February 5, 2013
Cultural Care’s Au Pairs of the Year 2013

Each year, we ask our Cultural Care Au Pair host families for nominations for the Au Pair of the Year award sponsored by the International Au Pair Association, or IAPA, and each year we are overwhelmed by the heartwarming essays showcasing au pairs that are making a tremendous difference in the lives of the children for whom they care.

Au pair programs around the world can submit up to three nominations for the International Au Pair of the Year Award and it is always difficult to select three from the many wonderful applications that we receive. Our staff rate the essays and then vote for their top choices. We are happy to share the nomination essays for our three semi-finalists:


Isabel Hermenau from Germany who takes care of two girls who have faced many challenges this year — a community tragedy, a devastating hurricane and a mom with cancer. “This might have frightened away many prospective au pairs, but fortunately for our family, Isi does not scare easily. We have learned that she embraces challenges with courage and competence,” says her host mom. “We feel she has made the happy moments of our lives even more joyous and has helped us manage the challenging times in ways that transformed them into positive memories and lessons for our daughters.”


Pilar Torres from Colombia who cares for three children Her host mom writes, “She plays games, rides bike, orchestrates plays and puppet shows, paints and draws with them, goes for walks and ‘hunts for bears’, and cleans up after watching three little chefs in the kitchen, all while somehow figuring out the needs and wants of two little girls whose language is significantly delayed.” Pilar has managed to beautifully care for the children with exuberance and grace while also being the first in her Colombian university to complete her BA degree and present her thesis via Skype.


Franziska Stahl from Germany who takes care of three children, each with special medical needs. She has also helped during two unusual and difficult situations. Her host mom writes, “She helped me keep my kids safe and content during Hurricane Sandy, during which we were without power for nine days.  She then helped protect my kids’ innocence when we dealt with multiple school lockdowns in the fallout from the tragedy in Newtown, CT, which is right in our backyard and immensely personal. She was strong and supportive and nurturing and I could not have done it without her.”


In addition to selecting three semi-finalists to submit to the International Au Pair Association, Cultural Care also recognizes the top-rated nominations in each state and selects state Cultural Care Au Pairs of the Year. This year’s honorees are:

  • California (Southern):  Pilar Rico Perez from Mexico with the Hunter family
  • California (Northern):  Pilar Torres from Colombia with the Hughes family
  • Colorado:   Nicole Steindl from Austria with the Chilton family
  • Connecticut:  Franziska Stahl from Germany with the Matte family
  • Florida: Alissa Simmons from Australia with the Sokoloff family
  • Georgia: Stefania Gomez Luna from Colombia with the Smythe family
  • Illinois: Nathalia Mollon dos Santos from Brazil with the Officer family
  • Indiana: Fabienne Feurstein from Switzerland with the Wood family
  • Maine: Tanja Bruestle from Austria with the Adams family
  • Maryland: Boom Tungduangdee from Thailand with the King family
  • Massachusetts: Fernanda Kominkiewicz from Bazil with the Clifford family
  • Michigan: Maria Ramirez from Mexico with the Wood family
  • Minnesota: Edith Sailer from Austria with the Kertz family
  • Missouri: Judith Montalvo from Mexico with the Lloyd family
  • New Hampshire: Anna Vieth from Germany with the Goucher family
  • New Jersey: Shirley Muniz Galhardi from Brazil with the Santos family
  • New York: Isabel Hermenau from Germany with the Hacking family
  • North Carolina: Verena Grabner from Austria with the Harris family
  • Ohio: Valentina Hoyos Farfan from Colombia with the Pickering family
  • Pennsylvania: Lisa Kammer from Germany with the Monroe family
  • Tennessee: Madeleine Segur-Cabanac from Austria with the Raymer family
  • Texas: Sara Melina Rauschning from Germany with the Powers family
  • Utah: Jessica Rüttgardt from Germany with the Blankenau family
  • Vermont: Gina Koenemann from Germany with the Ambroggio family
  • Virginia: Hulya Durbak from Germany with the Celebi family
  • Washington: Malin Asplund from Sweden with the Kvart/Dublin family
  • Washington, DC: Sofia Morales from Mexico with the Turner family
  • Wisconsin: Elizabeth Camargo Gonzalez from Colombia with the Speece family

Cultural Care is grateful for the au pairs who go above-and-beyond in their roles and for the host families who take the time to acknowledge these outstanding young men and women. We are also thankful for IAPA’s International Au Pair of the Year award as an important way to recognize not only one young person’s achievements as an au pair, but to salute the efforts of all au pairs around the world.

More From Au Pair Stories
October 8, 2012
The Ohl family, hosts to 17 au pairs, held an au pair reunion in Mu...
This summer, Katrina and John Ohl and their two daughters, Kristina and Liana, hosted an a ...
August 24, 2012
Cultural Care au pairs reveal their favorite fun summer activities ...
During the school break, au pairs are challenged with keeping their host kids busier than ...
July 19, 2010
Cultural Care Au Pair Video Contest Winners Announced!
Since Cultural Care Au Pair's Video Contest was launched on April 14th, we received more t ...