January 27, 2014

Senior Staff

Robert L. Steiner, Chairman of the Board

Founder and Chairman, Robert Steiner has had extensive experience in the field of cross-cultural training and international education. He has held key posts in management and training in the U.S. and abroad; was Director of Cross-Cultural Training and Research at the University of Hawaii; served as Director of the Fulbright Commission in Iran; started and directed the Peace Corps programs in Afghanistan and Iran, and was later promoted to Peace Corps Regional Director for North Africa, Near East, and South Asia; worked as Executive Director of New Jersey Education Consortium; and has been a consultant at the United Nations. As a chief executive officer of government agencies and private institutions, Robert has managed and promoted world-wide educational and training projects. He holds an M.A. in International Affairs from Columbia University and a B.A. in Mathematics and Physics from the College of Wooster. He is listed in Who’s Who in America. Robert speaks Farsi and French.

Ahad Shahbaz, President & CEO

Ahad Shahbaz has designed and directed several intensive English language programs in the U.S. and abroad. Prior to directing the ESL program in Alabama in 1975, he taught English at SUNY/Buffalo and coordinated the Teacher Corps/Peace Corps projects at SUNY/College at Buffalo. In 1977, he established and directed the Ohio University intensive English program in Saudi Arabia. An elected officer of several national and international professional organizations, he has been active in: EglishUSA (the first elected Vice President for Standards); Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (Affiliate President for North and South Carolinas); Commission on Accreditation of Intensive English Programs (Task Force Member); and NAFSA: Association of International Educators (presenter on topics related to leadership, management of IEPs, and cross-cultural). He holds an M.A. in ESL from SUNY/Buffalo and a B.A. in Liberal Arts/Linguistics from SUNY/College at Buffalo, New York. He speaks English, Dari, Pashto, Spanish, and is familiar with Arabic and German.

David Parsons, Senior Executive Director

David Parsons has had extensive experience in teaching, research, and administration. Prior to joining INTERLINK, David directed a Kellogg Foundation-sponsored program on agriculture in the liberal arts: “Food, Peace, & International Development” at Wilmington College of Ohio. He has taught ESL and conducted cross-cultural research in Algeria. Since 1986, he has worked with INTERLINK as teacher, assistant director and director of two different campus programs. As former president of Carolina TESOL, he has been active in the region promoting standards in ESL programs. David holds a B.A. from Guilford College in History and Math; an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University; and a MAT in English as a Second Language from the School for International Training. He speaks fluent French and is familiar with Arabic and Russian.

Marshall Brewer, Executive Director

With over 34 years in intercultural education, Marshall Brewer brings multiple perspectives to INTERLINK as Executive Director. He is a presenting member of 12 professional associations of language teachers, including Japan, Korea, and Spain. He has twice served as vice president of the International Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research. From SIT Graduate Institute he holds two degrees, the M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and the Master of Intercultural Administration. Previous to INTERLINK, he worked in many capacities for World Learning, the nonprofit international education organization and taught English language at Greenfield Community College. He has worked and traveled in Europe, Central America and the Caribbean, and East Asia. He speaks German and Swedish and has studied French, Spanish, Thai, and Turkish.

Marissa Brooks Marisa Brooks, Center Director, Indiana State University

Marisa Brooks began her career in education over 30 years ago in Japan, where she taught English for many years. A former INTERLINK center director at both Valparaiso University and Indiana State University, she was most recently an instructional designer for Pearson Education, where she focused on teaching methodologies, techniques, theories, and cross-cultural topics. A keen observer of classroom teachers, she has developed a professional practice that includes teacher training and curriculum design and is a licensed CELTA trainer. Marisa holds a BA in English from Central College and the MA in TESOL from the School for International Training.


juliana-2016 Juliana Mrabet, Center Director, St. Ambrose University

Juliana Mrabet directs the INTERLINK Language Center at St. Ambrose University. With over 30 years of teaching and administrative experience, she has spent the bulk of her career facilitating the startup and development of English language and other educational programs in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Qatar, Iraq, and the United States. In both teaching and administering, Juliana emphasizes critical thinking, cross-cultural understanding, and self-reliance. Her research has probed the nature and impact of the stereotyping of Muslims in western society, reform in higher education, and the adoption of innovations in Middle Eastern societies. Fluent in French, Spanish, and Arabic, Juliana holds the University of Virginia PhD (Comparative and International Education, specializing in Applied Linguistics and Middle East Studies) and the University of Tennessee MS in Foreign Language Education.

Becky-Shelton Jennifer Shelton, Interim Center Director and Senior Academic Coordinator

Jennifer Shelton is the Senior Academic Coordinator for INTERLINK Language Centers. She has been working with international students for over a decade. She has an M.A. in Intercultural Studies and TESOL from Wheaton College. Jennifer lived and taught in China for many years working with university students there. She has also volunteered in a community program that helps internationals learn English, and has spent the last few years supporting INTERLINK students through instruction, academic support, and cross-cultural orientation. She can’t imagine a better job. She is an ordinary person, but she gets to experience the world through her job. Jennifer loves the growth and experience, personal connection, and expanded horizons that teaching international students brings. She feels there is also a sense of humility that is continuously reinforced by working with students who are capable of such high achievement, and who constantly challenge her worldview with their own.

giovanna-alessio-uncg1 Giovanna Alessio, Interim Center Director, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Giovanna taught English and German in Mexico and in California for five years before joining the INTERLINK teaching staff. Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, she counts herself as a California native but relocated to Greensboro to teach English at INTERLINK in 2013. She holds a B.A. in German Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz and a Masters in TESOL from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. Outside of teaching and learning languages, Giovanna enjoys yoga, hiking, Latin dancing, crafts, and international cooking. Email: galessio@interlink.edu

Dr. Nebila Dhieb-Henia, General Director, INTERLINK Language Centers at Al Yamamah

General Director of INTERLINK Language Centers at Al Yamamah, Dr. Nebila Dhieb-Henia oversees the INTERLINK Women’s and Men’s Divisions as well as all outreach programs offered by INTERLINK. With MA and PhD degrees in Applied Linguistics from the University of Manuba, Tunisia, and as Assistant Professor in Applied Linguistics, she has lectured on Curriculum Development, Applied Linguistics, English for Specific Purposes, and TESL/TEFL Methodologies at both undergraduate and graduate levels. She has also been involved in facilitating different pre-service and in-service teacher training programs during most of her tenure. An active participant in international conferences in TESOL, TESOL ARABIA, the Maghreb Conference, and INTERLINK’s various, annual ELT International Symposia, she enjoys training, research, and writing. Her articles have been published in English for Specific Purposes, ITL Review of Applied Linguistics, CALL-EJ and English Teaching Forum, and her book “Understanding reading in a scientific context: A genre-based approach” appeared in 2010 (VDM). Nebila speaks Arabic and French fluently.

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