Keynote Speaker

Department of Education LogoCheryl Gibbs, Senior Director, International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE), U.S. Department of Education

Cheryl E. Gibbs is the Senior Director of the office of International and Foreign Language Education. She directs IFLE’s grant administration and policy development activities and oversees the administration of all Title VI and Fulbright-Hays institutional grant and fellowship programs. In addition to her role as Senior Director, Cheryl also serves as the Director of IFLE’s Advanced Training and Research Division (ATRD) team, and works as a Program Officer for the South Asia portfolio of the National Resource Centers and Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships programs.

Cheryl received a Bachelor of Science in English from Clarion University and a Master of Education in Curriculum Development and School Supervision from Westminster College. Cheryl began her Federal career in the Office of Postsecondary Education in 1984 after relocating to DC when her former career as a high school English teacher in her hometown of Sharon, Pennsylvania ended. She holds the distinction of being the first African-American secondary school teacher hired by the Sharon School District.


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Abigail Barnes, Consular Fellows Program Recruiter, U.S. Department of State

Abigail BarnesAbigail Barnes is the Consular Fellows Program (CFP) recruiter. She is a Virginia native and studied International Relations and French at the College of William & Mary. Her first experience with the Department of State was interning for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, where she analyzed human resources management policy reform to provide policy recommendations. She developed an interest in learning about languages and people from completing a five-year Spanish immersion program and a visit to Russia. She enjoys trying new things, and speaks intermediate French and Russian, and elementary Spanish.

Aleia Maculam,Program Officer, National Security Education Program, Department of Defense

Aleia MaculamAleia currently serves as a Program Officer at the National Security Education Program, where she supports key initiatives, such as the Boren Awards, that promote study abroad and critical language and culture acquisition. Prior to joining NSEP in 2016, Aleia studied and worked for two years in Morocco as a Boren Scholar and English language instructor. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2014 with a B.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and is currently a graduate student at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.

Anja Green, Content Development Manager, Mango

Image previewAnja is the Content Development Manager at Mango Languages, with an M.A. in Applied Linguistics/Translation from Leipzig University in Germany. With 16 years under her belt as a linguist expert, the last 11 have been spent with Mango Languages, where she leads teams of linguists and subject matter experts in the creation of learning content, development of new tools and features, and administration of new and innovative language instruction modules.

Anne O. Fisher, Senior Lecturer, Translation and Interpreting Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Image previewRussian to English literary translator Anne O. Fisher’s 2019 publications include “Monitor-1” by Shura Burtin (winner of the inaugural True Story Award for long-form journalism); “Nervous,” a one-act play by Julia Lukshina (Asymptote); and poetry and prose by Ilya Danishevsky and Dmitry Kuzmin in “Life Stories, Death Sentences: Contemporary Russian-Language LGBTQ+ Writing” (In Translation). In 2020, Fisher and co-translator Alex Karsavin won a RusTRANS grant to translate Ilya Danishevsky’s hybrid novel Mannelig in Chains. Fisher teaches remotely for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Translation and Interpreting Studies program and is the Vice-President of ALTA (the American Literary Translators Association). You can find out more at

Brian Cooke, Program Officer, Project GO & Language Training Centers, Institute of International Education (IIE)

Brian Cooke HeadshotBrian re-joined IIE as a Program Officer in 2018 (having initially worked at the Institute from 2009-2010). Prior to re-joining, Brian worked in several DoD program support and non-profit management roles, including most recently as Vice President, Operations and Strategy, at The Manufacturing Institute. From 2013 to 2017, Brian served as Chief of Staff and later as Executive Director of the Armed Forces Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the physical, mental, and emotional wellness of military service members, veterans, and their families. Prior to that, Brian was a Senior Policy Analyst at The Charles Group, a government affairs consultancy, specializing in national security policy and DoD management issues. From 2005-2008, Brian served on active duty as a US Army Field Artillery officer. He was deployed during this time to Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a platoon leader and staff officer in the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Brian is a 2005 graduate of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he majored in International Politics and studied Russian. Brian also holds an MA in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University, earning honors for his thesis, “The United States Army and Counterinsurgency: History, Culture, Application, and Institutionalization.” Originally from Freehold, New Jersey, Brian has lived in Washington, DC since 2009.

Guido Podestá, Vice Provost and Dean, International Division

Image of Guido PodestáThe Vice Provost and Dean of the International Division provides leadership across the University of Wisconsin-Madison for international education and engagement, and for strategic planning and coordination in this area. The Vice Provost and Dean promotes faculty collaboration and initiatives in international teaching, research, and outreach.

The Vice Provost and Dean serves as the Senior International Education Officer for the university and as the Dean of the International Division, which includes oversight responsibilities for the Institute for Regional and International Studies, International Academic Programs (study abroad), International Internship Program, Office of International Projects, and International Safety and Security Office. Additionally, Podestá oversees and coordinates the process of signing or renewing agreements between UW–Madison and institutions outside of the United States.

Prior to his current role, Podestá served as associate dean of international studies. A professor and former chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, he previously directed the university’s program in Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies.

Since joining UW-Madison in 1987, Podestá has received numerous awards, including a Romnes Faculty Fellowship, a resident fellowship from the Institute for Research in the Humanities, and a senior fellowship from the American Council for Learned Societies.

Podestá received his doctoral and master’s degrees in Spanish and Portuguese from the University of Minnesota, and his bachelor’s degree in literature from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Perú.

He has published four books and several academic essays in his area of expertise, Latin American literature, cinema, and cultures.

Hillary Robertson Collado, Assistant Director, Boren Awards, Institute of International Education (IIE)

Hilary HeadshotMs. Hilary Robertson Collado is the Assistant Director for the Boren Awards at the Institute of International Education (IIE). She joined IIE as a program officer for The Language Flagship, and before working at IIE Hilary worked in the Persian Flagship Program at the University of Maryland, College Park for three years. Prior to that, Hilary worked at the Arab American Institute focusing on community relations, national leadership and youth-empowerment programs. 

Ms. Robertson Collado received a BA in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College where she interned in Beirut, Lebanon and studied abroad in Damascus, Syria and Granada, Spain, and she is currently a student in the Master of Public Management program at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy.

Janelle Hawk, Translation Team, Epic

Joemer A. Ta-ala, Assistant Provost, ETD, Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC)

Joemer Ta-Ala photoJoemer Ta-ala is currently the Assistant Provost of Educational Technology and Development (ETD) at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. Before joining ETD, he was the academic advisor of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s AFPAK Hands Program at DLI-Washington. He has been an adjunct faculty at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies where he taught a graduate course in Educational Linguistics, and at the University of Tampa when he was assigned at the Field Support Language Training Detachment in Tampa, FL. His research interests are in Second Language Acquisition, particularly second language phonetics and phonology.

Katie Jost, Program Director, Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC)

Image preview Katie Jost joined CAORC in 2016.  As Program Director, she oversees and administers CAORC programs including CAORC’s U.S. Department of State subgrants, all fellowship programs, and the library acquisitions project in West Africa. Katie also works with CAORC’s network of overseas research centers on a variety of initiatives, including managing and continuing to develop an online grants administration system. Prior to CAORC, Katie received an MSc in European Political Economy from the London School of Economics and spent several years working at non-profits, including the British Academy in London and the Institute of International Education in Washington D.C.   

Kaveri Advani, Program Manager, The Language Flagship, National Security Education Program (NSEP)

Ms. Kaveri Advani is a program manager for The Language Flagship at the National Security Education Program (NSEP). She is primarily responsible for coordinating the Flagship overseas programs and the Korean, Persian, Portuguese, and Turkish Flagship domestic Programs. Prior to joining NSEP in 2009, Ms. Advani received a Boren Fellowship to study Arabic and conduct research in Yemen and Syria. She previously interned with the United States’ Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program in New York, NY, and interned with the United Nations Information Center in New Delhi, India.

Ms. Advani received her Masters of Arts degree from New York University in politics with a focus on comparative politics. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a minor in Russian language from Loyola University, New Orleans. She received a Tcherepnine scholarship in 2002 to study Russian in St. Petersburg, Russia. Ms. Advani has travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Laura Hammond, Director, UW Language Program Office and Administrative Director, South Asia Summer Language Institute (SASLI)

Laura Hammon PhotographLaura Hammond has been working with the Center for South Asia (CSA) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 2003. She leads projects and grants affiliated with CSA and acts as the US Director of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) and the Administrative Director for the South Asia Summer Language Institute (SASLI), both since 2006. She understands these programs at the deepest level. In addition to her work with AIPS and SASLI, Ms. Hammond has been the US Director for the American Institute of Bangladesh Studies (AIBS) from 2008-2019. In 2012, she became the Executive Director for Project Global Officer and (in 2016) and became the Administrative Director for the South Asian Flagship Languages Initiative (SAFLI). Adding to the UW-Madison Flagship Languages Initiatives, in 2018, she became the Administrative Director for the Indonesian Flagship Language Initiative and the Turkish Flagship Language Initiative in 2020. In 2020, she became the Director of a newly structured office, the Language Program Office, in the International Division. She has more than seventeen years of experience administering international and educational programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Ms. Hammond regularly presents at major conferences on AIPS, SASLI, AIBS, Project GO, and SAFLI activities and can be found at exhibition booths promoting the UW-Madison Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI) among the other projects. She has sat on the Critical Languages Scholarship review panel, and the AIBS, AIPS, the AIPS-Berkeley Urdu Language Program in Pakistan, and SASLI Executive Committees, and regularly sits on the SASLI FLAS, Fee Remission, and Hiring Committees.

Lesley Bartlett, Faculty Director, Institute for Regional and International Studies International Division (IRIS)

Lesley Bartlett Headshot
(Photo by Sarah Maughan UW-Madison)

Lesley Bartlett is a Professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Faculty Director of the Institute for Regional and International Studies. An anthropologist by training who works in the field of International and Comparative Education, Professor Bartlett’s recent research focuses on migration and on language, multilingualism, and literacy. She currently co-edits the Anthropology and Education Quarterly with her colleague, Professor Stacey Lee.

Mark Lilleleht, Assistant Director for Awards, Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at UW-Madison

Mark LillelehtMark Lilleleht is the Assistant Director for Awards at the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at UW-Madison. He coordinates a number of IRIS-based awards for student research & study as well as the campus-side process and support for a number of nationally and internationally-competitive awards, including: Boren Fellowship awards (for graduate students), Critical Language Scholarship, Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Award, Luce Scholars Program, and Schwarzman Scholars. He also serves as the UW-Madison’s Fulbright Program Advisor & Scholar Liaison for those interested in opportunities available through the Fulbright US Student and Fulbright Scholar programs.

Julie E. Taylor, Senior Director of Academic Relations for Fulbright Institute of International Education (IIE)

Julie Taylor ImageDr. Julie Taylor joined IIE as the Senior Director of Academic Relations for Fulbright in 2019. Prior to IIE she was Senior Director of Research at American University’s School of International Service and at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

Before her career in university administration, Taylor was an expert on Middle East political and security issues, working as a political scientist at the RAND Corporation and as a professor in the Near Eastern Studies Department at Princeton University. She spent nearly five years living and working in the Middle East, primarily in Egypt, Iran, and Jordan. Taylor served as a trustee for the American Institute for Iranian Studies and was a Strategic Studies Fellow at Harvard’s John M. Olin Center. She has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA.

Ron Packowitz, Diplomat in Residence for the Midwest, U.S. Department of State

Ron Packowitz PhotoRon Packowitz is the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomat in Residence for the Midwest, based at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Ron has been a Foreign Service officer for 20 years, and his overseas assignments have included Ecuador, Colombia, Germany, the UK, and Afghanistan.  He was born and raised in Chicago.

Event Organizers

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Felecia Lucht, Director, Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI)

Portrait of Felecia LuchtFelecia Lucht is the Director of the Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Dr. Lucht has an MA and PhD in German Linguistics with a PhD minor in Second Language Acquisition from UW-Madison.  She holds an MA in International Affairs with a concentration in Comparative and Regional Studies from the School of International Service (SIS) at the American University in Washington, DC.  She has a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where she completed a double major in German and International Studies, and a minor in Russian.  Prior to her role as WISLI Director, Lucht taught language classes and courses in second language acquisition, foreign language methodology, and foreign language testing.  Lucht has studied German and Russian (and some Dutch), and is currently learning Arabic and Brazilian Portuguese.

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Essie Lenchner, Event Coordinator, Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI)

Lenchner is the Travel and Event Management System Coordinator for the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS), and the Events Assistant for Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI). Essie speaks native Hebrew, and as a heritage German speaker is familiar with the challenges of or re-learning a native language. She has experience with conference planning and online events, and has worked as a travel assistant for a cycling vacation company, for people who like to see the world by bike.

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Chandler Maas, Assistant, Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI)

Chandler Maas is the Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI) Assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a recent graduate from UW-Madison with a BA in International Studies and a certificate in French. In 2019, she attended the Summer Intensive Portuguese Institute (SIPI). She has continued her studies in Portuguese along with Spanish and French.

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