ACTFL Announces Four New Board Members for 2021

CONTACT: Howie Berman
703.894.2900 ext. 106

ACTFL is pleased to announce four new members of its Board of Directors. Victoria Russell of Valdosta State University (GA) and United States Air Force Academy (CO); Maria Carreira of California State University, Long Beach, and National Heritage Language Resource Center (NHLRC); Pam Benton of Pinellas County Schools (FL); and Jeenna Canché of Maui High School (HI) will each begin their terms on January 1, 2021.

Victoria Russell – A 30-year veteran Spanish teacher with experience at all levels, both domestically and abroad, Dr. Victoria Russell is a Professor of Spanish and Foreign Language Education (FLED) at Valdosta State University. Russell is also a nationally recognized scholar and researcher in online language education. As a leader in the field of online education, she was invited to serve as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Spanish at the United States Air Force Academy for the 2020-2021 school year. Recently, she co-authored a book to help all language educators transition to online teaching. Russell will serve as ACTFL President in 2022.

Maria Carreira – Maria Carreira is a Professor of Spanish at California State University, Long Beach, where her research focuses on heritage language (HL) teaching and learning and Latino Education. Dr. Carreira is also Co-Director of UCLA’s National Heritage Language Resource Center (NHLRC), which focuses on HL teaching and learning. In this capacity, she has worked with practitioners and specialists from a wide range of languages and educational settings. Carreira is a firm believer in the power of HL education to support the academic, social and professional growth of language minority students, many of whom are from underrepresented groups.

Pam Benton – Pam Benton is the PreK-12 World Languages Specialist for Pinellas County Schools in Largo, Florida. She taught Spanish and French for 27 years. She is a past president of both the Florida Foreign Language Association and the Florida Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. Benton is the registrar for the Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) and the co-editor of SCOLTalk, in addition to serving as an associate editor for short form articles of Hispania. She holds a BA in Spanish & Education from William Jewell College, as well as an MEd in Curriculum & Instruction and an EdS in Educational Leadership from National Louis University.

Jeenna Canché – Jeenna Canché has been teaching Spanish on the island of Maui since 2006. In addition to educating high school students, she is also passionate about helping other language teachers integrate communicative teaching principles into their repertoire. In 2017-2018, she served as the World Languages Specialist for the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE), and since then has continued to provide world language teachers with Professional Development opportunities through the HIDOE, the Hawaii Association of Language Teachers (HALT), and as an ACTFL mentor. This year, she is serving as President of HALT and is also in her fourth year on the board of the Southwest Conference on Language Teaching (SWCOLT).

“I look forward to welcoming Victoria Russell, Maria Carreira, Pam Benton, and Jeenna Canché to the ACTFL Board in January,” said ACTFL Executive Director Howie Berman. “This has been an unusual year with unique challenges. It also presents incredible opportunities for the profession at-large moving forward. I’m very excited to have these incredible educators add their skills and experience to the ACTFL Board of Directors in pursuit of language access for all learners.”

Those Board Members whose terms conclude at the end of 2020 are Lisa Ritter (Past President), Springfield MO Public Schools (Retired); Pam Wesely (Treasurer), University of Iowa; Natalie Figueroa, Albuquerque Public Schools (NM); and Lisa Podbilski, Louisville Collegiate School (KY).

"I thank our outgoing board members for their unwavering dedication and valuable service on the board, supporting ACTFL in what has been a year full of challenges and pivots. Their contributions and leadership have helped us to advance ACTFL’s mission and to take action on initiatives that support the pillars of our strategic plan,” added ACTFL President Bridget Yaden. “We wish them the best in their next endeavors and know that they will continue to make a difference both locally and nationally through their advocacy for languages."