Meet the Team
WCIE’s team is inspired by a common vision of serving international students, their families, and the educational institutions that serve those students. WCIE’s founding team includes the following:
Co-Founder and Chair, Board of Governors
Paul Boesen is a WCIE co-founder and serves as Chair of its Board of Governors. He also serves as managing director of WCIE’s partner, English Now!, an English language school in Bethesda, Maryland, supporting the development of Community Service and Student Service Learning (SSL) programs that serve the school and broader international community, and also as VP-Administration of GreenPoint Group, a strategic advisory firm that connects people and resources in the United States and China. Paul’s background in education includes experience in general management as well as international program development and administration. Prior to his work in education, Paul worked in investment banking and private equity for the Goldman Sachs Group in New York, Frankfurt, and Singapore; and for the World Economic Forum in Geneva and Beijing. He also served as executive director of the US-China Education Trust; on the Steering Committee of the One Million Strong Initiative, a Presidential Initiative to promote Chinese language education in American K-12 schools; and is a co-founder of Welcoming Falls Church, a Falls Church, Virginia-based non-profit organization that supports refugee resettlement in Northern Virginia. Paul’s academic background is in economics, Asian studies, and law. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School and resides in Falls Church, Virginia, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children.
Sally Y. Dai is a WCIE Research Fellow. Sally graduated from American University in Washington D.C. with a Master of Science degree in Health Promotion Management and is pursuing a Master’s degree in International Development with a focus on global health.
Sally is a Certified Health Education Specialist with a research interest in health education and promotion in the DMV area. She speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai, and English. Her research interests are health and living conditions of immigrants, including their integration, health disparities, social mobility, migrant children’s health, migrant women’s health, immigration health policies, etc.
Sally has lived in Thailand, Singapore, and the UK, before moving to the U.S. with her family. Sally enjoys traveling and experiencing new cultures, cuisines, and languages. She has visited more than 40 cities in 20 countries – traveling inspires her. Sally appreciates and respects other’s cultures, values, and unique qualities. Her experiences help her greatly in her work with migrant communities.
Sally and her family reside in Bethesda, Maryland.
Director of Academic Advising
Anna Green serves as WCIE’s Director of Academic Advising and as an English Language Instructor at English Now! She has a longstanding interest in education and youth development and truly enjoys teaching and working with students of all ages and levels. Anna received her master’s degree in TESOL from UMBC in 2018. Previously, she volunteered with the U.S. Peace Corps in Morocco as a youth development volunteer and, before that, worked as a museum teacher at Historic St. Mary’s City in southern Maryland. A graduate of Washington College with a degree in Anthropology and History, Anna also enjoys studying history, culture, and languages. Correspondingly, she loves reading historical fiction and traveling with her husband and two young daughters.
Dewa Khairkhwa is a WCIE student advisor working with Dari- and Pashto-speaking students and also supports other WCIE programs related to refugee resettlement. Dewa was an instructor teaching IT topics at the Afghan Institute of Technology in Kabul, Afghanistan, when she was evacuated from her country to the U.S. in November 2021. Dewa graduated with a degree in computer Science from Kabul University. Her work experience includes service as trainer in capacity building of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture. Dewa is eager to continue her education in the future in the U.S. with a focus on IT. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Maryland.
Robina Mohibzada is a WCIE Student Advisor working with Dari- and Pashto-speaking students. Robina was trained as a teacher, graduating from Sayed Jamaluddin Teacher Training College in Afghanistan. She served as an English Teacher, Parents Relation Officer, and administrative officer at Afghanistan International School. Later, she also worked with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Promote Project, on programs related to women empowerment, education, and gender equality. Robina was studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration when she was evacuated from Afghanistan to the U.S. in Summer 2021. She speaks Dari, Pashto, Urdo, Hindi, and English, and she is passionate about pursuing further higher education to advance in her career. Robina is interested in having more friends from around the world and learning about various cultures, and she enjoys being helpful to others. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, fitness, swimming, sightseeing, traveling, cooking, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.
Kamila Noori is a former Afghan Supreme Court Judicial Advisor, who notably held a staunch position against internal and external terrorism across Afghanistan over the past two decades. Kamila has stood firm and resilient in serving her country by sentencing the leaders, members and allies of the terrorist groups, including current leaders of the Taliban regime. She has dedicated her knowledge and experience to confronting terrorism in the region and fought for a just and equal society for all Afghans. Kamila has resettled in the United States and now lives in Virginia. She advises WCIE on design of the ESOL program offered to judges from Afghanistan and additional programs offered to those students.
Gersende is currently on leave from her role as Senior Legal Counsel in Public Business Law, working for a French financial institution. Gersende settled with her family in the D.C. area in August 2020. She is involved in community service in the area, with organizations such as WCIE. She advises WCIE programs offered to judges from Afghanistan, directing a personal and professional development program that supplements WCIE ESOL offerings. Gersende’s background is in European Law, International Relations, and Business Management. She served first in the private sector and then for French government institutions. She has traveled in numerous countries, has always enjoyed working in a cross-cultural environment, and is highly motivated to understand the environment where she evolves. Her past volunteer roles include serving on the Steering Committee of the International Women’s Club of Moscow to raise funds for Russian children’s hospitals and women in need, from 2010 to 2012. Gersende lives with her family in Maryland.
Elizabeth Boesen is the Assistant Director of Public Service Initiatives at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and advises WCIE on career counseling for students in its programs. Elizabeth is certified in administration of Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), StrengthsFinder, and Enneagram assessments. She has taught ESOL at Phillips Academy Andover and is a certified (Interchange Institute) cross-cultural trainer. She has lived, studied and worked on three continents and in five countries, and is fascinated by language, cultural differences/similarities, and human development. Elizabeth has a background in international development, having worked as Regional Director-Asia for the International Youth Foundation, and as a member of the U.S. grantmaking team at Ashoka. Elizabeth has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Chicago and an M.A. in International Relations from the Institut d’Hautes Etudes Internationales of the University of Geneva in Switzerland. She resides in Falls Church, Virginia, with her husband and three children.
ESOL and Student Service Learning Programs
Margaret Whitman Blair
Margaret Whitman Blair (“Peggy”) has been a journalist as well as an author, and she has taught English as a foreign language in Japan and with the Peace Corps in Thailand. Her novels include a series of Civil War time-travel books: Brothers at War, House of Spies, and The Sand Castle. She also writes history books for The National Geographic including The Roaring 20: The First Cross-Country Air Race for Women which received the 2007 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Children’s Writing. Currently in the works are a black history book and a novel set in colonial Williamsburg. For the past decade, she has taught a workshop in Writing the Historical Novel at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and has lectured on the subject for Smithsonian Associates. She is active in The Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC. Peggy received both her B.A. as well as her M.A. in International Relations from American University.
Linda Chang has always enjoyed getting to know people from around the world, learning languages and customs, and helping others learn them. After completing a Master’s in Latin American Studies, she lived in Brazil for there years, teaching English, then working in the travel industry (and briefly studying Japanese). She returned to the U.S. to complete a Ph.D. in Portuguese and Spanish, teaching languages and culture classes at Indiana University, Louisiana State University, and Ohio State University. After moving with her family to Maryland, Linda completed a law degree at Georgetown, and then practiced international trade law for 13 years, including work on NAFTA and WTO cases. In 2005, she moved to China where she combined legal work for a U.S. law firm with some unique volunteer English teaching opportunities. Shortly after returning to the U.S. in 2008, she retired from law and had more time for adult life-skill ESOL classes, most recently for MCPS staff, with CASA de Maryland, and at English Now! She has a special interest in work-related English, and in finding ways to provide students with the particular English language skills they need to achieve their goals. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and spoiling a D.C.-based grandbaby.
Amy Hansberger is an experienced educator who has been working with high school- and college-level students in international education programs for over 20 years. Amy enjoys focusing on students’ speaking skills as well as cross-cultural training, reflecting her background in French language teaching and cross-cultural studies as well as ESL. Amy taught initially for many years in the Chicago area but has recently relocated to Bethesda. She enjoys sharing her commitment to linguistic proficiency with students in both English and French with students in the greater Washington, D.C. area (and sometimes beyond via lessons taught online!). Amy’s enthusiasm for languages began as a result of having immigrant parents, family located around the world, and work in international student exchange programming. She has studied Graphic Design & French Literature and pursued continuing education with professional organizations such as the AATF (American Association of Teachers of French) and ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages). Here in the Washington D.C. area, Amy is affiliated with American Councils on International Education, where she volunteers and is licensed as an evaluator of incoming students on J-1 and F-1 visa programs. Amy enjoys using curriculum that invites students to deeper understanding of cross-cultural perspectives & life skills, as well as English for use in dynamic presentations and negotiations. Amy resides in Bethesda, Maryland.
Maribeth Hoath-Perez discovered her love of languages and cultures years ago when she enrolled in an American Sign Language class on a whim. This led to an immersion experience in ASL and Deaf Culture Studies at Gallaudet University, followed by a job at the Deaf Advocacy Agency just outside of San Francisco. A few years later, after earning her M.S.W. at UC-Berkeley, she spent several years volunteering at a house of hospitality for Central American refugees where she picked up Spanish and met her husband, a recent immigrant from Guatemala. In the years since, Maribeth has volunteered in Mexican prisons and on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. She has worked as an emergency room social worker, a Spanish interpreter/translator, and a professor of translation studies at the post-secondary level. More recently, she taught English in Spain for three years while living in Madrid with her husband and their two children. Her ESOL students have ranged from an archeologist studying ancient Roman coins to an engineer designing the high speed train joining Mecca and Medina – and more recently women judges from Afghanistan studying from a refugee camp in Abu Dhabi! After seeing the impact learning English has had on her husband’s life as well as the lives of her students, Maribeth is enthusiastic about helping students take their English to the next level!
Susan Kay serves as Co-Program Director of WCIE’s Youth Facing the Global Refugee and Migration Crisis program, as an English Language Instructor at English Now!, and also teaches at American University and Montgomery College. Susan’s path to the field of international education began when she was an attorney for the Legal Aid Society in New York City for a largely immigrant population in need of representation and assistance navigating the complicated legal system. When she first moved to Washington, D.C., she worked as an attorney for the Federal Election Commission monitoring the public funding of Presidential campaigns, but later decided to focus again on helping people conquer language barriers. She volunteered at the Washington English Center, where she taught students from countries all over the world who were trying to obtain U.S. citizenship. After returning to school and completing Georgetown University’s TEFL program, she taught students in a private language school and at the Arlington County Public Schools’ REEP program for adult immigrants. Susan has a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two sons.
Linda La Pierre
Linda La Pierre is an educator and artist with more than 20 years of experience teaching English to adults from all over the world. She has worked in a variety of educational settings both here and abroad, including college-level Intensive English Programs, a community ESL program for adult immigrants, and a private language school where she taught ESL to the spouses of foreign diplomats. Linda studied Community Service Education and Applied Linguistics at the graduate level at Cornell University, and completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish at Emmanuel College in Boston. In addition to Spanish, she has studied French, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, and Portuguese; she has lived and worked in France, Serbia, Poland, and Spain. Previous work experience has also included positions in the fields of media production and community outreach. As a painter, Linda has worked in dry pastel, watercolor, and acrylic. She is currently experimenting with stop-action animation using a digital camera and personal computer. Linda lives with her family in Northern Virginia.
Elizabeth Larson grew up in Michigan and resides in Bethesda, Maryland, after relocating from Frankfurt, Germany, where she lived for 20 years. Elizabeth studied history, Russian Studies and English in Michigan and earned secondary education teaching certification there. She continued her education at Indiana University, where she earned an M.A. in History. She started teaching ESOL to adults in Germany and fell in love with the profession. She’s taught all levels of English and especially loves watching students make tangible progress towards their goals. Elizabeth has traveled widely and has lived in Germany, the Republic of Moldova, and Canada. She lives in Bethesda with her German husband and three children.
Cristina Rendueles-Stern was born in New York City and has had a rich and varied life. She lived as a young child in Manila, the Philippines; moved to Washington D.C., where she attended elementary school; and returned to New York City for high school and undergraduate studies at Marymount Manhattan College. Next was Madrid, Spain, where she taught English as a Foreign Language at the Casa Americana, before returning to the U.S. 11 years later to study at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving her M.A. in Education, Cristina settled in Washington D.C., where she taught ESOL in the D.C. Public School System. Soon after this she took a teaching position for Montgomery County Public Schools, where she taught ESOL for 20 years. Cristina retired from MCPS in 2011 and has taught English in private settings for many years. Cristina has been married for 20 years and lives with her husband, stepson, two dogs, and three cats in Montgomery Village.
Laurel Reiner has a profoundly international background and brings a lifetime of perspective to the classroom. Laurel was born in Paris, France, spent the first four years of her life there, and then lived in Santiago, Chile between ages five and nine. By the age of nine, she spoke French and Spanish fluently, and she continued her international experience living in Costa Rica for two years in her early teens, then spent her junior year abroad in Israel where she studied Hebrew. Laurel has continued with Spanish and French and used Spanish professionally for over 30 years, as a community organizer working for the United Farm Workers’ Union, organizing John Kerry’s Congressional campaign as his Latino organizer registering people to vote in Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, and later in both those communities as a CETA worker. Laurel’s ESL career began in 1975 after graduating from college. She has taught, run a community ESL program for adults, and taught locally at Montgomery College, the Fairfax County Adult Education program, the Embassy of Japan, and at Japanese-affiliated businesses. As additional elements of her diverse background, Laurel has also worked in fundraising and in program development with AmeriCorps, and in a local school as a bilingual social worker. Laurel has a Master’s in Social Work.
Amanda Wilder serves as Program Director of WCIE’s Youth Facing Racism program. Amanda is an educator who has been teaching English since 2008. She loves helping students reach their academic, personal, or professional English language goals. She has enjoyed teaching in a wide variety of settings from elementary schools to universities. Amanda received her M.Ed. in TESOL from the University of Maryland and subsequently taught at the Maryland English Institute there before moving out West to teach at University of Denver’s English Language Center. Amanda has also completed extensive training in academic coaching and ran a popular coaching program specifically designed for English language learning students at the University of Maryland. As a former professional ballet and modern dancer, and an arts education advocate, Amanda loves to incorporate both visual and performing arts into her teaching to make learning English more fun and accessible.
Nancy L. Wolf has served as Co-Program Director of WCIE’s Youth Facing the Global Refugee and Migration Crisis program and as an English Language Instructor at English Now! and will take a leadership role in the program to serve Afghani women judges. Nancy is an international educator with a background in international relations and the law. After growing up in Fairfield, Connecticut, Nancy went to Smith College where she majored in Latin American Studies and then to The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University) to get her Masters Degree. Not content with two degrees, Nancy then went to law school at George Washington University to obtain her J.D. and spent many years as a lawyer with and partner at two D.C. firms where she specialized in communications law. After leaving the law, Nancy returned to her first love – the classroom. She’s taught ESL since 2017 and received her TEFL Certificate from Georgetown University. Nancy has lived with her husband Jim in Chevy Chase, Maryland for over 35 years. They have two adult children and two brilliant grandchildren.