Five Outstanding International Educators to Receive NAFSA Awards




Rebecca Morgan, 202.737.3699 x4449,

Washington, May 18, 2017 – NAFSA: Association of International Educators is pleased to announce the 2017 recipients of the National Awards for Leadership in international education. Five exceptional international educators will be recognized during the National Awards Ceremony at the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference & Expo, which will take place in Los Angeles later this month. This year’s recipients are Christopher J. Viers for the Homer Higbee Award and Luis Legaspi for the Rising Star Young Leader Award. Additionally, Judy Judd-Price, Michael Smithee and NAFSA’s former Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson will be commended for lifetime achievement in international education and awarded with NAFSA Life Memberships.

Homer Higbee Award for Distinguished Service to NAFSA presented to Christopher J. Viers, Ph.D.

Christopher Viers serves as Associate Vice President for International Services in the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs at Indiana University (IU), where he provides executive leadership of a dynamic organization responsible for meeting the comprehensive needs of approximately 9,000 international students and 1,500 visiting scholars on the university’s eight campuses. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Viers teaches graduate coursework on international higher education administration in the Department of Higher Education and Student Affairs at Indiana University and the Master of Arts in Higher Education program at Taylor University. His research interests include international higher education administration, global issues in higher education and global student flows. Viers is a frequent presenter and session chair at NAFSA’s Annual Conference & Expo and has held numerous state, regional and national leadership positions for the association, including Vice President for Education and Professional Development, Chair of the Governance Committee of the Board of Directors and President and Chair of the Board of Directors in 2010. He currently serves on NAFSA’s Governance Committee of the Board of Directors.

Rising Star Young Leader Award presented to Luis Legaspi

Luis Legaspi is a study abroad advisor at the University of California, San Diego. A native of Sacramento, Legaspi graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Textiles and Clothing and an emphasis in Marketing. Utilizing his multiple experiences abroad and marketing skill set, Legaspi works to promote access to higher education and international education to all populations. He is actively engaged with the international education professional community through presentations and participating in committees relating to diversity, equity and inclusion with Diversity Abroad, the Forum on Education Abroad, NAFSA and the University of California Education Abroad Program. Legaspi is interested in systemic change in international education to make the field more inclusive for student populations and professionals. Legaspi recently completed the NAFSA Academy and has been working in education abroad for the past four years.

NAFSA Life Membership is annually awarded to dedicated NAFSA members upon their retirement from professional responsibilities who have shown remarkable commitment to advancing the goals of the association and of international education and exchange throughout their careers.

Marlene M. Johnson served as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NAFSA for 18 years. Under Marlene’s leadership, NAFSA became a leading advocate of international education, actively advancing public and policy debates that impact the field. Marlene’s leadership in government, business and the nonprofit sector spans more than three decades. Prior to joining NAFSA, she served as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota from 1983 to 1991. Strengthening and expanding the state’s connections with the rest of the world—in trade, tourism, education and the arts—was a hallmark of her time in office. Currently, Marlene serves as Chair of the Board for the Kakenya Center for Excellence and sits on the board of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA): Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas.

Judy Judd-Price’s professional responsibilities included teaching in public schools in West Virginia and Kentucky, directing ELS Language Centers at Eckerd College and the University of Redlands and working at ELS executive offices in Culver City, California and Princeton, New Jersey. She completed a 3-year term on a task force at the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) to develop what is now accreditation from the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) for Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and she served as a CEA commissioner until being elected Chair of the Administrators and Teachers of English as a Second Language (ATESL). She was formerly Vice President for Advocacy for the Association of American Intensive English Programs (AAIEP), now titled EnglishUSA, and editor of its newsletter. Judy also served on NAFSA’s staff from 2004-2016 and retired as Deputy Executive Director of Leadership and Professional Development Services. She was an active NAFSA member of the Region VII Team as Florida state representative and in the chair stream for 3 years, and as a member of the NAFSA Regional Affairs Committee, she developed and delivered a training program for Regional Treasurers. She previously served on the NAFSA Conference local arrangements team in Miami and in NAFSA Trainer Corps, and she continues to volunteer with NAFSA, including organizing the inventory and shipping of materials to the NAFSA archives at the University of Arkansas.

Michael B. Smithee, Ed.D., retired from Syracuse University in 2005 after thirty years of engagement in international education as Associate Director for the Slutzker Center for International Services and adjunct faculty. He has served in many capacities for NAFSA, notably on the Board of Directors and as Chair of the Education and Training Committee. He is a recipient of the NAFSA Homer Higbee and the Region X Distinguished Service Awards. His writing includes chapters and journal articles for a variety of publications as well as being the lead author of the NAFSA publication, U.S. Classroom Culture. In retirement, he continues to be an active international educator by consulting, writing, researching, presenting at conferences, serving as mentor and editing a journal.

For more information on the awards, visit