Our team

The Beacon Fellowship is headquartered in Arlington, VA, just across the river from Beautiful Washington, D.C. If you’re ever in the area, feel free to come visit us!


tess stirton

Admissions Coordinator

Tess is an Admissions Coordinator for the Beacon Fellowship. A graduate of the University of Dallas, she majored in English Literature with a concentration in Political Ethics. During college, she enjoyed studying abroad in Rome, Italy.

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Nicholas Andrews

Admissions Coordinator

Nicholas is an admissions coordinator for the Beacon Fellowship. Born and raised on a farm in Ohio, he is proud of his strong work ethic and incredible mustache. He graduated from the Honors College at Kent State University.


Emily Brown

Admissions Coordinator

Hailing from a military family in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Emily graduated from Christendom College with a degree in history. During college, she studied abroad in Rome and was a writer and editor for Christendom's student publication, The Rambler. Emily loves classical music, ballet, photography, and Florida beaches.

Luke Cannon


Before becoming an associate, Luke participated in the Beacon Fellowship in winter 2017. He is passionate about both business and international travel. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Luke studied economics and art history. During college, he lived abroad in Spain and traveled extensively in Europe.


Carolyn Manion


A graduate of Stanford University, Carolyn earned her degree in classics and German studies. While in college, she studied abroad in Italy, England, and Germany, was a founding member of Stanford's chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, and served as a writer and editor for various publications. Carolyn is passionate about classical education and medieval literature. Living again in her home state of Virginia, she misses the mountains and beaches of California.


Jacob Surges


Before joining The Beacon Fellowship, Jacob honed his skills in study-abroad operations at Atlantis Global, the pre-med international education program. Jacob graduated from Baylor University and spent time teaching English in Taiwan as a Fulbright grantee.


Nick Leaver


A Virginia native, Nick earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia with a degree in history. While at UVA, Nick enjoyed working in many roles at his university’s weekly debating society. Prior to working full time for The Beacon Fellowship, Nick experienced the program as a Beacon Fellow in Barcelona.


Mark Ferguson

Operations Associate

Before joining the Beacon team, Mark held several roles in consulting and finance. He earned his B.S. with a concentration in finance and a minor in social entrepreneurship from the University of Virginia. At UVA, Mark co-founded the organization "Profit with Purpose," an outsourced social enterprise due diligence platform to educate, connect, and empower students. In his free time, Mark enjoys soccer and making YouTube videos.

London School of Economics

Antonio Gonzalez

Operations Director

Antonio has extensive international and operations experience. Born and raised in Spain, Antonio attended university at the London School of Economics before working for multiple years in management at companies in Asia and India. After working for several years in study-abroad operations at Atlantis Global, he now leads operations for The Beacon Fellowship.

McKinsey, BCG, Stanford

J.P. Toste

Senior Chairman

J.P. attended UNC-Chapel Hill before joining McKinsey and BCG. He holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Originally from the Azores Islands in Portugal, J.P. co-founded The Beacon Fellowship and has been involved in different capacities with study abroad programs for almost a decade.

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Brian Whalen

Chief Academic Officer and Dean of Education

Among the most well-known and influential international education leaders currently working in the field, Brian served for more than a decade (2006-2018) as the President and CEO of The Forum on Education Abroad, the first Standards Development Organization (SDO) worldwide focused on international education. During his long career, Brian has developed or overseen education abroad programs in more than 50 countries, has delivered dozens of presentations and trainings in the U.S. and many other countries, has collaborated to secure nearly $4 million in grants in support of international education initiatives, and has participated in high level meetings as a discussant at the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Education, and the White House.