OPE: Office of Postsecondary Education
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Staff Biographies
International and Foreign Language Education Service

Picture of Mohamed Abdel-Kader, Deputy Asst Secy for Interntl and Foreign Language Education

Mohamed Abdel-Kader is the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) Office at the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). As Deputy Assistant Secretary of IFLE, Mohamed is responsible for encouraging and promoting the study of foreign languages and the study of the cultures of other countries at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels in the United States; and coordinates with related international and foreign language education programs of other Federal agencies, as established in the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act. He leads the work of IFLE in administering the domestic programs authorized under Title VI of the Higher Education Act and those overseas programs under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange (Fulbright-Hays) Act administered by ED.

Prior to joining ED, Mohamed served as the Director of Development for the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and also managed the university’s advancement strategy in the Middle East region, where he focused on major gifts and strategic engagement. Previously, while at George Mason University, Mohamed led donor development efforts for the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study and set international strategy for partnerships in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa. He has advised a variety of clients on organizational strategy, doing business in emerging markets, intercultural communication, and cultural competency in international philanthropy. Additionally, he has advised organizations on strengthening fundraising operations domestically and abroad.

Mohamed speaks fluent Arabic and basic Spanish. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Clemson University, a Master’s degree in Higher Education from Vanderbilt University, and an MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Lenore Yaffee Garcia is the Senior Director of IFLE, where she oversees the administration of ED’s Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs and promotes the importance of learning world languages, studying abroad, and acquiring global competencies for students at all levels.

Lenore rejoined ED in June 2013 after eight years at the Organization of American States (OAS), where she was Director of the Office of Education and Culture, which promotes policy dialogue and technical cooperation among the 34 OAS member states in the fields of education and culture. Her work at the OAS focused on policy and project development in the fields of early childhood education, strengthening the teaching profession, education for democratic citizenship, and education indicators, and on public policy initiatives that use arts and culture to promote economic development and social inclusion, particularly for youth.

Before joining the OAS, Lenore was Director of International Affairs at ED, where she was instrumental in creating International Education Week, the APEC Education Forum, and the U.S.-Brazil Partnership for Education. Previously, as a senior policy analyst in ED’s Planning and Evaluation Service, she worked on policy development as well as on the design and implementation of evaluations of federal education programs. In 2004, as a fellow of the American Fellows program, she assisted the Ministry of Education of Chile as part of the Technical Secretariat of the National Commission on Citizenship Education. Recipient of a Fulbright scholarship for study in Quito, Ecuador, Lenore has worked as an educator and program administrator in Colombia and the United States and holds degrees in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, Latin American studies from Georgetown University, and economics from the University of Delaware.

Michelle Butler serves in the IFLE front office, providing substantive technical and administrative support to the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Senior Director, and program officers using a variety of ED systems. She is well-versed in the usage of CPSS, FMSS, G5, GEMS, and E2Solutions. During her 24 years of service in international education, she has worked with each of IFLE’s Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs and is therefore highly knowledgeable in the content and purposes of the programs. Michelle became a certified Contracting Officer Representative (COR) in August 2010 and now applies her program knowledge in her work as a COR for several contracts.

Cynthia Fisher is a Program Specialist for IFLE, providing technical and administrative support to the front office and to IFLE’s International Studies Division for its grant programs, including the Fulbright-Hays portfolio, the Business and International Education program, the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language program, and U.S.-International programs under the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). Cynthia has worked in government for 29 years, with 12 years of specialized experience in grant processing, grant monitoring, budget tracking, and travel logistics. Cynthia has expertise in a wide variety of government management and reporting systems, and serves as a staff liaison for IFLE. Prior to her work with IFLE, Cynthia was a Program Specialist for FIPSE, the Office of Student Financial Assistance, and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. In addition to her programmatic work, Cynthia also serves as ED’s Union Local 2607 Vice President (Area IV) for Collective Bargaining Unit Employees in OPE, working in coordination with the Executive Office, Office of Management Labor Relations Division, Union President, and AFGE District 14.

Sara Starke is a Management/Program Analyst in IFLE’s front office. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Loyola University, New Orleans, and her Master’s degree in Russian and East European history from The George Washington University. She joined the U.S. Department of Education in 1999, and worked in the front office of Higher Education Programs, which oversaw IFLE programs as well as Title III and Title V programs and the TRIO programs. Sara worked in IFLE as a program officer for the Title VI National Resource Centers and Foreign Language and Area Studies programs, as well as for the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship program. She also worked in Graduate Programs as a program officer for the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program. She rejoined IFLE in 2011, where she works on various budget, contract and program-related policy issues.

Advanced Training and Research Division

Cheryl E. Gibbs is Director, Advanced Training and Research Division (ATRD) in the office of International and Foreign Language Education. She provides oversight of grant administration and policy development activities and coordinates a team that administers Title VI institutional and fellowship programs. These programs include the American Overseas Research Centers (AORCs), Centers for International Business Education (CIBEs), Language Resource Centers (LRCs), National Resource Centers (NRCs), and the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship program.

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.

Tim Duvall joined IFLE after 15 years as a professor of political science and a small business owner. He earned his B.A. from The College of William and Mary, his M.A. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), and his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. He taught at the University of Arizona and at St. John’s University in New York City, where he earned multiple teaching and research awards. He has owned and operated a small construction company and has written successful multi-million dollar grant proposals for international development projects.

Tim serves as a Senior Program Officer for IFLE, overseeing the CIBEs, as well as the NRC and FLAS programs with a focus on Russia, East Europe and Eurasia, and those with a broad international focus. Tim is also the Evaluation Team Lead for IFLE.

Carolyn Collins oversees IFLE’s Title VI NRC and FLAS programs focusing on Latin America, Western Europe, and Canada, and also serves as IFLE’s Communications Team Lead. Before coming to IFLE, Carolyn worked in the Cultural and Educational Services Department of the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., where she managed the Teaching Assistant Program in France, the French Language Teaching Assistant Program in the United States, and other initiatives promoting Franco-American cooperation in the field of education. Previously, Carolyn worked as an Operations Assistant for an adventure travel company specializing in ecotourism and educationally-oriented trips in developing countries, and as an English-language Teaching Assistant for elementary school students in France.

Carolyn earned a Master’s degree in French Language and Civilization from New York University in Paris, and a Bachelor’s degree from Colgate University with a major in French Literature and a minor in Art and Art History. She has significant experience studying, working, and traveling abroad. Carolyn speaks French fluently and is a lifelong enthusiast of world languages and cultures.

Stephanie McKissic works as a Program Officer for ATRD, administering the Title VI Language Resource Centers (LRCs) and the NRC and FLAS grants for Africa and the Middle East. She is also an adjunct instructor of managerial leadership and research writing at Webster University, National Capital Region. Previously, Stephanie was the Faculty Development Program Manager for the University of Maryland. In this capacity, she developed and implemented training and development initiatives on information technology and online/hybrid entrepreneurial programs for faculty and administrators.

Stephanie also has over 20 years of experience in museum education, during which time she served as the education specialist for Smithsonian’s African Voices exhibition, and the first Director of Education at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia where conducted quantitative and qualitative evaluations for primary and secondary school initiatives for the state of Pennsylvania. She received her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Higher Education Administration from Drexel University, her Master’s degree in African Studies from Howard University, and her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Maryland.

Mone’t Peterson-Cox serves as a Program Administrative Officer for ATRD. Mone’t has over 20 years of experience in office administration and eight years of experience working specifically in the area of international and foreign language education. Mone’t supports the senior staff and program officers with a wide range of detailed administrative and technical support through the development of office administrative materials. She also brings a high level of professionalism to her work in providing administrative and technical assistance to all of IFLE’s Title VI and Fulbright-Hays grant programs.


International Studies Division

Gary Thomas is the Director of IFLE’s International Studies Division (ISD). Since 2000, he has worked at the U.S. Department of Education, most recently as a Senior Program Manager for the Office of Postsecondary Education’s (OPE) Fund for the Improvement’s First in the World program that pioneers the Department’s new higher education evidence-based innovative projects. Previously, Gary served as a Senior Policy Advisor in Higher Education Programs, where he managed the allocation of Minority-Serving Intuitions higher education grant funds. Prior to his OPE service, he worked as a Program Analyst for the Department’s Federal Student Aid Division, where he drafted statutory and regulatory amendments for Federal Student Loan programs and assisted in negotiated rulemaking and the revision of program regulations. Before coming to the Federal government, Gary served as a higher education policy analyst for the Maryland General Assembly. In this capacity, he reviewed the budgetary, personnel, and administrative practices of University System of Maryland institutions against the parameters of state regulations to ensure fiscal responsibility. He has been a fellow in the Department’s Excellence in Government and Executive Leadership programs. Gary was selected for the President’s Management Council Interagency Rotation Program, where he served as the President of the Department of Interior (DOI) University. In DOI, Gary oversaw the delivery of high quality training programs provided to Federal employees.

As an undergraduate, Gary studied political science and French and he completed a French language and international studies program at the L’Universite Laval, in Quebec City, Canada. Gary also holds a Master’s degree in public administration. Gary has volunteered for the Youth for Understanding Program, served as a member of the National Academies’ Fellowship Roundtable, and he is a member of the World Affairs Council.

Pamela Jefferson Maimer is a Senior Program Officer in ISD. Pamela provides programmatic assistance for a number of IFLE’s international education grants and is responsible for overseeing the global Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) program.

Before joining ISD, Pamela served as a Policy and Budget Analyst for the Policy and Budget Development staff in OPE’s Policy, Planning, and Innovation Office. Pamela has 20 years of experience in postsecondary education policy issues, including budget formulation, research, and policy development for low-income, first-generation college students. She was the policy lead for various programs focusing on improving access for low-income and disadvantaged populations in higher education, including TRIO, GEAR UP, Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need, and the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship program. Pamela served as the lead analyst in the formulation and presentation of OPE’s $4.1 billion program budget. Among her accomplishments at ED, Pamela drafted legislation and regulations for the TRIO, GEAR UP, and Migrant Education programs, and also created, implemented, and maintained two new web-based statistical analysis tools for the Equity in Athletics Disclosure and Campus Crime Act that allow members of the public to access departmental data for research.

Pamela holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Social Welfare from the University of Kansas. She completed her Ph.D. in Social Welfare at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tanyelle Richardson is a Senior Program Officer in ISD. In this capacity, Tanyelle administers the Title VI Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) program, and the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Advance Language long-term program (GPA-LT). Tanyelle has past experience overseeing the Title VI Business and International Education (BIE) program, National Resource Centers, and the Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship program. She frequently represents ED at national conferences.

In 2006, the National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE) named Tanyelle the “International Trade Educator of the Year.” Before joining IFLE, Tanyelle was a Program Officer for OPE’s Division of Higher Education Incentive Programs. During her tenure, she administered fellowships and grants to institutions of higher education under the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need, the Law School Clinical Experience, and the Patricia Roberts Harris Fellowship programs.

Tanyelle has pursued studies in business, administrative management, and the liberal arts. She received a Master’s degree in Administrative Management and Public Policy from Bowie State University in Maryland, and a B.A. in Law and Society from Hood College in Maryland. Tanyelle also attended the American University in Washington D.C. while completing her internship with the Association for Public Administrators.

Maria Chang oversees IFLE’s Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program, which provides short-term study and travel seminars abroad for U.S. educators to improve their understanding and knowledge of the peoples and cultures of other countries. Maria previously served as a Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA member to alleviate poverty by leveraging the resources of higher education institutions. During her two years of national service, she focused on educational opportunity that developed, supported, and deepened campus-community partnerships that concentrated on the success and year-to-year persistence of students at every level of the pre-K-16 spectrum.

Maria speaks fluent Korean. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Virginia, a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from University of Rochester, and studied abroad at the University of Oxford.

Reha Mallory oversees the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad-Short Term and Seminars Abroad programs for IFLE. Prior to coming to ED, Reha worked in public and charter school settings for 14 years, instituting programs geared toward preparing middle and high school students for postsecondary education. She was instrumental in developing a college-bound curriculum for Detroit area high school students that garnered a 90 percent graduation rate and 2.4 million dollars in scholarships for the graduating class.

Reha earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge. During her undergraduate coursework, she studied abroad in France and China, learning about global education systems. Reha attributes her passion for international education to both of those experiences. She will earn her Juris Doctor degree from Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2015.

Carla White is a Program Officer for IFLE’s International Studies Division and works with the office’s outreach and communications team. Carla began her career in OPE’s grants administration office before joining the Center for International Education many years ago, now known as the IFLE office. Prior to her work with ISD, Carla served as a Program Specialist for ATRD, where her administrative portfolio included planning technical assistance meetings, entering grant data into the G5 system, and processing administrative actions, no-cost extensions, and project director changes for Title VI programs and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad program. Additionally, Carla was responsible for coordinating grant close-out activities, including reviewing performance reports for compliance. Carla’s hobbies include event planning and graphic design.


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Last Modified: 10/26/2015