Meet the Executive Board 2019- 2020
Valerie van der Meulen-Sheppard
I come from the Caribbean and grew up between the two islands of Barbados and Trinidad, where I was born. I’ve lived most of my life in Barbados, where I raised my family of five children. I married my Dutch husband Meindert in 2013 and Holland became my home, after having lived all my life in the tropical Caribbean islands. I have, however, travelled extensively and love meeting and getting to know people from different countries and cultures.
My work experience was in the field of executive administration and human resource management within regional Caribbean organizations. I started singing at an early age, performing on radio, television and stage in amateur musical shows over the years. I’m an Honorary Member of the Barbados Polo Club and enjoy the sport as a spectator. My interests are in the creative arts and history, and my leisure time is spent in painting, photography, video editing, recording family history and choral singing. I also enjoy using social media as a great way of staying closely connected with my family and friends abroad and sharing with them my new way of life here in Europe.
Through the IWC I have explored so much of Holland and made many new friends. I appreciate all that the club has to offer and enjoy being able to give back the warm welcome that was extended to me. In 2014, I became Vice-Chairman of the Board and in May 2017 was elected Chairman of the Board. I've found it fulfilling and rewarding to be able to work alongside other members of the Board in running the club. I serve on the Multimedia Team as Graphic Designer in the production of our bi-monthly newsletter and annual Membership Directory, and have particular responsibility for the IWC's website, Facebook and YouTube channel. I also produce the annual video showing highlights of our club year.
Marlene van IJsselstein
I was born and raised in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. I’m married, with two children, and last year was delighted to become a grandmother.
I've experienced life as an expat in Dorset, United Kingdom for five years and in Washington DC, America for five years. After that, I lived in Canberra, Australia for two and a half years, and that is where I joined and became active in the Women's International Club of Canberra (WIC). That was a real life-saver for me in a foreign country, as I discovered that the friendship and activities I enjoyed were a great way to enjoy the Australian way of life.
In 2002 my husband and I returned home to the Netherlands and I became a member of the IWC Amsterdam. I soon began to take an active role in the club. During 2004 to 2008 I served on the Board as Membership Officer and Charity Officer. As head of the Charity Team I was involved in many fund-raising activities for our chosen charities. I am currently the Chairman of the Welcoming Committee - a team of international ladies committed to helping newly arrived members make contact with women from their own countries and giving help and information on life in The Netherlands. Together we welcome the members, new members, and guests at our monthly meetings, as well as at coffee mornings for newcomers.
I love to organise outings with my group "The Divas" and to share the history of my small but very interesting country. I also organize outings and tours to other European countries a couple of times a year, and these are very much enjoyed and appreciated by our members. The reward of happy faces at the end of the day is always very satisfying to me.
I am happy to be serving on the Board again as Vice-Chairman, and work closely with all the interest groups to make the IWC Amsterdam a happy place where members love to socialize and share their experiences.
We lived there for six years. It changed our lives. I worked full time before and skipped my job. I had to fill in my days and became a member of SWIC (Sydney Woman International Club). That was my lifesaver. Activities during the day and I found lovely friends who are now living all over the world.
Public Relations Officer
Born in Munich, Germany, I spent most of my younger years there and in the south of France. Little did I know that I was going to land up in the world of hotels after I met my Dutch husband at Hotel School in Germany. After we graduated, we moved to Amsterdam and both worked at the Amsterdam Mariott Hotel. Soon after, our expat adventure truly began. We moved to Paris, hardly speaking a word of French, then to Munich, back to Paris where our daughter was born.
Following this, we moved on to Cologne where our son was born. The craziness hadn't even begun at that stage. We suddenly found ourselves on a roller coaster back to Paris, then to Casablanca, Almaty, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Dubai, Singapore, Osaka, Tokyo and back to Amsterdam
In between all of this, I opened a store in the Negen Straatjes, selling jewelry designed by a close friend in Hong Kong and other unique Asian finds from my travels. I originally opened the store, as our plan was to move back to Amsterdam permanently, however, this didn't happen and I unfortunately had to close the shop. After studying to be a personal business coach and counselor, I recently opened my own little expat consultancy company called V.E.R.A (Vera's Expat Resettling Advice). Something I believe is well paired with this is Feng Shui (which I studied under the guidance of Raymond Low in Hong Kong), and astrology, for which I am now both qualified.
My all time favourite pastime is reading and I am highly interested in history and politics. I speak German, English, Dutch and French fluently.
The IWC gives me the opportunity to reconnect with my Expat roots and meet an abundance of wonderful ladies! I love living in Amsterdam; what a vibrant, but manageable city!
I was born and educated in the UK and married another Brit. I know that I fully expected to live and work in UK for the rest of my life. I qualified as a Chartered Surveyor and subsequently in Personnel. But after marrying, the surprises started!
The first was the birth of our twins and a move to Geneva with my husband’s job where our third child was born. I assumed that we would settle in Switzerland to raise our family so I retrained to teach Pilates and set up my own business in this field. However after eight years, we found ourselves packing up all our possessions again and relocating to Denmark where I restarted my Pilates business and swopped ski-ing for dogwalking.
Four years later, found us moving the children back to the UK for secondary education whilst we waited to find out about the location of my husband’s next job. This brought him to The Netherlands but by then I had committed to retraining as a primary school teacher in the UK and the children were settled in schools. So it is only recently that I have been able to move to Leiden to join him. Living here, I am really enjoying cycling everywhere, making the most of all that is going on in a capital city, going running along all the canals and learning to speak the language.
I love the openness and immediacy of friendships that I have experienced living overseas and this is why I have so enjoyed becoming involved with IWC Amsterdam. Everyone has made me feel so welcome and any concerns I had about moving without children as a route to meeting new people have been quickly dispelled. It is wonderful spending time with so many amazing women and being able to get involved with a wide variety of activities (museums, book clubs, cultural tours, cooking and singing). I am looking forward to spending more time supporting the work of the IWC Amsterdam as it has already given me so much.
I am the product of an English mother and Danish father, who met each other in Zambia. We moved to Denmark when I was 7 years old. Since all my schooling was done in Denmark, we only speak Danish at home and I only hold a Danish passport, I might be inclined to say that I am Danish.
My work life has primarily been spent in the Pharmaceutical industry (regulatory), and through my work I met my Dutch husband in 2013. After 1 year of long-distance dating, I moved to Amsterdam.
I worked my first year here but stopped after a burn-out. Since my husband has his own consultancy company, I help a bit with the books, and otherwise have a lot of time on my hands, or so I at least thought when I first stopped working. I never initially thought of joining any clubs as such but got the IWC recommended by a chance encounter at the gym. That was good advice. Looking forward to meeting more ladies.
My name is Gillian Bell and I was born in Scotland, where I grew up in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. And just as I thought I was destined to stay in the city beneath the hills and the heather all my life, in 2017 I found myself living here in Amsterdam!
My route to The Netherlands, I am sure would be similar to many IWC members. I followed my partner, who had moved here for work. Therefore, I found myself giving up my job as an HR Business Partner in Scotland, packing up the family silver and heading for the lowlands.
My work experience has been varied over the years. I have worked as a Charity Fundraiser in a small Scottish Charity, ran a staff association in a global financial organisation. I have also worked with the UK Government on employee engagement and I have served on the board of a local charity.
Coming to The Netherlands has been a fabulous opportunity to meet new people and experience Dutch art and architecture up close. And I must say it is great to cycle from A to B without encountering a fierce Scottish incline en-route! At the moment I am studying Dutch language at evening classes in Amsterdam and I enjoy keeping fit by doing the occasional 5K run and attending Pilates classes in the Pijp, which gives me the chance to meet local people and practice my Dutch.
As Programme Officer with the IWC Board, my aim is to generate new and exciting experiences for all IWC members.
Jeanette van den Broek
I was born in Amsterdam and studied languages in Lausanne, Cologne, Bournemouth and Florence.
I lived and worked in Italy in a holiday resort in Riva del Garda for 3 years, then managed a hotel for 5 years in Germany. In between I also managed drugstores. For the greater part of my life I was involved in the travel business, training hostesses, contracting hotels and apartments for the Dutch market and managing travel agencies.
Nowadays I enjoy my free time by traveling, playing bridge, golf and skiing. I have been a full member of the IWC Amsterdam since 1998. I joined the Board in 2005 and have fulfilled different functions, such as Publicity Officer, Membership Officer, Treasurer, Extra Board Member, and again Treasurer.
I now serve as Treasurer, in addition to being a member of the Mulitmedia Team, Newsletter Editor, Open Door Coordinator and Club Historian.