Akiko Ota is the director at English Language Learning Center at Governors State University, and online instructor at Cornerstone University and Grand Canyon University. She received M.A. TESOL, M.S Education (post-secondary and higher education), and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with specialization of post-secondary and higher education all from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. Her research interests include facilitating international students’ success in U.S. higher education and equipping international students with academic social capital. She has been teaching English as a second or other language in Japan and the U.S. for over 23 years in private language schools, non-profit organizations, community colleges, and universities. She has also taught TESOL and Higher Education graduate courses online. Akiko has been very active in professional organizations and has been serving as the teaching and learning rep. in International Educators of Illinois.
Amy Nusser is a Lead Immigration Specialist at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She has worked with international students for over a decade in various roles, including immigration advisor, student services coordinator, and ESL instructor. Amy is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and holds a Master of Arts in TESOL/Applied Linguistics from UIC. She currently co-coordinates the IEI Mentorship Program.
Andie Ingram Eccles has thoroughly enjoyed her four years (and counting) experience in Illinois’s international education. Her higher education experience extends to marketing and recruitment strategy, enrollment and matriculation, academic and student affairs, data administration, and program design, management and evaluation. Andie is the Assistant Director of Credential Programs at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. With IEI, she currently serves as one of the Mentorship Program Coordinators.
Anna Esaki-Smith is Co-Founder of Education Rethink, a global research consultancy that provides advice on international strategies to higher education institutions, private companies, and governmental organizations. Anna specializes in helping universities develop and maximize their global outreach activities including international student recruitment, partnership development, content creation, and global branding. She is also a contributor to Forbes.com, covering education and workforce trends. She previously worked at UC Berkeley, the British Council, and EF Education First, and has been based in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Paris, and currently in New York.
Anna Press is co-founder and co-chair of the International Graduate Student Organization (IGSO) at Loyola University Chicago. She moved to the US in July 2020 and is currently completing the second year of her doctoral studies in Education. She has previously worked in educational policy, labor relations, and as an international educator.
Bernard Ramos is the Vice President and Senior Evaluator at Educational Perspectives (EP). EP is a not-for-profit and NACES-member credential evaluation organization based in Chicago. He has many years of professional experience in international education and credential evaluation. Bernard has presented a various conferences and conducted numerous training workshops with schools and universities.
Brock Goldflies was born, raised, and educated in Chicago. He earned his bachelor's degree from UIC in 2016. He has been evaluating credentials with Scholaro for over two years.
Carmen Hernández, proud Mexican-American and native Chicagoan, received her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also holds a master's degree in Higher Education Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Carmen is currently a Study Abroad Program Manager at Northwestern's Global Learning Office. As an undergraduate student, she studied abroad twice ( Italy and Chile). Before working in the Education Abroad realm, Carmen worked as a Financial Aid Coordinator at Northeastern Illinois University, where she advised and promoted financial literacy. In her spare time she enjoys jumping rope, traveling, cooking and hiking.
Daniel Patlan oversees the daily operations of the Certification Unit and EP Global at the non-for-profit credential evaluation agency Educational Perspectives (EP). He provides also provides support to EP's partners such as Digitary, University of Melbourne and Engineers Ireland. While an well-versed in all countries and fields of study, Daniel specializes in Latin-American, the French, Irish and Australian education systems.
Eliza Plous has over ten years of experience in international higher education in the areas of ISSS and International Enrollment Management. Until recently, she was a member of Loyola University Chicago’s ISSS team, where she served as Faculty Immigration Coordinator, advising J-1 Scholars and filing H-1B petitions for faculty and staff. In November 2021, she made an industry change and now serves as Immigration Lead for Egen Solutions, Inc., a software engineering firm based in Naperville, IL. In this role, she supports all employees currently in H-1B status, as well as all employees on OPT who are eligible for H-1B Cap Registration. While she is ambivalent about having left higher ed, she is thrilled to be able to continue serving the needs of international employees in a new setting.
Elvera King has been working in the area of nonresident tax over the last 5+ years with Sprintax and presented almost 100 nonresident tax webinars and workshops to both nonresident individuals and ISSO staff, to help outline core nonresident tax principles and highlight the importance of nonresident tax compliance.
Guofang Wan, Ph.D. is currently serving as a professor of teacher education at Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Wan’s higher education career includes 25 years of teaching, research and administration at college level. Her research interests include equity in education for all, and media literacy education, as well as effective teacher education.
Dr. Israel Espinosa is the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Saybrook University. He has worked in the field of mental health and counseling for 20 years, serving in leadership roles within community mental health and child welfare agencies. His expertise and research interests are Adolescent Psychology, multicultural counseling, multicultural treatment models, equity in assessment for BIPOC, and Latinx mental health. He serves on the executive board of the IL Psychological Association.
Jenna Feeback has worked in the credential evaluation field as an evaluator at Scholaro, Inc. for the past four years. She specializes in documentation and credential verification. As a past presenter at the TAICEP Annual Conference and an advocate for international education via the NAFSA Advocacy Day program in Washington, D.C., she enjoys sharing her experience and learning new developments in the profession. Jenna attended Ball State University in Indiana and earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree. Prior to credential evaluation, her background was in social work and case management.
Jonny Porter is a College Relations Manager for IES Abroad and holds an M.A. in French Literature and a Graduate Certificate in International Education. After starting as a Peer Advisor at the University of Kentucky, Jonny now holds over five years of experience advising on education abroad. Jonny is passionate about the student experience and increased access to international education. Recently, he received his Professional Certification from The Forum on Education Abroad.
Kara Johnson is Director of International Services at Governors State University. She is currently serving as Past Chair of Study Illinois and was recently appointed to the Illinois District Export Council. Prior to joining GSU in 2016, Kara served as Assistant Director of the International Center at Illinois Institute of Technology and of International Student & Scholar Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Additionally, she has worked at Council on International Educational Exchange, University College Northampton in the UK, University of Missouri - St. Louis, and Summer Study in Paris. Kara received a BA in French from Southeast Missouri State University and an MA in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University.
Karin Brown began her career in international Education in 2001 as Coordinator of International Student Admission at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, enjoyed seven professionally formative years as Assistant, Associate and Director of International Admission at DePaul University in Chicago and has been the proud owner of One Earth International Credential Evaluations in Madison, WI since 2010. Karin has evaluated tens of thousands of international academic credentials from more than 150 countries and enjoys learning something new every day. An enthusiastic world traveler, devoted international educator, small business owner, wife and mother of two (three, if you count a 7lb chihuahua mix), daily meditation keeps Karin sane.
Katherine Haan has worked in the field of international education since 2008 is currently the IEI International Student Representative, working as a Senior Coordinator at Chicago State University. Katherine has experience advising international students and scholars on F and J visas, having previously worked at Governors State University and Purdue Northwest.
Keith E. Jones is currently pursuing his doctorate in the 3C’s program at Loyola University Chicago. He has a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance on viola from West Virginia University and a Master’s of Art in Sociology from Roosevelt University. Currently, he works as a College Advisor and Adjunct Professor of Sociology for Wilbur Wright College, one of the seven City Colleges of Chicago.
Kelly Pilleux-Petronia joined SEVP as a member of the first class of field representatives and serves the Chicago and North/Northwest suburban Illinois territory. She previously spent 14 years working within international departments of varying institutions where she served as a PDSO for nine years. She received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in linguistics from Ohio University.
Lauren Mock is the Director for study abroad at Northern Illinois University. Lauren holds a Master’s of Science in Education from Northern Illinois University and is an alumna of NAFSA Academy Class 9.
Lily Andrules is an Associate Regional Director for The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) located in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to this role she spent three and a half years on the TEAN program team working with students traveling to New Zealand and Asia. She is an alumna of NAFSA Academy Class 14 and has been on the Lessons from Abroad Chicago leadership team since 2016. She focuses a lot of her personal and professional work in the equity, diversity, and inclusion sphere.
Linda Bollivar has studied education, psychology, and French. In 2022, she completed an Education Policy, Organization & Leadership Ed.M. at the University of Illinois (UIUC) in with concentrations in Diversity & Equity in Education as well as Global Studies in Education. Personally, Linda and her husband each studied abroad: After having 2 children of their own, they expanded their family by hosting eight high school international exchange students as well.
Lori Jones, Mathematics Faculty at Elgin Community College, has shared her passion for bringing international content to Statistics classes by presenting Global Infusion projects and ideas at Assessment Diaries at Elgin Community College, IMACC (Illinois Mathematics Association of Community Colleges), and WisMATYC (The Wisconsin Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges) in the past four years. Lori has been teaching Mathematics at Community Colleges since 1991.
Marc Davidson is the Director of Student Affairs at Benedictine University, and was Associate Director of International Programs and Services until July 2021. He holds a BA in Social Science and an MS in Management and Organizational Behavior both from BenU. He has dedicated his career to helping students meet their own personal definitions of success, previously with study abroad and international student advising, and now with his work in Student Affairs. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his three cats and husband, reading sci-fi/fantasy books, and playing video games.
Mark Maranto joined the Glenbrook South High School faculty in the fall of 2005. He has served as an English teacher for twenty years, an instructional coach for six years, The Instructional Supervisor for Fine Arts for four years, and in his current role as Assistant Principal for Student Activities for the past two school years. He holds a Master of Arts degree from Roosevelt University of Chicago in Theatre Directing and a Master of Science degree in Teacher Leadership from Bank Street College in New York City. Mr. Maranto is currently a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at Loyola University of Chicago.
Michaela Kendall is the Chair-Elect for IEI and an Academic Process Specialist at IES Abroad. As an Academic Process Specialist, she acts as a liaison between the US-based staff and the IES Abroad Centers in Spain, South America, and Africa while maintaining program information for those Centers, and finding technological solutions for program- and systems-related issues for the Academic Affairs & Operations department. She earned her BA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in International Studies and Anthropology with a concentration on European countries and a minor in Spanish, and her MA from SIT Graduate Institute in International Education with her thesis focusing on Program Planning and Design. Prior to starting at IES Abroad in 2018, she worked at Libertyville High School as the World Language Lab Facilitator where she helped coordinate and chaperone trips abroad for high school students.
Dr. Michelle Soonhyang Kim is Asst. Professor of TESOL in the Department of Childhood Education, Literacy, and TESOL at the University of North Florida. She has worked with universities and institutes to implement best practices for teaching international students. Her research interests are ESOL teacher preparation and non-native, English-speaking teacher issues. She has published numerous journal articles and served as the journal editor for the International Journal of TESOL and Learning.
Mischa Kasperan began her career in international education in 2011 and currently serves as the Senior International Student Advisor at the University of Chicago. Prior to UChicago, she worked at Indiana University Bloomington as an International Student Services Representative. She has a BA in Art History and was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Murray Findlay is a doctoral student and President of Premier Sports Programs, a youth sports education organization based in Chicago. He also holds a Master's in Business Administration. Originally from the UK, he came to the US in 2000 after graduation from the University of Edinburgh.
Neil Duffy is the A.V.P. of Sprintax and has delivered over 100+ nonresident tax webinars over the last number of years across the U.S.
Nitin Agrawalgrew up in Nepal and immigrated to the U.S. to pursue his education. He graduated from the University of Miami in Florida with a BBA and earned his MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. He has worked for numerous financial institutions, including a fintech group of Western Union, a Norwegian investment fund, and the Corporate & Investment Banking division of Citigroup. He has been in the U.S. on many different immigration statuses, including F-1, OPT, H-1B, L-1, and the Green card. After 15 years of experience as an international student and professional, he wanted to make life easier for the next generation of international students. Interstride is the result of his conviction that technology can empower these students to chase their dreams with confidence.
Rachel Krein currently works as the Director of Graduate and International Admission at Bradley University, which includes overseeing and creating policy for all levels of international admission and both on-campus and online graduate admission. She also serves as the university's PDSO. Before coming to Bradley, she worked in ISSS at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Illinois State University (ISU). She has a B.A. from Augustana College and an M.S. in College Student Personnel Administration from ISU. Rachel serves as the Registrar for Region V and is a proud NAFSA Academy alum.
Sara McGuinn is Chair of IEI and a Senior Study Abroad Program Manager in the Global Learning Office, part of the Buffett Institute at Northwestern University, where she has held different roles in education abroad during the last nine years. Prior to working at Northwestern, she taught ESL at the College of Lake County. She earned her MA in Applied Linguistics from University of Massachusetts Boston and her BA in Spanish from Northwestern.
Saskia Hofman joined SEVP as a member of the third class of field representatives and serves the far southside of Chicago, outlying suburbs and the greater Illinois territory. Prior to joining SEVP, Ms. Hofman worked as P/DSO for 20 years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She holds bachelor’s degrees in international studies and French from Miami University of Ohio, and a master’s degree in multicultural communication from DePaul University.
Scott Pollock has practiced immigration law since 1985. He is the principal attorney for Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. in Chicago, IL. He has been a member of NAFSA since the 1990's and has spoken at national and regional NAFSA and IEI conferences on immigration law topics.
Shelly Alfaro received her bachelor's degree in International Relations from Texas State University in 2015. During her time at Texas State, she also participated in the ISA Global Ambassador program and served as a Study Abroad Peer Advisor before graduation. For almost four years, Shelly served as the ISA Regional Director for NAFSA Region V; however, she now serves as the Associate Director for Alumni Relations for WorldStrides Higher Education, which includes both ISA and TEAN. Shelly also serves as the Chair for the WorldStrides Latinx Employee Resource Group, Caminamos Juntos.
Tony Marotta is Director of International Admission and Student Services at Elmhurst University, and has worked as an international student advisor, DSO, and international admissions representative in various other Chicagoland institutions over the past decade. Tony’s previous higher education life was spent primarily in Student Affairs offices, such as Residence Life, Leadership, DEI, and Student Activities, and he brings a holistic approach to his higher education work. Tony has a BA in English from Elmhurst University and a MS in College Student Personnel from Illinois University.
Dr. Yurimi Grigsby is a professor in the Department of Curriculum, Technology, and Inclusive Education within the College of Education at Concordia University Chicago. Her teaching expertise and research interests include sociolinguistics, race/ethnicity in higher education, and mixed race identity. She has published articles on implementing cultural narratives and digital stories in the classroom. She received her PhD from the University of Tennessee and misses the Appalachian Mountains.
Zak Holochwost has worked at Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (ECE) since 2006 in various roles. His current position as ECE® Aid and Market Research Manager has allowed Zak to utilize his knowledge in fundraising development and market research to better serve the philanthropic efforts of ECE, as well as the marketing team. Zak has presented at numerous regional, national, and international conferences as well as having developed and presented multiple training sessions. Zak earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, with majors in Political Science and Linguistics, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In early 2015, Zak earned a Master of Arts degree in Public Service, with a specialization in the Nonprofit Sector, from Marquette University.
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