A Louisville native, Martha holds a Ph.D. in French Studies from Duke and has taught French language and culture in universities from Florida to Texas and Rhode Island. She has led student trips around the Francophone world, in Africa, the Antilles and Polynesia. She is also a grant writer/administrator, promoting excellence for small non-profits in the arts and education. Serving the Alliance Française de Louisville since 2014, she has been a teacher, recruiter, marketer, office manager, Director of School, and now President of the Alliance Française de Louisville’s Board. Her goal is to maximize the presence of AFL in the community with linkages to partner institutions and French-connected businesses.
Rafael was born and raised in Guatemala City, where he obtained a B.S. degree in Biological Chemistry from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. He started taking French classes at the Alliance Française de Guatemala but shortly after moved to the U.S., where he received a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Kansas Medical Center. Since 1992, he has been faculty member at the University of Louisville Medical School and has frequently participated in teaching conferences to several universities in his native Guatemala. Besides research and teaching, Rafael’s other passions are languages (especially French), reading (in French, English and Spanish), classical music and cooking. Rafael joined the AFL board in 2018 and became Vice-president in 2022.
Jan was born here in Louisville, grew up in New Albany, was educated at Hanover College and Indiana University Bloomington/Southeast receiving degrees in Classical Greek and Accounting. For the last 40 years Jan has lived in New York and Minneapolis, returning to Louisville last year. She was born with an interest in french culture as her paternal grandmother came to the US as a child from a small village near Nancy, France. For 20 years she was employed by the Alliance Française de Minneapolis et St Paul as Business Manager and is most happy to continue her association with all things french at our Louisville chapter.
Mandela Gapala is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo but is now a U.S. Citizen. He earned a BA in Foreign Languages and International Studies with a minor in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from Bellarmine University. He is the Employment Services Manager at Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM). In this position, he coordinates local employers to help them understand the special needs of Refugees and Immigrants in the workforce and advocates for advanced job opportunities. Besides his full-time position at KRM, Mr. Mandela is a community volunteer.
Anne worked as an orthoepist for many years and is now retired. She has been a board member since 2018 and was secretary for several years. As a member of the Events Committee, she welcomes any suggestions for activities for AFL.
James J. Natsis is a current faculty member at West Virginia State University. He is a former Peace Corp volunteer who served for two years in Chad, Sub-Saharan Africa, conducted his doctoral research in North Africa, and traveled the length of South America for 7½ months overland by backpack. He holds a BA degree in French, an MA in International Affairs—African Studies, and the Ph.D. in International Education from Ohio University. He has published a monograph, journal and special interest articles, a number of op-eds, and presented papers at many regional and national conferences. He has directed grant projects in Benin, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada and the Czech Republic, and served as external evaluator to a project in the Ivory Coast.
Natsis currently co-hosts the French-language podcast “Récits francophones au Coeur de L’Amérique.” He is fluent in French, and speaks Spanish and several other languages. He married the former Kenya Hurt and they have two sons, Ashton and Aidan. Both of his sons speak French.
Julien is a French citizen who was born in Lyon but grew up in St Germain en Laye, the city where Louis XIV was born, about 20 min away from Versailles in the Parisian region.
When Julien was in middle school, he and his family moved to Madrid, Spain for 5 years. They then moved back to France where Julien finished high school and attended university. After graduating with his undergraduate degree, he moved to Edinburgh Scotland where he met his wife (who is from Lexington, KY). Together, they lived for a little bit in Rouen, Normandy where she took French classes at l’Alliance Francaise while Julien was getting his Masters in Management and Marketing.
They moved to Kentucky in 2014, where Julie received his MBA in Accounting and started a financial career. They have 3 boys that are Franco-American and are trying to raise them with both cultures. Julien is a huge sports fan (always ready to talk about football (soccer), rugby or any other sport) and he frequently returns to France. When stateside, Julien loves sharing French culture with others.
Ronda was born and raised in Louisville. After graduating from Bellarmine with an accounting degree, she went on to become a CPA working for KPMG. Once she met her husband, they began relocating and travelling around the US and Europe with their two children. This travel sparked Ronda’s interest in learning the French language. She and her husband moved back to Louisville and now Ronda enjoys taking French classes, biking in France, and promoting the French culture. She is honored to be a new AF Louisville board member.
Originally from Louisville, KY, Matt brings a diverse business background and international perspective to the AFL. Matt’s affinity for France and international business started at the age of 14 when he traveled to France with his high school French club. This prompted Matt to study French for 9 years, including five months at the Université de Haute Bretagne in Rennes, France.
Matt earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, with minors in French and Economics from the University of Kentucky, and an MBA from the University of Louisville. He started his career at Brown Forman Corporation where he spent 15 years working in Finance, five years in Corporate Strategy, and five years in Sales Operations. Matt spent 15 years of this time focusing on International Business, including four years living overseas in the Czech Republic and England. He later relocated to Florida for five years, before returning to Louisville.
After leaving Brown-Forman, he has leveraged his broad business background over the past seven years to do Merger & Acquisition work focused in the dental industry, and works along-side his wife in managing their family business “European Splendor,” which imports and sells European furniture, home accessories & gifts. Happily married to Susan for 25+ years, Matt is an outdoor enthusiast, loves traveling, cycling, fine dining, and time with family & friends.
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Milira is a Louisville transplant that has developed a strong love for the French language and culture by way of study and travel. She double majored in French and Psychology at the University of Kentucky before venturing to Paris for a study abroad program. This summer in Paris, led to her discovering the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF). She taught English for two years in Picardie and Bordeaux. Outside of the classroom, she made sure to venture across Europe as much as possible.
After finishing her contract with TAPIF, Milira enrolled into an MA program with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She ventured to Paris for another study abroad program and was determined to secure a practicum placement abroad. Covid shifted things quite a bit and led Milira back to Louisville where she later found Alliance Francaise de Louisville. She started her practicum in the Summer of 2020 and completed her MA in International Education Management in December. Milira went on to serve as the AFL office manager for two years.
Milira is currently an ESL instructor with JCPS. She enjoys being able to practice all of her language skills at work and in the community. Spanish has been her latest adventure, but she also speaks French, English and could get around town with her Italian. She is an avid traveler, loves to go walking around the city and has a great passion for new adventures.
We moved to Louisville in 2008. While working for a printing company, Carole and I started a publication featuring a directory of green and sustainable business and articles about the sustainability movement in the Louisville Metro Area. I served on several non-profit boards as Vice President and Treasurer. I applied for an received approval for two 501(C3) non-profits, Bluegrass Bioneers and New Roots. I retired in the spring of 2021 and have been happily grinding rocks for folding knife scales and chef knife handles and selling at art shows.
Madeline MacKersie is the office manager at AFL. She has a long-standing passion for the French Language. Growing up, her mother spoke French with her and she introduced Madeline to many invaluable experiences within the language and culture. Madeline loves languages; she speaks English, French, Spanish, and her latest venture is Arabic. Madeline’s mother was a part of the Alliance Française de Dijon-Bourgogne and she is so excited to carry that passion here with AFL!
1313 Lyndon Lane
Suite 111 Louisville, Kentucky 40222