BFTF Staff Members 2016


RVon Burg PhotoDr. Ron Von Burg, Director

Ron is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Wake Forest University with a joint position in Humanities and Communication. Ron earned his Ph. D. from the University of Pittsburgh in Communication. Bad jokes are his speciality.


AVB PicDr. Alessandra Von Burg, Curriculum Director and Instructor

Alessandra is an Associate Professor of Communication at Wake Forest University, teaches rhetorical theory, researches mobility and migration, and hails from Italy. She will be teaching the Citizenship class at BFTF. Alessandra earned her Ph. D. from the University of Pittsburgh in Communication.

HahnPhotoTaylor Hahn, Director of Civic Engagement

Taylor (Tay) has been part of the BFTF since 2008. Tay received his MA from Wake Forest and served as a Debate Coach at Clarion University in Pennsylvania for two years. He is currently a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh in Communication.


Ashley WilcoxAshley Wilcox, Administrative Coordinator

Ashley is currently Program Coordinator for the MA in Sustainability program at Wake Forest University. In addition to promoting sustainable practices, Ashley is an avid horse rider and notable roller derby expert.


LoudenPicDr. Allan Louden, Ombudsman

Allan is the Chair of the Department of Communication at Wake Forest University. Allan earned his Ph. D. from the University of Southern California in political communication. While a charming fellow, many visit his office to play with his dog, Glacier.


AnnamaePhotoAnnamae Giles, Home Stay Coordinator

Annamae Giles is a Field Faculty/Clinical Instructor for
UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work Winston Salem Distance Education Program. She received her MSW from the University of Kentucky and a BA in psychology from Northern Kentucky University.  Though not related to Ben Franklin she is related to people who knew him.  Her superhero name is “The Connector”.



Nathan Bedsole

Nathan is a “Double Deac,” a term of affection for individuals who have two degrees from Wake Forest. Nathan built upon his Wake Forest BA with an MA in Communication. He is now  pursuing his PhD in Communication at the University of Colorado. It is fitting that he is pictured with a bike. Ask him why. This is Nathan’s third year with the BFTF.

FilippaFilippa Braarud

Filippa, a 2013 BFTF alumna, is currently pursing a degree in international justice as Leiden University in the Netherlands. Like the other BFTF alumni mentors, Filippa is very active developing post-BFTF programs. She will be joining the BFTF as a mentor for the first time.

Mads DanielsenMads Danielsen

Mads from Norway, as he was affectionately known during his time as a 2010 BFTF fellow. Emperor Mads has made the BFTF proud. Mads, along with Sarah, has been instrumental in helping coordinate BFTF alumni from across the years. It is great to have both here to help build the BFTF family. Mads will be joining the BFTF as a mentor for the third time.

Sarah DeclercqSarah Declercq

This 2010 BFTF alumna from Belgium does not waffle.  Sarah is a resolute leader and a testament to the amazing fellows that join us each year. Sarah, along with BFTF alumni, including fellow mentor Mads, has developed numerous youth programs that develop future European leaders.This is Sarah’s third year as a mentor.

EfthymiosEfthymios Skoufas

Like Sarah and Mads, Efthymios hails from the outstanding BFTF class of 2010. This first year mentor is a pharmacy student in Greece and is keenly interested in public health policy. He has been a very active BFTF alumnus, continuing the spirit of the Ben. He has very strong opinions on music and vegetables.

Jenn St SumeJenn St Sume (Dorm Director)

Jenn hails from the Sunshine State, Florida. She is currently a second year MA student in Communication at Wake Forest University. If you want to talk politics, speak with Jenn. It’s her thesis. Oh, and her volleyball skills are legendary. This is Jenn’s first year with the BFTF.


SwanPhotoAaron Swanlek

Aaron Swanlek earned an MA in Communication at Wake Forest University and is currently pursuing his PhD in Communication at the University of Pittsburgh. He attended Clarion University in Pennsylvania as an undergrad where he engaged in debate, government, and the good Western PA life. Unfortunately, he roots for the wrong PA hockey team.


JarrodDr. Jarrod Atchison

Jarrod is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Wake Forest University where he also serves as the director of the Wake Forest debate program. As the director of debate, Dr. Atchison works with undergraduate students competing to win national championships in cross examination policy debate.

Nate FrenchDr. Nate French

Nate’s major areas of research are in rhetorical studies. Nate is the Director of the Magnolia Scholar’s program which began in 2009. The Magnolia Scholars program identifies students who are the first in the families to attend college to make sure that they take advantage of every opportunity available at Wake Forest.

Stokes PiercyProfessor Stokes Piercy

Stokes teaches a wide range of film production courses as well as writing and critical studies courses. He is interested in the history and development of American graphic novels, particularly in their depiction and representation of gender, power and justice. But this is just a disguise for his real talents as a superhero.

Shelley SizemoreProfessor Shelley Sizemore

Shelley is another “Double Deac,” boasting a BA and MA in Communication at Wake Forest University. She is currently the Director of Academic Programs and Community Engaged Research at the Pro Humanitate Institute. She is also pursuing her PhD at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Christina SorianoProfessor Christina Soriano

An associate professor of dance, Christina teaches composition, improvisation, modern technique, dance and film history and a collaborative course called Movement and the Molecular.  Christina also teaches a community dance class to people living with Parkinson’s Disease, and has been involved in studies examining how improvisational dance can help their mobility and balance.