ACTFL Announces Six New Board Members for 2022

CONTACT: Jamie Kravontka

ACTFL is pleased to announce six newly elected and appointed members to its Board of Directors. Akash Patel (President-Elect) of the Dallas Independent School District; Adrienne Brandenburg (K-12, at-large) of Poudre High School in Ft. Collins, CO; Cynthia Chalupa (NECTFL Regional Representative) of West Virginia University; Krishauna Hines-Gaither (Higher Ed, at-large) of Guilford College; Kate Paesani (Higher Ed, at large) of the University of Minnesota, and Kathleen Shelton (K-12, at-large) of the Ohio Department of Education will each begin their terms on January 1, 2022.


Akash Patel — Patel teaches Spanish at Ignite Middle School, in Dallas, TX. He frequently speaks at national and international conferences about his classroom experience. Patel was recognized by the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Multicultural Education Institute as the January 2015 Educator of the Month and the 2015 Multicultural Teacher of the Year. In 2018, he received ACTFL's Leo Benardo Award for Innovation in K-12 Language Education. He was also selected from over 30,000 nominations as one of the top 50 teachers worldwide for the Global Teacher Prize sponsored by the Varkey Foundation. In June 2020, Patel was elected to the National Council of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA). He was appointed as the chair of the Global Engagement Summit, the largest gathering of American grassroots changemakers and global activists in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations and the chair of the UNA-USA Educators Affinity group that helps educators from across USA champion the Sustainable Development Goals in their classrooms. In 2021, Patel was inducted in the International Literacy Association’s 30 Literacy Leaders Under 30 list and was granted an "Einstein" green card by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for his extraordinary contributions to global education. Patel will serve as ACTFL president in 2023 and past-president in 2024.


Adrienne Brandenburg – Brandenburg teaches high school Spanish and Spanish for Heritage Speakers at Poudre High School in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she helped develop the Spanish for Heritage Speakers program in 2013. In 2021 she was named the chair of the Spanish for Heritage Speakers Special Interest Group in ACTFL. Recently she organized the Heritage Teacher Summit, bringing together a series of heritage teacher voices from the classroom to offer a unique professional development option to heritage teachers. Her continuous work with heritage Spanish speakers and her advocacy for her heritage program inspired her to deepen her commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). She is committed to the lifelong work of recognizing and dismantling systems of oppression, in herself, in her classroom, and in her community.

Kathleen Shelton — Shelton currently serves students and teachers through her position as an education program specialist for K-12 World Languages and Cultures at the Ohio Department of Education. Through her state-level position, Shelton oversees the development of the Ohio World Language Model Curriculum, a dynamic repository of world language resources used by teachers around the world. She served as the co-chair of the 2017 NCSSFL-ACTFL national task force for the Language Can-Do Statements and on the committee for the Intercultural Can-Do Statements and holds leadership positions with the Ohio Foreign Language Association and the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages.


Krishauna Hines-Gaither — Hines-Gaither currently serves as the vice president for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. For almost 20 years, she was a college professor of Spanish, (Afro) Latin-American studies and teaching methods. She currently serves on ACTFL's Bylaws Committee, and she is the past chair of ACTFL's Educators of African American Students Special Interest Group. She co-founded African American Linguists (AAL), which is dedicated to promoting languages amongst African American language learners. Hines- Gaither is the past president of the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina (FLANC), where she led efforts to diversify the FLANC Board and to forge partnerships with underrepresented groups including Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Kate Paesani — Paesani is the director of the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) and affiliate faculty in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. At CARLA, Paesani oversees projects and initiatives that realize the Center’s mission of improving language teaching and learning. As affiliate faculty, she teaches graduate courses in language pedagogy and undergraduate courses in French language, culture, and linguistics. Paesani is past president of the American Association of University Supervisors and Coordinators (AAUSC) and is currently the co-editor of that association’s open-access journal, Second Language Research & Practice. She is also a member of ACTFL’s Research and Assessment Committee and Research Briefs Taskforce.


Cynthia Chalupa — Chalupa is an associate professor of German and director of the Basic German Language Program at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. As a doctoral student, she served as the Assistant Director of Ohio’s Collaborative Articulation and Assessment Program. Since then, she has served on the College Board AP Language Commission, on the advisory board for the ACTFL/ETS Praxis II Exam, and on the ACTFL/DLI Standards Setting Commission. She has served as co-chair of the AATG National German Exam Advisory Board and as a member of the AP German Language and Culture Development Committee. She is an AATG TraiNDaF fellow and has served as president, vice president, and Awards and Testing chair of the West Virginia-AATG.

“I am so pleased to welcome Akash Patel, Adrienne Brandenburg, Cynthia Chalupa, Krishauna Hines-Gaither, Kate Paesani, and Kathleen Shelton to the ACTFL Board of Directors,” said Howie Berman, ACTFL executive director. “Each of them brings a unique set of skills and expertise that will serve ACTFL and the language education profession well. We’re so excited to work with them in the coming years as we seek to ensure language access for all students.”

Those Board Members whose terms conclude at the end of 2021 are Bridget Yaden (Past President); Pablo Muirhead (Treasurer); Rebecca Fox; Leslie Grahn (NECTFL Representative); Katrina Griffin; and Cristina Ladas.

“It has been my distinct honor to work with such a committed group of volunteer leaders,” added Jessica Haxhi, ACTFL president. “They will certainly be missed, but we know that they will continue to serve our profession and our learners in many ways. I want to thank them and wish them all the best.”