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.
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.
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.
Allison Kerr has been working in international higher education since 2015. Prior to INTERLINK, she started as a work study in the Office of International Education at St. Ambrose University, graduating in 2017, then served with the City of Davenport AmeriCorps Program as an Elementary Program Specialist at a local non profit. Allison joined INTERLINK in 2018 as a Student Services Coordinator before moving to the Home Office team as a project manager and, soon after, a marketing manager. Allison enjoys helping INTERLINK share students’ stories, and communicating the organization’s programs on the website. She values working at INTERLINK and the opportunity to connect with people from around the world. Outside of work hours, you might find Allison listening to a podcast, spending time in the sun, or starting a crochet project. She loves learning new things about the world and thinking creatively to find solutions.
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.
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.
Tahmina has been teaching English to non-native speakers for many years. She has a MA in Applied Linguistics and a BSc in Chemistry, which she earned from Texas A&M University and the University of Guelph, respectively.
Tahmina’s passion for language teaching began when she was young and grew up in a multicultural environment where she learned multiple languages. While living in the UAE, she found it fascinating to communicate with people from different backgrounds and cultures; this sparked her desire to become an ESL teacher. This passion continued after she immigrated to Canada and worked at an international pharmaceutical company where she had the opportunity to work in different countries and train colleagues on Canadian laws and regulations.
She understands the need to be able to communicate ideas in a lingua franca such as English. As a result, Tahmina’s teaching style is student-centered, and she creates a positive and engaging learning environment to encourage her students to participate and communicate in English. She is always looking for ways to improve her teaching skills and stay up-to-date with the latest teaching methods and trends in ESL education.
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.