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NESA began in the early 1960’s as a group of administrators meeting informally and has evolved into a world-class organization that serves thousands of educators working in more than 100 American/international schools.

During the administration of President Kennedy, Dr Finis Engleman (for whom NESA’s prestigious award is named) was asked to conduct an evaluative survey of schools in the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent that were attended by dependents of U.S. government employees working in this part of the world. As a result of Dr Engleman’s study, the Office of Overseas Schools (known as A/OS) was established at the U.S. Department of State with Dr Ernest Mannino as the founding director.

Among A/OS’s first initiatives was assisting an informal group of administrators working in schools from Greece to the Asian subcontinent, known as “NESA”, which stood for “Near East South Asia". Its boundaries were fixed to encompass the area from Greece to Bangladesh.

However, the need for a more structured organization became evident, and in 1964 the first by-laws were drawn up. In 1968 the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools was formally established and was incorporated in the U.S. state of Delaware in the 1970’s.

In its early years, NESA was run on a cooperative basis with logistical and administrative work being done by volunteers in member schools. In 1974, a part-time executive secretary was hired. Dr Stanley Haas, superintendent of the American Community Schools in Athens, was appointed executive director in 1978. Following the death of Dr Haas in 1995, Mary Anne Haas served as interim executive director. David Chojnacki, superintendent at Cairo American College, was then appointed executive director and assumed the position in 1996.

Currently, NESA includes more than 42 "Members" (American/overseas schools) and 130+ "Affiliates" (schools, colleges/universities, other institutions, and companies (textbook publishers, consultants, school suppliers and other businesses). NESA serves over 24,000 students and over 6,400 professional educators.

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