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2020 National Language Advocacy Award Recipients

WASHINGTON, DC - Every year JNCL-NCLIS and its members strive to recognize excellence, dedication and life-time leadership throughout the Language Enterprise.

During the annual Language Advocacy Day reception, JNCL-NCLIS presented national language advocacy awards to three of the nation's most influential language advocates for their work promoting language learning: Toni Theisen, Christine Schulze, and Representative Jim Langevin (RI-02).



On Thursday, Toni Theisen was named the 2020 J. David Edwards Power of Advocacy Award winner. Rita Oleksak, JNCL-NCLIS President, and Dr. Bill Rivers, presented the award to Toni at the Hyatt Regency Washington.

Toni exudes grassroots advocacy: through mentoring new teachers, leading workshops, and

officially recognizing the next generation of leaders, Toni demonstrates a seemingly tireless

energy to positively impact language education at the local, state, and federal. She is also active

online, sharing and shaping the discussion around language education.

JNCL-NCLIS, its members and the Board of Directors are proud to bestow the 2020 J. David

Edwards Power of Advocacy Award to Toni Theisen in recognition of her extraordinary

advocacy efforts carried out at the individual, local, state, regional, national or international

level that contribute to our mission and serves to expand access to languages other than

English. She exemplifies and inspires all of us to work in passionate pursuit of common goals

The J. David Edwards Power of Advocacy Award is an annual award presented at to an outstanding language advocate who has demonstrated commitment and resilience in grassroots awareness, action and engagement. In 2018, the Board of Directors established the J. David Edwards Award in honor of Dr. Edwards’ long service to the profession, in order to recognize the contributions of the countless language advocates who are part of the JNCL-NCLIS family.



On Thursday, Christine Schulze was named the 2020 James E. Alatis Founder's Award winner. Rita Oleksak, JNCL-NCLIS President, and Dr. Bill Rivers, presented the award to Christine at the Hyatt Regency Washington.

Christine Schulze is the executive director for Concordia Language Villages. She has served as the top executive of Concordia Language Villages since 1989 2020 Language Advocacy Awards and has been on staff for 45 years. During that time, she has been responsible for growing the Villages into a complex networked organization with an annual operating budget of about $12 million, serving 10,500 participants from across the United States and over 30 countries. She is a past dean of the French Language Village; initiated Les Voyageurs, an innovative French language immersion program in a wilderness setting; and has led teacher trainings and abroad sessions.

Ms Schulze’s success arises from her passionate commitment to “iso-immersion” pedagogy. Within a remote site north of Bemidji, Minnesota, participants enter into a “grand simulation,” adopting a new name and identity, speaking only in the target language, and participating in both formal and informal learning activities. Concordia Language Villages aims to “inspire courageous world citizens.” While the thousands of K-12 young people who participate in village programming each year come for a variety of reasons--the fun of being with a peer group who share an unusual commitment to language, the chance to build differentiating skills for college admission, the desire to participate in an ethnic heritage— what they experience is a philosophy and a community dedicated to their growth as powerful, effective individuals. Their increasing language competency is matched by increasing empathy for difference, skills in conflict resolution, sophistication in thinking from multiple, international perspectives.

Christine Schulze’s career has provided a firm foundation and a shining example for the next generation of language leadership in the United States. The energy and drive for this careerlong achievement lies in Ms. Schulze’s profound vision for the role language learning can play in the improvement of the world.

Named for the late Dr. James E. Alatis, a founding member of the JNCL-NCLIS, the James E. Alatis Founder’s Award is bestowed on an occasional basis during Language Advocacy Day to honor exceptional and life-long contributions to the advancement of language and international education, research and development and practice.



On Thursday, Representative Jim Langevin (RI-02) was named the 2020 Rush D. Holt Award winner. Rita Oleksak, JNCL-NCLIS President, and Dr. Bill Rivers, presented the award to Mr. Langevin at the Hyatt Regency Washington.

Congressman Jim Langevin (LAN'-jih-vin) is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Ranking Member of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, and of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Mr. Langevin holds an MPA from Harvard, and has represented the western half of Rhode Island since 2001. He is a member of the Congressional Humanities Caucus, the Congressional German-American Caucus, and the Portuguese-American Caucus.

Mr. Langevin has helped deliver major wins for the language community over the past several years, and his work for languages, cultures and international studies in the 116th Congress cannot be understated. He is lead sponsor of both the Reaching English Learners Act, which would improve teacher training for bilingual and dual language educators, and the Supporting Providers of English Language Learning (SPELL) Act, aimed at easing the bilingual teacher shortage through the nation.

Additionally, Mr. Langevin co-sponsored the World Languages Advancement and Readiness Act, now an official Grant Program, and his role on the House Armed Services Committee proved pivotal to the bill's inclusion in the FY20 NDAA. He is also a co-sponsor of the Biliteracy Education Seal and Teaching (BEST) Act. Mr. Langevin's office played a major role in passage of the Esther Martinez Native America Language Revitalization Act, which was signed into law in Dec. 2019.

Mr. Langevin was instrumental in leading Congressional opposition to the proposed reorganization of the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), including sponsoring language in the FY19 appropriations report indicating the opposition of Congress to this reorganization. It is for these reasons that JNCL-NCLIS, its members and its Board of Directors are proud to confer the 2020 Rush D. Holt Award for Language Service to the Nation to Representative Jim Langevin of Rhode Island

The Rush D. Holt Award for Language Service to the Nation is an annual honor bestowed during Language Advocacy Day for exceptional public service in advancing the national interest through language and international education, research and development, and practice.

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