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The Team

The Team

America’s Languages Working Group (WG)

The Commission on Language Learning was launched in 2015 by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at the behest of eight members of Congress. Upon the release of its report in 2017, the Academy convened a group of national leaders to discuss the report and its impact. With the encouragment of the Academy, this group subsequently formed itself into the America’s Languages Working Group, comprising language educators as well as the stakeholders who depend on them. This combination of educators and stakeholders is referred to as  the ‘Language Enterprise’ representing the providers and consumers of language abilities in:

  • Government: At federal, state & local levels;

  • Industry: Both employing and developing language-enabled workforce as well as providing language services;

  • Education: Accredited PreK-12, higher education, graduate & professional programs

  • Native American and heritage, immigrant and refugee communities; and,

  • NGOs: Concerned with language, education, international and social justice issues.

The WG represents an unprecedented collaboration among leaders volunteering their time, operating without formal organizational structure, and bound together only by the motivation to strengthen language education by fulfilling the goals and recommendations of “America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st century.”


Current WG membership:

  • Mohamed Abdel-Kader, Executive Director, Stevens Initiative - Aspen Institute, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education, US Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education

  • Jurgita Antoine, Native Language Research Director, American Indian Higher Education Consortium

  • Lenna Aoki, General Counsel, Office of Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)

  • Howie Berman, Executive Director, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages*

  • Richard Brecht, Co-Director, American Councils Research Center*

  • Dan Davidson, Director of Research and Senior Academic Advisor, American Councils for International Education; Member, AAA&S Commission on Language Learning*

  • Ruth Davis, (WG Emerita) Chair, International Mission of Mercy USA, former Director of Foreign Service Institute, former Director General of the Foreign Service, Career Ambassador

  • Sharon Fechter, Dean of Humanities, Montgomery College

  • Don Gentile, Senior Language Authority, Office of the Director of National Intelligence

  • Joel Gomez, President & CEO, Center for Applied Linguistics

  • Trevor Gunn, Vice President- International Relations for Medtronic

  • Leslie Harper, President, National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs*

  • Stephen Kidd, Executive Director, National Humanities Alliance

  • Sheri Spaine Long, Executive Director, American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese*

  • Dennis Looney, Director, Association of Departments of Foreign Languages, Modern Language Association

  • Tommy Lu, Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools, Chinese Community Schools of Delaware

  • Gail McGinn, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Planning (retired), Office of the Secretary of Defense*

  • Wanda L. Nesbitt, U.S. Ambassador, retired.

  • Rita Oleksak,* President, JNCL

  • Bill Rivers, Association of Language Companies*

  • Antonia Folarin Schleicher, Executive Director, National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages and Indiana University

  • Katie Steen, Policy Associate, Association of American Universities

  • John Tessitore, Senior Program Advisor, American Academy of Arts and Sciences*

  • Santiago Wood, Executive Director, National Association for Bilingual Education

(*indicates member of Executive Committee)


America’s Languages Fellows (ALF)

The WG depends on a cadre of “America’s Languages Fellows” (ALFs), distinguished teachers, administrators and researchers well acquited with programs and practices across the country that can serve as exemplars of access and excellence. These Fellows are charged with identifying and nominating these exemplars wherever they may be, notwithstanding small size or little recognition. In addition, they are responsibe for approving for entry into the Guide applicants that best qualify as 'ememplary' prgorams and practices.

The current list, which is still growing, can be found here:


University Home

The home of the Guide to Exemplary Programs and Practices in U.S. Language Education will be housed at the University of Texas at Austin. More specifically, the College of Liberal Arts, the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning and Texas Language Center will be partnering with the America’s Languages Working Group to maintain and enrich the website and further the goals of the ‘America’s Languages Initiative’


Project Coordination

The American Councils Research Center (ARC) at the American Councils for International Education curently coordinates the development of the Guide on behalf of the WG. ARC’s leadership includes a member of the Commission and the author of one of the Commission’s five Briefing Papers, both of whom are members of the WG’s Executive Committee.