiki TRAORÉ (DELF/DALF) Adults
Sophie VAN HEES Adults, Private, Yoga (Adults and Kids)
Anne VILLEMONTEIX-RAUD Adults, Private
Véronique WHITNEY (DELF/DALF) Adults, Private
Saida ZARDI Adults, Private