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 Director for International Enrollment 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 (63 countries and counting), gardening, raising chickens, and spending time with family.

Region I Coach

Mari Acob-NashMari 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.


2019 Coaches (Academy Class 16)


Christopher ThomasChristopher 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 for International Enrollment 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 (63 countries and counting), gardening, raising chickens, and spending time with family.


Roopa RawjeeRoopa Rawjee
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Roopa is assistant dean/director of international student services (ISS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is responsible for oversight of programs and services for over 6000 international students. A former international student from India, Roopa’s background is in teaching English and social sciences to high school students in India and English as a Second Language to university students. Roopa has twenty years of experience with international students, scholars, partnership agreements, and strategic planning in the U.S. Her education includes bachelor’s degrees in ancient Indian cCulture and education, and a master’s degree in education from India, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from California State University, Northridge and a doctorate in educational leadership from California Lutheran University. She has served the Massachusetts Council for International Education as president and founder member of its executive board. She is a member of NAFSA’s Trainer Corps and has served as a coach for NAFSA Academies 13 and 14. She enjoys cooking, walking with her partner and rescue dog, and watching legal shows and murder mysteries. Roopa and is excited to bring her leadership skills to her role as chair-designate of Academy 16.

Region I Coach

Kristen KalbrenerKristen Kalbrener
University of Oregon

Kristen is currently a program manager for study abroad programs at University of Oregon's GEO (Global Education Oregon) and enjoys living in her native Pacific Northwest. She previously directed international programs in Region XI, working with international exchange students at both undergraduate and graduate levels and managed international partnerships and agreements. She has also been privileged to live in the UK where she coordinated programs and advising for study abroad student in Britain and Ireland and n Region XII where she coordinated a program for international bridge students. Kristen has degrees from Pacific Lutheran University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and SIT's graduate institute. A member of NAFSA's Trainer Corps for the past six years, she has trained at NAFSA conferences and online in office management, intercultural communications, study abroad program develop and advising. She enjoys exploring language and cultures, and has also worked in corporate meeting and event management.

Region II Coach

Barbara VelazquezBarbara Velázquez
Metropolitan Community College (MCC)

Barbara Velázquez has worked at Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in Omaha, Nebraska, for over 30 years, and has served as the Coordinator of International/Intercultural Education since 1991. Her current College responsibilities include intercultural education programming across a 3-campus community, hosting nearly 7,000 attendees over the 2017-18 academic year. She also leads Education Abroad initiatives, chairs the College’s Global Education Committee and hosts international visitors. Barbara has held numerous volunteer leadership roles within NAFSA including Nebraska State Representative, Region II Local Arrangement Committee Conference Co-Chair, Region II Treasurer, Region II Chair and Chair of the Regional Affairs Committee. She has also served on numerous community boards including the Omaha Public Schools Board of Education, Omaha Public Schools Foundation Board and the African Culture Connection Board of Directors. Previous to her current role at MCC, Velázquez worked as a counselor in Student Affairs, coordinated Adult Basic Education, ESL and GED classes for a local non-profit, taught at the American School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. She holds a BS from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an MS from Creighton University.

Region III Coach

Jenny BrydonJenny Brydon
Rice University

Jenny Brydon is senior manager for international advising and programs at Rice University where she has worked for over six years. Her responsibilities include overseeing undergraduate international students, sponsored groups, and J-1 scholars. Along with these immigration responsibilities, Jenny also co-chairs Rice’s Australian and New Zealand Special Interest Group, advises the Rice University International Student Association as well as the Singaporean Student Club, and serves as an associate for Brown College. Prior to Rice, Jenny worked for more than fifteen in international education and other areas of student affairs including new student orientation, family programs, intramural sports and student activities. She has a strong passion for supporting students, and furthering the goals of international education.

Region IV Coach

Meghan KohrMegan Kohr
Upper Iowa University

Megan is the coordinator for international student and scholar services in the Center for International Education at Upper Iowa University. She has 11 years of experience in international education having worked at Drexel University and Northern Arizona University earlier in her career. Megan has primarily focused on all aspects of international student services throughout that time but also serves the international scholar population at UIU, serves as interim education abroad coordinator during transitions and assists with international admissions and recruitment during transitions as well. Megan has her BS in elementary education and Spanish from Lebanon Valley College and has completed the course work for a MA in anthropology from the University of Cincinnati for which she is currently working to complete her thesis. She has studied abroad in Spain and traveled to Canada, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Dominican Republic. Megan hopes to significantly grow her list of countries to which she has traveled in the future while also working on social justice and community improvement and getting to do all of this with her young daughter.

Region V Chair

Mark EckmanMark Eckman
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Mark started his career in education abroad in 2007, and has been with UW – Milwaukee since 2011. In his role as director of study abroad he coordinates UWM's many study abroad programs, and works as a member of the Center for International Education leadership team to internationalize the larger campus community. Mark’s research interests are focused on identity development in education abroad, motivation, self-efficacy in program participation, and fiscal modeling in study abroad office operation.The travel bug bit at an early age, and Mark has lived and traveled abroad extensively, as well as studied abroad in Seville, Spain and Quito, Ecuador. When not traveling or in the office, Mark is often found on the football (soccer) field.

Region VI Coach

Amanda YuskoAmanda Yusko
Ohio State University

Amanda Yusko is the program manager for the Student Immigration Team at The Ohio State University where she serves as a DSO/ARO and manages advising efforts for more than 7,000 international students. She has been very involved with NAFSA, serving in several capacities at the regional level as well as holding positions on the Regional Affairs Committee and the Leadership Development Committee. She earned her MEd in college student personnel from Ohio University and her BA in international studies and Spanish from Otterbein College. In 2016, she was a recipient of the Fulbright International Education Administrator Seminar to South Korea and was the 2017 recipient of the NAFSA Region VI George Hertrich Advocacy Award.

Region VII Coach

Daphne OrrDaphne Orr
Emory University

Daphne Orr is the director of international student programs at Oxford College of Emory University. She began her career in international education more than 20 years ago as an ESL instructor. In her current role, she serves as the DSO for international students, designs programs to assist students with their transition to life in the US and an American college, and works with various student groups on leadership development. She has been involved with NAFSA for many years, serving on the Crisis Management Task Force, and then serving as chair of the NAFSA Subcommittee on Crisis Management from 2012-2014. She was a NAFSA Academy trainee and is thrilled for the opportunity to serve in the program now as a coach. She earned her MS in conflict management from Kennesaw State University and her BA in German from Tulane University. In 2014, Orr participated as Fulbright: International Educator’s Seminar grantee to Germany.

Region VIII Coach

Samba DiengSamba Dieng
Lehigh University

Samba Dieng is the director of international students and scholars at Lehigh University. Samba is originally from the West African nation of Senegal. He came to the United States to embark on his undergraduate studies in political science at the University of Nebraska - Kearney. He earned his master’s degree in international relations at Indiana State University. His prior professional positions include internships at NGOs serving as an international recruiter for the University of Illinois in Springfield, assistant director of international student services at the University of St Thomas in Minneapolis/St Paul, and director of ISSS in Kentucky. In conjunction with his previous position as assistant director of ISS in Minnesota, Samba also served as chair of Minnesota International Educators in 2012-2013, a state association of his peers and a position he calls to this day his highest professional privilege. Samba also served as a member of NAFSA's Trainer Corps and enjoyed sharing his resources and knowledge with colleagues from across the United States through workshops and sessions he lead at National Conferences. He was named "Friend of the Region by NAFSA in 2014 and most recently a nominee for NAFSA's "Rising Star Young Leader Award". His travels have taken him to countless countries and cities, both for work and pleasure. He is extremely passionate about working with international students and scholars from around the world and truly enjoys working at Lehigh University.

Region XI Coach

Janet RayJanet V. Ray
Providence College

Janet Ray is an assistant dean of undergraduate studies and the director of international student success at Providence College. As a native of Barbados, the opportunity to come to the United States as an international student has helped her connect easily with international students. She can relate and understand in greater depth their academic and social experiences as well as their anxieties in the process of exploring and navigating the college experience in the United States. In her role, she provides immigration expertise and support for international and exchange students and scholars to help them acclimate to the U.S. and to the campus community. She enjoys hearing about their respective lives as well as their family life back home. Janet also serves as the sophomore dean at Providence College. She is a member of NAFSA Trainer Corps, is the current conference chair for the Region XI 2018 conference and is a member of the NAFSA Academy Class 9. Janet graduated with a BS in travel tourism management, an MBA in global business leadership, and an EdD in higher ed educational leadership from Johnson & Wales University. In her free time, she enjoys coaching her son’s basketball team, being on the board of her town’s basketball league, being on the board of her town’s YMCA, and attending her son’s numerous sporting activities.

Region XII Coach

Tammy SilverTammy Silver
University of California, Davis

Tammy Silver is the assistant director for international student services at the University of California, Davis where she leads a team of eight professional staff members who are responsible for 8000 international students and their dependents. She has over 20 years working as an international educator at the university and community college levels as well as with intensive English programs in the United States and overseas. Tammy’s family moved to France when she was 16, which helps her understanding of international students’ perspectives and was likely the catalyst of her international education career. She has also lived and worked in Macedonia and has traveled to approximately 30 countries. Tammy has served on the Region XII and Southern District teams in the chair stream, as conference chair and in a variety of other team roles. In 2012 she was the recipient of the Region XII Outstanding Service in International Education award. She has earned a PhD in higher education leadership, an MEd in TESOL, a BS in journalism, and a BA in French language and literature.

National Coach

William ElliotWilliam Elliott
Missouri S&T

William (Bill) Elliott is director of the Office of International and Cultural Affairs at Missouri S&T in Rolla, MO. He is the founding chair of the Study Illinois Consortium. Bill received his master’s degree in college student affairs from Eastern Illinois University. The national coach role is Bill’s third time as a participating coach in the NAFSA Academy. Bill just completed his term on the NAFSA Annual Conference Committee and is former chair of the International Enrollment Management Knowledge Community (IEM).

Academy Participants

We are now accepting applications for the 2019 calendar year.

Applications close Nov. 16, 2018.

Spring Training

March 5-8, 2019
Atlanta, GA

Contact Us

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