Prior Engaging Eurasia Teacher Fellows

Meet our fellows from previous cohorts.

2022- 2023

Amy Palo has taught for 15 years at Cornell High School in Coraopolis, PA and is a graduate of the University of Illinois Springfield (M.A. Political Science) and Penn State University (B.A. Secondary Education- Social Studies). She is Pennsylvania’s 2018 James Madison Fellow, a 2017 Barringer Fellow, a 2017 Fund For Teachers awardee, a World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh George C. Oehmler awardee, and a member of the iCivics and National Constitution Center educator networks. At Cornell Amy teaches AP US History, US History, and World History to 10th and 11th grade students. She is the Student Council sponsor at Cornell and Union President. Outside of school she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband Jon, dog Fin, and twin boys Theodore and Lincoln.

Marian Smith is an Upper School History Teacher and academic advisor at The Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, PA, an all-girls school for grades pre-Kindergarten through 12, where she has been teaching since 2020. Marian teaches 9th grade Modern World History and an interdisciplinary course on animal fables in world history and literature, and will teach electives on the Soviet Union and the Holocaust in the fall 2022 and spring 2023, respectively. In addition to teaching history and serving as the advisor to 12 amazing juniors, Marian also serves as a faculty advisor to Baldwin’s Model UN and Linguistics Olympiad clubs. She holds a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from Harvard, and pursued a PhD in Middle East Studies at the University of Michigan, where she specialized in the history and culture of early modern Iran and Central Asia. At Michigan, she was the graduate student instructor for a History of Modern Central Asia course in 2018 and 2020, an experience that ignited her passion for teaching about the region’s history. Her graduate studies afforded her many opportunities to live, study, research, and travel throughout Eurasia, including in Russia, Turkey, Tajikistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, and India. She is passionate about incorporating these global experiences into her teaching, and introducing her students to peoples and places not commonly found in high school history curricula.

George Dalbo currently teaches high school social studies in Clinton, Wisconsin. Previously, George has taught social studies in every grade from 5th through 12th in public, charter, and private schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as two years in Vienna, Austria. George is also a Ph.D. candidate in Curriculum and Instruction and Social Studies Education at the University of Minnesota. His research interests center broadly on Holocaust, genocide, and human rights education in middle and secondary social studies curricula and classrooms. George earned an M.Ed. in Social Studies Education from the College of St. Scholastica, spent two years studying East European History at the University of Vienna as a Fulbright scholar, and completed a B.A. in History and German from the University of Buffalo.

Born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Southern Europe, Maria Blake earned her B.A. in English from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece, and an M.A. in English from the University of Arizona, in Tucson, AZ. Currently, she teaches Sophomore English/World Literature, and Cultural Relevant Literature at Cholla IB High School.  She also works part-time as an Instructor of Modern Greek at the University of Arizona. Over the years, her educational paths have taken her to numerous conferences, seminars, and institutes on a variety of subjects ranging from Asian, Asian-American literature and cultural studies, Holocaust and WWII studies, history, media  and film studies, ethnic studies, second language learning and teaching, to religion, art,  and pedagogy. In the summer of 2019, she visited China on a Fulbright-Hays fellowship with the University of Arizona.

As a First Generation American, a singular thread in Katherine Bielawa-Stamper's career has been advocacy. She attributes this to her working-class roots and gratitude to those who helped her find her way educationally and professionally. With a BA in History, a Study Abroad Scholarship in Eastern Europe, and an MPA, she has worked as a civil rights investigator, legislative liaison, consumer advocate, prison educator, college instructor, newspaper columnist, and nonprofit development & communications director. She hosts a local radio show in Burlington, Vermont—Present Time—on WBTV LP, 99.3 FM in which she strives to bring the voices of those less represented in our culture to the airwaves.  Teaching at the Community College of Vermont and writing creative nonfiction represent her deepest passions.

Kenneth J. Yin is a full-time faculty member in modern languages, literatures, and linguistics at the City University of New York, LaGuardia Community College. His scholarly work focuses on the oral and written literature of the Dungans, the Sino-Muslims of Central Asia, and the literatures of the indigenous peoples of Russia, in particular the Tungus peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Russian Far East. He has received fellowships and awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the City University of New York, and the Research Foundation of The City University of New York. His publications include Dungan Folktales and Legends (Peter Lang, 2021) and Mystical Forest: Collected Poems and Short Stories of Dungan Ethnographer Ali Dzhon (Peter Lang, in press). He holds degrees from Cornell University and Georgetown University.

Brett Vance has been interested in Eurasian history and culture since his time as an exchange student in the former Soviet Union. He stayed active throughout the 1990’s by engaging naturalized American citizens from the former Soviet Union and by participating in forums held by the Russia Society of New Hampshire. Brett has been able to apply his passion for the history and culture of this region by designing and co-teaching curriculum, including a Russian Studies program, for students at Alvirne High School.  Prior to arriving at Alvirne in 2008, Brett taught AP European History and Twentieth Century World History at Merrimack High School. Since 2017, Brett has been sharing his experiences and curriculum with fellow educators in the state of New Hampshire.  Brett currently organizes professional development conferences as Vice-President (2021) and now President-Elect of the New Hampshire Council for the Social Studies.

Brenda Boehler currently serves as Social Studies Department Chair for Cholla High School in Tucson, Arizona, where she teaches IB Theory of Knowledge, GATE Western Civilization and World History. She has taught for more than two decades in diverse settings. Throughout the years, she has shared her passion for civil discourse, civic engagement and travel. She has taught in Brighton, England, Ukraine and Russia.  Brenda encourages students to interact with the world beyond their community.  Beyond teaching, Brenda enjoys reading, hiking, helping animals and practicing mindfulness.  Most recently, she participated in a pilgrimage in the Sacred Forest of northern Italy.

Brian Goeselt is a twenty-year teacher of history and economics at Newton North High School in Newton, Massachusetts. Currently he is teaching Modern World and AP US History to sophomores and juniors. His special teaching interests involve integrating economic concepts and themes, as well as the use of period music, art, poetry and primary sources of all types into his courses. He's especially interested in filling the gaps in his professional knowledge, including Russian and Soviet culture and history. Brian came to teaching after two decades in the private sector in a variety of positions in consumer brand management. He holds a BA in history from Dartmouth College, an MBA and MAT from Boston College and is a US Army veteran, stationed in West Germany with the First Infantry Division during the 1980's.

Rabiah Khalil has been an educator for over 15 years.  She has worked at various independent schools in the DC Metropolitan area as an educator and administrator.  She earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership at Johns Hopkins University, a Master’s in Linguistics at Georgetown University, and a Bachelor’s in English at the University of Maryland.  She is currently seeking a Master’s in English at Middlebury College.  She is a lifelong learner who enjoys experiences that pique curiosity, catalyze the imagination, expand schema, connect cultures, and elicit self-reflection.  

Alexander Uryga graduated summa cum laude from Valparaiso University with a BA in political science and history. Before graduating from Valpo he was an intern on Capitol Hill for a United States Senator, and after graduating worked at a public affairs and government relations firm and at a global, social justice, not-for-profit organization, and served at a community learning center through AmeriCorps. Alexander earned his MA in teaching and curriculum from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and now teaches history at the Cambridge Matignon School in Cambridge, MA. In 2019 he made the Michiana (southern Michigan and northern Indiana) Forty Under 40 list and was named a Distinguished Teacher from Michigan City Area Schools. In 2021 he was awarded the Carolyn & Peter Lynch Award for teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic from the Lynch Foundation; and in 2022 won the Richard Aieta Promising Teacher Award from the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies.


Catherine Atwell (“Cathy”) is Dean of Student Research at Marlborough School in Los Angeles, California, a girls’ school for grades 7-12, where she directs Marlborough’s Honors Research Program in humanities and social sciences. Cathy is in her 17th year at Marlborough, where she has taught courses in world history, economics, and research skills, along with interdisciplinary electives including a seminar on the arts and revolution in late Imperial/early Soviet Russia. Cathy was a Russian Area Studies major at Dartmouth College, and earned an M.A. in Russian History from Stanford University. In 2018 she completed an Ed.D. from USC in International Education, studying methods to improve critical thinking instruction in humanities and social studies in Saudi Arabia.

Kathryn Black teaches Advanced Placement European History, World History, and Psychology at Hingham High School in Hingham, MA. A graduate of Villanova University (BA) and Boston College (MA), Kathryn has also served as a visiting lecturer at Bridgewater State University and a graduate teaching fellow at Boston College. She enjoys advising Model United Nations, running, and living by the ocean. 

Andres Cartagena has taught World History at Benjamin Harrison Vocational High School in Puerto Rico for the past 14 years. He earned his Bachelor's and Masters degrees in History from the University of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras Campus. He has participated in several National Endowment for the Humanities Symposia, including one on Africa in World History and one devoted to World War I in History and Literature. He loves to read good books and watch foreign films.

Nina Corley is the Science Department Chair and a teacher at O’Connell College Preparatory School on Galveston Island in Texas. Born and raised in Texas, Nina attended Beloit College in Wisconsin. She serves on the Teacher’s Advisory board for the National Energy Education Development Project and for the Offshore Energy Center, is a Teacher Ambassador for the National Center for Science Education as well as a National Geographic Certified Educator. As a lifelong learner, Nina takes advantage of any opportunity to improve as a teacher for her students.

Paul Hoelscher has been a teacher for 27 years; his experience includes leading classrooms on the Navajo reservation and in Mwanza, Tanzania. In addition to teaching AP World History, Sociology and Sports in the Western World, he also serves as the K-12 Coordinator for Social Studies in the Clayton School District just outside of St. Louis. He holds Masters degrees in US History and Cultural Anthropology as well as a doctorate that included pedagogical research on geography instruction within history curricula. When not teaching, he enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with his family.

Kathy Keffeler is a certified K-12 language teacher in both the US and Spain and has been teaching at the secondary level for over 35 years. She has worked as a translator for Médecins Sans Frontieres, an SAT essay reader, an IB examiner, and a tour guide. She is on the Advisory Council for the America Council for Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and has served as her state’s representative. She is a member of the South Dakota World Affairs Council, the Dakota Territory International Visitors’ Program, Rotary and several other groups. She is interested in establishing new collegial friendships and learning and sharing best practices.

Kristen Larson teaches 8th grade at Rogers Middle School in Rogers, MN. She also serves as the coordinator for the AVID program, which is dedicated to helping students achieve their goal of going to college through support, academic monitoring, and tutoring.

Mikki Maddox recently completed her 22nd year of teaching and 21st at Necedah Area High School, a small, rural high school in central Wisconsin. She received her BA from Viterbo University in Sociology-Broadfield Social Studies with minors in communications, history, and music, and teaching certifications in social studies, history, and sociology.  She continued her education as a Post Bacc student at Edgewood College and completed teaching certifications in English, theater, academic speech, economics, and psychology. Her current teaching responsibilities include English 9, English 12, Practical English, AP English Literature, and Contemporary American Society.  She is very active in social studies education in Wisconsin, serving on the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies and serving on committees for Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction. She frequently attends conferences and workshops to hone her content and skills to better her students' knowledge and experiences.

Mickey Marsee is a residential faculty member of Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s (CGCC) Composition, Creative Writing and Literature Department. She holds a PhD in English from the University of New Mexico. Prior to her time at CGCC, Mickey was an Associate Professor of English and Division Chair of English and Humanities at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. During that time, her projects included developing the First-Year Experience Program, participating on the New Mexico Higher Education Department’s General Education Steering Committee, and hosting Educators and students from Russia through the Los Alamos-Sarov Sister City Initiative. Mickey currently teaches freshman composition using virtual exchange. She was awarded a Council for Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) grant and spent January 2020 in Jordan for the faculty development seminar, “Jordan: On the Margins of Sustainability.” From that experience, she has brought in virtual exchange programs between her first-year students and students in MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) countries through the Soliya Connect Program and the IREX Global Solutions Business Sustainability Challenge. She is also a Maricopa Community College Learning and Research Fellow researching the effects of virtual exchange on student learning outcomes in freshman writing courses.

Tim Nikula currently teaches 9th grade Modern World History and a Jr/Sr Russian History elective at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in Sudbury, MA. Prior to returning home to Massachusetts in 2010, Tim taught history at the Anglo-American School in Moscow for four years. A fluent, but out-of-practice, Russian speaker, Tim has spent most of his career either living in or teaching about the former Soviet Union, most recently as part of a newly developed year-long Russian History elective. This course introduces students to the early days of Kievan Rus, takes them through the Tsarist and Soviet periods, and winds up with an examination of the Putin era and the ever-changing slate of current events. Tim lives in Cambridge with his (also Russian-speaking) wife and 3 sons and dreams about the day when he can build a yurt and a banya on the family’s wooded lot in Maine.

Beverly Owens is an 11th grade chemistry teacher at Cleveland Early College High School in North Carolina. Beverly has taught science for 16 years, and is both a National Board Certified Teacher and National Geographic Certified Educator.

Michael Strong grew up in rural Pennsylvania, but now lives in Phoenix, AZ. He is a member of the residential faculty in the Department of Social Sciences at Glendale Community College where he teaches courses in world geography, sustainability, and environmental studies. He earned his Ph.D. in Geographical Sciences from the University of Maryland College Park, where he studied the relationships people form to the environment following forced resettlement. Dr. Strong has published his research in journals focused on the changing environment and global conservation. His current project explores the outcomes of illegal wildlife hunting in areas near nature parks in southern Africa. At GCC, he also serves as the faculty co-director for the campus honors program and is a member of the Open Educational Resources Committee.

Leighton Suen is in his 6th year as an ENL/ELA teacher at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn, New York.  He is licensed to teach English as a New Language K-12, English Language Arts 7-12, and Russian 7-12.  He has also taught adult ESL classes in community centers since 2014.  He received his Master's in TESOL from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Bachelor's in English and Russian Studies from Vassar College.  

Joel Willihite is in his 27th year of teaching social studies in the suburban Memphis area. He currently teaches AP European History, AP World History, Honors World History, and Honors Humanities at Arlington High School in Arlington, Tennessee.


Jill Armstrong earned her M.Ed. at the University of Rio Grande in Classroom Training (2006), M.A.T. in Teaching at Morehead State University (2009) and her Ed.S. in Supervisor of Instruction at the University of the Cumberlands (2019). She has been a member of the Social Studies department at Greenup County High School in Greenup, Kentucky for 13 years. Ms. Armstrong has taught several courses including AP Human Geography, U.S. History, Holocaust Studies, World History and Humanities-Global Studies. She has worked with Global Nomads Group, Natakallam and several other non-profit global classroom education organizations in an effort to increase global awareness among her students. In the summer of 2017, she attended a week-long Educator Exchange program in Jordan with Global Nomads Group and The Stevens Initiative. Jill will complete her time as a Peace Teacher in December with the United States Institute of Peace. In 2020, she was accepted as a Fellow with the Uberoi Foundation Fellowship. Ms. Armstrong is passionate about global citizenship and education among high school students.

Nick Belsky became a high school social studies teacher due to his love of history and politics, fostered by a childhood of reading historical fiction, the Boston Globe and Mad Magazine. Working in public schools since 1992, Nick has taught a rainbow of courses in diverse settings spanning Special Education collaborative programs to Advanced Placement classes. No matter the students, Nick cultivates an engaging learning environment that imparts a depth of knowledge while also including a daily “fun goal.” Nick has been a teacher at Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon, New Hampshire since 1997 where he has designed and implemented the school's Advanced-Placement Modern World History course as well as China and Russia Studies electives. Nick also coaches the academic team.

Elizabeth Chapman is an English and World Geography teacher and the study abroad coordinator at Bellaire High School in Houston, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas A&M University and her Master of Science degree in Strategic Forecasting from the University of Houston.

Maggie Finn is entering her fourth year as a history teacher, and is excited to be starting this school year off at a new school teaching 8th grade US History at Claremont Middle School in Claremont, New Hampshire. For the past 3 years, Maggie taught 10th Grade Modern World History at Excel Academy Charter High School in East Boston, MA. She completed an AmeriCorps service year at Match Charter Public Middle School in Boston, MA while earning her teaching certification. Maggie graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH with a major in History and a minor in Education. She also holds a Masters in Effective Teaching from the Sposato Graduate School of Education. In her spare time, Maggie is a dog mom, an avid hiker, amateur triathlete, and enthusiastic home chef.

David R. Goldberg is a teacher, scholar, business leader and global advisor. He teaches social studies in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District where he founded and continues to co-direct a popular interdisciplinary program focused on international affairs and global education. He also teaches courses on economics, criminal justice and law. He directs the district’s teacher mentorship program where he supports and grows the newest faculty. He has also taught graduate school at Teachers College, Columbia University and has taught undergraduate courses through St. John’s University. Dr. Goldberg’s passions are also focused on expanding educational and economic opportunities to those most in need. He serves as a Special Advisor for NGO Sustainability, an organization devoted to sustainable development around the world which is in Consultative Status with the United Nations. He currently serves as the Board Vice President of Peace Education Initiative Rwanda. Previously he has advised the Institute for Human and Community Development in Haiti and has led roundtable discussions in Afghanistan. He has been a Fulbright recipient of the German-American Fulbright Commission, and has been awarded fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities in Turkey, the Goethe Institute in Germany and The Korean Studies Foundation in South Korea. He has helped develop national programs in India on global education and conflict resolution through the Global Education and Leadership Foundation of The Nand and Jeet Khemka Foundation. He is the recipient of the Edward Weisband Award for Public Service or Contributions to Public Affairs. Dr. Goldberg is the Chairman Emeritus of Lensdrop, a digital multimedia platform devoted to empowering creators to freely utilize high quality images in their work. He received his B.A., summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Binghamton University, his M.S. from Hofstra University, and his Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Deb Holland teaches at D'Evelyn Jr/Sr High School, a liberal arts school, in the Denver metro area. She currently teaches AP Psychology and 9th grade Eastern Civilizations, in which she teaches a six week unit on Russia. She has been teaching at D'Evelyn for 24 years, and has also taught in Arizona and Venezuela. She has been involved in various teacher organizations and programs; she was a teacher fellow for Qatar Foundation International and has attended numerous seminars and institutes for Teaching East Asia, among others. When she is not teaching, she is traveling or planning to travel.

Jaclyn Jecha is a social studies educator at New Berlin West Middle and High School in New Berlin, Wisconsin. She just completed her fifth year in the classroom teaching world studies, government, AP U.S. Government & Politics, and philosophy. In the past, she worked as a museum educator at the Newseum and as a program manager at George Washington's Mount Vernon. Outside of the classroom, she is a baseball and hockey fan, a patron of the arts, and a supporter of historic preservation.

Monica Ketchum studied History at California State University Long Beach, where she earned a BA and MA. She also holds an MA in Sociology from Arizona State University and is pursuing an EdD. She has been a Professor of History at Arizona Western College and Lecturer at San Diego State University since 2009. In 2018 she participated in a Fulbright-Hays GPA to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, developing curriculum on the Post-Soviet era. Monica sits on the board for the Arizona Council for History Education, is a member of the World History Association Community College Committee, and is a member of several professional and service organizations. She enjoys travelling, painting, and working on community service projects, especially those focused on border issues, education access, and human trafficking.

Megan Klein is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Oakton Community College. She has a PhD in Sociology and Masters degrees in Anthropology and Spanish literature. Her areas of interest are race and ethnicity, inequality, migration, urbanization, and climate change.

Catherine Mein teaches Modern World History and AP Modern World History in central Iowa. She has a BA from Mount Holyoke College with a major in history and a minor in geography and an MS from Southwest Minnesota State University in Educational Leadership and Instruction. Mein completed her teacher training program and some graduate work in history at the University of Iowa. She is a long-time board member of the Iowa Council for the Social Studies and has been part of the Iowa Department of Education’s Social Studies State Leadership team for the last five years.

Lauren Nelson is entering her seventh year teaching Russian language at Pritzker College Prep in Chicago. Each year, she teaches over 175 students in her Russian I and IB Russian ab initio classes. She coordinates student participation in UW-Madison’s Pushkin Summer Institute and the University of Pittsburgh’s Summer Language Institute. Each spring, she coaches 20 juniors who participate in the Olympiada of Spoken Russian. Lauren was a panelist on the 2019 ASEEES roundtable “Reimagining Russian Learners in High School and College” and the 2020 AATSEEL roundtable “Successful Strategies for Teaching Large-Enrollment Classes.” In February 2021, she will present at AATSEEL on group activities in the Russian language classroom. Lauren earned her B.A. in International Studies at Illinois Wesleyan University and her M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at Stanford University.

Becca Onken grew up in rural Wisconsin in the United States. She graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a degree in History, specializing in Central European Cultural History, and with a minor in European History, and a certification in Teaching English as a Second Language. During the course of her undergraduate career, she had the privilege to study at Charles University in Prague, where she completed research about the cultural nuances and causes of the Velvet Revolution and the Velvet Divorce. While in Prague she also taught English in the Roma Community with the organization People in Need. Upon returning to the United States, Becca completed a Secondary Education degree and Political Science Certificate at University of Wisconsin Whitewater. She currently teaches Cultural Geography and Language Arts at Baraboo High School and coaches the Model United Nations Team.

Rachel Otty has been teaching high school history at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge, MA since 2005. During her time there she has taught U.S. History and World History courses and currently teaches two electives -- Dynamics of the Modern Middle East and Modern Global Conflicts. She is also the faculty director for the Global Studies Certificate Program at her school, which is an application-based program for students who want to engage more intentionally in building their global competency skills through extracurricular activities and academic projects. She is very excited to participate in the EETF Fellowship so she can dive deeper into studying a region of the world that continues to be vexing for so many of us in the West.

Robert Soza is an Ethnic Studies, American Lit, and Composition teacher at Mesa Community College in Mesa, AZ. Robert is in his 12th-year at MCC, and in his 23rd year teaching.  For the past four years, he has been working to internationalize his curriculum; he's participated in a Fulbright-Hays to Bosnia and Albania, as well as faculty delegations to Mexico, Pakistan and Palestine. Robert holds a PhD in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree in English from Arizona State University. Outside of the classroom, he hikes, cooks, reads, and when there isn't a global pandemic, travels.