LCTL 2020

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For public and private organizations to operate successfully on the global stage, individuals are needed who can communicate across languages. Programs like the Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI) have been helping to cultivate the crucial skills needed for global engagement. In effort to connect speakers of less commonly taught languages (LCTL) with professional development and career opportunities, WISLI hosted the LCTL Career Fair.

The event was held virtually on July 17, 2020 and drew over 450 attendees, including UW–Madison students, students from other universities, and language instructors. In addition, 19 panelists and over 42 exhibitors across various fields participated  by connecting with language learners and make them aware of opportunities and needs across industries.

IFLE director speaks on importance of language learning

Cheryl Gibbs, senior director, International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE), U.S. Department of Education, served as keynote speaker for the fair. The IFLE office administers Title VI (domestic) and Fulbright-Hays (overseas) grant and fellowship programs that strengthen foreign language instruction, area/international studies teaching and research, professional development for educators, and curriculum development at the K-12, graduate, and postsecondary levels.

In addressing participants, Gibbs noted that students taking part in language learning programs supported by IFLE, such as WISLI, find opportunities in both the public and private sectors through employers like the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, U.S. Agency for International Development, Institute for Peace Studies, Teach for America, Google, Brookings Institute, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and others.

“The language training takes you to public and private and government sectors that really need individuals who speak the language, and who by learning the language, have a maturity and an understanding of what it means to operate in a global environment,” Gibbs said.

Beyond preparing students for meaningful employment and developing individuals who can play roles in strengthening national security, diplomacy, and economic competitiveness, Gibbs said that learning about languages and programs allow students to effect change in the world.

Following Gibbs’ keynote, panel discussions were held on topics such as “Opportunities for Speakers of Less Commonly Taught Languages in the Government,” “Opportunities for Speakers of Less Commonly Taught Languages In the Private Sector,” and “Professional Development Opportunities for Speakers of Less Commonly Taught Languages.”

Participants had the opportunity to ask panelists about desirable skills, how to navigate public sector opportunities, and what panelists saw as the future of LCTLs in the scope of global engagement. In addition, participants received access to resources from exhibitors, which will allow them to further access professional development opportunities or even find a job requiring their unique skillset.

“Less commonly taught” does not equal “less commonly spoken”

A common misunderstanding about less commonly taught languages is that they are less commonly spoken. Often that is not the case.

Languages such as Bengali (130 million speakers), Telugu (81 million), and Tamil (69 million), may not be as familiar to some in the U.S. compared to more commonly taught languages like French (77.2 million), German (76.1 million), and Italian (64.8 million).*

“Although they are ‘less commonly taught,’ these languages may well represent huge numbers of speakers,” said Lesley Bartlett, faculty director for the Institute for Regional and International Studies at UW–Madison. “Many of the less commonly taught languages are critically important to international relations in the 21st century. However, the low level of current enrollments jeopardizes the relatively few existing programs and significantly restricts access to language learning opportunities for the large majority of students in the United States.”

WISLI has made strong strides in increasing the number of speakers for LCTLs. This summer, WISLI has 375 participants, a record number. WISLI staff hope to continue this trend in the future through virtual and in-person offerings, both formats which have shown strong growth for participants.

2020 Program Agenda

Program Agenda for Friday, July 17, 2020
1:30-4:45 p.m. CDT

Program events are listed in Central Daylight Time.  To calculate the time in your time zone, you may wish to use a time zone converter tool. 

This is was a virtual event. We used Webex as our platform to host and present. There was no cost for registration. This event was also livestreamed and the link is available here: WISLI Facebook page.

1:30-2:30 p.m. CDT:  Welcome, Keynote Address and Keynote Speaker Q&A

  • Laura Hammond, Director, UW Language Program Office and Administrative Director, South Asia Summer Language Institute (SASLI)
  • Guido Podestá, Vice Provost and Dean, International Division
  • Lesley Bartlett, Faculty Director, Institute for Regional and International Studies International Division (IRIS)
  • Keynote Address: Cheryl Gibbs, Senior Director, International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE), U.S. Department of Education

2:30-3:00 p.m. CDT:  Panel Session 1 – Opportunities for Speakers of Less Commonly Taught Languages in the Government

  • Hilary Robertson Collado, Assistant Director, Boren Awards, Institute of International Education (IIE) & Aleia Maculam, Program Officer, National Security Education Program (NSEP), Department of Defense
  • Joemer A. Ta-ala, Assistant Provost, ETD, Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC)
  • Abigail Barnes, Recruitment Analyst, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs & Bureau of Global Talent Management & Ron Packowitz Diplomat in Residence (DIR) – Midwest

3:00-3:30 p.m. CDT:  Panel Session 2 – Opportunities for Speakers of Less Commonly Taught Languages in the Private Sector

  • Anne O. Fisher, Senior Lecturer, Translation and Interpreting Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Anja Green, Content Development Manager, Mango Languages
  • Janelle Hawk, Translation Team, Epic

3:30-4:15 p.m.:  CDT Panel Session 3 – Professional Development Opportunities for Speakers of Less Commonly Taught Languages

  • Kaveri Advani, Program Manager, The Language Flagship, National Security Education Program (NSEP) & Brian Cooke, Program Officer, Project GO & Language Training Centers, Institute of International Education (IIE)
  • Katie Jost, Program Director, Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC)
  • Mark Lilleleht, Assistant Director for Awards, Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at UW-Madison
  • Julie E. Taylor, Director of Academic Relations for Fulbright Institute of International Education (IIE)
  • Addisu Hodes, Project Manager, Government Contracts and Rula Malky, Training and Certification Specialist, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)

4:15-4:45 p.m.:  Closing Discussion Session – Question and Answers

In addition to the live event, there was also an opportunity to learn about career and professional development opportunities by visiting our Virtual Exhibitors Directory, where employers and organizations had information available for those interested in exploring career options for speakers of less commonly taught languages, and professional development opportunities for learners of less commonly taught languages.

List of Exhibitors

Browse this directory to find employment and career development opportunities from LCTL 2020. You may use the links and contact information provided to get in touch, but keep in mind they are from last year’s event.

The information provided in the Virtual Exhibitor Directory is provided by external parties.  WISLI is not responsible for the content of the external links and if there are any questions about information provided by the exhibitors, the organizations should be contacted directly.  


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.


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 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Image previewKatie 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.

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 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 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 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 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 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.