Since 1980, thousands of students have attended INTERLINK to receive intensive English training and prepare for academic studies and professional development. INTERLINK teachers are selected for their knowledge and competence in the field of ESL, their extensive cross-cultural experience, and their unqualified commitment to their students. They use a variety of methods and approaches to mold their classes in accordance with their personal pedagogical outlooks, the needs of the particular individuals in the class, and the fundamental principles and goals of INTERLINK.
President & CEO
Ahad Shahbaz has directed and overseen over 30 programs on several university campuses in the U.S. and abroad. Inspired by John F. Kennedy’s global message of helping and learning from the world through the Peace Corps program, he began his career in teaching and learning with the Peace Corps in Afghanistan and subsequently continued with coordinating the Teacher Corps/Peace Corps language and cross-cultural project at SUNY/College at Buffalo. Having completed his tenure at SUNY/College, he taught English as a second language at SUNY/Buffalo followed by directing the Office of International Student Affairs at Snead State College in Alabama. His incurable addiction to language and culture subsequently took him to Saudi Arabia to set up the Ohio University intensive English program in Taif, Saudi Arabia. An active participant in multiple organizations, he served EnglishUSA (formerly American Association of Intensive English Programs) as its first elected Vice President for Standards; Carolina TESOL as president; the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation as a task force member; and NAFSA: Association of International Educators as a multi-year presenter on leadership, management, and cross-cultural training. He obtained his BA in Liberal Arts/Linguistics from SUNY/College at Buffalo and his MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from SUNY/Buffalo. Committed to transformative education through project-based curricula, he currently oversees U.S. and international programs focusing on academic preparation, language learning, and cross-cultural training.
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. in History and Math from Guilford College; 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.
Institute Director, University of North Carolina Greensboro
Jeffrey Puccini has a rich and extensive background in training, teaching, and learning of language. As a licensed SIT (School for International Training) TESOL trainer, and trainer of trainers, he has worked with a variety of organizations nationally and internationally. Entities using Jeff’s expertise in teacher training and curriculum development have been educational institutions, private organizations, and governmental agencies, including the U.S. Department of State. His professional work spans many institutions across the U.S. and abroad, including El Salvador, Korea, Thailand, and Venezuela. Jeff’s professional interests include digital learning, reflective practices, and the science of learning. His BA is in literature and MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. He is proficient in Spanish and is currently and actively working on Thai.
A native of Colorado, Shaima Shahbaz has held various management posts in the US and abroad. After obtaining her BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado in Boulder, she volunteered as a project manager for the nonprofit Afghans4Tomorrow in Afghanistan. Her experience in Kabul inspired her to enroll at the U.N. University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica. With an M.A. in Responsible Management, she then worked with the nonprofit BeadforLife, conducting research and managing projects in rural Uganda. Having served at INTERLINK since 2012, Shaima has worked in various capacities including as Project Manager, Communication Director, and Assistant Director of the INTERLINK institute at St. Ambrose University. As Marketing and Recruitment Director, Shaima brings a strong appreciation for and commitment to INTERLINK’s vision, mission, and ethos of service.
Director of Curriculum Training and Administration
Jennifer started her time with INTERLINK as an instructor in 2011. From that time forward, teaching English experientially using INTERLINK’s project-based curriculum became a career passion and focus. In 2013, she became an academic coordinator, helping to design professional development for her team and training new teachers. In 2015, she took on the role of Senior Academic Coordinator with expanded training responsibilities across INTERLINK’s U.S. institutes. She also facilitated review and development efforts focused on curriculum. Serving as an interim director of an INTERLINK institute from 2017 – 2018 and as a senior staff member, she gained the experience she needed to connect educational leadership with organizational management. In addition to having an M.A. in Intercultural Studies and TESOL, she has earned her certification as a senior professional in human resource management through the Society of Human Resource Management and has also been through additional training in experiential learning and intercultural communication at the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication. Before working for INTERLINK, Jennifer spent 10 years teaching English to Chinese university students in China’s Northeast. In 2014, she met her husband, Enrique, a musician and teacher from Mexico. In her spare time, she enjoys music, reading, writing, movies, keeping up with friends, working on her Chinese and Spanish, running, and cooking.
Institute Director, Montana State University & Online
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.
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.
Ana Valdivia is originally from Lima, Peru. She graduated with a degree in architecture before moving to Bozeman, Montana where she has lived for over 15 years. She is now used to the long and cold winters. Her interest in learning about different cultures began in 2000 when she began working on the Montana State University campus. Being herself a non-native English speaker, she felt she had found the perfect place to help foreign students in Bozeman. Over the years, Ana has taken different roles and assumed increasing responsibilities. As admissions director, she now oversees the student application process and provides academic advising, ensuring the INTERLINK student experience is smooth and fruitful from the point of application, through graduation, and into their academic and professional transitions. Ana enjoys meeting and assisting students from different countries and backgrounds, and seeing them succeed at INTERLINK.
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.
Allison Kerr has been working in international education since 2015. As a student at St. Ambrose University, Allison worked in the Office of International Education assisting students and staff. She spent two years during and after college in AmeriCorps service with the local community, graduating from SAU in 2017. Allison joined the INTERLINK team in 2018 as a student services coordinator at the former INTERLINK Institute at SAU. She has since joined INTERLINK’s Home Office team as a project manager and was appointed the student services coordinator for the online programs. Allison values the opportunity to connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds at INTERLINK. She appreciates INTERLINK’s dedication to helping students achieve their goals through experiential learning. In her spare time, Allison enjoys traveling, spending time with friends, being outdoors, and watching documentaries.
Monique Cooper has been in the accounting field for over 25 years. As a child, her family immigrated to the Denver area from the Netherlands. English is her second language. She earned her accounting certificate at Barnes Business College. While living in Southern California for 18 years she did the accounting for a personal injury attorney, cost accounting for a manufacturing company that produced nutritional supplements, and also in the auto repair industry. She returned to Denver in 2005 and worked as comptroller and office manager/overseas liaison for a clothing designer whose goods were manufactured in China and New Zealand. By joining the INTERLINK team she is able to continue to embrace the cultural diversity she experienced within her own family and in other accounting positions.
Student Services Coordinator
Chloe graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2020 with a BA in Sociology. During her time at UNCG, she was able to work as a Peer Academic Leader helping first year students transition to college life, which sparked her interest to work in higher education. After an amazing study abroad experience in Sweden, she discovered the opportunity to mix her passion for education with her love of travel. After graduating, she began volunteering with UNCG’s International Programs Center and in October of 2021, Chloe began working as the Student Services Coordinator for INTERLINK’s UNCG office. She values INTERLINK’s dedication to experiential learning and the chance to be a part of an international community. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, going to the movies, thrifting, and spending time with her family.
After years of living, studying, and working in different places (Russia, Switzerland, France, UK, Portugal, and the United States), Nadya Modyanova discovered the last best place of Bozeman, MT. Here, she has been teaching English as a Second Language at INTERLINK, helping international undergraduate and graduate students succeed in learning and applying different aspects of English language to their studies, work, and life. Nadya has a TESOL Certificate from Lingua Edge. Previously, Nadya completed a B.A. (First Class Honours) in Linguistics with Cognitive Science at the University College London, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she carried out research on and taught about normal and abnormal child language acquisition and its genetics. While Nadya still wishes to get back to doing research on language development sometime, she hopes to continue teaching for now!
Kathryn has been an Online Instructor at INTERLINK since 2021. Her love of language and cross-cultural exchange began with a gap year in France between high school and college. She has a BA in History and received a grant to conduct interviews with women who had grown up in former East Germany for her thesis. She earned her TEFL in 2013 from the WorldTeach program in Ecuador and began teaching in an English language school in downtown Seattle in 2014. She started her MA in TESOL in 2019 at the SIT Graduate Institute and experienced the shift to fully online instruction both as a student and as an instructor. She enjoys sharing the INTERLINK experience with students, particularly its focus on reflection and growing self awareness. Her academic interests include multilingual assessment and plurilingual pedagogy. Her personal interests include reading and listening to stories, playing ultimate frisbee, and taking community language classes. She’s studied French, German, and Spanish more extensively, and received introductions to Swedish, Thai, and Mandarin Chinese.
Robert L. Steiner
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.