Board of Advisors

The Board of Advisors (BOA) is comprised of professionals who are accomplished in their respective fields and are passionate about BEST’s mission. They serve two-year terms as organizational advisors and supporters. In order to be part of this prestigious group, one must be nominated and selected by the BEST Board of Directors.

2016-2017 Board of Advisors:

Angela Rodel

Angela Rodel came to Bulgaria on a Fulbright grant in 1996, lured by the mystery of Bulgarian voices. Having fallen in love with Bulgarian folk singing and Bulgarian language, she decided to make Bulgaria her permanent home as of 2004. In recent years, she has become a leading translator of Bulgarian literature into English, with seven novels published in the US and UK, as well as plays, poems and essays by leading Bulgarian writers. She is now executive director of the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission. At her first BEST tournament two years ago, she was blown away by the students’ talent, intelligence and artistry – and immensely proud of the Fulbright/ABF ETAs who founded this wonderful organization.

Mark Leonard

mark leonardMark Leonard was born and raised in Kansas, where he competed in speech and debate in high school and in speech in college. Since then, he has judged competitive speaking events at both high school and college tournaments in the USA. He has been a judge for BEST Foundation events since the first annual tournament. Mark is Associate Professor of Economics at American University in Bulgaria. Mark makes daily use of his prose and poetry competition skills while reading to his daughters.


Claire Sagstuen – Co-Founder, BEST

Ron Harvey

Jack Morton

Ivan Dimov – Founder, Single Step Foundation

ivan_dimovIvan Dimov returned from New York to Sofia in order to establish Single Step Foundation in 2016. His professional career is in the field of finance: as an investment banker and investor in New York, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Sydney, Australia (Credit Suisse, Gramercy Communications Partners, Lazard) in the media, telecommunications and technology sectors.

Ivan is a former CFO of Edamam, which provides nutrition data services and value-added solutions to health, wellness and food businesses. He is also the former Chairman of the Board of Netinfo.

Ivan is a keen marathon runner, CrossFitter and world traveler.

Val Nikolov

ValVal Nikolov is from Burgas, Bulgaria and was an active member of a non-profit focused on educational
and environmental projects in high school. A life-long believer in the power of intellectual inquiry and
critical thinking, Val is excited to share his expertise in planning, analytics, and strategy towards
advancing BEST’s mission.
Val holds a BA in Mathematical Economics from Colgate University and an MBA from Northwestern
University. A former economic consultant in Boston, MA and London, UK, he is currently living in Austin,
TX where he is a Sales Analytics and Planning Manager at Dell Technologies.


Tyler Donahue – Director, Data Partnerships at Yext


 TylerTyler is currently the Director of Market Development at Yext and has been tasked with leading Yext’s go to market efforts in Japan. Prior to helping to open the Tokyo this past July, Tyler ran and managed all Data Partnerships for Yext for several years and was a crucial part of expanding Yext’s business into Europe. Before Yext, Tyler spent time working in the bagged salad industry with Chiquita, as well as working with a small grassroots organization in Kenya. He has a double degree in Mathematics and Economics from Duke University and served as the Blue Devil Mascot while there.