Adult course registrations ARE NOW OPEN. ENROLL HERE! Early bird discount ends on June 24.

 All group and private classes will be ONLINE until the end of the Summer.

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 two 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.

  • Vana Kelijian-Heras

    Youth Programs Director - Vana Kelijian-Heras

    Vana Kelijian-Heras has extensive experience teaching French and Francophone culture to foreigners, both in France and in the United States. Vana was born and raised in the multicultural milieu of the suburbs of Paris, France. From a young age, she had a passion for the French language that inspired her to make it her life's work to teach French. She received her Bachelor's degree in Linguistics her Master's degree in Teaching French As A Second Language.

    She came to the United States in 2011, where she worked for three years with both children and adults at Alliance Française de Washington, D.C. as an Instructor in French. Following her first stint at the Alliance, from 2014-2018 Vana worked at the U.S. State Department's Foreign Service Institute (FSI), where she taught French and Francophone culture to U.S. diplomats and other U.S. government employees. Although she enjoyed her time at FSI, Vana missed the ambiance and dynamic atmosphere at the Alliance, and she returned to the Alliance in 2018. She's now the Acting Youth Program Director.

    She is married and has a toddler who takes up a lot of her time when she is not working. 

  • Natasha ZAVADSKAIA

    Executive Assistant / Cultural Events Coordinator - 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.

  • Knowrhah S. Fleurimond

    Administration Officer - Knowrhah S. Fleurimond

    Knowrhah has been part of AFDC since February 2018 when she joined as an intern in the library. She returned in July 2019 as an Administrative Officer. Originally from Haiti, Knowrhah lived in New York before moving to DC in 2015 for American University’s BA program in International Studies. Having been raised with English and Creole, she lost touch with her first language of French and enjoys relearning it while working at Alliance. When not in the office, Knowrhah enjoys practicing her viola, skiing, and learning more about food culture around the world.

  • 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.

  • Dr. Raphaela Kitson-Pantano

    Communications & Development Coordinator - Dr. Raphaela KITSON-PANTANO

    A true European, Raphaela is an anglo-italian born in France. A Genetics PhD Graduate from the University of Edinburgh and holder of a Masters in European Politics and Administration from the College of Europe, Raphaela was for several years the Executive Director of the European Association for the Promotion of Science and Technology. Raphaela then joined the L’Oreal Foundation where she was in charge of Scientific Programmes including the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards. AXA recruited Raphaela in 2014 as the AXA Research Fund Life & Health Risks Research Officer and she later became Head of International Health Relations at AXA Global Life. Before moving to Washington, Raphaela was Senior Policy Advisor to the AXA France CEO on the topic of Brexit. In her spare time, Raphaela is a Consultant for several NGOs in the realms of science and politics. Raphaela was formerly Vice-President of Euroscience, a member of the ESOF2018 International Steering Committee, and Secretary General of Europ’Attitude.

  • Liz NUTI

    Controller - Liz NUTI

AFDC Instructors



Krystel ABIMERI  Kids
Francis AGOLA Adults, Sub
Ghislaine AKHAVI
Adults (Beginner Specialist)
Achille ANGO
Musical Story Time
Adults, Kids & Teens
Marie-Yasmine AUCLERT
Private, Sub
Laure-Anne BADEY (DELF)
Kids & Teens, Private
Julia BATTIST Ballet Instructor
Olga BAUER Adults, Private
Flora BERREFAS Adults, Kids & Teens, Private
Michèle BLANCHI Littérature & Actualiés, Advanced
Chantal CASSAN-MOUDOUD Kids & Teens
Jocelyne DO SACRAMENTO Specialized French
Isabelle DUPEUX-EUNSON Adults
Wissam EL BOUAZDAINI (DELF/DALF) Specialized French
Bassima EL MASRI (DELF/DALF) Kids & Teens, Adults
Nahiba ETTAYEBI Kids & Teens, Camps
Robin GOLDSTEIN Kids & Teens, AP Specialist
Jennifer GORE Translation Specialist
Stéphanie GUERIN Adults
Farida HACENE-DJABALLAH Specialized French, Advanced
Frederic HOCDE Judo for Kids
Julie JOHNSON Instructional Coordinator- Kids & Camps
Milad JOKAR Adults, Private
Ernest KAMBA (DELF/DALF) Kids & Teens, Adults
Hortense KOUAME Kids & Teens, Adults
Anne Tulin MCCLAIN CALDWELL Kids & Teens, Adults
Arcelin MENDY Kids & Teens
Zohreh MIRSHARIF Adults, Kids & Teens
Hervé-Boris NGATE Adults, Private
Alain NOUET Adults, Private, Corporate
Solange NZENDE Kids & Teens, Private, Camps
Violette PARE Adults
Anne  VILLEMONTEIX-RAUD  Adults, Private
Pierre SANCHEZ Adults, Teens, Private
Sidiki TRAORE (DELF/DALF) Adults
Véronique WHITNEY (DELF/DALF) Adults, Private
Alemayehu WOLDEMICHAEL Kids & Teens, After Care
Saida ZARDI Adults, Private