top of page

Language Advocates Honor Rep. Tom Cole, Martha Abbott, and Linda Markley With Top National Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During the annual JNCL-NCLIS Language Advocacy Day reception, three of the nation's most influential language advocates were awarded top honors for their work promoting language learning. Awardees were Linda Markley, Martha Abbott and Representative Tom Cole (OK-4).

Left to right: Dr. Bill Rivers, Rita Oleksak, Linda Markley, David Bong.


On Thursday, Linda Markley was named the inaugural J. David Edwards Power of Advocacy Award winner for 2019. Rita Oleksak, JNCL-NCLIS President, and David Bong, CEO of Avant Assessment, presented the award to Linda at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill.

Linda Markley has taught languages and culture to all age groups from very young children to adults.  She has been a district supervisor and has served on the board of various language organizations and non-profits.  She has delivered hundreds of professional development workshops on a variety of topics related to SLA (second language acquisition), LSP (Languages for Specific Purposes, service learning, and, of course, advocacy.

Linda’s deep passion and dedication to languages and children have always inspired her to be an active advocate at the local, state, national and even international levels.

Ms. Markley has been instrumental in rallying her colleagues and organizing numerous grassroots campaigns at the state and local level to preserve and expand world language education. Year after year as the advocacy chair for the Florida Foreign Language Association, she lead the fight against substituting world language credits for computer science courses. “Computer coding belongs in the computer sciences,” Ms. Markley testified in 2017 to State Senators sitting on the education committee. “By learning and appreciating another language we understand the ‘human’ in humanity.”

JNCL-NCLIS and its members are honored to name Linda Markley as the 2019 recipient of the inaugural J. David Edwards Power of Advocacy Award for her passion, resiliency, and outstanding supporting for world language education in this country.

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.

From left to right: Rita Oleksak, Linda Markley, Marty Abbott, Bill Rivers.


Martha G. Abbott has a long and distinguished career advancing America’s Languages, at the school, district, and national level.

Her work at the national level includes having served as the Executive Director of ACTFL from 2011-2018, President of ACTFL in 2003, member of the Commission on Language Learning and the America’s Languages Working Group of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as the Director of Education at ACTFL from 2004 – 2011, and as a member of the National Security Education Board since 2016. At the district and state level, she was the Director of High School Instruction in the Fairfax County Public Schools (VA) and also served as its Foreign Language Coordinator and as a high school teacher of Spanish and Latin, and President of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia in 1996. She earned her B.A. Degree in Spanish with a minor in Latin from the University of Mary Washington and her M.S. in Spanish Linguistics from Georgetown University. Ms. Abbott is a mentor to hundreds of teachers and leaders in world languages throughout the U.S.

The Board of Directors of the Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies awards the James E. Alatis Founder’s Award from time to time to individuals whose career exemplifies and advances the vision of languages for all. In making this award, we recognize her for her long record of substantive contributions, her leadership, and her friendship.


Representative Tom Cole has served as the U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s 4th congressional district since 2003. Mr. Cole is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, holds a PhD in History, and serves as the Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and former Chair of the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. He is co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus and the Congressional Friends of Denmark Caucus. While in school, Mr. Cole performed research abroad as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow and was a Fulbright Fellow (1977–78) at the University of London.

Mr. Cole’s commitment to languages has been well-documented. He was instrumental in 2017 in ensuring that Title VI/Fulbright-Hays was fully funded. He also developed the conference agreement in the FY2018 Omnibus appropriations that restored the Obama and Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the program. In addition, Mr. Cole was a sponsor of both the World Languages Advancement Act and the World Languages Advancement and Readiness Act in previous Congresses. Mr. Cole has been instrumental in the passage and funding of the new Native American, Alaska Native, and Hawai’ian immersion programs under Title VI of the Every Student Succeeds Act. And he continues to be a stalwart supporter of funding for the Defense Language Program.

JNCL-NCLIS and its members are honored to bestow the 2019 Rush D. Holt Award for Language Service to the Nation award on Mr. Cole.

66 views0 comments


bottom of page