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Real-World viewpoints from leaders in our field

Interviews of Women Professionals

Sharing Real-world viewpoints

We are excited to bring you an amazing section dedicated solely to the pursuit of sharing real-world viewpoints from women in our field. Our goal is to interview women who have had either unique experiences or just plain more experience than you so that you can learn from their wisdom and apply it in your own daily work challenges.

Limelight Interviews

Our interview style will change with every chat so that we can keep it fresh.  We hope you will read our spotlight interviews and get inspired to submit suggestions of other women who we should interview.  Every one of you has something special to share so please let us know who you would like to hear from!

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  • 21 Oct 2019 1:39 PM | Anonymous


    What is your current title and where do you work?

    I’m currently the Senior Manager, University Relations & Campus Outreach at Boston University Study Abroad where I’m responsible for marketing and recruitment activities on-campus and with non-BU partners, and manage the Study Abroad Ambassador program. I am also a co-chair of the Boston Area Study Abroad Association (BASAA).

    What was your dream job as a kid and why? If it changed, what led to that decision?

    As an adolescent I was enchanted by the idea of becoming a hairstylist. I loved the idea of helping people and making them feel more confident. When I discovered I was no good at styling my own hair, let alone others’ hair, I decided to let that dream go. Luckily, I still get to help folks by working in education abroad.

    What was your first international experience? How did it influence your current career choice.

    I lived vicariously through my mother's work travels. The gifts she brought home were fascinating; a huipil from Oaxaca, a bowl from Ghana and candies from all over the world. I remember a puzzle from Thailand that enthralled me with an alphabet I’d never seen before. It was no surprise that I caught the travel bug. My study abroad experiences ultimately led to my career in international education.

    What was your first job in international education? Did you have a hard time obtaining this job? 

    My first job in international education was at Spanish Studies Abroad as a Program Assistant. I started at the organization as an unpaid marketing intern while doing my Masters in International Education at SIT Graduate Institute, and it just goes to show that networking is everything!

    Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job.

    No day or week is the same. I’m constantly interacting with students on campus, department administrators, and partner institutions. Between planning events, social media marketing, managing the Study Abroad Ambassador program, and working on strategic outreach, the role is dynamic and always keeps me on my toes.

    What do you enjoy the most about your job?

    I love that I get to see students in the best phases of the study abroad experience: before they have decided to study abroad and when they have returned, either as a Study Abroad Ambassador or an excited returnee. It’s so exciting to see how much they’ve grown and changed when they come back.

    What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

    The most challenging aspect of my role is realizing you can only do so much. The Marketing & Outreach team at BU Study Abroad has so many ideas, but we are a team of three. The scope and budget sometimes get in the way of achieving everything we want to.

    What has working in international education taught you about yourself and your own culture?

    I’ve learned that having an open mind and a willingness to learn can lead to immense growth. I’ve had the opportunity to work with different people from all across the globe, and am grateful for those experiences and how they’ve shaped my life, both personally and professionally.

    Is there a value or principal from another culture that you have embraced & applied to your life?

    While on a short-term program to Turkey, I felt incredibly welcomed by the locals. Whether it was our host families or vendors at the local bazaar, everyone genuinely wanted to welcome us into their lives and culture. I’ve tried to apply that in my own life by being more welcoming and inclusive to others.

    Do you have a career mentor? How has that person influenced your career growth?

    I’ve been lucky to have had several supervisors and mentors who have helped, in both small and large ways. As a co-chair for the Boston Area Study Abroad Association, I’ve also had a sounding board of peers who are supportive and a great resource to workshop ideas and hear about others’ career trajectories. 

    What piece of advice would you give your younger self, as it relates to your career?

    Take every opportunity to learn! Although my career path has been mostly linear, it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. I took unpaid internships, low paying jobs and volunteer leadership roles because I knew they were a great way to network and learn. Each professional experience has had a positive impact on where I am today.

    What type of hobbies or activities help you balance your work/life experience?

    I’m working on my sixth year of what I call ‘Positivity in a Jar’. Each day I take a post-it note, write the date, and jot down something positive that happened that day. I fold it up and put it in a jar, and on New Year’s Eve, I open all the notes of positivity and am reminded of how lucky I am. It’s a nice way to remain positive when the day-to-day is sometimes stressful and overwhelming.

  • 03 Sep 2019 10:31 AM | Anonymous


    Director, Center for Global Education, Chapman University

    What is your current title, and where do you work?Director of the Center for Global Education at Chapman University

    What was your dream job as a kid, and why? If it changed, what led to that decision?
    I wanted to become an Artistic Roller Skating Coach. I was involved with competitive artistic roller skating for 18 years and saw how physically challenging and financially unstable; it is for a coach…and no benefits. So, that dream was short-lived.

    Tell us about your first international experience and how that influenced your current career choice.
    Oh, wow. Flashback! It was a trip I took in my late teens to France with my mother and sister - a week of skiing at Alpes d’huez and a week touring Paris and Bordeaux. We were complete rookies at international travel…and learned a lot from that trip. We took a plane, train, bus and cab to get to our room on the mountain, in several feet of snow. Mom traveled with two sets of skis and I had two bags. Such newbies! Also, I thought my French was much better than it really was at the time. I quickly learned when we had to call the rental car company and they spoke no English. Despite our ineptitude and rookie mistakes, I loved this trip and started planning more international travel. I just needed to be better prepared.

    What was your first job in international education? Did you have a hard time obtaining this job? How long did it take? How did you learn about it? (Ex. Job posting, networking, promotion)
    My first job in international education was as the coordinator of internships at Chapman. I was hired as the domestic internship coordinator for the (then) Career Development Center and began developing the university’s first summer international internship after a program provider approached our business school. After we implemented this first program in 2003, international internships really took off and we started several more. In 2007, I moved to Center for Global Education at Chapman to manage international internships and exchange programs.

    I was very targeted in my job search. I had enjoyed my college experience thoroughly and wanted to work in higher education. My husband and I were living in Oregon at the time and wanted to move back to California, so I began seeking out positions with all of the local universities via their employment websites. I interviewed at two universities and was hired by Chapman after nine months or so.

    Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job.
    My day involves working on operational and human resources aspects of the reorganization: budgets, job descriptions, etc. There isn't as much student interaction as there is during the academic semesters. There is still plenty of prepping for the upcoming fall semester that is part of our daily lives: orientation, incoming exchange students, overhauling of marketing materials, just to name a few.

    What do you enjoy the most about your job?
    Strategic planning, fiscal management and staff development.

    What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
    Staffing levels -- how to work on the things we want to accomplish with the limited staffing we have. I'm hopeful that our reorganization will streamline processes and allow us to take on larger projects.

    What has working in international education taught you about yourself and your own culture?
    Empathy and self-awareness. Understanding perspectives and perceptions, non-verbals, space and time differences, has given me more patience with the unknown or "different." 

    Is there a value or principle from another culture that you have embraced and applied to your own life?
    The French work/life balance culture which emphasizes separating personal and work life responsibilities.

    Do you have a career mentor or someone that you consult with about career growth? How has that person influenced your career growth?
    I don't really have a mentor, presently. However, I have a friend who is a great resource and support person. I've gone to her for advice on many topics and she's been a wealth of information and understanding.

    Describe a moment in your career that you consider your greatest achievement.
    Making our center through QUIP midpoint reporting was huge for me and a great learning experience.

    What’s one piece of advice that you would give your younger self in high school or college as it relates to your career?
    Be open to whatever might come along. You don’t have to have it all figured out when you when you apply to college. I was a non-traditional student and graduated with my BA at 33. Even if I could, I wouldn’t change my path as I was much wiser and clear on my direction at that age.

    What type of hobbies or activities help you balance your work/life experience?
    Vegetable gardening and cooking. I can never find enough time for these!

  • 24 Jul 2019 10:31 PM | Anonymous


    North American Language and Cultural Assistant, Spanish Ministry of Education


    1. What is your current title and where do you work?

    I am a North American Language and Cultural Assistant for the Spanish Ministry of Education. I teach in a public bilingual high school and instruct course in subjects ranging from English, Technology, Art, Social Studies and Physical Education. This position is through the Spanish government and here in Spain it is called an Auxiliar de Conversacion. This is an assistantship in conjunction with my Master’s Degree in International Education through the Universidad de Alcala-Instituto Franklin.

    2. What was your dream job as a kid and why?           

    Growing up when people asked me what I wanted to be, it would cause my a lot of stress and anxiety. For a long time, I didn’t know and I thought I had to impress people or make them comfortable by having a canned answer. All I knew for sure was that I  wanted to be happy, well traveled, do good for the world and go on big adventures. Now, I have found ways to do all these things and work at the same time.

    3. Tell us about your first international experience and how that influenced your career choice.

    When I was 2 my parents lived in Australia for a year, although I don’t remember it I grew up hearing stories and knew the world was accessible and the importance of international exchange. When I was 12, my parents moved again but this time to Israel for 5 months. I learned a little Hebrew swam on an Israeli swim team and immersed myself in a new culture.. This was my first real taste of life abroad and kicked off a serious case wanderlust.

    4. What was your first job in international education?

    I became an ESL teacher in Daegu South Korea as a way to combine my love of working with children and interacting with new cultures. It was an excellent way to work, travel and meet people from all over. The job was fairly simple to land I used Dave’s ESL Cafe ( and worked with a recruiter. The process of obtaining the visa, packing up my life, selling my car and gaining the courage to board the plane was not! The requirements are generally a Bachelor’s Degree in any subject  and often (but not always) a TEFL Certificate. No Korean language skills necessary although it certainly helps to be able to read, and easier thank you think to learn.

    5. Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job.

    I start school at 9:15 am an generally work until 2 or 3. I have a bit of a commute on the train where I enjoy coffee and doing reading for my Master’s program. When I am teaching English, I take small groups out of the classroom for speaking activities, I prepare review activities, I try to use games and role play as often as possible. I have prepared presentation on Alaska , major holidays and life in the United States. I work with kids in Physical Education. I also tutor private lessons. Friday evenings I attend classes for Master’s.

    6. What do you enjoy most about your job?

    I love the chance to really get to know a culture. Working abroad  is a great way to really make local connections, sink deeper into the place you are, and not just learn about a place but experience its systems, daily life and nuance. I love getting a chance to speak about my culture with the kids help open their eyes to new parts of the world and ways of life different than their own. I have them do the same for me. I also love the coffee the food and the warm, relaxed Spanish culture.

    7. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

    It can be frustrating to be working in a school system that you don’t really understand. As a language assistant I am learning where and how I fit in and managing different teacher's expectations of me. I am new to this country, dusting off my language skills and learning a lot for the first time. I can feel like an outsider or that I missed the memo on something. It is all a part of the learning experience.

    8. What has working in international education taught you about yourself and your own culture?

    Particularly in Spain, I will find myself in a rush for no reason. I get frustrated that things take so long, restaurant service can be slower than what we are used to the US. But then I remember how hard I worked to get here and that the point is to enjoy it.When I can remember that  I’m not really in a rush to get anywhere, I’II take a deep breathe and relax and enjoy the experience. I’m trying to match Spain’s pace and slow down and be in the moment.

    9. Is there a value or principal from another culture that you have embraced and applied to your own life?

    Korea is collective culture and whatever you have you share with the people around you.I remember some school children having a heated fight but still sharing their snacks with everyone around them. In Spain, I was extended an invitation to move in with someone during my first tutoring session with the family. People are mostly good and kind and a little trust can go a long way. I have tried to adopt this welcoming, open and empathetic attitude in my daily life.

    10. Do you have a career mentor or someone that you consult with about career growth?

    I met Marsha in a running club in South Korea. She ran workshops for expats preparing to return home. She helped us reflect on our experience,  process new skills, create a vision for what we wanted moving forward and an action plan for how to go for it. We have kept in touch, she often offers me little bits of wisdom. I am currently teaching in Spain and she is teaching in Budapest and we plan to meet up somewhere in Europe soon. 

    11. Describe a moment in your career that you consider your greatest achievement.

    In South Korea, I was given the task of teaching the book Number The Stars by Lois Lowry to a group of teenagers. They had never heard of the Holocaust. I felt pretty intimidated to take on such a large subject in a different language no less and I really had my work cut out for me. I was proud of the way I handled the topic, opening their eyes to past injustices and sparking thoughtful conversations about important social justice issues. 

    12. What’s one piece of advice that you would give your younger self in high school or college as it relates to your career?

    Relax. Take a deep breathe. Follow your dreams and the things that excite you and don’t give any worry to the judgement of others. Live your life in a way that makes you happy, not a way that is easy to explain. There is plenty of value in travel, adventure and widening your perspective.

    13. What type of hobbies or activities help you balance your work/life experience?

    I love to swim, do yoga, run in races, write and read. Maintaining my hobbies is so important to me. It gives me time to reflect and process and when I am abroad it is a great way for me immerse and also to stay connected to my identity from home. My biggest piece of advice for someone moving abroad is to join a club doing something you love in your new country, it is a great way to connect and break out of the expat bubble while exploring your unique interests.

    Check out Leah's guest blog on Lessons Abroad to get her insight on teaching in Korea here.

  • 24 Jul 2019 10:26 PM | Anonymous


    Wanny Angerer in Moving Cultures

    It is not every day I have the opportunity to speak with someone like Wanayran Angerer, world traveller, international woman’s rights advocate, singer and cultural promoter. I had been looking forward to finally speaking with the singer and artisan, affectionately known as Wanny for what seemed like an age. Her journey which started in Honduras has thus far led her to the USA, Austria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Colombia, India, Panama and Thailand and her involvement in various projects and life experience over the past thirty years would give us plenty to talk about.

    Wanny is involved in a number of social development and advocacy projects including the use of music and arts as a means of developing self-esteem in children, women and the elderly.
    She was born in Honduras, into a diverse community that traces its ethnicity from Spanish, Native Honduran, and African. It was in Honduras that Wanny would work as a hosting co-ordinator for AFS Honduras, while simultaneously launching her singing career. During this time she was a founder of the first organization to promote female arts in Honduras, called Women in Arts (Mujeres en las Artes), which is still alive and active after 20 years.

    She is also a very active member of cultural and development programs and organizations in her home country and host countries of Zimbabwe, India, Colombia and Panama. These include AFS intercultural Programs, Women in Arts Honduras, Women in Culture in South Africa, SHARE (Showing How the Arts Rejuvenate and Enlighten project) in Zimbabwe, Fundacion Formemos, Fundacion niños de los Andes, Fundacion Hogar Nueva Granada (Colombia),“Sanando Cantando Boleros”, Make a Wish Panama and InterNations Panama

    On to Kenya, where her initiatives are bundled under the heading of “Moving Cultures – Unity in Diversity” and there she is connected to a number of active projects and initiatives in the social and arts sector. She is also a supporter of the Magoso School in Kibera and gives music-therapy lessons at Faraja Cancer Support Trust for women who have survived cancer. In the NEST home she works with women who were victims of domestic violence, and the Kariobangi Women Promotional Training Institute is where she works with women to produce clothing. Her own design of Latin American ponchos in African fabrics is called“Ponchos Wanayran”.

    Along with all of this, she regularly sings at concerts and events and is a renowned Jazz Singer  ….

    Thus, you can imagine my predicament of not knowing where to start in my conversation with Wanny, and was relieved when she started our conversation for us, with a simple, “Noreen, let’s just talk”

    Let’s talk.

    Wanny very kindly agreed to speak with the Global Leadership League, for what I thought would be an interview about her life, her projects and her work with women in the countries she has lived in. What I did not expect is how much her current work resonates with every woman, not regionally specific, and what we as members of the League can all learn from her experiences and insights.

    Talking is the starting point of Wanny’s work with women and in her groups, the first thing women learn is how to find their voices. Conversations must be honest and it starts very simply.

    How does she achieve this?

    Wanny uses body language, music and art to encourage this conversation. It is all towards the same goal of helping the women she works with to first gain confidence and find their individual power, then later on, finding how they can apply that power. Wanny explains it is not enough to learn confidence, we also need to learn how to use this confidence, to stand out of the ground.

    It can start very simply with basic affirmations about ourselves. Start at the foundations she tells me.

    Listen to your voice. It will sound different in every situation. Do we know our voice and how it connects with our bodies? Are we aware of the sounds our voice makes? Whatever is on your mind will come through your voice and also through your body language. Know your body. Listen to your voice.

    Your mind might say one thing but your body will say another.

    She tells me she will often start with a group of women by asking them to say to themselves, I AM.

    By listening to their voices.

    By loving themselves through saying I LOVE YOU, and after loving themselves, say, I AM POWERFUL. It is only after doing these things that we are empowered to love ourselves, to be powerful, to have the capacity to give and when we have the capacity to give, we can then receive. This is universal and something we have in common with women everywhere, be it in Kenya, India or Panama.

    Wanny starts working with women very slowly. It might be they start to ground their feet, raise their arms and physically reach for things they cannot imagine and to remember those words of affirmation. To look at themselves in the mirror and start loving themselves.

    Music and the Arts

    Wanny’s style of work is through language, and also through music and the Arts. After all,  music, arts and entrepreneurship are universal languages. She provides a safe circle for women in her workshops to tell their stories through language and also through song and music. Women talk about their personal and work lives and do not separate them.

    Why would we want to separate them? This makes perfect sense to me  but we are all guilty of not recognising these two are inseparable.

    After listening to Wanny and how she works with women through her various singing, musical and entrepreneurship projects, I started asking myself what was so different to the women she worked with in Africa and other places, and that of League members reading this in the USA, Australia, Ireland, Peru, or anywhere else in the world?         

    There is no difference.

    We can all be victims of not using our true voices, or connecting with our inner selves. We may all have issues that need to be discussed and situations that we may not even know about. No matter what society we live in, women’s backgrounds can be similar, they have come from different families, core values, upbringing, but what it means to be a family and raise a child, gender issues, equality issues, etc is similar. What expectations has Social Media set for women in different societies for example? Women can face the same challenges set by themselves. Challenges to be perfect, to look perfect, to have the perfect public persona, to manage it all, to have it all, to lean in, to keep all the glass balls in the air. We can be bombarded by social media, and the message that we should be perfect, and yes, to manage and to have it all.

    These issues are always present, but as Wanny points out, it is how we cope with these issues. These issues are not going anywhere so we need to learn how to cope. And this is also part of what Wanny teaches women through her various projects.

    The Mentor and the Mentee:

    Wanny and I spoke about the League and how we can support each other as women facing similar challenges. One way to bring women together is through mentoring and becoming a Role Model for other women. Wanny points out there must be trust between the mentor and the mentee and their relationship is two way. We must relate to each other. The mentor must firstly listen to themselves, and be able to cope themselves, then they can listen and support.

    We need to look within, be honest with each other and be our authentic selves. Being fake and living a false image will only last for a certain period of time before the truth will shine through, Wanny believes, and it is easier to be consistent than live under a false image.

    Again I thought how do we apply this to the League as members supporting each other? We are all guilty of portraying a perfect work-life balance when the situation is far from that. Where else can we support one another and be honest with each other, in a perfectly safe circle than in the League?

    How did Wanny create and build so many projects and have such a wonderful insight into helping women, empowering them and giving them the confidence and teaching them how to use this confidence to build their lives, businesses and mentor other women?

    It all evolved throughout the journey of her life and her family roots in Honduras.

    Wanny comes from a family of educators which created an environment of sharing. Music, ballet, the Arts, were always present in her childhood, but her parents instilled in her and her siblings the importance of always sharing their knowledge. If their neighbours didn’t have these opportunities, they were told to pass on and teach whatever they had learned with them. As a child she didn’t realise she had opportunities other people didn’t have but as she grew older she understood this, and realised what an asset they had, and the importance of sharing this asset.

    Wanny and her siblings were educated in the shape of a triangle:


    Community Service


    And at the centre of this was always Art.

    Her grandparents and parents taught her family the value of education, community service, spirituality and art and now she teaches her own children these values. Again I am reminded of our community of women in the League and how we can help each other.

    I am curious about what she advises people who are not “into” music and the arts? Are these people doomed?!

    She explains to me it’s not about the music or arts. It so happens these are her media of communication … essentially it is about the method of communication. It doesn’t matter how you do it, the important piece is that you need to find your voice. And learn how to listen to that voice, and be able to tell the authentic from the false voice.

    Intrigued I ask her what she thinks of the imposter syndrome and faking it until you make it?

    When you are confident, you don’t need to fake it, you can still be yourself, be creative, accept that it might take a long process but being true to yourself on the journey will be worth it.

    But what about the expectations to be perfect and overachieve and overdeliver and manage it all?

    She talks about many of these expectations as being set by ourselves. We should consider not looking at everyone else and trying to change their expectations of us. Know your limitations, everyone has limitations, and know your expertise. Once you know this, then this is when you start to mature and become more available to yourself and to other people

    Times have changed, she tells me. She works with intergenerational groups, a lot of adult women in their 50’s 60’s and 70’s who lived in a different world than women in their 20’s for example. She tells me the value of these intergenerational groups for young women to see how different it was for older women at a time when gender issues were very different. Exchange of knowledge and bringing women from different cultures and nationalities and ages promotes learning and support.

    Again, I am reminded of the power of the League for women from different backgrounds and how we can learn from each other through honest conversations.

    Wanny has a lot of advice based on her unique life story and her propensity to share with her community.

    Listening to her explain why she had moved country every five years to follow her husband’s work, made me think that not everyone would have done so much for the community they were living in. She has taken advantage of everything that has been put in front of her, be it in Thailand, India or Africa. She did so because she believes there is a bigger purpose. She doesn’t take things for granted. She seems to have put herself together in the way she asks women in her groups to do so and has very strong foundations herself.

    Again I am reminded of the opportunities, we, as women working in International Education have to support other women and students that do not have the opportunities we do. Some of us are in influential positions, parts of large organisations, or have grass roots levels in many countries, and I ask myself, how can we learn from Wanny’s experience and utilise our connections to empower more women and girls?  

    I have written just a fraction of what Wanny and I discussed and there is so much more she has to say. Wanny will be guest speaker at the Forum on Education Abroad in Colorado next March. I urge anyone thinking of attending, to go, if not just to meet this amazing woman and hear her speak … and sing if you are lucky enough!

  • 23 Jul 2019 10:35 PM | Anonymous

    Do you play basketball at lunchtime?

    From the UK to the UAE and a few places in between, Linda Angell spoke to me about how adapting to change, opening to opportunities and accepting support from family and community, led her on a wonderful life adventure and to her current role as the first Director of International Exchange Programs at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

    Linda’s academic beginnings started with a love of sociology. A self-support student, she funded college by working part time and graduated with a Bachelor in Sociology, minoring in Women’s Studies. Next step was finding a career to pay back college loans and this led her to applying for an MBA. Having worked since she was 14, she had the work experience required to enrol on an MBA program, and it was this move that led her to her first international experience. As part of her new studies, she completed an internship in London on Baker Street with Horwath and Horwath, a fascinating company that offered consultancy on infrastructural and tourism projects.

    Going to an English speaking country was not supposed to be the culture shock that is was! It was here that Linda discovered what a “brolly” and “lorry” were, along with swapping pounds for stones and relearning to use a washing machines and television. Speaking to Linda, it was clear that an early love for international travel started here and following a few months backpacking around Europe, and the seed was planted for living another life outside of the US. Linda’s experience in the UK reminds me of how a semester abroad can really change a young person’s direction in life.  Coming from a family that had never travelled much before, that internship gave Linda an opportunity and an insight that we as international education administrators can also give students.

    After completing the MBA, she spent several years in Research and Development and also received her real estate brokers licence… just as the market crashed.

    Readers, we should be grateful we didn’t lose her to Real Estate; that crash was International Education’s gain in the long term.

    Linda’s story resonates with how being flexible to change and being willing to take the risk and make sacrifices can ultimately lead you to where you want to be. It was during her time working with ’rocket scientists from MIT’  in her R & D role that she decided to go back to academia and obtain her doctoral degree. After a long process selecting her subject area, she was offered entry into the Operations Management doctoral program at Boston University… under a full scholarship covering the first two years. After that funding ran out, Linda was again faced with the challenge of securing additional funds and it was this “opportunity” that led her to Germany via the Fulbright Scholarship programme.

    Being open to change but also seeing opportunities in challenging times, Linda and her husband moved to Muenster where she studied new recycling legislation recently introduced in Germany, i.e. the German Packaging Ordinance. Remember the ‘Green Dot’ recycling logo that appeared on all European packaging in the 1990’s?  That was Linda focus, specifically the impact this all had on the development of green manufacturing practices.

    Not only was she completing her PhD research in Germany, Linda and her husband also became parents with the birth of their first daughter during their time there. Their German housemates played a critical role as ‘family’ and support network during that period, allowing Linda to continue her research activities.

    After a two-year stint in Germany, it was back to Boston for Linda, where she began writing up her dissertation research results. Her husband had just taken a one-year contract to work in the IT industry when Linda was offered her first academic role at Penn State University, an eight hour drive away.  During the next six months, Linda’s mother was instrumental in providing child care support as Linda juggled motherhood, writing up her research to complete her PhD, coming to grips with her first teaching job, and buying a house.

    Whilst finishing her dissertation and interviewing across the US for a permanent faculty role, Linda became pregnant again.   After defending her dissertation proposal while six months pregnant with her first child, she ended up defending her final thesis when her younger daughter was just six months old.  Linda described those years as the crazy years.

    The next step in her career progression was completely unexpected.   A conversation, a chance meeting, at an academic conference in Barcelona led Linda on to her next adventure. A colleague that was teaching in New Zealand invited her to apply for a position that had opened up. She did not apply for that position but promised herself that if another position opened up she would be ready to take the leap. And when another opportunity did open up a couple of years later, she was ready to commit herself and she and her family packed up their US lives and moved to New Zealand where she took up a faculty position with Victoria University of Wellington

    After a couple of years at Vic, Linda became restless again, and felt the need for an opportunity to ‘practice what she preached’.  She had the opportunity to leave academia to implement a business excellence program at a quasi-governmental R&D organization, and eventually ended up at the Ministry of Social Development, having come full-circle back to her passion for Sociology.  She spent several years there, working for both the welfare arm of the Ministry, and as a manager within the Center for Social Research and Evaluation..

    At about the time that her daughters were about to start secondary school, it was time for the next adventure.  Again, her next international move came about after meeting a friend and academic colleague at a party, discussing career opportunities available at American University of Sharjah (AUS) in the United Arab Emirates. Although Linda and her family had never even considered the Middle East as a possibility, they had learned that a willingness to take chances often leads to exciting opportunities for personal and professional development.

    The importance of remaining flexible and open to change, and to always being open to options, seems to resonate throughout Linda’s career. Her family moved lock, stock, and barrel once again, relocating half way around the world from New Zealand to UAE.  The family moved into a villa on the AUS campus, her daughters began attending a British High School, and Linda began her new role back in academia, on the faculty within the School of Business Administration  

    With 250 families living on campus, all expatriates, the tight-knit AUS campus community really take care of each other. Linda was once again reminded of the importance of support networks when this campus community served as a lifeline for herself and her family throughout a serious year-long illness in 2010, the same year that she took up her dream job as founding Director for the International Exchange Office at AUS.  Through this period, Linda learned to open herself fully to the nourishing healing powers inherent in this outpouring of community support. 

    The theme of support from family, friends and community is a common thread throughout Linda’s story and reminds us that there is a support network around us, even if this network comes to us in non-traditional ways. Linda’s husband has been constant in his support throughout their 30-year marriage, and they have worked together as a team from Germany, to Boston, to Pennsylvania, to New Zealand and now the UAE. Her mother ensured that Linda could achieve her goal of teaching at Penn State, and her community in the UAE supported her throughout her illness and became like family shortly after moving to a new, foreign country.

    We work in a very rewarding and privileged field. Our work in international education can contribute to peace and understanding by bringing students from different cultures together in a setting they would never otherwise experience. We help people experience study abroad or internships abroad, we open up the world to so many students. We have the opportunity to experience other cultures, to see ourselves and our own cultures through other lenses. We can travel, we can explore, but we can also be part of a community   Our work is challenging, yes, but by supporting each other, we can overcome those challenges.

    Linda described another important network that developed during her time at Victoria University.  After reading an article about the powerful impact that female social interaction has on improving well-being by increasing oxytocin hormone levels in women, she and her female colleagues set up a ‘Voxies’ Club (i.e. V for Victoria University; Oxies for Oxytocin), and regularly met-up outside work and family to share ideas and provide additional support.

    The ‘Voxies’ tradition continued upon her arrival at the American University of Sharjah in the UAE, and remains active to this day.

    I can imagine all the readers smiling at this!

    Another interesting story Linda told me highlights the importance of ‘Voxies’ support networks.  During her time at Penn State, one of her male colleagues – one of the 27 males in her department of 30 - asked her how she could possibly know what was going on around the office when she didn’t join the guys to play basketball at lunch. He went on to explain that this was where he learned about everything that was going on with his colleagues and the university more generally. A very telling comment,  revealing how women can so easily be excluded from networks that promote new ideas and opportunities.  The exclusion is not necessarily intentional, nor is it part of a conspiracy. Her male colleagues simply had developed a very effective, but exclusive, networking group by way of their daily basketball games  Linda was not privy to the information that came out of those informal meet-ups because she was too busy and wrapped up in just trying to stay on top of everything as a young mother and new teacher.

    Likely all of us have experience with these ‘basketball at lunch’ clubs that we cannot be part of. We are not partaking in these informal gatherings as we try to stay on top of everything and keep all those glass balls in the air. But what kind of important conversations are we missing out on?  Can we replace the basketball at lunch with the Voxies?

    After speaking to Linda, the main lesson that I have learned is that we can always find and connect with a support network. Networks may not always be husbands and mothers, families or communities – in fact, you may find the support you need right here in the League. Find the women you think can help you and that are having these conversations. And let’s not forget to share the insights we gain from those conversations.

    Linda’s story is a wonderful adventure with unexpected plot twists, made possible by a willingness to accept and embrace challenges and change, by being open to opportunities and by welcoming support.

  • 22 Jul 2019 10:38 PM | Anonymous

    What does your company do and why did you found it? 

    Global Citizen Year (GCY) is on a mission to make it normal for kids to take a year between high school and college. Our model offers leadership training for students from diverse backgrounds alongside deep, long-term immersion (10 months long) in either Senegal, Brazil, Ecuador, or India.  I founded GCY in 2010 to try create systemic change in our education system and make this bridge year an integrated part of how we think about a pathway to college.

    2. What's the biggest challenge you've faced as a founder and director? 

    Balancing my vision, ambition and aspiration with the reality of how hard it is to build something from scratch. I have learned to embrace the mantra of going slow to go fast, to grow deliberately from a strong foundation. If you are a big thinker, reality is just never fast enough!

    3. What is your proudest moment? Shining minute?

    I was very proud to see Tufts University take this model on as their own. I had lunch with the Provost years ago and he decided to launch a 1 + 4 model. Students do 1 year with GCY and then 4 with Tufts. It's the sign of a school that is ahead of its time. They have created incentives and pathways to help more kids see this as the greatest advantage they could have in the world. 

    4. Any particular mentor you had who you'd like to give a nod to? 

    Wendy Kopp, the Founder of Teach for America. Now she leads Teach for All, which is modeling the Teach for America model in 40 countries around the world. She has been a consistent source of support and guidance, clear-eyed feedback, warmth, and encouragement when I need it. She helps me keep my eye on the bigger picture. She has been honest and vulnerable about the early challenges of Teach for America. How it took a decade for it to get traction. This has given me patience and comfort. 

    5. Any advice to rising female leaders in this field?

    Think big. Think without constraints. 


    Abigail Falik is the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, and an award-winning social entrepreneur. Falik is driven by the conviction that talent is universal, but opportunity is not. Prior to founding Global Citizen Year, Falik applied her entrepreneurial instincts to innovative educational initiatives in the U.S. and around the world. She was an early team member at College Track, an organization focused on ensuring college success for low-income students, as well as a strategic advisor to Room to Read, an organization that helps build literacy skills in Africa and Asia. During her tenure at NetAid (later acquired by Mercy Corps), she designed and launched a flagship initiative to engage U.S. high school students in the fight to end global poverty. A recognized expert on social innovation and the changing landscape of education, Falik has been featured in Forbes, NPR, The Washington Post and The New York Times. In 2016, Fast Company named her one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business, and for her achievements as a social entrepreneur, she has been recognized as an Ashoka Fellow, a MindTrust Fellow and a Draper Richards Kaplan Entrepreneur. She currently serves on the advisory boards of World Learning, Teach for All and the Harvard Business School. She received a B.A. in international relations and an M.A. in international comparative education from Stanford University. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School.

  • 22 Jul 2019 10:37 PM | Anonymous

    What is your current title and where do you work?

    As an International Exchange Specialist at the Smithsonian, I work in the Office of International Relations, which is a central unit serving all 19 Smithsonian museums, 9 Research Centers and the National Zoo. We support Smithsonian-wide international activity, and in my role I facilitate international exchanges, acting as a point of contact for D.C.-based embassies, the State Department and other international organizations. 

    2. What was your dream job as a kid and why? If it changed, what led to that decision?

    I kind of loved being a student when I was a kid. Right out of college, I spent two years searching for the right professional fit, but more than anything, I felt like I wanted to be back in school or traveling! I eventually obtained a TEFL certificate and went back into a classroom to teach English abroad in Chile and Spain, followed by graduate school. I’ve worked in an educational/international setting ever since, on a career path that I didn’t realize existed when I was a kid! 

    3. Tell us about your first international experience and how that influenced your current career choice.

    The first time I left the U.S. was to participate in a two-week high school exchange program when I was 16. I lived with a Spanish family in Alicante, Spain—and the following semester my family hosted the Spanish exchange student who I had lived with. Spanish was one of my favorite subjects in school, and having the opportunity to immerse myself in the language was transformative. Language study had always been fun—and the immersion experience allowed me to apply what I had learned in a practical way. Although I didn’t realize it then, my love for languages and culture, and my appreciation for international exchanges would eventually lead me down my career path. 

    4. What was your first job in international education?

    The first step I took toward a career in international education was to become an English teacher in Chile. At the time, I saw it as a step away from the “real world” for some adventurous travel, but it ultimately led me to my current career. On returning to the U.S., I pursued a graduate degree in International Education at the University of Maryland and obtained a graduate assistantship in the International Student and Scholars office to support my studies. I’ve been working in the field ever since! 

    5. Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job.

    The Smithsonian is a place of constant activity and excitement- and working in a central office, we are at a crossroads for all kinds of activity. Typically, I am either supporting international scholars, or coordinating/attending visits for international delegations. As an example, I work with the Department of State, International Visitor Leadership program (IVLP), and just yesterday they sent a group of Russian language preservation specialists to meet with representatives from the Smithsonian’s “Recovering Voices” program to explore efforts to preserve and document disappearing languages. I act as something of a matchmaker for 50-100 groups of international visitors annually, connecting them with Smithsonian colleagues and resources. Later that afternoon, I supported a colleague with a panel discussion on Cultural Heritage Preservation, which included various U.S. ambassadors discussing their experiences with facilitating preservation efforts in other countries. All to say that every week offers something new and exciting! 

    6. What do you enjoy the most about your job? 

    Who doesn’t love the Smithsonian?! I love that I get to work at such a unique organization that wears so many different hats- and in my role I have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and learn so much about the sciences, humanities and more. 

    7. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

    Working for a large and diverse organization with many moving parts, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate through various bureaucracies, especially since part of my role involves working with immigration policy. After all the red tape, it is always worthwhile to see successful international initiatives happen! 

    8. What has working in international education taught you about yourself and your own culture?

    Some helpful attributes for working in the field of international education include patience and empathy. Every time I work with international visitors coming to the U.S., I remind myself how it can be both exhilarating and exhausting to navigate through a new environment. Kindness from strangers can go a long way in a foreign country, and I try to recognize and integrate this into my work. 

    International travel and dialogue with foreign visitors to the U.S. also enables me to reflect on American culture and values. There are many things we share in common with other cultures, and many ways that we are different. I find that an attitude of openness and willingness to learn can only make us better global citizens. 

    9. Is there a value or principal from another culture that you have embraced and applied to your own life?

    Somewhere along the line, I went from being obsessively punctual to always running a few minutes behind schedule. It may have been the years I spent in the Spanish-speaking world, where sense of time is different than in the U.S. But I like to believe that it’s accompanied by a more relaxed attitude about life in general. In some areas of the world, relationships and work-life balance are more important than deadlines. I’ve tried to integrate this mindset in a way that works with my current lifestyle. 

    10. Do you have a career mentor or someone that you consult with about career growth? How has that person influenced your career growth? 

    I have been lucky to meet a few great friends, who are also career women who I look up to! One friend who is a few years ahead on her career path always seems to have the right guidance to give when I reach any hurdles. It’s also been extremely helpful to have professional networks like the Global Leadership League to create communities of like-minded professionals, and mentoring circles with action-oriented activities. Career growth is made easier by having a framework, resources and a community to guide the process. 

    11. Describe and experience that you consider your greatest failure. How did you bounce back from that? 

    My most difficult career experience was when I changed from one employer to another to do the exact same job. After a few years of developing my professional expertise under one employer, I was very confident in my ability to do the job. I did not anticipate the difficulty of doing the same job for a new supervisor, in a very different office culture. I stayed less than a year at the new job, and struggled the whole time. The important takeaway from that experience is that the people you work with are just as important as the job you have, and it’s helpful to ask about this during the interview process. 

    12. What’s one piece of advice that you would give your younger self in high school or college as it relates to your career?

    Stop worrying so much, and start enjoying the ride more! Each academic and career step will eventually flow into the next opportunity—It is so worthwhile to take time to live in the present. 

    13. What type of hobbies or activities help you balance your work/life experience?

    While I love my job, I also spend the majority of my week in an office and interacting over phone or email. Some things that help me balance that include regular travel (day trips, major international vacations and anything in between)- I am fueled by adventure. I also love the outdoors, and make sure to get outside regularly- exploring the many wonderful hiking trails around the DC area, jogging, or just enjoying a sunny day.

  • 12 Jul 2019 10:42 PM | Anonymous


    Associate Dean and Professor, School of Communications at Webster University


    1. What was your dream job as a kid and why?

    I wanted to be a dancer who traveled the world and I also wanted to be a scientist who would figure things out. As a scholar who studies the body in the workplace and consults on international education I have blended all of those into what I do today.

    2. What has been your leadership path?

    My path has been both average (a mathematical fact) and “not” normal (a socially

    constructed expectation). Average in that most women do not take a “normal” career path where they move through high school, college, entry position, management position and then c-level.

    My first pass at college ended 8-weeks into the Fall semester of my sophomore year when I decided that I really didn’t know what was going on in my classes. I dropped out and went to a secretarial school where I learned the “new” word processing technology, shorthand, and filing. After working as a secretary for 4 years I returned to earn my BS in Rhetoric, Marketing and Real Estate Finance and then my MS and PhD in Organizational Communication. As an assistant professor I volunteered for service opportunities that gave me a breadth of experience across the university including student affairs, human resources, finance, curriculum, technology and housing. After five years as an associate professor, the Vice President of Academic Affairs’ office created a position and invited me to apply. I was repeatedly warned not to take the position, since I was not a full professor, had not served as a department chair nor had I worked as an associate dean or dean. While all of these were true, the experiences and knowledge I gained as an Associate Vice President allowed me to understand the pressure points and opportunities that are part of a university. During this time, the Vice President asked me what I wanted to do next and I said, “Seems like international is going to be important” and I became the institution’s first Senior International Officer. I asked everyone and anyone, “Who do you read in international education, what organizations do you belong to, what are you worried or excited about?” I attended NAFSA, AIEA and ICCI. I quickly became involved in initiatives where I learned about internationalization while sharing my background in higher education and organizational communication. Using my planning and facilitation skills, I established a globalization taskforce at my institution, implemented the AIEA’s Senior Adviser Program, became a co-facilitator at the Institute for Curriculum and Campus Internationalization, and was awarded a Fulbright-Nehru International Education Administrators Award for India. After four years, I returned to faculty status to complete research projects on women in the workplace which allowed me to move to Webster University as a Professor and Associate Dean. As Associate Dean, I have used the knowledge I gained about university-level processes to work on college/school level issues such as assessment, course scheduling and advising across our domestic and international campuses. As women, we tend to make decisions or judge success against a normal or expected career path. The problem is that normal is defined according to what is possible for those who are in power….and today that is an unlikely trajectory for anyone. How many people can you name whose career path looks “normal?” Instead, I have always asked myself, “What can I learn from the opportunity in front of me?” and “How would I recover if it didn’t work out?”

    3. What skills do you use most often in your leadership role(s)?

    My academic area is organizational communication which means I have developed skills for identifying the meanings people hold and the processes by which they create or challenge those meanings. For example when working with higher education institutions on internationalization I work to identify what internationalization means (e.g., more international students, increased mobility, more international publications) and what processes are in place that support or undermine that meaning (e.g., international student services, transferable scholarships, international travel fund for faculty). I will then work to either shift the meaning or align the processes with the desired meaning. I also talk with and listen to every individual or group I can so that I know what matters to them. This allows me to put together what may appear to be divergent or unknown goals in a way that benefits multiple groups. For example, a conversation in a parking garage with an English professor, a meeting with institutional technology, a walk through of a building with a department chair, and lunch with a learning center director led to the development of a budget-neutral, retrofit for an award winning innovative classroom. Finally, I look for alternative venues to use my skills. I have excellent meeting facilitation and planning skills and have taken these into my academic research, administration, and service. While I may not be an expert in the subject area, my skills are often in high demand so I get to learn something new and provide a valuable resource.

    4. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership today? What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

    There are two, entwined challenges that women will continue to face. First is the imposter syndrome and the second is the belief that women no longer face challenges in the workplace. The imposter syndrome is when you worry that someone is going to ask you an answerable question and discover that you are an imposter who doesn’t really belong. Overwhelmingly, women undervalue their contributions, self-depreciate or attribute their success to luck. One small act that can help change that meaning is how you respond when thanked for your work. Do not reply, “No problem” or “It wasn’t a big deal” because in that moment you diminish your contribution. Instead answer, “Thank you for noticing,” “I’m glad I could be of help,” or ‘You’d do the same for me.” In the US the latter plays off our cultural expectation that help should be reciprocated and opens a space to ask the individual to contribute to a future project. At the same time, women ARE imposters in the workplace but are increasingly being told that the struggle is over. Setting aside the pay differences, the workplace is still designed around the male body. In classrooms, my pregnant body could not fit into the desk. The workday presumes that there is someone at home taking care of the children, parents, laundry, vacation planning, or other non-work activities. Assertive, masculine communication is the preferred form of professional communication, yet women are sanctioned for using it. Professional consultants tell us to ask for opportunities and promotions, yet when women do so they are criticized for being too ambitious. Women must move past feeling like an imposter while simultaneously recognizing that the workplace defines them as one….all while being told that the fight is over, yet feeling that it really isn’t. Now, imagine these same challenges as we work across international borders and expectations. How do I, as a professional, value intercultural differences while working in a context whose very structure and expectations may challenge the idea of a woman as a professional? This is going to take some effort.

    5. You’ve written quite a bit on women’s issues in the workforce. In your opinion, what is the most important message, or advice for current and aspiring female leaders in international higher education?

    At the individual level, when someone compliments your work thank them and ask them to send you and your boss an email to document your contributions. I personally keep all of these in a drawer that I open and re-read on days when I feel overwhelmed. It reminds me that I have done it before and I, likely, can do it again. I also strongly recommend that women maintain a personal inventory of their skills, knowledge and activities to counter the imposter syndrome and to share when opportunities arise (Turner, Norwood, & Noe, 2013). Identify situations where your knowledge or skill might be helpful but not readily apparent. Is your institution building new residence halls? Could your background in international education help with the design? A new initiative for recruiting domestic students? What can your experience dealing with diverse populations contribute? According to Babcock and Laschever (2003), women undervalue themselves when asking for raises and opportunities. If you know what you have done, you are more likely to ask and be able to provide substantive reasons for your request. At the macro level, one of the most popular forms of leadership in the United States is Transformational Leadership. In Transformational Leadership leaders work with and inspire others. They demonstrate genuine concern for the needs and feelings of others and allow for innovation and creativity. In sum, the skills and behaviors of transformational leadership are the very skills and behaviors expected of women and the goals are the same as those set forth by leaders in internationalization. This means that right now, in this moment, the behaviors women have been told to develop, the educational goals of internationalization, and the skills recognized as effective for leadership are aligning. We can be successful transformational leaders by being “good” women leaders in international higher education. As leaders we can raise questions about what is or is not appropriate behavior as we learn together about cultural differences while inspiring others to think about how they work with each other (including us as women). As leaders in international higher education, we can recognize that when we value the practices of others we are simultaneously valuing ourselves as professionals even in a simple act of wearing a hijab. When confronted with a workplace that defines us as imposters, we can engage in thoughtful conversations about cultural values and global changes exposing the system while honoring the differences. We, as women in higher education internationalization leadership positions, are uniquely poised to identify shared goals, respect differences, celebrate small steps that lead to large successes, and honor the unique value each and every individual brings to a project.

    Relevant Publications:

    Babcock, L., & Laschever, S. (2003). Women don't ask: Negotiation and the gender divide. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

    Turner, P. K., & Norwood, K. (2014). The elephant in the room: Negotiating visible pregnancy in job interviews. Women and Language, 37, 41-62.

    Turner, P. K. & Norwood, K. (2014). 'I had the luxury...' Organizing breastfeeding support as privatized privilege. Human Relations, 67, 849-874.

    Turner, P. K., & Norwood, K. (2013). Unbounded motherhood: Embodying a good working mother identity. Management Communications Quarterly, 27, 396-424.

    Turner, P. K., & Norwood, K., & Noe, C. (2013). A woman with a plan: Recognizing competencies for ascent to administration in higher education. NASPA Journal About Women in Higher Education, 6 (1) 22-47.


    Dr. Paaige K. Turner has over 20 years as a researcher, faculty member and administrative in higher education. She has served as a director of graduate studies, interim director of women’s studies, associate dean and associate vice president. Dr. Turner received the Cheris Kramarae Dissertation Award (1998), Central States New Teacher Award (2000), the SLU Faculty Excellence Award (2003), SLU Star Award (2007), Presidential Citation for Service, National Communication Association (2007), Learning Happens Everywhere Award (2015) and is a four time finalist for the SLU Outstanding Teaching Award. She was the 2012 recipient of the NAFSA Region IV Dorothy Brickman Outstanding New Professional Award and a 2013 Fulbright-Nehru International Education Administrators Award to India. She serves on five editorial boards and has published over 30 book chapters and articles in the general area of organizational communication, specifically on topics of organizational socialization, customer satisfaction, midwifery and birth, breastfeeding and the body in the workplace. These have appeared in Management Communication Quarterly, Qualitative Inquiry, and Women & Language. She is an Associate Editor for The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication, past chair of the Organizational Communication Division of the National Communication Association, AIEA, Senior Adviser Program and a principal associate in Communication Resource Associates.

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The Global Leadership League was started by a group of women in the field of international education for the purposes of advancing women’s leadership skills, knowledge, and connections.


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