January 27, 2014

Senior Staff


Ahad Shahbaz, President & CEO

Ahad Shahbaz led several intensive English language programs in the U.S. and abroad prior to leading INTERLINK. After having completed his tenure as coordinator of the Teacher Corps/Peace Corps language and cross-cultural project at SUNY/College at Buffalo, he taught English language at the State University of New York in Buffalo. Subsequently, he directed the ESL program at Snead State Community College in Alabama, followed by establishing and directing the Ohio University intensive English program in Saudi Arabia. An active participant in multiple organizations, he served EnglishUSA as its first elected vice president for Standards; Carolina TESOL as president; the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation as a member of the task force that established it; and NAFSA: Association of International Educators as a multi-year presenter on leadership, management of intensive English programs, and cross-cultural training. From SUNY Buffalo he holds an M.A. in teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and from SUNY/College at Buffalo a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Linguistics. 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.

Marisa Brooks, Institute 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 institute 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.


kg021717-peters_valley-1 Valley Peters, Institute Director, Montana State University

Growing up in rural Nebraska and Montana, Valley Peters acquired wanderlust at a young age as she dreamt of far-flung places. A study abroad program in college to New Zealand ignited her plan to pursue a lifetime of traveling and learning about other cultures. A stint as an Americorps volunteer ESL instructor opened the door for combining travel and culture with her love for learning. Outside the classroom, you’ll find her dabbling in artistic pursuits, hiking, hanging out with her daughter, and listening to Tedtalks.Valley has taught in Japan, Mexico, and in the United States in a variety of settings. Her love for the outdoors led her to Jackson, Wyoming where she spent 10 years at a non-profit developing literacy programming for adults, training ESL tutors and teachers, and eventually acting as the executive director. Her professional interests include learning-to-learn strategies, reading development, reflective practice, learner efficacy, and intercultural competence. She has presented at conferences in Japan, Wyoming, and Washington on “constructive chaos” in the classroom, group discussion skills, reflective practice, participatory pedagogy, training ESL tutors, and advanced reading strategies.

tim-healy-2 Tim Healy, Institute Director, Seattle Pacific University

Tim has been active in the field of ESL for fifteen years as a teacher and administrator. He holds an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Seattle Pacific University and a BA in Russian from the University of Montana. As a college student, he studied in the U.S.S.R. and subsequently lived in Russia. Tim has published and presented on the topic of authenticity in the language classroom and presented on authoring websites to promote writing skills and using wikis in teacher training. His interests include action research, curriculum development and teacher training. He enjoys working with INTERLINK and SPU staff to assist students in optimizing their opportunities for learning in the multi-cultural environment of Seattle.

jennifer Jennifer Guzman, Senior Academic Coordinator

After earning an M.A. in Intercultural Studies and TESOL from Wheaton College and spending a decade in China, Jennifer returned to the States and joined INTERLINK in 2011. As an INTERLINK instructor, she was able to expand her experience to working with students from many different countries as well as using an experiential and project-based approach to English language learning. She now serves as INTERLINK’s Senior Academic Coordinator facilitating INTERLINK’s Curriculum Task Force and providing support for teaching teams across INTERLINK’s six institutes.

Giovanna Alessio, Institute 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.  Giovanna enjoys teaching and learning languages.

 Dr. Nebila Dhieb, General Director at Al Yamamah University

Nebila oversees both the Women’s and Men’s Divisions at the university as well as all outreach programs offered by INTERLINK. With MA and PhD degrees in Applied Linguistics from the University of Manuba (UM), Tunisia, and as Assistant Professor in Applied Linguistics at UM, she has lectured on Curriculum Development, Applied Linguistics, English for Specific Purposes, and TESL/TEFL Methodologies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. During most of her tenure, she has been involved in facilitating different pre-service and in-service teacher training programs. 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. Her book “Understanding Reading in a Scientific Context: A Genre-based Approach” was published in 2010 (VDM). Nebila is fluent in Arabic and French.

Robert L. Steiner
In Memoriam

Founder and Chairman, Robert Steiner had extensive experience in the field of cross-cultural training and international education. He  held key posts in leadership, 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; at the request of Sargent Shriver, President John F. Kennedy’s brother-in-law, 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 was a consultant at the United Nations. As a chief executive officer of government agencies and private institutions, Robert managed and promoted world-wide educational and training projects. He held an M.A. in International Affairs from Columbia University and a B.A. in Mathematics and Physics from the College of Wooster. He was listed in Who’s Who in America. Robert spoke Farsi and French.

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