Participant Support Specialist

Job Type

Full Time


Details: $50,700/Year




New York
United States



AFS-USA is part of a worldwide network of AFS partner organizations that work together to advance global education and foster meaningful connections across cultures. As the network’s largest partner, AFS-USA works to increase the global competency of U.S. citizens by providing a variety of international and intercultural learning experiences to individuals, families, schools, and communities. We are proud of our Staff of approximately 200 dedicated individuals, working from our national office in New York City as well as home offices across the county, who collaborate with our more than 4,000 AFS-USA Volunteers to deliver high quality programs and global education resources. These include: immersion based study abroad experiences in over 40 countries worldwide; opportunities to host foreign AFS exchange students; and global learning workshops and curricula for educator, schools and businesses.


The Participant Support Teams primary role is maintaining the safety and wellbeing of all participants, while facilitating intercultural learning. The Participant Support Specialist works closely with the Senior Participant Support Specialist (Sr. PSS) and the Participant Support Manager (PSM) in developing and implementing quality support for the hosting and sending programs. The Support Specialist works with the PSM and the Team Development Specialist (TDS) to advise, train, and strengthen their volunteer area teams’ capacity to support participants, host families, natural families, schools, and partners during the intercultural living experience.

Responsibilities: (Key functions)

Crisis, Risk, and Conflict Management Functions

  1. During political, natural, safety, or personal crises, work closely with the Sr. PSS, PSM, AFS INT, and partner country to monitor and manage the situation, and keep all impacted parties informed and updated.
  2. Serve as first point of contact for AFS’ Emergency Line, manage emotional and/or difficult conversations with stakeholders.
  3. Effectively facilitate conflict resolution strategies by transforming conflicts into learning opportunities and driving them towards resolution.
  4. Assist PSM and Government and Legal Affairs Manager in reviewing cases and drafting responses to complaints or letters received regarding participant/stakeholder dissatisfaction with the AFS program.
  5. Act as AFS-USA primary Duty Officer during evenings, weekends, and holidays to respond to emergencies to ensure participants’ safety and well-being.

Case Management Functions

  1. Assist volunteers in hosting support situations to ensure that appropriate steps are taken with participants, host families, schools and/or any other parties as necessary to resolve the issues, that all parties are heard and that all sides of the issue are addressed.
  2. Keep partner offices well informed from the beginning on any support cases involving participants from their countries hosted in the U.S. and provide all necessary documentation to ensure that partners can effectively manage the expectations of the natural families.
  3. Work closely with partner offices to obtain information on support cases affecting Americans abroad and maintain clear and regular contact with natural families, (and volunteers when applicable) to inform them about the support issues facing their son or daughter and the steps AFS is taking to resolve the issues as well as to enlist their support in the process.
  4. Work with volunteers to obtain medical or legal services in cases that so warrant, and seek guidance from Sr. PSS and PSM in serious medical, psychological or legal cases.
  5. Ensure that complete documentation is obtained, evaluated, and appropriately shared in all cases.
  6. Keep PSM informed of all support cases especially those which involve situations of high levels of risk including but not limited to:

  • participants’ personal safety,
  • potential legal action against a participant or AFS,
  • potential negative media exposure to the organization,
  • non-adherence to AFS, Department of State, and/or CSIET standards or regulations

  1. Ensure that all hosted participants are assigned a registered, trained, and compliant local volunteer during the program period. Coordinate updating and managing the liaison database in collaborating with volunteers, TDS’, and Volunteer Registration Department.
  2. Keep all support cases as well as other relevant participant data (i.e. moves narratives and placement updates, assignment/change of liaisons, Early Return information, etc.) up to date in the Support Module and Global Link.
  3. Manage Activity and Travel Waivers, Temporary Program Suspension, and Program Release processes for participants.

  4. Collect paperwork for student moves, and adding a new family member.
  5. Assist Compliance Department to ensure that all hosted participants have active liaisons and that monthly contact is being submitted for each participant and host family.
  6. Advise volunteers on AFS policies and guidelines.


  1. Work with Sr. PSS, PSM, TDS, ICL, and the Learning and Volunteer Resources department in designing and delivering appropriate support training for volunteer teams online and in-person.
  2. Assist PSM, TDS, and volunteers to provide effective orientation and support-related training in all volunteer teams, including training for liaisons, liaison coordinators and support coordinators.
  3. Lead and contribute to specified student trainings (i.e. Sponsored Programs, country-specific cultural orientation sessions, LGBTQ participants).
  4. Lead Liaison Linking process trainings for TDS and TDD.
  5. Design and deliver Support Module trainings to other departments in the organization.
  6. Design and deliver conflict resolution/managing difficult conversations trainings to other departments in the organization.
  7. Participate in National, Regional, and local training events as requested by the PSM.

Additional Responsibilities:

  1. Assist PSM in analyzing the results of the customer / partner service evaluations and address issues to continually enhance the quality of service provided to stakeholders.
  2. Ensure scholarship reporting/follow-up is completed as required by sponsors.
  3. Collaborate with relevant stakeholders to develop Sending/Hosting/Volunteer Portal content.
  4. Collaborate with relevant departments to update and develop content for Host Family and Liaison handbooks.
  5. Create, maintain, and distribute regular department newsletters.
  6. Attend advisory group meetings and work on special projects as assigned by PSM.


  • Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree a plus
  • Valid Passport
  • Valid Driver’s license
  • Strong written and verbal communication and strong analytical problem solving skills required
  • Ability to handle emotionally intense situations and remain calm under pressure, and ability to manage these situations remotely.
  • Experience living abroad and knowledge of/interest in intercultural communication styles preferred
  • Able to keep accurate, up-to-date files
  • Customer service experience preferred.
  • Experience as a volunteer or working with volunteers preferred
  • Experience with leading group training sessions or the willingness to do so; comfortable in front of a group
  • Able to work effectively independently and as a member of a team
  • Ability to build relationships across geographic distances
  • Intercultural Learning, Conflict Resolution/Transformation, Social Work, Advising/Counseling, Child Protective Services, Psychology, Adolescent Mental Health, Alcohol/Tobacco Prevention, Anti-Discrimination/Diversity and Inclusion experience highly desired


It is the policy of AFS-USA to provide equal employment opportunities without regard to actual or perceived race, color, religion, creed, ethnicity, national origin, alienage, citizenship status, age, marital status, partnership status, disability, sexual orientation, gender (sex), military status, unemployment status, prior record of arrest or conviction (except as permitted by law) predisposing genetic characteristics, or status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual offenses and stalking, and to maintain an environment free of harassment on any of the above-noted grounds, including sexual harassment or retaliation.


Medical, Dental, HRA, FSA, Retirement Plan, Paid Holiday Days, Vacation Days, Floating Holidays, and more!

Professional Level


Minimum Education Required

4-year degree

How To Apply

Do you want to join the AFS-USA Team?! To apply, please click on the link. Please include your cover letter and resume in the application. No phone calls please.