Meet the Academy Coaches


Academy coaches are volunteer members who work with a cohort of four to seven trainees. They represent a broad range of expertise and have worked in the field of international education for more than eight years. Coaches work with their trainees to develop the trainees' learning plans and guide them with tips on navigating the world of international education, including NAFSA. They also advise trainees on workshop and session selections at the annual and fall regional conferences. Each coach is trained to be knowledgeable in six coaching skill sets:

The Academy was able to offer the expertise of such great coaches. The time they contributed is so appreciated

  • Knowledge of the Academy
  • Marketing and Recruitment
  • Building a Cohort
  • Communication with Trainees
  • Professional Tools
  • Facilitating Learning

Access to coaches' experience and knowledge is one of the greatest benefits for trainees. The coaches provide professional guidance and direction to trainees while they receive a broad overview of international education through a variety of workshops.

2018 Coaches (Academy Class 15)


Carola SmithCarola Smith
Santa Barbara City College

Carola Smith is the senior director of international programs at Santa Barbara City College where she also serves on the college’s International Education Committee. In her role, she provides oversight for SBCC’s Study Abroad Program as well as for the college’s International Student Support Program, which consists of 1,500 students from 70 different countries. Smith has presented both at regional and national NAFSA conferences as well as at other international education conferences and has been actively engaged with NAFSA for the past 15 years. She came to the United States as an international student and earned her BA and MA as well as her Teaching Certificate in English as a Second Language from the University of California-Santa Barbara. She has lived and traveled abroad extensively and considers herself as a product of international education. In her role as Academy chair-designate, she looks forward to sharing her passion for international education with other professionals in the field.


Christopher Thomas
University of Washington

Chris Thomas received his masters of higher education leadership from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and has over a decade of experience in international education. He currently serves as the Associate Director of International Outreach and Communication for University of Washington International & English Language Programs. Chris previously lived and taught English in Gifu, Japan, and has held positions at a wide range of institutions including community colleges, public, and private universities. His experience spans topics such as study abroad, immigration and academic advising, orientation, student life, admissions, institutional partnerships, and management. He is a past Chair of AWISA, the Association of Washington International Student Affairs and has presented at numerous conferences. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling (45 countries and counting), gardening, raising chickens, and spending time with family.

Region I Coach

Mari Acob-Nash
Skagit Valley College

Mari is the Associate Vice President of International Education at Skagit Valley College. She comes with over 29 years of community college experience in International Education in the state of Washington. She has been a NAFSA member and trainer for just as many years. She has been a Trainer Corps member, held several positions on the NAFSA Region I team, and has given many presentations for AWISA: Association for Washington International Student Affairs. She has led several high performing international education teams and has created many strong overseas partnerships over the years. Mari graduated with her Associate’s degree from Edmonds Community College, BA from University of Washington, Master’s from Western Washington and her PhD from Oregon State University.

Region II Coach

Rob Llewellyn
Utah State University

Rob Llewellyn is the F-1 Visa program leader and PDSO/ARO in the Office of Global Engagement at Utah State University. As PDSO, he provides oversight to the F-1 Visa program for the USU Logan, Utah Campus and the USU Price, Utah campus. Along with his immigration responsibilities, he is also the advisor for the USU International student clubs and organizations, including the International Student Council. He mentoring student leaders. Rob spent two years of his life serving a proselyting mission for his church in Brazil, which jumpstarted his interested in international education. He has presented at national and regional NAFSA conferences, as well as local international education conferences. Some of his passions are spending time with his lovely wife Heidi, and his kids Porter (6) and Piper (3). He also loves the outdoors and backpacking into secluded locations each summer.

Region III Coach

Jennifer Flannery
TerraDotta, LLC

Jennifer has worked more than 16 years in international education in roles at a program provider, an embassy, as an international recruiter/agent and at The University of Melbourne in Australia. She is the Region III Coach for the NAFSA Academy for International Education Class 14 and will return as a Coach for Class 15. She is a member of NAFSA Trainer Corps. She attributes one of her greatest professional accomplishments (and headaches!) to creating a US Financial Aid office serving 33 foreign universities. She has a B.S. in Biology/Biochemistry and an M.S. in Communication Management, both from Colorado State University. Jennifer is an Up With People alumna, interested in social justice issues, volunteering abroad, is a certified barista, loves the outdoors, and encourages anyone to bungee jump when they get the chance.

Region IV Coach

Jen Hogan
Iowa State University

Jen is currently the Director of International Programs in the College of Design at Iowa State University in amiable Ames, Iowa. Prior to that she was the Associate Director of Education Abroad for 10 years at Drake University in delightful Des Moines, Iowa. Growing up in rural Iowa, all she wanted to do was to get out and explore other nooks and crannies of the world. Jen focused her early education on anthropology, and then acquired an MA in Interdisciplinary Graduate studies with a focus on International Development and Education. Studying in Wales, interning in Australia and teaching in South Korea inspired her to help others realize their passion for study, travel and adventure. She has served on the Region IV team in various capacities and have presented numerous times on best practices in education abroad, including crisis management and citizen diplomacy. Jen has been fortunate to work with many amazing students over the years, a witness to the impact of the international experience. When she is not indulging in my students’ post-study abroad anecdotes, she enjoys her two very active children, a house full of animals, swimming and reading.

Region V Coach

Candace Chenoweth
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Candace Chenoweth is the director of the Center of Global Education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In her role, she provides oversight for education abroad, international student and scholar services, the university’s ESL program, international partnerships, and comprehensive internationalization. Candace’s passion for exploring new cultures began with a study abroad experience and inspired her pursuit of a M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and to become a certified Cultural Intelligence trainer. Candace has been an active member of NAFSA since 1997 when she nervously presented her first poster at a Region 1 conference. She later joined the NAFSA Trainer Corps and always enjoys presenting with colleagues. Candace also teaches J-term graduate courses at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey and relishes this opportunity to interact with new professionals. She has far too many hobbies, including biking, flower gardening, acquiring jewelry, and learning to knit. Her two grown sons and two chubby cats keep her happy.

Region VI Coach

Lorenda (Rendy) Schrader
Indiana University

My first professional job was at NAFSA headquarters, where I stayed for sixteen years, leaving only when we decided that our children should be raised near their grandparents. After four months of Barney the Purple Dinosaur, I was back to work - this time in a university setting. Several years later (the kids are 20 now!), I feel like I have a thorough grasp of international education from a national as well as an in-the-trenches perspective. Shortly after starting at NAFSA Central, I was challenged by my mentor (the amazing Archer Brown), to create a job service for professionals in the field of international education. That led to the birth of the NAFSA Job Registry, and a lifetime of coaching professionals who want to be in this field. I love dogs, baseball, and travel…..and world peace!

Region VII Coach

Ling LeBeau
Western Carolina University

Ling Gao LeBeau is Director of International Programs and Services at Western Carolina University (WCU). She provides strategic vision, leadership, advocacy, and expertise on international education and services at WCU. She leads and implements campus-wide internationalization initiatives and overseas various areas. Before WCU, Ling was an international educator at Indiana University. Ling is active in AIEA and NAFSA and frequently presents on issues of international higher education. She serves on NAFSA Trainer Corps for workshop on International Education Research. Ling holds a PhD in Higher Education and MS in Language Education from Indiana University Bloomington. Ling’s research interests include: global learning, curriculum internationalization, international partnerships, assessment, and mobility.

Region VIII Coach

Jennifer Ellis Fritz
Bucknell University

Jennifer Ellis Fritz is Associate Director of the Office of Global & Off-campus Education and STEM Global Education Advisor at Bucknell University. She has worked in the field of International Education for 12 years. She has presented at over 15 regional and national conferences and participated in various training programs including but not limited to NAFSA Academy, NAFSA Connecting Our World Grassroots Leadership Program, NAFSA Trainer Corps, IFSA Butler-Institute at the Institute, and CIEE-Diversity Abroad Future Leaders Summit. She has also participated in various University and national committee positions with a special focus on STEM and first generation college students.

Region XI Coach

Amy Whitish-Temple
Academic Programs International

Amy currently serves as a University Relations and Outreach Regional Director in the Northeast for Academic Programs International (API). She oversaw the Fulbright program in Latin America and the Caribbean in her previous role as Program and Development Manager at LASPAU, an affiliate of Harvard University. Amy has over 15 years of experience in the field of international education and has held NAFSA volunteer leadership positions on both the Region XI Leadership and Trainer Corps Preparation teams. She has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, taught ESL to Fulbrighters in Managua, Nicaragua, and studied abroad in both Mexico and Spain. She holds a BA in English and Spanish (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and MA in Teaching English as a Second Language (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). Amy had the opportunity to be a NAFSA Academy 4 trainee and is thrilled to be a coach for Academy 15. In her free time, Amy enjoys traveling, working out, and spending time with her family.

Region XII Coach

Daniela De Bem
The Cambridge Network

Daniela serves as the Director of Academic Programs at The Cambridge Network, a Massachusetts-based firm that offers in-depth consultation and services regarding higher education in the United States. Prior to joining Cambridge Academics, she was the Director of International Development at Brooks Institute in Ventura, CA. Daniela also worked for Kaplan International for over four years overseeing all higher education programs offered in North America. She has extensive international and intercultural experience, being born and raised in South America and having attended schools on four different continents. As an international student, she often struggled with understanding unfamiliar processes and cultural practices. As a result, Daniela decided to pursue an advanced degree in education to start a career helping international students navigate through the U.S. higher education system and finding their way to academic success. She has been working in the international education field for the past 10 years. When she is not working on academic advising, international enrollment, recruitment and marketing efforts, Daniela enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, and travelling.

Region XII Coach

Zachary J. Frieders
University of California-Davis

Zachary Frieders is Director of Study Abroad within UC Davis Global Affairs. UC Davis has one of the largest study abroad portfolios in the UC system, with over 1,400 students participating annually through 50+ faculty-led programs, internships, seminars, domestic off-campus programs, as well as traditional exchanges. Zak holds a MA in Education Policy and is currently conducting multi-institutional research projects on student learning outcomes, and connections between self-efficacy and program selection/study abroad preparation. Zak is a co-chair of the Steering Committee for UC Davis’ ambitious Global Education for All initiative and is involved in a range of activities that seek to internationalize all aspects of the student experience, beyond traditional study abroad. Zak has presented regionally and nationally on the topics of faculty training, DACA/undocumented student participation in study abroad, student self-efficacy and program preparation, campus-led program risk management, and associations between study abroad and academic achievement. He is very much looking forward to sharing with and learning from this year’s cohort of NAFSA Academy members.

National Coach

Shelly Ortiz
Utah State University

Shelly Ortiz is the Responsible Officer at Utah State University and a Fulbright Program Adviser. She began her career in international education 10 years ago working with sponsored students and designing short-term programs for participants from partner institutions. Shelly continues to oversee these programs as part of her role. Shelly's own experience living in Mexico as an exchange student during high school was life-changing. Shelly went on to study Spanish and International Relations, and later completed a Master’s in Business Administration. She now promotes internationalization efforts at Utah State University, with a focus to provide a positive experience to those participating in their own life-changing programs. Shelly envisions her role as an Academy coach is to support a framework which empowers cohort members to form dynamic relationships and engage in open dialogue. Shelly has found such conversations are of great value in her own professional development.


Academy Participants

Applications for Academy participants will open in the fall for the 2019 Academy program.

Contact Us

For more information regarding the Academy, please contact: Professional Learning Services