ALTO Board 2017-10-09T13:55:31+00:00

ALTO Executive Board

Governed by industry leaders since 1998, ALTO has had the privilege of being led by an engaged, knowledgeable, and driven Executive Board, elected by the membership. ALTO’s current Executive Board brings wisdom, passion, and guidance to the Association, and is representative of the global geographic diversification of ALTO members.

Pictured above from left to right:

  • Thiago Espana – World Study Brazil
  • Jonathan Quinn – Centre of English Studies
  • David Brown – Oxford International Education Group
  • Maria Castro – Linguland Sprechreisen
  • Leanne Linacre, Chair – LILA* Liverpool
  • Juan Manuel Elizalde – Kells College

Meet Our Board

Leanne Lineacre, ALTO Chair

While being hands-on and active in the running of LILA*, my focus is on the Sales, Marketing and Business Development aspect of the business. As well as my role as ALTO board member, I am an active member of Quality English and on the Steering Committee of English UK North because I believe in the enormous value of exchanging ideas and networking with peers and colleagues.

I have worked in the language travel industry for 20 years, either as an English language teacher or school owner. I’m keen to work with my colleagues across the industry to ensure not just survival, but growth in an increasing difficult environment.

Leanne on linkedin

Juan Manuel Elizalde, Treasurer

I have been familiar with the language courses abroad since I was 15, as I have been a student in different countries, through my family agency, Kells College, created in 1971. I have studied Business Studies in Valladolid University and the State University of New York in Binghamton (SUNY).

I have developed my career in Kells College, being currently CEO. I have always believed, and acted accordingly, in the benefits of getting together and working in associations. I was the President of a private Language Schools Association in Castilla y Leon (a region in Spain) for 10 years. I was the President of Aseproce, Spanish Association of Agents for 16 years and Felca president for 4 years.

As I mentioned before I believe in associations, but I also believe that associations have to be active and have to try to carry out projects thought and developed together which can benefit their members. ALTO, through its present board, is going in this direction introducing initiatives beneficial to both educational agents and language schools in our industry. 

Juanma on linkedin 

David Brown

After leaving Study Group in 1991, David co-founded ISIS Education, now Oxford International Education Group, and has spent the past 23 years as joint CEO helping to grow and develop a range of interrelated educational programmes.

David has been involved with the ALTO Board since 2010 as Treasurer and then as Chair. He is currently a Board Member School Representative.

David on linkedin

Thiago Espana 

I have been working with International Education since 2001, at first having a World Study’s franchising office and in 2007 I became one of the owners of the brand. Our company has been growing in Brazilian market and we will finish 2016 with 45 branches, around Brazil.

During the last years I have been participating actively with BELTA (Brazilian Education & Language Travel Association) and I believe that our market has a big potential to grow, develop and get much more mature and the way to do that, is organizing ourselves and working together.

I have been a board member with ALTO since 2013 and during that time I have been engaged in many projects, one in particular is the ALTO Standard. This is a project that I have been very proud to lead within the board. The ALTO standard is a project aiming to create a common language between educational agents and language schools, by laying down some simple guidelines regarding the way schools feature their programmes and prices.


Jonathan Quinn

Jonathan joined Centre of English Studies (CES) in 1996 having previously worked in the manufacturing sector. A family run business Jonathan and his brothers have seen CES grown from one school in Ireland to the current seven across Ireland, England and Scotland. Jonathan is involved in the marketing and sales area of CES and also runs the Junior International Summer programmes.

Jonathan has been involved in ALTO for a number of year and joined the board in 2016.

Jonathan on linkedin

Maria Castro

I was born in Spain, moved to Germany in 2000 and have been living here ever since. I have been a Managing partner at Linguland / Studyadvisor Education since 2003 (CEO, co-owner). Linguland started as an online booking platform, founded by Tobias Fries in 2003 it evolved to become one of the leading study abroad agencies in Germany, serving the German, Italian, Spanish and French markets and are currently expanding to other markets and products.

ALTO for me is a source of inspiration for everyone in the industry, a great platform to exchange ideas, grow together and introduce and spread best practices in the industry. For me, ALTO is a chance to learn from the best and I can help ALTO especially by recruiting new members. I also hope to help schools and agencies work well together by bringing in the agency perspective.

Maria on linkedin 

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