NEW YORK, Aug. 29, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- After 37 years as head of the leading international credential evaluation service in the United States and Canada, Mariam Assefa has announced her decision to retire from her role as Executive Director of World Education Services (WES).

“I make this decision with the knowledge that WES is stronger than it has ever been, both in its commitment to its mission and vision and in its business,” said Assefa. “I look forward to the transition with mixed emotions—gratitude toward my colleagues and many friends here at WES, amazement at how WES has changed and grown over the last 37 years, and excitement about the potential and possibilities that lie before the organization.”

World Education Services was founded in New York in 1974 and began operations in Toronto in 2000. In that time, it has provided credential evaluations for nearly two million people. Under Assefa’s leadership, WES became the top credential evaluation provider in the United States and Canada. In 2017, the organization received nearly 300,000 applications for credential evaluation.

“For over 40 years, WES has provided leadership and innovation in the field of credential evaluation,” said June Noronha, Chair of the WES Board of Directors. “More recently it has begun providing services to help skilled immigrants find work that matches their training. Mariam has been key to the organization’s thrust and success. She leaves a legacy of excellence, care, and deep commitment that positions WES for a strong and vibrant future.”

“Many immigrants to Canada and the United States find that, even with evidence of their academic qualifications in hand, they face acute barriers to resuming their professional careers,” said Paul Feltman, Deputy Executive Director of Global Talent Policy and Programs at WES. “Mariam saw the need for a ‘bridge’ to help these individuals put their talent and professional know-how to work in their chosen fields. That perspective led to the establishment of WES Global Talent Bridge in 2009.”

“Mariam has not only made WES the leading credential evaluation service in North America, she has helped to shape the world’s approach to international credential recognition,” said Hans de Wit, Director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, and a longtime WES board member. “She was at the founding conference of the European Association for International Education in 1989, and served as president of NAFSA: Association of International Educators in 2006. Her work and knowledge have enriched the field of international education in profound ways.”

Over the last few years, Assefa has focused on ensuring that WES is in a position to help alleviate the challenge faced by thousands of highly educated individuals who have fled their homelands because of conflict or other disasters. In 2017, WES completed a pilot to determine how best to validate and recognize the credentials of Syrian refugees who arrived in Canada with incomplete documentation of their academic achievements. The pilot paved the way for a soon-to-be-launched program that will reach additional newcomers to Canada who were displaced by war or other crises and who lack complete academic documentation.

“As the leader and spokesperson for WES for more than three decades, Mariam has long exemplified the expert knowledge, objectivity, recognized authority, and impeccable professionalism that characterize WES and that infuse its mission, character, and values,” said WES board member Stephen C. Dunnett, Vice Provost for International Education at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “She has instilled confidence and lasting trust in WES among clients and stakeholders around the world.”

Assefa will continue to serve until a successor is named and the transition is complete in mid-2019. “I am proud of all that WES has done in the time I have been here and humbled by my colleagues’ commitment to the successful integration of skilled immigrants and international students,” said Assefa. “As I plan for retirement, I have full confidence that the organization is well positioned to push forward with new and innovative strategies to empower our clients to thrive in new professional and academic environments in Canada and the U.S.”

For more information contact Ashley Craddock, Director of Strategic Communications, World Education Services T: 512.212.3998 E: acraddock@WES.org

About WES
World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1974 and dedicated to helping individuals achieve their higher education and professional goals. WES evaluates and advocates for the recognition of international education qualifications in the U.S. and Canada. WES delivers credential evaluations recognized by 2,500 academic, business, and governmental institutions to almost two million people worldwide.