Board of Directors


Dovilė Budrytė, Georgia Gwinnett College

The President is the chief executive officer of the Association, performing all duties required by the Constitution and Bylaws, or, if not specified, those approved by the Board of Directors. Following his or her term the President becomes the Director-at-Large.

Dovilė Budrytė (PhD, Old Dominion University) served as Vice President of Publications on the AABS board in 2016-2018 and 2018-2020. She is Professor of Political Science at Georgia Gwinnett College. In 2015, 2018 and 2019 she was a visiting professor at Vilnius University and Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania. She has published articles and books on various topics related to minority rights and memory politics in Lithuania, including Memory and Trauma in International Relations: Theories, Cases and Debates (co-editor with Erica Resende, Routledge 2013), and Crisis and Change in Post-Cold War Global Politics: Ukraine in a Comparative Perspective (co-edited with Erica Resende and Didem Buhari, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). In 2014/15, she was the recipient of the University System of Georgia Excellence in Teaching Award.


Jörg Hackmann, University of Szczecin

The President-Elect aids the President in the carrying out of his duties in a coordinated effort to provide a continuity of Association’s administration. She automatically succeeds to the Presidency at the end of the two year term following her election to the office of the President-Elect.

Jörg Hackmann (PhD, Free University Berlin) is Alfred Döblin Professor at the Department of History, University of Szczecin, Poland, and since 2021 Director of the International Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Szczecin. He is also associated with the University of Greifswald, Germany, and serves as Vice-President of the Johann Gottfried Herder Research Council (Germany). Jörg Hackmann holds a PhD from the Free University Berlin and received his habilitation at Greifswald University. He has been a visiting scholar at many universities in the Baltic sea region as well as in Chicago. Publications focus on the history of North-Eastern and East Central Europe, in particular on historiography, memory cultures, civil society and regionalisms with a focus on transnational entanglements. Most recent publications include Geselligkeit in Nordosteuropa (Sociability in North-Eastern Europe), Harrassowitz 2020. Current research interests include the role of history in Baltic Sea region building, a biography of Werner Hasselblatt, and the Jewish topography of (German) Szczecin.

Vice President for Professional Development

Kaarel Piirimäe, Tartu University

The Vice President for Professional Development coordinates and facilitates scholarly activities to develop Baltic Studies, especially in the Baltic states.

Kaarel Piirimäe (PhD, University of Cambridge) is Associate Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Tartu and Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 2009 with a thesis on the Big Three Allies and the Baltic states in WWII (published as Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Baltic Question: Allied Relations during the Second World War, 2014). Piirimäe has edited several volumes and special journal issues on the history of the Baltic states in the twentieth century. His recent writings include an article on Liberalism and the small states, Gorbachev’s new thinking and the Soviet republics, and concepts of time in Estonia’s transition from perestroika to the market. Currently he is researching Estonian foreign and security policies in the 1990s.

Vice President for Conferences

Bradley Woodworth, 

University of New Haven/Yale University

The Vice President for Conferences plans and organizes conferences for the exchange of research findings and professional views.

Bradley Woodworth (PhD, Indiana University) is Associate Professor of History at the University of New Haven and Program Manager of the Baltic Studies Program at Yale University. His primary research interest is the multiethnic lands around the Baltic Sea. He has published widely on the history of Estonia in particular. His most recent work includes the article “Estonian Modern History in the Twenty-First Century,” published in 2020 in the journal Acta Historica Tallinnensia (co-written with historian Karsten Brüggemann) and the article “Why Washington hesitated to support Lithuania’s independence 31 years ago,” published in March 2021 by LRT – Lithuania’s Radio and Television network (co-written with political scientist Matthew Schmidt).

Vice President for Publications

Diana Mincyte, City University of New York

The Vice President for Publications plans and directs the Association’s publications program and oversees its awards and prizes programs.

Diana Mincyte (PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York-City Tech. Her research focuses on environmental politics and food; gender and agriculture; science and technology studies; and socialism/postsocialism in the Baltic states. Trained in sociology, she engages in interdisciplinary and collaborative projects. She has published in leading journals, co-edited two volumes, collaborated on a book, and guest-edited a number of special issues in journals. Her research has been supported by grants, including awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Fulbright Program. She held fellowships and residences in the Rachel Carson Center for the Environment and Society at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany; the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University; and European Studies at New York University and Harvard University. Her latest research focuses on social reproduction and circular economies.


Ieva Zake, Millersville University

The Secretary prepares comprehensive meeting minutes and assists the executive office with correspondence, records, and elections while serving on committees as necessary.

Ieva Zaķe (PhD, University of Massachusetts, Amherst) currently serves as Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Millersville University. She was previously Vice Provost at The College of New Jersey, and professor of sociology and Associate Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Rowan University. She is an author of American Latvians: Politics of a Refugee Community and Anti-Communist Minorities in the US: Political Activism of Ethnic Refugees as well as numerous articles dealing with issues of nationalism in Latvia during the inter-war period, intellectuals in politics, post-communist politics, tourism to the USSR during the cold war era and post-World War II Eastern European immigrants in the US.


Ugis Sprūdžs, CFA

The Treasurer prepares the annual budget, makes authorized investments, supervises collections and disbursements of funds, and maintains proper accounting records. He prepares and presents the financial reports of the Association.

Uģis Sprūdžs, CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) was recently Senior Manager at Allstate. He has over thirty years’ experience working as a manager and data analyst. He earned his BA, MAT, and MBA (1984) at the University of Chicago, where he studied Finance, Econometrics, Education, and German. Sprūdžs is also an active member of the American Latvian community; he served as president, investment adviser, and auditor of the Latvian Foundation (1997-2003) and is a discussion leader of the Chicago Latvian Literary Club. Sprūdžs is the author of “Ziedonis, Pauls: ‘Holy Eves’: A Poem and Its Metamorphosis in Song,” in Imants Ziedonis. Search for Belonging, Practice of Freedom, edited by Ausma Cimdiņa. Rīga: Zinātne, 2014

Student Representative

Aimee Herring, University of South Carolina

The Student Representative advocates the undergraduate and graduate student interests in the association, promotes grants and awards, and organizes student workshops at conferences.

Aimee Herring is a rising fourth-year Ph.D. student at the University of South Carolina, where she has recently transferred from Educational Foundations and Inquiry to (Linguistic) Anthropology. Her research interests concern migration, language, identity and belonging, with a focus on the Baltic region. Her anticipated dissertation research will center on the Lithuanian response to increased migration flows, including how migrant identities are constructed through linguistic practice, as well as how borders and identity are understood and constructed through discourse, social imaginaries, and material practices. Aimee’s relationship with the Baltic region goes back to the mid-1990’s, when she worked first as a Peace Corps volunteer/TEFL teacher in Klaipeda, Lithuania, and later, as a TEFL instructor, teacher trainer, and program lead for youth instruction at Soros International House in Vilnius, Lithuania. Aimee married into a Lithuanian family, and maintains ties with friends, family, and former students and colleagues there.


Daunis Auers, University of Latvia

The Director-at-Large serves as the Chairperson of the Nominating Committee and performs other duties as specifically requested by the Board of Directors.

Daunis Auers (PhD, University College London) is Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Latvia. He has been a Fulbright Scholar at the University of California-Berkeley (2005-2006) and a Baltic-American Freedom Foundation Scholar at Wayne State University in Detroit (2014). He has published widely on political parties, elections and referendums as well as populism and the radical right in Baltic and European politics. His most recent book – The Comparative Government and Politics of the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the 21st Century – was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. Much of his recent research has been more policy-oriented, focusing on the growth and economic impact of international students in Latvia, projections of Latvia’s demographic future and studies of the competitiveness of the city of Riga.

Past Boards

The list of previous AABS Board of Directors can be found by clicking on the button below. A thorough overview of the election process is listed in the organization’s bylaws.


Administrative Executive Director

Liisi Esse, Stanford University

The Administrative Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors and has programmatic and operational responsibility for the Association. The Administrative Executive Director works closely with the Board of Directors to ensure the organization’s consistent achievement of its mission, program, and financial objectives.

Liisi Esse (PhD, University of Tartu) serves as AABS AED while she continues her role as Associate Curator for Estonian and Baltic Studies at Stanford University Libraries where she has worked since 2013. As Curator, her main responsibility is to develop Stanford’s collection of Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Finnish material in all formats, including books, periodicals, manuscripts, and electronic resources. Liisi also runs various Baltic projects, including digitization projects, and organizes Baltic events and exhibits at Stanford.
Liisi served as AABS’ Vice President for Conferences from 2016–2018 and organized the 2018 AABS Conference at Stanford University. She currently serves as Reviews Editor for the Journal of Baltic Studies. Liisi is a member of the ASEEES Committee on Libraries and Information Resources and the Baltic Heritage Network.

Executive Officer-at-Large

Guntis Šmidchens, University of Washington

The Executive Officer-at-Large is liaison between AABS and the University of Washington, and between AABS and the Baltic Studies Summer Institute.

Guntis Šmidchens (Phd, Indiana University) served as AABS Student Representative (1993-94), Vice President-Conferences (1997-98) and President (2008-2010). He is Associate Professor and Kazickas Family Endowed Professor in Baltic Studies at the Department of Scandinavian Studies, University of Washington, Seattle. He is author of articles about Baltic national heroes, Baltic Song Celebrations, and folklorism (folklore revival). His book, The Power of Song: Nonviolent National Culture in the Baltic Singing Revolution (University of Washington Press, 2014; Latvian translation Mansards 2017) received the AABS Book Award (2016). He is a founder of the University of Washington Baltic Studies Program (est. 1994) and the Baltic Studies Summer Institute (1994).
Šmidchens was awarded the Order of Cross of Terra Mariana, Fourth Class (Estonia, 2012), Cross of Recognition, Fourth Class (Latvia, 2014), and Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania, Fifth Class (2020). Recipient of the World Federation of Free Latvians 2014 National Award.

Academic Executive Director

Olavi Arens, Georgia Southern University

The Academic Executive Director develops contacts and cooperates with other learned societies like the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study and the German Studies Association.

Olavi Arens (PhD, Columbia University) is Professor of History at the Armstrong Campus of Georgia Southern University. He is a native of Estonia. Prof. Arens did his undergraduate work at Harvard University and his graduate studies at Columbia University where he earned a Ph.D. in Modern East European History and a Russian Institute Certificate. He has served as the president of the Southern Conference of Slavic Studies and as the AABS representative on the Council of Executive Officers of the American Council of Learned Societies and is currently the Academic Executive Director of the AABS. He is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on, among other topics, American relations with the Baltic States, the Brest-Litovsk treaty, and the Russian Revolution in Estonia. He has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Tallinn University in Estonia.

Counsel to the Board of Directors

Andres Kasekamp, University of Toronto

The Counsel to the Board advises the AABS Board of Directors on planning and strategizing the future development of AABS.

Andres Kasekamp (PhD, University College London) is the Elmar Tampõld Chair of Estonian Studies and Professor of History at the University of Toronto since 2017. Previously, he was Professor of Baltic Politics at the University of Tartu and Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute. He gained his PhD in modern history from University College London in 1996. His first book was The Radical Right in Interwar Estonia (Macmillan 2000). His second book, A History of the Baltic States (Palgrave 2018, 2nd ed.), has been translated into nine languages. His research interests include populist radical right parties and cooperation and conflict in the Baltic Sea region. His work has been awarded the Estonian National Science Prize (humanities) and the Baltic Assembly Prize (science), and he is an honorary fellow of the Baltic Defence College. Prof. Kasekamp has served as the editor of the Journal of Baltic Studies, and as the President of AABS (2018-2020). He has appeared as an expert in the foreign affairs committee of the parliaments of Canada, Estonia, Finland and the European Union, as well as the Baltic Assembly.

Assistant Director of Outreach and Engagement

Ben Gardner-Gill

The Assistant Director of Outreach and Engagement oversees AABS’ donor relations and fundraising efforts, maintains AABS’ presence on social media, advertises AABS’ grants and awards, assists the AABS Administrative Executive Director in maintaining and updating AABS’ website and publishing annual print newsletters and quarterly e-newsletters, and develops and proposes new strategies and initiatives for fostering outreach and community engagement.

Ben Gardner-Gill earned his BA in History from Stanford University, with a concentration in Modern Europe and a focus on historical memory. He studied abroad through Stanford’s center in Berlin, and conducted field research in Central Europe. He has completed internships in Estonia, Belgium, and Germany, and worked on political campaigns in the US before joining AABS.

Newsletter Editor

Indra Ekmanis, Public Radio Exchange

The Newsletter Editor and Podcast Host works with the Administrative Executive Director in soliticing content for, editing, and designing the AABS annual print newsletter and hosting the AABS podcast, Baltic Ways.

Indra Ekmanis (PhD, University of Washington) is a Baltic Sea Fellow and Editor of the Baltic Bulletin at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. She earned her PhD in International Studies from the University of Washington in 2017. Her research focuses on social integration, minority rights, nationalism, civil society and democratic transition in Latvia and the broader Baltic region.
She was previously a Kennan Institute Title VIII Research Scholar at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a Fulbright research award recipient. She also covered international news and analysis as an editor for public radio’s The World through the ACLS/Mellon Public Fellows Program.

President of the Australasian Chapter

Delaney Skerrett, Centre for Human Potential

The President of the Australasian Chapter of AABS organizes, with the help of the other committee members, the biannual AABS Australasian conference. He also maintains a Facebook page for the Chapter promoting Baltic studies in Australasia and beyond.

Delaney Skerrett has a PhD from The University of Queensland in which he critically analyzed Estonia’s progress in normalizing the interethnic use of Estonian in the post-1991 independence era. He also researched Estonian language policy for his Masters, which he did at the University of Tartu. Delaney spent over 7 years living in Estonia studying and teaching. Today, Delaney is a registered psychologist in Brisbane, Australia, having done a Master of Professional Psychology at the Australian Catholic University. He is also the Honorary Consul for Estonia in Brisbane.


The AABS Administration and Board of Directors can be reached at [email protected] or by filling in the contact form on our website.