updated 2:27 PM CET, Feb 8, 2023

Doris Speer confirmed as new AARO president, succeeding William Jordan

Doris Speer, right, with AARO co-founder Kathleen Di Carbuccia, at Reid Hall in Paris Doris Speer, right, with AARO co-founder Kathleen Di Carbuccia, at Reid Hall in Paris

Doris Speer, an American lawyer originally from Detroit – whose expatriate life originally began in the 1980s as a musician – has been confirmed as the new president of the Paris-based Association of Americans Resident Overseas.

Speer had been nominated to the two-year post in January, and her appointment was formally confirmed at a meeting of the AARO board last month.

She succeeds William Jordan, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer, who was named to head up AARO in 2020, but who announced his decision to step down at the end of last year. She is the first woman to head up AARO since Lucy Stensland Laederich was the organization's president from 2012 through 2016.

Speer, who is pictured above with AARO co-founder Kathleen Di Carbuccia, first came to the city in 1984, to further her musical studies and to do what she calls "the starving artist/bohemian life routine" for two-and-a-half years before reluctantly returning to Detroit to attend law school – but with a plan to "get back to Paris" one day.

Although she graduated first in her class in 1990, it took her more than a decade to achieve this goal, which occurred when the New York arm of the French transport company she was working for at the time, Alstom SA, promoted her to the role of Deputy General Counsel in 2004, which finally brought her back to France.  

Commenting on her being chosen to lead AARO, Speer said she was "naturally, very honored,"  as "I admire this organization, and its mission to help Americans abroad.

"The board and other volunteers here are enthusiastic, talented, informed and dedicated people, who are working tirelessly to improve the options for American expats around the world."

As for the instrument she used to play in her days as a musician – she says she played "percussion", which involves "a large group of instruments, the skins, keyboards, cymbals and other strange instruments that you see at the back of an orchestra...

"This was great training for my career in the law, as it required teamwork, organizational skills and multi-tasking." 

Also named to the AARO board:

       *  Paul Libiszowski, a retired international development specialist, whose career focussed on financial management, operations, and program development, primarily in the health sector;

      *  Ann Madden, a healthcare industry executive for more than 30 years, for various U.S. and European multi-nationals; and

      *  Nancy Rafanelli, a former investment analyst with more than 30 years of experience working for brokerage firms and asset managers in New York, Boston and London.

These three new members bring to 20 the AARO board head count. A spokesperson for the organization says board members aren't normally replaced when they depart, but that the number is allowed to vary, as some people choose to depart after their two-year terms and others choose to opt to be re-elected, and that the total can go as high as 24.

A complete listing of the AARO board as it now stands may be found on the AARO website by clicking here.

Founded 49 years ago

AARO was founded in 1973 by Phyllis Michaux and a group of other Americans who were concerned (even then) about the way they thought that U.S. government was treating its citizens abroad.

Today it's an international, non-profit, non-partisan, volunteer-run association with members in 46 countries. It researches issues that it believes are significantly affecting the lives of overseas Americans and works to keep its members informed of those issues, while also lobbying on behalf of such expatriate causes as taxation, citizenship issues, Social Security and Medicare.

Once a year, the organization aims to send a group of its board members to Washington, to talk to officials there about expat issues; the next such visit is expected to take place in the first half of 2023, a spokesperson said. 

In Paris, AARO's offices are housed in Reid Hall, an academic complex owned by Columbia University that's located in the Montparnasse area, a part of Paris in which many Americans of the "Lost Generation" made their homes, and their names, during the 1920s and 1930s.