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The Advocacy Squares

Bringing Back What We've Learned



Senior Education Policy Advisor


Roxanne Garza is the Senior Education Policy Advisor at UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza). Roxanne provides strategic direction on higher education policy and supports K-12 policy to ensure success for Latino students and English learners throughout their educational trajectory. Before joining UnidosUS, Roxanne was a senior policy analyst with the Education Policy program at New America, where she provided research and analysis on policies and practices that impact teaching quality and school leadership. She received a master's degree in public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Texas at Austin.

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Assistant Professor

Educational Studies & World Languages Education, Rhode Island College



Coalition for a Multilingual Rhode Island

Erin L. Papa, PhD, is an assistant professor of educational studies at Rhode Island College and director of its World Languages Education Programs (BA, RITE, MAT). She also directs the Coalition for a Multilingual Rhode Island which aims to create a culturally sustaining educational environment where all RI students learn in multiple languages from Pre-K to college. She has taught multilingual learners in K-16 in school and community spaces in the US, China, and Australia and previously worked for the Chinese Flagship and International Engineering Programs at the University of Rhode Island. She speaks English, German, Spanish, and some Mandarin Chinese.

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Dr. Jon Valentine is the Director of World Languages and Dual Language Immersion for Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia where he supports programs of study for eight different languages k-12. Prior to this tenure, Jon served as Program Manager for Languages and Global Initiatives for the Georgia Department of Education and a teacher of middle and high school German. Jon received his Doctorate in Education from the University of Wyoming, Laramie, his M.A. in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University, Atlanta, and Bachelor’s degrees in Education, International Studies, and German from Miami University, Oxford.


World Languages and Dual Language Immersion (DLI)

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ACTFL’s 2022 Language Teacher of the Year, Heather Sweetser received her M.A. in Arabic at Ohio State in 2012. Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, she joined the Army in 1998 and learned Arabic at the Defense Language Institute, becoming an Arabic interpreter. Experiences with languages in the U.S. Government inspired her to become a language instructor focusing on intercultural competence as a core part of language fluency. Currently Heather teaches beginning through advanced Arabic at The University of New Mexico, and is one of the co-creators of the website. 


ACTFL 2022 National Language Teacher of the Year/Senior Lecturer of Arabic

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Dr. Michele Anciaux Aoki is an International Education and World Languages Advocate, former World Languages Program Supervisor in Washington state and International Education Administrator for Seattle Public Schools. In retirement, Michele volunteers with the WAFLT Testing Team and serves as Advocacy Chair for NCSSFL and on the Advisory Board of the Global Seal of Biliteracy. Michele earned a PhD in Slavic Linguistics from the University of Washington and helped found SEETAW (Slavic and East European Teachers Association of Washington). She received the 2021 award for Outstanding Contributions to the Teaching of World Languages in the Pacific Northwest from PNCFL.

Advocacy Chair

National Council of State Supervisors for Language

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Kirsten Halling teaches French at Wright State University. She holds a Ph.D. in French Language and Literature from the University of Virginia. Kirsten has been an active member of the Ohio Foreign Language Association for twenty years, giving frequent workshops and sessions at the annual conference and chairing the ad-hoc Teacher Recruitment and Retention Committee. She currently chairs the Public Relations and Advocacy Committee and was thrilled to play a role in protecting language access in Ohio schools. She was Vice-President and President of the AATF Ohio Chapter and is currently the president of the Oakwood Sister City Association.

Professor of French

Wright State University/OFLA

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