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Staff Biographies
International and Foreign Language Education Service


Cheryl E. Gibbs is the Senior Director of the office of International and Foreign Language Education. She directs IFLE’s grant administration and policy development activities and oversees the administration of all Title VI and Fulbright-Hays institutional grant and fellowship programs. In addition to her role as Senior Director, Cheryl also serves as the Director of IFLE’s Advanced Training and Research Division (ATRD) team, and works as a Program Officer for the South Asia portfolio of the National Resource Centers and Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships programs.

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.

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.

Garrett Schiche joins IFLE as an education research analyst to provide subject matter expertise and oversight of program evaluation, performance reporting, and data analysis. He received a dual bachelor's in international studies and Spanish from the University of Wyoming, and a master's in international administration from the University of Denver’s Joseph Korbel School of International Studies. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, Schiche worked on community-based organizational development. After Peace Corps, he gained over 11 years of research and evaluation experience in humanitarian aid and development. He worked with the American Red Cross in Thailand on its Indian Ocean Tsunami Recovery Program and with Catholic Relief Services in Afghanistan and Pakistan managing emergency response programs. He then joined Lutheran World Relief in 2011, where he played a lead role in the development and operationalization of an organization-wide monitoring and evaluation system for over 100 projects, located in over 20 countries on four continents. Schiche is fluent in Spanish and Thai.

Advanced Training and Research Division

Sarah Beaton is Director, Advanced Training and Research Division (ATRD) in the office of International and Foreign Language Education. She coordinates a team that administers Title VI institutional and fellowship programs, including the American Overseas Research Centers (AORCs), Centers for International Business Education (CIBEs), Language Resource Centers (LRCs), National Resource Centers (NRCs), Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships, and International Research and Studies (IRS) program.

Sarah previously coordinated the Office of Postsecondary Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, the First in The World program, and the international academic partnerships including special U.S.-Brazil collaboration programs to link American academia with European Union, Canadian, and Mexican universities. She also led the Hispanic-Serving Institutions - Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics and Articulation programs and other programs that bolster U.S. colleges and universities to prepare globally competent students for the 21st century workforce. During her tenure in the international education program office 10 years ago, Sarah gained extensive experience managing Fulbright-Hays programs and Title VI international business education grants. She holds degrees in economics, liberal arts, and business.

Tim Duvall serves as a Senior Program Officer for IFLE, overseeing the CIBEs, as well as the NRC and FLAS programs with a focus on the Middle East and Western Europe. Tim is the Evaluation Team Lead for IFLE.

Tim 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.

Carolyn Collins oversees IFLE’s Title VI LRC Program as well as the NRC and FLAS programs focusing on the Western Hemisphere (Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean). She is IFLE’s Communications Team Lead.

Before coming to IFLE in 2015, Carolyn worked at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., where she managed the Teaching Assistant Program in France. Previously, Carolyn worked for an adventure travel company specializing in ecotourism and educational 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. Carolyn speaks fluent French, intermediate Spanish, and elementary German and Japanese.

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 IFLE’s senior staff and program officers with a wide range of detailed administrative and technical support, including a lead role in the grant closeout process. She 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.

Dana Sapatoru joins the Advanced Training and Research Division as an education program specialist overseeing the IRS program as well as the NRC and FLAS portfolio for Russia, East Europe, and Eurasia. She holds a Ph.D. in economics education from Stanford University, a master's in international affairs from Columbia University, and a master's in economics from Central European University. Her professional work has focused on the design, implementation, and management of data-driven research projects in international education. During her career, Dana has applied her analytical skills and policy analysis expertise to understand the role and transformation of education systems in countries undergoing economic and political change, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. She has a special interest in studying the factors that affect individual postsecondary education choices and the impact of such choices on labor market outcomes (e.g., employability, wages, and career choices and paths). A native of Romania, Dana has studied and lived in multiple countries in Europe (Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Scotland and Sweden). She loves to learn, dance, read, travel and bake anything and everything with filo dough.

Brian Cwiek is a Program Officer for the NRC and FLAS programs focused on East Asia, Pan-Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Brian holds a PhD in history and Central Eurasian studies from Indiana University master’s degrees in area studies fields from Columbia University and Indiana University, and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Prior to arriving at IFLE, Brian taught history and East Asian studies courses at multiple institutions of higher education, including Bates College and Indiana University South Bend. Brian has conducted research while living abroad in China and Taiwan, including a period as a U.S. Student Fulbright Program grantee. Brian has studied multiple LCTLs, including Mandarin Chinese, Uyghur, and Tajiki. In addition to teaching and research, Brian has a demonstrated track record for introducing and expanding area studies content in K–12 classrooms through curriculum development and educator training initiatives. Brian has also worked to internationalize Indiana University East through teaching and curriculum design work for the International Studies Program.

Gabriela Martinez Gillespie is a program officer for the Africa and International portfolios of the NRC and FLAS programs. Gaby holds a Ph.D. in higher education from Florida International University, a master’s degree in higher education from the University of South Carolina, and bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and business administration from the University of Florida. Prior to joining IFLE, Gaby spent 13 years managing campus internationalization efforts in various capacities at the University of Maryland, Florida International University, and the University of South Carolina. Her international education career has focused on program development and evaluation; international student development and engagement; recruitment; providing academic, immigration and study abroad advising to domestic and international students; and establishing relationships through formal and informal channels to support campus internationalization. A native of Brazil, she has had opportunities to study, intern, live, and teach in Spain, Taiwan, and the Dominican Republic. She speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

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International Studies Division

Gary Thomas is the Director of IFLE’s International Studies Division (ISD). He leads a team of program officers to administer and manage new and existing Fulbright-Hays grants. Fulbright-Hays programs provide overseas funding to U.S. educators to participate in advanced overseas study and research in modern foreign languages and area studies. These programs include: the Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program; the Seminars Abroad Program, and the Group Projects Abroad Program.

Gary has worked at the U.S. Department of Education since 2000. Prior to joining IFLE, Gary served as a Senior Program Manager for the Office of Postsecondary Education’s (OPE) Fund for the Improvement’s First in the World program. Previously, he 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 service in OPE, Gary worked in the Department’s Federal Student Aid Division and as a higher education policy analyst for the Maryland General Assembly. He has been a fellow in the Department’s Excellence in Government and Executive Leadership programs, and 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.

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

Jessica Lugg is a Program Officer overseeing the 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.

Jessica previously served as a grants manager for the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services program in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to joining the Department, Jessica served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco for two years, focusing on teaching content-based English to youth in a rural setting. During her two years of service, she worked with parents, teachers, and community organizations to support youth development in education to prepare them for roles within family, community, and the world of work.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Health from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in International Studies with a focus on Education.

Cory Neal oversees the Group Projects Abroad Program, which provides grants to support overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies for teachers, students, and faculty engaged in a common endeavor.

Cory has over a decade of experience in education, ranging from serving as a middle school teacher and varsity tennis coach, to serving as both an educator and education specialist in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP). Cory’s passion is helping others pursue their highest education endeavors. He has taught and mentored countless youth and incarcerated men in order to help them earn their educational achievements. Each year while working at the FBOP, Cory exceeded the goals set for inmates to earn their General Equivalency Diplomas. He also introduced numerous new courses for inmates to earn certifications and licensures they could utilize upon release. In his spare time, Cory enjoys traveling abroad, playing and writing music, and studying history. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Matthew Robinson is an Education Program Specialist in ISD. He brings with him over ten years of postsecondary teaching experience, both in the U.S. and abroad, in which he taught courses focused on the intersections of education, language and culture. Matt brings an international focus to his work, drawing on his experiences living abroad, including working as a Lecturer at the Royal University of Bhutan, an English Language Fellow in Timor Lorosa’e (East Timor), and a Peace Corps volunteer in Kiribati.

He is a Ph.D. candidate in Social Foundations of Education at the University of Virginia, and his dissertation research focuses on the educational dimensions of contemporary Hawaiian wayfinding. Matt holds a Master’s degree in TESOL from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, and a Bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Carla White is a Program Specialist 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.

Amy Marrion joins IFLE as an education program specialist in the International Studies Division. Prior to joining the Department of Education, Amy managed a dynamic portfolio of international opportunities for the School of International Service at American University. Amy advised students regarding study abroad opportunities and spent several years coordinating an intensive English program that welcomed students from around the world to Washington, D.C. She has had the opportunity to study, intern, and teach abroad in England, Lithuania, and Ecuador, and is passionate about increasing access to international and cross-cultural experiences for educators and students. Amy holds a master's degree in international education management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, a bachelor's in international studies and history from Elon University, and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from American University.

Mark Bladel joins IFLE as an education program specialist in the International Studies Division. He brings with him over 8 years of experience working in international education at institutions across the United States. Most recently, Mark managed the study abroad and global education programs at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Prior to this he worked several years in careers in international student recruitment, enrollment, and retention. Mark holds a master’s degree in higher education policy, research, and administration from Goucher College and a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and Spanish from the University of Pittsburgh. As an undergraduate he had the opportunity to participate as an exchange student in São Paulo, Brazil. This experience inspired him to pursue a career in international education and he remains passionate about providing meaningful global experiences to educators and students.

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Last Modified: 09/21/2022