Meet the Speakers

Featured Guest Speaker

Eva Millona, Assistant Secretary for Partnership & Engagement (DHS)

Eva A. Millona was appointed as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistant Secretary for Partnership and Engagement on May 26, 2021. In this role, she serves as the Secretary’s primary advisor on the impact of the Department’s policies, regulations, processes, and actions on state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT) governments, SLTT elected officials, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and the academic community, ensuring a unified approach to external engagement.

Prior to joining DHS, Ms. Millona was President and Chief Executive Officer for over 12 years at the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the largest organization in New England promoting and enhancing integration for new Americans. She held multiple leadership positions with MIRA for over 20 years.  During her tenure, she led the organization through multiple policy advancements, built a vision of inclusion and the fabric of trusted relationships.  Ms. Millona is co-founder of and co-chaired the Massachusetts Business Immigration Coalition in 2018.  In 2010, she was co-founder of and co-chaired for 11 years the National Partnership for New Americans, a National organization focused on immigrant integration at the local, state, and federal levels. Ms. Millona also chaired the 2020 U.S. Census Statewide Complete Count Committee in Massachusetts.

A native of Albania, Ms. Millona practiced civil and criminal law before becoming the youngest district judge ever appointed to Tirana’s District Court, where she served from 1989 to 1992. After immigrating to the U.S., she directed the refugee resettlement program in Central Massachusetts.  She served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Massachusetts Governor’s Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants under four governors, the Attorney General’s Council for New Americans, and the Advisory Board for the Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement.  Ms. Millona taught Global Policy as an adjunct professor of practice at Boston College School of Social Work. 

Today Ms. Millona is recognized both nationally and internationally as an expert and leader on immigration policy and immigrant and refugee integration. She has received numerous awards for her leadership and impact, including the prestigious U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 2009 Outstanding American by Choice Award and the 2010 Wainwright Bank Social Justice Award. Ms. Millona is a graduate of Clark University where she obtained a Master of Arts in Political Science. She also holds a law degree from the University of Tirana.

Session Speakers & Panelists

Gabriela Ardito

President, ARSAA (Argentine Study Abroad Association)

Gabriela Ardito holds a PhD in Modern Languages and has been involved in ESL Teaching, Research and Language Travel for almost three decades.  Founder & CEO at VCE International, Gabriela has signed collaboration agreements with renowned international educational institutions, is an ICEF trained agent; Quality English, IALC & English UK partner agent; ALTO member, and has served as ARSAA president since it was launched in 2016. Passionate about progress, development and constant evolution, Gabriela started up as a very young private ESL tutor to then be able to found her own school, become a university lecturer and start her own language travel business. Mother of two teenage sons, she sometimes finds it hard to strike a balance between her career and her family life. However, that has not deterred her from teaching, engaging in as many research projects and industry events as she can, expanding the range of programs VCE International has on offer, exploring new study abroad destinations, and working towards the growth of ARSAA so as to position the Argentine market both in Latin America and the rest of the world.

Alexandre Argenta

President, BELTA

Alexandre is the current president of BELTA– Brazilian Educational & Language Travel Association and CEO/founding partner of Travelmate Intercâmbio since 2002. He previously served as Financial Director of the association from 2020 to 2021 and Regional Coordinator of BELTA in the States of Paraná and Santa Catarina. His professional experience with international education dates back to 1994. He graduated in Foreign Trade from the Federal University of Paraná, postgraduate in Customs Law and Foreign Trade from Univali – Santa Catarina, MBA in Business Management and Marketing from ISAE/ FGV – Getúlio Vargas Foundation. He is a former high school exchange student in the US. He’s married and father of Mell, future exchange student!

Rosa Aronson

Interim Executive Director, TESOL

Rosa Aronson is the Executive Director of the TESOL International Association (TESOL).   A former Fulbright exchange teacher, Dr. Aronson started her education career as an English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher in France. She holds a Master’s degree in English Linguistics from the University of Aix-en-Provence, France, and a Ph.D. in Social Foundations of Education from the University of Virginia, in the United States. In 2008 Aronson earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from the American Society of Association Executives. In 2015, she was named a Fellow of ASAE, an honorary recognition for service to the association profession. Prior to her service at TESOL, Dr. Aronson had 24 years of experience in nonprofit association management with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), headquartered in Reston, Virginia, USA.  Her most recent presentations have been in Dubai, UAE; Kabul, Afghanistan; Miragoane, Haiti; Iquique, Chile; Paris, France; Pakistan and various conferences in the United States. 

Russell Barcyzk

Branch Chief, Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, United States Department of State

Russell Barczyk the Regional Branch Chief for the Office of English Language Programs and a Regional English Language Officer (RELO). Russell served as RELO in Morocco and Nepal. He was an English Language Fellow in Morocco, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Turkey, having worked in a university, NGO, ministry of education, and English teachers’ association. He was also an English Language Specialist in handful of projects around the globe. 

Cheryl Ernst

Executive Director, American English Institute (AEI), University of Oregon & President, UCIEP

Cheryl Ernst, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the American English Institute at the University of Oregon. With over 25 years of teaching and administrative experience, she the President of UCIEP and past chair of Study Oregon.  Building bridges through international education is her passion.

Karin Fischer

Senior Writer, Chronicle of Higher Education

Karin Fischer is a journalist who focuses on higher education. Her primary area of focus is international education, including American colleges’ activities overseas, study abroad, the globalization of the college experience, and international-student recruitment. She is the author of a weekly newsletter (latitudes), which provides critical news, incisive analysis, and behind-the-scenes observations on international education. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Monthly, and University World News. A graduate of Smith College, she received the East-West Center’s Jefferson Fellowship for reporting in Asia and the International Reporting Project fellowship for work on education and gender, also in Asia.

Felipe Garces

President, ANEX Colombia – National Association of Education Advisors for Study Abroad

Felipe Garces is a chemical engineer, with an MBA and a specialization in international business. Also, a South American specialist with extensive contacts throughout the Spanish speaking regions.
He has worked in international education for over 18 years. Felipe worked for 10 years at a UK Based ESL institution, and is now an education agent.  Felipe is the current Managing Director at EXTUDIA S.A.S General, co-owner of Elefun Spanish School and the President, ANEX Colombia – National Association of Education Advisors for Study Abroad.

Brittany Goodman

Business Development Manager, ICEF

As a Business Development Manager for ICEF USA team, Brittany’s goal is to provide best practices and support clients to effectively work with Agents to maximize international student recruitment. Having worked with the international education space for the past decade, Brittany brings a practiced expertise in best practices for international recruitment, case development, implementation for an admission cycle and strategic client support.

Jodie Gray

Chief Executive, EnglishUK

Jodie was appointed chief executive of English UK in November 2020 after serving 10 months as interim chief executive. Together with the senior leadership team, Jodie is responsible for establishing and reviewing key strategic priorities and overseeing the work of the association. Having worked at English UK for many years, she is extremely proud of the association and its executive team, and is committed to supporting English UK’s members and the UK ELT sector. Jodie has a Chinese and Hindi degree from Cambridge University and is widely travelled, having visited nearly 40 countries during the course of her career in international education collecting wonderful memories and friends along the way.

Matthew Knott

News Editor, Study Travel Magazine

Matthew has been the News Editor of Study Travel Magazine, the specialist website and monthly print publication covering all aspects of the international education industry, for nine years, publishing news stories, features, interviews and statistical research on the sector. StudyTravel Magazine has been trusted by agencies for 30 years, and sister products include the StudyTravel Alphe Conferences and the StudyTravel Star Awards, celebrating excellence in service in the industry. He previously worked as a freelance writer for several titles and as an English language teacher in the UK, Spain and Japan.

Joann Ng Hartmann

Senior Director, IEM-ISS Services & Volunteer Engagement at NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Joann Ng Hartmann is the Senior Director for International Enrollment Management-International Student and Scholar Services and Volunteer Engagement at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. In her capacity, Joann provides strategic leadership, development and implementation of professional development opportunities, publications and programs. She also has oversight for maintaining effective regulatory practice relationships with federal agencies that regulate mobility and enrollment of international students and scholars. Prior to NAFSA, Joann was at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville directing and managing the student and scholar services unit. She has written training curriculum, presented workshops and sessions at national and international conferences. She holds an MS in communication from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.

Lisa Kraft

President, EnglishUSA & Director, ELI, Pace University

Lisa Kraft serves as the Director of International Special Programs and Director of ELI Academics at Pace University. She holds a Master of Arts in TESOL from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University at Albany-SUNY. Lisa has served on several professional boards including NAFSA Region X, EnglishUSA (Secretary), and NYSTESOL. She has presented at TESOL, EnglishUSA, NYSTESOL, NAFSA Region X and AIRC conferences. Twenty-five years in the field has taken her to teaching positions in South Korea, Turkey and the United States.

Rachel Lindsey

Director, International Affairs and Operations at Languages Canada

Rachel Lindsey is the Director of International Affairs and Operations at Languages Canada. In this role, Rachel overseas all international relations and marketing for the association, as well as the day-to-day operations of the Languages Canada secretariat team, including coordination of human resources and project management. Rachel has been active in international education, development and trade for over 15 years. Prior to joining Languages Canada, Rachel worked with the International Relations team Universities Canada, where she was the lead on strategic international partnerships and projects in key markets such as Brazil, Mexico, and India, as well as the oversight of Universities Canada’s national network of International Liaison Officers. Rachel also worked with Global Affairs Canada’s International Education team, supporting Canadian missions abroad to promote Canada as a study destination for international students. 

Anna Martz

Branch Chief, EducationUSA, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, United States Department of State

Anna Arambulo Martz, a career Foreign Service Officer since 2008, has served in Cameroon, India, two tours in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in Washington, and most recently in the United Kingdom.  Before joining the Foreign Service, she worked in the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland and prior to that ran the federal student loan program at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas.  Anna graduated from the Honors College at the University of Houston and is currently pursuing a Master of Strategic Studies at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  She speaks French, German, Italian, Hindi, and some Tagalog and Chinese.

Will Nott

Digital Editor, PIE News

Will Nott is a journalist who is currently Digital Editor at The PIE News. During the pandemic he has written extensively about student visa processing delays and international student mental health. His other areas of interest include digital recruitment platforms, mobility for students from fragile states and foreign interference at universities. As Digital Editor Will is in charge of The PIE’s video content and often chairs webinars that focus on key areas of interest for the international education sector. Before his time at The PIE Will worked for the Daily Express, VICE and Newsquest. 

david O’Grady

CEO at Marketing English in Ireland (MEI)

David O’Grady has been CEO of Marketing English in Ireland (MEI) since 2009. However, in different guises he has been a player in the ELE sector since 1981 as teacher, school owner, school director, Board member of MEI and, since 2009, CEO of MEI. In that 40 year period in Ireland ELE has evolved from a limited, but good, cottage industry to an important international player in the field of international education.David O’Grady reads a lot, is passionate about trees and is a keen beekeeper.

Patrik pavlacic

Head of Research, Bonard

Patrik Pavlacic is the Head of Research at BONARD, a market intelligence and strategic development company. As a proponent of practical application of data and intelligence, Patrik leads BONARD’s team of in-house and in-field researchers. Since joining the company in 2009, he has worked on developing industry-specific metrics and bespoke approaches to data collection and reporting challenges faced by organizations. He enjoys embarking on uncharted areas, often designing pioneering solutions for a plethora of client types. Patrik’s primary focus and expertise lies in global-scale data collection (quantitative research), trend analysis and interpretation, and data-driven market expansion strategies. Over the past 10 years, he has produced or contributed to over 65 bespoke research projects for governments, associations, investors and individual educational institutions.

Elizabeth Redden

Senior Reporter, Inside Higher Education

Elizabeth Redden, senior reporter, covers general higher education topics, religion and higher education, and international higher education for Inside Higher Ed. She has more than a decade of experience as an education journalist. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

Craig Riggs

Editor, ICEF Monitor

Craig Riggs is the editor of ICEF Monitor, the industry’s leading source of market intelligence for international student recruitment, and the publisher of ICEF Insights, an annual magazine focused on the most important trends and issues shaping international education. His work on both publications places him in constant contact with the latest research, best practices, and leading-edge strategies in the field. He has led international marketing for both private and public-sector institutions, is the co-founder of a longstanding consulting practice dedicated to publishing and education, and has more than 25 years’ experience in building international markets. Craig holds a Masters in Publishing and is an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University.

Sarah Spreitzer

Director, Government Relations, ACE

​​​Sarah Spreitzer represents ACE and its members on matters related to research policy and funding, federal policy, international students, immigration, and legislative issues. 

Spreitzer has held leadership positions within the higher education community, including chairing working groups on higher education for the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU. In addition, she has served as the vice chair of the AAU Council on Federal Relations steering committee and the co-chair of the APLU Council of Government Affairs.

Spreitzer received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Beloit College in Wisconsin and a master’s degree in medieval studies from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. She is a founding board member of the Creative Minds International Public Charter School, a growing charter school in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC.​​​​​​​​​

Steve Springer

Director of Regulatory Practice Liaison at NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Steve Springer is Director of Regulatory Practice Liaison for NAFSA: Association of International Educators and manages NAFSA’s engagement with federal agencies concerning regulatory practice issues, among other duties. Prior to joining the NAFSA staff he worked as an immigration attorney, representing higher education institutions and their faculty, staff, and students, and worked in-house managing immigration services for several major research universities. He is active in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), has served on its USCIS Transformation Committee and currently serves on its Students and Scholars Committee. He earned a law degree, a graduate degree in cultural studies, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Poland.

Heidi Vellenga

Executive Director, CEA

Dr. Heidi Vellenga, Executive Director of CEA, is responsible for overseeing the quality of the CEA accreditation process and agency operations. Heidi has over two decades of experience in ESL teaching and language program administration at US-based and international sites. She previously served as Vice President of Standards for EnglishUSA.

Rebecca Wall

U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs

Rebecca Wall joined the State Department in 2008 and previously served in Bangkok and Djibouti.  She is currently working in the Visa Office in Washington, DC.  Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she can speak confidently about many East Coast American schools.  She has a three-year-old daughter and a rowdy Bangladeshi street dog.  

Brian Whalen

Executive Director, American International Recruitment Council (AIRC)

Brian Whalen is Executive Director of the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC). He is also an International Education Leadership Fellow at the University at Albany; a Dean’s Fellow at Dickinson College; and an America’s Languages Fellow at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  Brian received his B.A. in psychology from Marist College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Dallas Institute of Philosophic Studies with a specialization in psychology and literature. He earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Finance and Accounting from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Jennifer Wright

Director of Certification and Associate Director at the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC)

Jennifer R. Wright (MA), is Director of Certification and Associate Director at the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC), a U.S.-based Standards Development Organization and non-profit membership association. AIRC Certification is the U.S. quality standard recognizing professionalism and ethical operations in international student recruitment by educational agencies around the world. She also coordinates professional development training for recruiting professionals and international educators, including for staff at colleges, universities, secondary schools and recruitment agencies. Jennifer has held leadership positions in international education and exchange at universities and third party providers including The George Washington University, Cleveland State University and the Cleveland Institute of Art. Her master’s degree is from the University of Kentucky and her undergraduate degree is from Franklin and Marshall College.

Gabriela Zelaya

Global Education Team Leader at U.S. Commercial Service

Gabriela Zelaya is the global education team leader for the U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce Global Education Team, a position she has held since 2014. In this role, she manages and oversees U.S. Commercial Service Education Team programs that assist U.S. educational institutions with promotion and recruitment efforts. She also oversees U.S. Commercial Service collaboration with partners both domestically and abroad. With more than 15 years in the field, Gabriela was recently honored as Silicon Valley’s “40 under 40” recognizing her as an up-and-coming leader in Silicon Valley for her leadership, community work and impact in her respective field. Gabriela received her bachelor’s degree in political science/law and society from the University of California, Riverside and master’s (honors) from the University of Miami.

Ilir Zherka

Executive Director, Alliance for International Exchange

Ilir Zherka is the Executive Director of the Alliance for International Exchange. The Alliance serves as the collective public policy voice for the exchange community. In addition to congressional advocacy, the Alliance organizes program impact reports, conducts media outreach, develops best practice workshops, and hosts an annual public policy conference. Ilir has served as the head of three other organizations. He gained policy and political experience working on Capitol Hill, on presidential campaigns, and as a political appointee. He is the author of Winning the Inside Game: The Handbook of Advocacy Strategies. Ilir is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Kate Zulaski

Deputy Executive Director, ACCET

As ACCET’s Deputy Executive Director, Kate supports the Executive Director in all aspects of the organization, including implementing the strategic direction identified by the ACCET Commission. Kate brings 25 years of experience working with non-profit organizations as a staff member and board director, including eight years as the Executive Director of a programmatic and institutional accrediting agency, to inform her in her role with ACCET. Kate has studied a wide variety of subjects and earned a Baccalaureate Degree in Geology from Colorado College, a Master’s in Education with a focus on Educational Research from Moreland University, as well as certificates in Massage Therapy, Secondary Teaching for Social Studies, and the CELTA for teaching English as a foreign language.