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Board Election

ACTFL's policy has been to alternate between candidates who work primarily in higher education with candidates who work primarily at the PK-12 level. This year, the President-elect candidates are from the postsecondary level and for the four openings for the Board of Directors, members will select two from higher education and two from the PK-12 level.

Members are reminded that ACTFL has a strict “no campaigning” policy.

View the biographies, personal statements and videos for each candidate.

President-Elect Candidates  |  Higher Ed Candidates  |  K-12 Candidates

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President-Elect Candidates

Benjamin Rifkin | Bridget Yaden

Benjamin Rifkin

Candidate for President-Elect
Ben Rifkin earned his BA and MA in Russian Studies from Yale and then worked for two years as a translator in Moscow, at a Soviet publishing house and at the Moscow Bureau of NBC News.  After completing his Ph.D. in Slavic at the University of Michigan, he joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, where he taught Russian and teaching methods, supervised the work of graduate student TAs and K-12 student teachers, and coordinated the Russian language program (1990-2005), ultimately serving as chair of the Slavic Department and director of the area studies center.  He was director of the Middlebury Summer Russian School from 1999-2003.  From 2005-2009 Rifkin worked at Temple University and from 2009-2015 was Professor of Russian and Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at The College of New Jersey.  At TCNJ he established a proficiency- and standards-based ESL program. From 2015-2017 Rifkin worked at Ithaca College and since then has been Dean of Arts & Sciences and Education at Hofstra University.  He became an ACTFL OPI tester in Russian in 1992 and an OPI trainer in 1996 and consulted on the 2012 revision of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.  Rifkin has served as a member of the Editorial Boards of the Foreign Language Annals and the Slavic and East European Journal, and on the Boards of Directors of NECTFL (2007-2011), ACTFL (2012-2015), the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, AATSEEL, (1997-1998 as Vice President and 2001-2006 as President-Elect, President, and Past President) and the American Council of Teachers of Russian (1993-2013).  On the ACTFL Board, he led the Global Engagement Recognition initiative and served on the Convention Committee.  He has written Russian-language textbooks, including as coauthor of Panorama (Georgetown Press, 2017), and dozens of articles on foreign language education. He has given invited lectures and conference presentations (often at ACTFL) about foreign language education. Rifkin has given workshops on teaching for proficiency and curricular design for teachers of African, Middle Eastern, Slavic, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Turkic languages. He has won several large grants, including from the US Department of Education, and has been recognized with awards for teaching and advising, as well as with the AATSEEL award for Outstanding Contribution to the Slavic Profession and two AATSEEL book awards for contributions in pedagogy. Rifkin is currently writing about the teaching of compassion in the liberal arts curriculum.

Personal Statement
ACTFL changed my life forever, so I will do all I can to help ACTFL change yours, by enriching your professional experience as a language educator, enhancing the learning outcomes of our students, and deepening America’s commitment to cultural and linguistic diversity.  If elected, I will advocate for all foreign language and heritage language learners, of both spoken and signed languages, and for teachers of all languages at all levels of instruction, from pre-school to graduate school, from Arabic to Zulu.  I will work to advance strategies for working with decision-makers – such as principals, superintendents, deans, and provosts – to support world language education as well as strategies to engage allies beyond P16 education.  I will look to enhance collaborations across the profession to celebrate and disseminate the successes of our best practices, strengthening relationships between ACTFL and the state and regional associations.  If elected, I will work closely with the other members of the Board and the ACTFL Headquarters Team to sustain and advance the services and programming ACTFL offers and the advocacy and outreach we undertake for an ever greater impact on language learning and teaching in the US and across the world.

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Bridget Yaden

Candidate for President-Elect
Dr. Bridget Yaden is a Professor of Hispanic Studies, Director of the Language Resource Center, and Chair of Languages and Literatures at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, where she has taught Spanish language and linguistics as well as World Language and ELL theories and methods courses for 22 years. She regularly supervises pre-service teachers and gives workshops for continuing teachers. Bridget has been involved in STARTALK summer programs for the last 10 years, providing professional development as well as paths to certification for teachers of critical languages.  She also teaches ELL and Bilingual Education endorsement courses.  Over the years, she has helped hundreds of World Language and ELL teachers get certificated and endorsed. Bridget developed and taught the very first ever blended course for world languages at her university (Hispanic Studies 101) and the first fully online course for world languages (Hispanic Studies 101 and 102) to increase student retention and enrollment.

Bridget has been involved in professional organizations since she was a graduate student at the University of Washington.  She has served on the boards of WAFLT, PNCFL, IALLT, and the AATSP Juan de Fuca Chapter.  Bridget was the PNCFL representative to ACTFL from 2010-2013 and was the ACTFL Treasurer in 2013.  She was ACTFL Convention Chair in 2011 and 2012.  Since her board term ended, she has volunteered on ACTFL’s Finance Committee and Professional Learning Committee.  Bridget also serves as the mentor of a local Spanish-English K-8 dual-immersion program, where she assists with program assessment as well as professional development. She has been honored by her peers with recognitions including: Holy Rosary San Juan Diego Award (2017), ACTFL's Wilga Rivers Award for Leadership in Foreign Language Education (Postsecondary: 2016), WAFLT's Continued Distinguished Service Certificate (2016), and an IALLT Henderson Plenary Award (2011).

Bridget’s research interests are many, but all converge on topics that investigate ways to improve language teaching and learning.  She regularly presents at local, national, and international conferences, including sessions, roundtable discussions, and poster sessions.  Bridget has authored or co-authored four book chapters and dozens of articles and media reviews related to technology for language teaching, language learning centers, living-learning communities, and student and teacher recruitment and retention. She has also served as a peer reviewer for journals including Hispania (AATSP) and Foreign Language Annals (ACTFL).

Personal Statement
It would be an honor for me to serve our profession through the role of ACTFL president, and I am humbled to be nominated by my peers in PNCFL.  ACTFL has an excellent reputation of 50 years of support and advocacy for students and teachers, and I have benefitted from their conventions, resources, and advocacy.  As an educator of students and teachers, I am dedicated to access and equity in order to advance the study of world languages in the U.S. I have spent my career focused on world language student and teacher recruitment and retention, through my varied service and teaching commitments. My years of service on local and national boards have given me the skills, knowledge, and confidence to advocate for language study and language educators. In addition to supporting current and future teachers, I’ve been involved in advocacy for increasing student access to world language study, from years of coordinating competency based credits for all languages to facilitating scholarships for language students.  My leadership style is collaborative and I would see myself as a representative of the over 13,000 ACTFL members and all language students and educators, as we are stronger together.

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Board Member – Higher Education Candidates

Rebecca Fox | Paul Richard (Dick) Kuettner | Pablo Muirhead

Rebecca Fox

Candidate for Higher Ed Board Member
Rebecca K. Fox, Ph.D. is Professor of Education, and Division Director, Advanced Professional Teacher Development & International Education, in the College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. She is Professor in Charge of the Ph.D. in Education Specialization, Teaching and Teacher Education. Bilingual in French, she taught French for many years prior to her career in teacher education. She currently serves as the Principal Investigator on the GMU-UMT Collaboration for Faculty Excellence in Teaching and Research, a three-year grant (2015-18) funded by the U.S.-Pakistan University Partnerships Program of the U.S.-Pakistan Academic Linkages, U.S. Department of State Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy, Islamabad.

She is an active researcher with over 60 publications, a co-authored book, and over 125 scholarly presentations and teacher professional development workshops in national and international contexts. Her research focuses on world language education, second language acquisition, critical reflective practice, and teacher professional development. She is the 2016 Chair of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL), serving on the Board for eight years. She continues as a national auditor for ACTFL/CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation), and served as co-editor of special issues of the NECTFL Review. She is the recipient of the 2010 Mason Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2010, she was recognized by the French government and awarded Chevalier des Palmes Académiques for her service to education and France.

Fox has held several grants and directed multiple international teacher professional development programs. She was Co-PI of the US State Department-funded, US-Russia Teacher Professional Development (2009-2011) for teachers of Language and STEM in Primorsky Krai, Russia; Director of the Taiwan World Language Teacher Professional Development Program (2010, 2011, 2012); Beijing Normal University Faculty Professional Development Program (2013); the Madrid Bilingual Coordinators Program, 2015. She is active American Educational Research Association (AERA), serving as recent Chair of the Portfolios and Reflection SIG.

Personal Statement
As ACTFL continues to lead and promote world language education, its voice in the advancement of our profession, its leadership in teacher preparation and professional learning, the research it promotes to inform the field, its advocacy and outreach is more important than ever. As an ACTFL Board member, I would like to promote the importance of multilingualism and intercultural competence as life skills and would most particularly contribute my expertise in teacher education and research.  I bring with me many years of experience in K-16 language classrooms, teacher education and professional development, program accreditation, advocacy, and state/regional organization work.

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Paul Richard (Dick) Kuettner

Candidate for Higher Ed Board Member
Dick Kuettner’s language education experiences began during his undergraduate years as a French grader and an aspiring techno-linguist.  After graduating, he entered the military, attended the DLI, and used his language training in intelligence and infantry operations in Asia and Europe.  From Germany he moved to France as an awardee of a teaching assistantship through the IIE; it was there that his interest in languages and culture peaked.  His peers at work and others at the university encouraged him to return to the US to pursue his advanced studies at Middlebury.  He heeded their word and obtained the MA and doctorate in French and Spanish from there. While pursuing his degrees, he enjoyed his first teaching position stateside at the University of Idaho, established the Expatriate Services Division for a Fortune 500 company in North Africa, was a lower/middle school principal, served as dean of instruction at a private school for young women, headed foreign language departments, accompanied students abroad, reviewed the Standards for Foreign Language Learning, was part of the Expert Review Panel for Proposed Changes to the AP Spanish language exam, served on the IALLT Executive Board, taught French at the Virginia Military Institute, and was a member of the Intl Board of Advisers for SCOLA.  He went on to become a French, Spanish, and Teacher Ed professor and director of the Global Discovery Laboratories at Washington and Lee University; to chair Professional Issues and Development for FLAVA to which he was elected President by its membership; and to be the Program Coordinator for the Virginia Governor's Foreign Language Academies.  He has served as program consultant to schools from Alabama to New York to California, been a delegate to ACTFL, is a member of the NECTFL Advisory Council, and hosted MOPI, OPI, and WPT training for ACTFL at W&L.

Personal Statement
My reasons for wishing to serve on the ACTFL Board are multifold.

  • I have a great appreciation for the organization and its mission.
  • I am a proclaimer of the necessity of language study. 
  • I am an advocate for the survival of language learning.
  • I believe that teacher preparedness is key to the survival of the profession.
  • I feel strongly that standards in classroom teaching and learning must be maintained.
  • I know that language professionals must be supported and considered an important part of society.
  • I wish to be an integral part of exploring future policies for language teaching and learning.

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Pablo Muirhead

Candidate for Higher Ed Board Member
Building bridges between cultures through language education inspire Pablo to grow daily. Raised bilingually, he was fortunate to spend his childhood in both the U.S. and Peru. Later, he went on to live in Indonesia and Germany where he gained proficiency in both the language and culture of his hosts. These formative experiences set him on course for a career as a language educator and continue to inform the work he does every day. 

Pablo first presented at ACTFL during his second year of teaching in 1997 and has been a frequent presenter over the years on topics ranging from SLA to critical pedagogy and more recently, cultural competence.

His teaching was captured as part of the ACTFL Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 Library in a video entitled Routes to Culture and he credits ACTFL for the important role they have played in his professional growth.

Pablo relishes his position at Milwaukee Area Technical College where he has taught Spanish 1 through 4 and Spanish for Heritage Speakers as well as Issues in Urban Education. He presently serves as the chair of the education program where he is working to collaboratively develop teacher pipelines.

Pablo’s research focuses on the important role that culture plays in language education. He most recently co-authored the second edition of an introductory university Spanish textbook and has worked on several 6-12 Spanish texts.

Pablo was elected in 2017 to his local school board and through this work, has gained an even broader perspective on critical educational issues.

Of the many hats he wears, being papi to Santiago and Gabriela is his favorite. He and his wife, Jackie (also a language educator), place great importance on raising their children in a bilingual, Spanish and English home and are committed to their development as global citizens.

Personal Statement
My career as a language educator aligns perfectly with my passion for building relationships by understanding the language and culture of the people with whom I am interacting. As technology makes the world one interconnected global community, bilingualism is more essential today than it has ever been, yet enrollments in languages are trending downward.  This has direct implications for the shrinking pool of K-12 teachers. The nexus of these issues requires increased attention and will undoubtedly require creative solutions. It is my intent to further strengthen our profession by engaging in advocacy and working to make changes through effective policy.

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Board Member – K-12 Candidates

Katrina Griffin | María Cristina Ladas | Haydee Taylor-Arnold

Katrina Griffin

Candidate for K-12 Board Member
Katrina Griffin is a nationally recognized leader and award-winning German teacher at North County High School in Glen Burnie, Maryland. She has represented ACTFL on its most recent Lead with Languages Campaign, has served as an ACTFL Mentor and has written articles for The Language Educator. In 2017, Katrina was named the ACTFL Teacher of the Year.

As a founding member of the STEM magnet program at her high school, she instituted an annual German STEM Immersion Day for students at local elementary, middle, and high schools in 2014. Katrina has developed numerous STEM resources for language teachers and is passionate about teaching students and teachers how STEM skills can benefit them now and in the future. In honor of her work with STEM and languages she earned the 2017 ACTFL Leo Benardo Award for Innovation in K-12 Language Teaching.

As chair of the Maryland Foreign Language Association’s Advocacy Committee, Katrina lobbies for support of languages on Capitol Hill during the annual JNCL-NCLIS Advocacy Day. Her collaboration with both ACTFL and JNCL-NCLIS leadership over the course of three years was instrumental in getting the Seal of Biliteracy passed in the state of Maryland in 2016.

Katrina serves as the Treasurer for the American Association of Teachers of German, authors the National German Exam and is an AP College Board Consultant and the AP German Community Moderator. She is a prolific workshop presenter, invited consultant and keynote speaker on topics such as student engagement, proficiency-based instruction, AP German and STEM for languages.

Katrina holds a Master’s degree in German from Middlebury College, a B.S. in Secondary Education from Bloomsburg University, and B.A. degrees in International Politics and German from Penn State University.

Personal Statement
As someone who tried to quit the profession four days into my first teaching job, and who strongly considered leaving at various other times, I am fully aware of the strength and support that membership in a professional organization can provide. If elected I would be honored to help develop programs to assist and advise teachers during their first five years of teaching. I look forward to being a member of the ACTFL Board so that I too can connect with members to inspire, encourage and motivate them, as retaining teachers in the profession is of the utmost importance.

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María Cristina Ladas

Candidate for K-12 Board Member
Originally an elementary bilingual teacher, Cristina now coordinates the World Language & Immersion Programs in Cave Creek Unified School District (PK-12th) in a rural, suburban area of north Phoenix. Cristina helped shape CCUSD into a state leader with 83% of all students participating in robust Spanish/French/Chinese Immersion Programs, FLEX & FLES models, middle school daily core language classes through AP/IB levels at the high school.

Prior to this work, Cristina co-authored over $4.2 million in federal grants to support language learning (OELA). These projects involved building dual language/immersion programs throughout the state, including the first Chinese immersion program, one and two-way Spanish immersion programs.

Cristina’s recent professional organizations include AZLA (Executive Board), NCSSFL (Associate Member) and the Two-Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools (Mentor). She organized a Dual Language Immersion/Network for AZ and applied her grassroots advocacy approach to five world language bills since 2014: AZ Seal of Biliteracy, dual language/immersion, certification for international visiting teachers and equal access to DL/I programs for English Learners. Cristina was also a content lead for the 2015 revision of the AZ Native & World Language Standards at the AZ Department of Education.

Cristina’s strengths bring the outside world into AZ by establishing partnerships with agencies such as the Embassy of Spain and France, and the College Board Chinese Guest Teacher Program. She also seeks out local partnerships and grants that focus on international education: ASU Chinese Flagship, ASU Confucius Institute and the Saudi Arabia J1 Scholar Project. She has presented at 20+ local, state and national conferences and is certified as a K-8 teacher and principal with approved areas in Bilingual Education/ESL, Spanish as a Foreign Language, English Language Arts and Social Studies through her B.A. and M.A.T. degrees. She is a native Hungarian/Spanish speaker, working on her French and Mandarin.

Personal Statement
I owe many of my accomplishments to ACTFL’s influence on my professional development and would be honored to give back by serving on the board. ACTFL supported me during a difficult time in my career and taught me the importance of relationships through networking. For example, ACTFL connected me to NCSSFL, who in turn, encouraged me to organize grassroots advocacy movements in efforts to change my state’s status quo. Relationships and networking are therefore, important organizational concepts that can continue to move our field forward allowing us to enhance recruitment and retention of our most valuable resource: TEACHERS!

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Haydee Taylor-Arnold

Candidate for K-12 Board Member
Haydee Taylor-Arnold has thirteen years of experience in the field of language education and has taught middle school, high school, and college. Originally from Panamá, she graduated with a Bachelor in English from Universidad de Panamá. Having relocated to Missouri, she earned her Master in Teaching from Lindenwood University and her Master of Arts in Spanish Literature from Washington University. She is a Ph.D. student in Curriculum and Instruction and is working on her dissertation at Saint Louis University.

Haydee teaches Spanish at Ladue Horton Watkins in St. Louis, and she has presented sessions in several language and technology associations such as CSCFTL, AATSP, FLAM, MWALTT, and METC. She is a member of several educational institutions and also volunteers in language organizations. She is the Northeast representative of FLAM, the AATSP-NSE Missouri Coordinator, and a member of LILL Cohort 1. She enjoys attending professional development conferences and to meet and learn with professionals as well as sharing experiences in teaching.

In her school and district, Haydee participates in the STEM Cohort and the Diversity and Character Education Committees. She leads the Character Ed Committee and works with educators who want their students to build community with empathy and tolerance. Also, she supports students by sponsoring El Club Amigos del Español, as well as co-sponsoring the Character Cadre and Nuestra Herencia Latina Association.

Haydee contributes to her community by volunteering as a Spanish/English interpreter at her church where she supports a growing Latino ministry and she is a member of the Communication Committee for the “Educators for Social Justice Group” where she administers their Facebook page.

If asked a final thought, she would say, that entering into the conversation and engaging the community on the continually evolving field of language learning, is not just a concept, but a lifelong, rewarding pursuit.

Personal Statement
As a nation of immigrants, we should cherish our diversity and accept our differences respectfully. I also believe that our classrooms are a window to the world where our students can develop intercultural competence and have a peek of what they will experience when traveling abroad.

Running for the ACTFL Board gives me an opportunity to work as a partner by collaborating with and learning from experts in our field, as a specialist by delivering an inclusive, intercultural curriculum, as a resource for my state Department of Education, and as a leader by challenging inequalities and modeling empathy towards others.

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