|Meet the Flagship Team|
Dr. Michael Nugent
Dr. Michael Nugent is director of the National Security Education Program (NSEP). Before coming to NSEP, Dr. Nugent worked on a number of international grant programs at the U.S. Department of Education. These include developing and directing the U.S.-Brazil Higher Education Consortia Program and the North America Mobility in Higher Education Program at the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). He also served as Chief of Section, overseeing the Title VI funding of National Resource Centers, Foreign Language and Areas Studies grants, and the Language Resource Centers.
Dr. Nugent has served in policy positions as Vice President for Administration and Research at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in Washington DC, and Deputy to the Chancellor for Systems Relations for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Author of “The Transformation of the Student Career: University study in Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands” (Routledge, 2004), he remains active in the field of international higher education policy.
Dr. Nugent has a Ph.D. in higher education from Pennsylvania State University. He has been both a student of language and literature at universities in Germany, France, and Spain.
Dr. Sam Eisen
Dr. Sam Eisen is is the director of The Language Flagship and Director of Programs at the National Security Education Program (NSEP). Before coming to NSEP, Dr. Eisen served as the Director of the Advanced Training and Research Group in International and Foreign Language Education at the U.S. Department of Education, where he provided oversight for Title VI and Fulbright Hays programming designed to develop and maintain national capacity in foreign language and international and area studies. These programs included the Title VI National Resource Centers, Language Resource Centers, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships, and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad program.
Before joining the Department of Education, Dr. Eisen served at the U.S. Department of State (1999-2007) in the Office of the Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia. At the State Department Dr. Eisen coordinated FREEDOM Support Act which funded academic and professional exchange programs with the former Soviet Union for over 5000 participants per year and managed specialized institutional development projects. Dr. Eisen also served in the Coordinator’s Office as the Democracy Programs Officer for U.S. Government assistance to Eastern Europe and Eurasia to promote civil society, independent media and rule of law in the region. At the U.S. Information Agency (1998-1999), he managed university partnership programs for Russia and Central Asia, including major development grants for the American University – Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Before joining the federal government, Dr. Eisen taught Russian language, literature, and culture as Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at American University in Washington DC (1995-1998).
Dr. Eisen holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Stanford University, and a B.A in Russian from Amherst College.
Mr. Ed McDermott
Ed McDermott joined The Language Flagship in August 2008 as the Senior Program Manager. Before coming to NSEP, he was Senior Program Officer for several Title VI programs at the U.S. Department of Education. He managed and oversaw the International Research and Studies, the Language Resource Centers, as well as the National Resource Centers and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships grant programs. Mr. McDermott previously served as Senior Program Coordinator at the National Foreign Language Center overseeing federal grants. He has worked within or on behalf of the higher education community for fifteen years.
Mr. McDermott has served on the Center for Advanced Study of Language/University Affiliated Research Center Advisory Committee and its Less Commonly Taught Language, Second Language Acquisition, and National Language Conference Committee working groups. In the past, he contributed to the Defense Language Transformation Team Planning Committee, the Foreign Language Executive Committee, and the Partnership for Public Service.
Ms. Kaveri Advani
Ms. Kaveri Advani joined The Language Flagship in 2009 and is currently the program analyst for Flagship. Ms. Advani conducts research and analysis on Flagship programs and policy.
Ms. Advani received her BA in political science and minor in Russian language from Loyola University, New Orleans in 2003. In 2002, Ms. Advani received a Tcherpennine scholarship to study Russian in St. Petersburg, Russia.
After graduation Ms. Advani spent a year travelling throughout Asia, Australia and New Zealand and worked as an intern for the United Nations Information Center in New Delhi, India. In 2007, Ms. Advani received a Boren Fellowship to improve her Arabic language skills and to conduct research on strategies being developed that address water as a depleting resource in the Middle East. Ms. Advani’s research sites were Sana’a, Yemen, and Damascus, Syria.
In 2009, Ms. Advani received her master’s degree from New York University in comparative politics with a focus on the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa. Her research focused mainly on resource politics on local, regional, and global scales.
Ms. Advani is interested in cross-cultural interconnectivity and believes that language acquisition is the first step in bridging cultural divides.
Ms. Allison Trepod Solit
Ms. Allison Trepod Solit joined the National Security Education Program (NSEP) in 2011 as the Communications Strategist. Ms. Solit supports NSEP and The Language Flagship in marketing, public relations, and strategic communications. Before joining NSEP, Ms. Solit served as the Communications Manager and Business Development Specialist at Sevatec, Inc. Ms. Solit has also worked at SRI International (a non-profit research firm) from 2005-2010 supporting marketing and research in the areas of clean energy technologies, educational policy, drug discovery, and cyber security, and has also worked at Image Builders Unlimited, supporting client relations, marketing, and graphic design efforts.
Ms. Solit received dual degrees in Business and Communications from Michigan State University, with minors in Marketing and Public Relations.
Ms. Sharon Nishizaki
Ms. Sharon Nishizaki is program director for The Language Flagship at the Institute of International Education (IIE), the administrative agent for The Language Flagship Grants, and has served in this role since 2006. Ms. Nishizaki began her affiliation with NSEP in 1997 when she joined the Academy for Educational Development (AED) to manage the David L. Boren Graduate Fellowships. Prior to this, Ms. Nishizaki was employed for 10 years in the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Fellowships and Grants as a program specialist responsible for the Smithsonian Graduate, Predoctoral, and Postdoctoral Fellowship Programs. Ms. Nishizaki has also worked as a program analyst for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean at the Inter-American Foundation, an independent agency of the United States government that provides grants to nongovernmental and community-based organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ms. Nishizaki received a BS in Spanish and French from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. Ms. Nishizaki has lived extensively in Latin America, having completed much of her primary and secondary education in Mexico and Argentina.
Ms. Meaghan Dolan
Ms. Meaghan Dolan is the program officer for The Language Flagship at the Institute of International Education (IIE). Prior to joining IIE in the fall of 2008, Ms. Dolan was the project coordinator for a congressionally mandated study on public diplomacy. Ms. Dolan previously worked for the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.
Ms. Dolan received her master’s in International Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University in 2006. There she focused on conflict resolution and the Middle East. Ms. Dolan earned her BA in International Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004. Ms. Dolan studied abroad in Spain and Cyprus and has traveled extensively.
Ms. Colleen Wile
Ms. Colleen Wile is the grants officer for The Language Flagship at the Institute of International Education (IIE). She is the primary point of contact for administrative aspects of Flagship institutional grants. Ms. Wile returned to IIE in 2011 after working at American Councils for International Education for over five years, managing the administration of field based grants and agreements. Prior to that, she was a program coordinator for a USAID-sponsored exchange program at IIE.
Ms. Wile received her master’s in International Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University in 2005, where she focused on conflict resolution. Ms. Wile received her BA from the University of Notre Dame in 2001, majoring in Government and International Relations. Ms. Wile studied abroad in England and South Africa.
Ms. Sarah Lucas
Ms. Sarah Lucas is the program officer for The Language Flagship at the Institute of International Education (IIE). Prior to joining IIE in 2012, Ms. Lucas was the international student advisor for prospective students at George Mason University where she was a Designated School Official (DSO) and Alternate Responsible Office (ARO) for F-1 and J-1 students. Ms. Lucas also worked for AFS Intercultural Programs where she supported J-1 high school exchange students during their stay in the U.S.
Ms. Lucas received her master’s degree in Leadership and Student Affairs at the University of St. Thomas in 2010 where she focused on intercultural learning and community engagement within higher education. She received her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Journalism in 2004.
Ms. Maria Gahan
Ms. Maria Gahan is the Program Associate for The Language Flagship, providing administrative support to the Flagship team for both fellowships and institutional grants. Before joining the Institute of International Education (IIE), Ms. Gahan served as the graduate assistant in the International Admissions office at American University, where she was pursuing her Master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution with a focus on youth and education. She has also interned with the Middle East Policy Council and AMIDEAST and served as president of Creative Peace Initiatives, a student led organization promoting the arts, dance and education as tools for peacebuilding. Ms. Gahan earned her BA from the University of Evansville, where she studied International Studies and French. She has studied abroad in England and France and conducted research in South Korea and Ghana.
Dr. Deborah W. Robinson
Dr. Deborah W. Robinson joined The Language Flagship as a consultant and strategist on K–12 initiatives in February, 2012. Debbie has extensive experience in the K–16 arena, having taught French and Spanish in elementary, immersion, after-school enrichment, summer, and traditional secondary and postsecondary programs. She also worked as an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, working with pre-service and international teachers.
Dr. Robinson comes to Flagship from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) where she served as a World Languages Consultant and was recognized by the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL) as the 2010 State Supervisor of the Year. At the ODE, Dr. Robinson facilitated strategic planning for world languages and provided leadership on projects, such as a U.S. Department of Education FLAP grant for the development of a model K–4 Chinese curriculum. Dr. Robinson also led a taskforce on the institutional impact of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning through a Title VI International Research and Studies grant to ACTFL.
Dr. Robinson’s charge with The Language Flagship is to facilitate the development of a national Flagship K–12 strategy that will coordinate Flagship initiatives with partner organizations in promoting high quality foreign language education at the K–12 level.
Dr. Robinson’s undergraduate studies at Marietta College focused on French, Spanish, and education. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. through The Ohio State University’s Foreign and Second Language Education Program.