Teacher with students in the classroom

Ismail Kenessy '94

Ismail Kenessy '94
Ismail Kenessy '94

Foreign Service Officer - Internal Auditor USAID
Dakar, Senegal

Ismail Kenessy (Ismael Khenissi while in Rochambeau) was born in Tunis to Tunisian parents and moved to the U.S. in 1983. Not knowing a word of English, Ismail attended Rochambeau from CE1 until Premiere in 1993. With an American High School diploma in hand and fluent in English, Ismail enrolled in George Mason University where he graduated with a BS in Accounting. He recalls that in 1994, most of his classmates left for Canada and Europe, which made it difficult to keep in touch over time. “If any 1994 classmates are reading this, say hello!

Following his Bachelors, Ismail worked in various accounting and financial positions at international organizations in the U.S. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C, Ismail, enrolled his two daughters at Rochambeau. As it happens with most of our worldly international families, for Ismail, it was not long before overseas work beckoned. He joined the Office of Inspector General for USAID as a Foreign Service Officer to provide oversight of USAID projects. As an established lead auditor, Ismail has developed findings in complex audit circumstances around the world including in human rights programs in Colombia and Cash for Work programs in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Being a FSO, has meant international travel and postings in El Salvador and Senegal, with a in between 3 year detour in Rome with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. “My work will take me and my family to Pretoria, South Africa next after a lovely 4 years in Senegal.” Luckily, with so much moving around, “I’ve had the chance to see and meet Rochambeau graduates around the world”. Ismail and his two daughters spend summer-leave in Bethesda and Chevy Chase with his parents, friends, and family.


A key benefit of my time in Rochambeau was the stellar instruction of the English language. It goes without saying that we get an excellent grasp of French at Rochambeau, but it was only in later that I realized this was also the case for English.  From Mrs. Ermler (my first English teacher in 1983) to Ms. Piurek, Rochambeau took English seriously and has been a great asset for many of us not from Anglophone origins. Of course, the interactions and friendships one had in Rochambeau makes one very comfortable almost anywhere in the world.